The Nightmare Before the Dream

The Starving Plains

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“You had gone to Galfaland with the idea that you might be able to find some allies. With enemies all around, the pirates, thieves and rogues of the city could be useful. The weakness of their ties to the crown didn’t hurt either, eh? However, the allies you sought were not the ones you received – at least not initially. There were wrongs being committed on the plains. The gnolls were being starved out of their hunting grounds, forced to seek food to the east. Those responsible for the depravity could not go unpunished. You hunted for the Muskana Aunum, and through that action, killed two birds with one stone…”


Summary:

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A Pack Mentality

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“I was impressed when you walked out of the Rass estate. Evelyn had a troubled soul and her interests took a dark turn later in life. I often wonder what she may have become under different circumstances.”

“After buying time with Tlokt with the falsified Chronicler tome, you all went your separate ways for a while. Do you remember that? Yes, of course you do. I see it. Eventually though, you all arrived in the human city of Galfaland. That place was always a bit of a breeding ground for trouble. The pretentious captains warring with one another over what was ultimately an insignificant amount of power probably ruined what could have been the continent’s breadbasket…or fish market, rather.”

“It would seem that Galfaland was having some problem with the gnolls when you all arrived. Being fine representatives of your species, you agreed to help the Galfalanders and though there was a monetary reward promised, your eyes were on a bigger prize – support.”

“I imagine it was frustrating having no one listen to your pleas for help. How difficult was it to press on, performing favors as payment for aid that should have been freely offered? Although, now that I think upon it more, your trials always seemed to prove fortuitous. This one was not an exception.”


Summary:

  • Set sail aboard the Wreckless headed toward the ruined village of Whiteway
  • Were assaulted by a pirate vessel known as Tzol’s Howl, a ship in Rancid Ronny Scabb’s fleet
  • Repelled Tzol’s Howl’s assault and released the ship to its oarsmen
  • Entered the village of Whiteway and battled starving gnolls
  • Followed gnoll tracks into the plains before encountering a matriarch
  • Learned of the legend of the Muskana Aunum (Bone Dog) – the reason the gnolls have fled west out of the plains
  • Decided to delve deeper into the plains to banish the Bone Dog, or those responsible for summoning it
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There is Much to Answer For - Part I

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“Do you recall what Beren said when he woke from his injuries? The conversation was quite interesting for those of us watching. I know of many others that found his blunt approach to be both surprising and satisfying, for elves love to mire themselves in mystery. I suppose the cat was out of the bag already though, hmm? There was probably no reason to keep secrets any longer. The fey city of Draelren had been breached and the race’s hideous beast had stirred once more.

North’s End wasn’t done with you yet though. Tlokt was returning to the city, and to say he was angry would have been a gross understatement."

Beren’s recovery was slow. Though Callum had tended to his physical wounds, the process of fey feeding seemed to have gouged at his very soul. After almost a week of intense care, Beren opened his eyes weakly.

‘Where?’ The elf coughed, blood staining a kerchief Callum brought to his lips. ‘Oh. You.’ Beren’s irises were paler than usual and veins crisscrossed the whites of his eyes as he brought them to bear upon Ryn. ‘I suppose you want some answers.’ His voice was strained.

‘Like you, Ryn, I’m a member of the Guard. Unlike you, I am more than five centuries old. Almost two hundred years ago I was placed here to guard the entrance to Draelren. Until very recently, I was quite successful, even having weathered the arrival of both the orcs and humans. You’ve probably deduced most of that yourself by now though.’ Beren lets out another blood-flecked cough and stirs uncomfortably in his bed. ‘What you’re probably wondering is what manner of beasts now call the ruined city home. Well, the pale humanoids are husks – the immortal remains of sourcerers drained of their emotions and powers by the fey. The husks we encountered during the wars, but the monsters of Draelren were different. After the fey fell, we elves investigated the city in force. Draelren was already ruined and crawling with husks that were abundant, vicious, and impossible to contain. The nefarious beast that lied at center of the city’s desolation was worse. Very little information could be gained from the destruction wrought by the Nightmare Eternal, as it came to be known. The thing seems to be made of the emotions, particularly the fears, of thousands of beings – fey, dwarves, orcs, humans and even roden. It is ever-living and impossible to destroy but exists only because of the Fugue Stone.’ Beren lies back for many seconds, his eyes closed and sweat beaded upon his brow.

‘The Fugue Stone is a creation of Lemenius El’Soriin. We know very little about it, but have guessed that it was the next step in his research surrounding fey feeding. El’Soriin must have lost control of whatever magics powered the Stone, creating or unleashing the Nightmare Eternal along with the husks. There was little the Guard could do but bury Draelren, the Stone and the Nightmare. Caladrel’s knowledge of the city is disturbing and dangerous. His possession of the Fugue Stone could prove cataclysmic.’ A deep, long sigh escapes Beren’s lips and he melts into his bed once again. ‘I need more rest. My connection to magic has been weakened. I can barely feel a power I’ve known for my entire life. Return to me when I am stronger.’

Beren’s eyes closed but as Callum crossed the threshold of the room, he grabbed Ryn’s arm with surprising speed and strength, preventing his fellow elf from leaving. Beren’s voice came across clear and full of urgency. ‘Caladrel knew you were here, Ryn. He sensed you, named you, and mumbled incessantly, but he also avoided you. Though he is clearly losing his wits, Caladrel knows something about you. If I didn’t know any better, I would say he fears you. One day soon you must reveal to me why.’ Beren’s grip loosens and his breath becomes those of an exhausted, sleeping elf.

The days following Beren’s speech prove to be relatively uneventful. Tlokt’s eminent arrival to North’s End seems to be the only topic the locals wish to discuss and Biguhn takes an active interest in the entire party’s whereabouts at all times. It’s eventually Biguhn himself that arrives at Callum’s home, looking serious and indeed, concerned. ’Tlokt’s banners have been seen on the horizon. He will be here shortly. Don’t make me do anything I’ll regret…’ Biguhn’s expectation of violence is obvious, as is his desire to avoid it.


Summary:

  • Met with Lord Tlokt negotiating an exploration of his mother’s (Evelyn Rass) personal estate/vault in North’s End
  • Recovered Molly, though her mental health was questionable at best
  • Entered the Rass estate’s first floor and battled traps, magical monsters, and other oddities
  • Discovered/Claimed Niboowin – the famed nodachi of Ahiga of the western human tribes
  • Discovered/Claimed a cache of alchemical artifacts belonging to a renowned roden alchemist
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The Ruins of Civilization

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“The human city of North’s End would never really know what you did for them, or what you were about to do. The rumors about creatures of living midnight were accurate, but you had already known that. What you could never have hoped to discover were the fates of Carl Teegun and Evelyn Rass. Still, there were many questions that needed answered. How had Rass died? How had she apparently lived on as a beast of shadow? How many of the creatures still thrived in the darkness of the sewers? How did all of this relate to Roderick, the Last Chronicler, and the members of the Inner Circle? The answers proved to be extraordinarily dangerous and were quicker to come than any of you could have foreseen.”

You drug yourselves from the sewers, laden with filth and more weary than you have ever been before. The shade of Evelyn Rass had proven to be a powerful opponent and many of you bore injuries testifying to that truth. It would take days, if not weeks for the physical wounds to heal, longer still for the mental scars.

Lady Teegun took you in and Woodhouse, bless his ancient soul, provided the best care he could. Throughout the healing process rumors and news reached your ears. The disappearances had become less frequent, but still, men and women vanished under the dark of night. Word that Lord Tlokt was returning to his familial home was delivered by Biguhn himself. The giant of man requested that you remain in North’s End to explain to Tlokt the fate of his holdings. In the next breath, Biguhn expressed concern for the extraordinary influx of roden merchants to the city – an odd occurrence considering more and more of the wealthy nobles returned to Endenmere every day.


“Another evil, greater than anything you could have ever imagined, lied beneath North’s End. This amorphous beast, however, was tied to the fey. Any connection to the night stalkers was a stretch at best. Regardless, it seemed that the elves still had much to answer for. The fey, and at least some of their abhorrent creations still roamed the world. Though this Caladrel spoke of salvation, the message was lost amongst the nightmarish tentacles of fears made manifest.”


Summary:

  • Investigated the disappearance of Beren, the elven owner of the Shadow of Tythiel
  • Discovered the lost fey city of Draelren beneath Beren’s establishment
  • Encountered a series of traps and gruesome beasts in Draelren’s ruins, the very environment itself seemed to be twisted and unreal
  • Battled a massive creature made of each individual’s worst fears made manifest
  • Discovered the presence of a fey calling himself “Caladrel”
  • Watched as Caladrel escaped with an orb that lied at the center of the monstrosity, hissing vague references to the party denying themselves salvation by standing against him
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Shades of Gold

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You find yourselves standing amongst the ruin of Tlokt Manor. Bodies, some human, some roden, some dead, some still living (if only barely) lie strewn about like discarded and bloodied rags in a triage tent. Come morning, the manor will reek. Flies will be drawn to the corpses in clouds and the neighbors, though distant, will surely notice.

The dead aside, there is still the issue of the abomination trapped in the room upstairs. The beast had ceased its thrashing and slamming, but was most definitely still locked within its cell. It was then that you are all forced to make a decision – would you leave Tlokt Manor as a gore-filled tomb, or seek an alternative resolution…


“While Tlokt Manor burned, you all descended into the human city of North’s End. Family, rivals, allies and friends were all encountered over the next several days. Secrets lead to more questions and questions lead to more danger. The former member of the Inner Circle, Evelyn Rass, living on as a shadow (literally) of her former self was seemingly dispatched. However, the beasts known as Night Stalkers continued to cause trouble amongst the human population. You needed more time in North’s End. The puzzle was just starting to come together, whether you realized it or not.”


Summary:

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Revenge, Reclamation & Rewards

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You emerged from the Athenaeum only to fall prey to a masked group of humans. The men were organized, efficient, silent and extremely careful. For the duration of travel, you’re all blindfolded, gagged, and bound. Nobody speaks to you except for when you’re instructed to eat or drink. That being said, none of you are deaf. Just because the men wouldn’t speak to you does not imply that they would not speak to one another. You’re able to glean the leader’s name – Inquisitor Tlokt, inferring that a great amount of respect or fear is afforded him. Several days pass before you seem to arrive at a destination.

Around you is the smell of a city. The chill of late summer night air and the unmistakable dampness of a nearby body of fresh water hang heavy in the atmosphere. Still blindfolded, bound and gagged you’re all deposited upon a stone floor after a long tumble down wooden steps. You receive no visitors, no food, no water. It seems as if you wait for days before you hear a noise other than your own breaths.

Above you commotion erupts. Muffled cries, shouts of alarm and the thud of bodies hitting the floor ring out. The commotion lasts for several minutes before it’s silent above you again. Then, there is a voice. Small, weak, and most definitely a child.

“Are you bad people?” The child asks.


“There you all stood, in the chaotic mass of death that was Tlokt Manor. I remember the blood and gore. Roden and humans alike lie dead throughout the disheveled home. For at least one of you, it was a reminder that your past could not be so easily avoided. For all, it was a sure sign that you had made powerful enemies. June’s skull was in your possession again though, as was the badge of Roderick’s Inner Circle. The items were important to piece together the clues you had gathered, and North’s End held the resources necessary start to sort out the puzzle. That being said, it also harbored a fair few obstacles, and there was still the matter of the orcs…”


Summary:

  • Awoke in the basement of a large manor in North’s End before being freed by a small boy named Elysia
  • Secured weapons and equipment locked away in the pantry of the manor
  • Battled a number of roden that had apparently killed every one of the human captors
  • Learned that Ahzitima was being specifically targeted by roden
  • Discovered that the Order Cerberus member Amok had been tortured and killed
  • Battled the roden (rescued from the orc camp) named Varquee that had an apparent feud with Ahzitima
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The Athenaeum

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“It wasn’t until you arrived at the Athenaeum that I realized how much I missed its creators. Precise, calculating , and unwavering in their devotion to both their duty and their deity. Many of their best qualities had been lost on the modern world. The library’s architects had their faults though too. It was those faults that you all were forced to deal with within the Athenaeum’s walls. What you found at the end of this excursion though would forever shape your ideas and opinions. What little you thought you knew about the world was about to be shattered.”

Amok lead you through the forests of the north once again. Molly’s company was pleasant enough, but the orc’s grunts and groans of affirmation or displeasure became tiresome. In a short but grueling two days of travel you arrived at the location specified on Master Anbrung’s map.

Small rocky hills dot the landscape, limiting the growth of trees and other cover. Nothing about the spot seems odd or unusual until Amok points out aging signs of travel near one of the many low hills. It’s then that the orc directs your collected gazes to a small, perfect hole hidden beneath mounds of brush.

The hole is no more than 18" across and seems to be perfect in its construction. The first few feet of the opening are layered in muddy earth and moss. Beyond that, the tight tunnel appears to be made of metal, stone, or a mix of the two. A gentle but steady breeze floats up from the hole.


“And there you were, captives again. It appeared that you had made some powerful enemies, or perhaps, somebody gave you up? Friends aren’t always what they seem to be, especially in politics. Truthfully, your capture couldn’t have been more opportune. You ended up in North’s End, but do you remember that? I suppose not. Lets see if we can jog your memory, eh?”


Summary:

  • Entered a dungeon known as the Athenaeum
  • Discovered sentient orbs of light
  • Rediscovered a lost cache of knowledge pertaining to the time before even elves began to record history
  • Met and dispatched the last chronicler – an angelic being that claimed to have failed to protect the most powerful source of “odious” knowledge to have ever graced his race’s tomes
  • Were taken captive upon exit of the Athenaeum by a group Callum suspected to be an Inquisition
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The Root Cellar.

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“Grailoc’s and Anbrung’s support proved valuable to you then, as well as in the future. Though, at the time, I remember the lot of you not seeing it that way at all. I suppose it was a tad ominous when a Sureflight popped your cage, handed you a pair of bundled blankets and lead you deeper into the roots of the tree instead of up and out into the light. Even I questioned Grailoc’s logic then. The Root Cellar was hardly a place for friends. I suppose he had little choice though.”

A male Sureflight arrived sometime after midnight. The man was dressed like all your other guards, wearing heavier armor than he seemed comfortable in and sporting a pair of shortswords at his hip. Every now and then the man would touch a spot over his shoulder, looking for a bow that wasn’t there. “Quiet,” the man said as he opened your cage. “Move quickly and follow without question.” His voice was as soft and nearly as silent as a breath of wind. In his hands the Sureflight held two large bound bundles of worn wool.

Minutes passed and instead of heading up towards the dungeon’s entrance, you moved down further into the bowels of the tree-fortress. The temperature cooled even as the carved doors of the cells became few and far between. After some time you found yourselves standing before a door made of impossibly thick wood. No handle existed upon the door, and no hinges were apparent.

“You will cross the threshold of this door and enter the Root Cellar. Once you’re in, there is no coming back.” The Sureflight handed you the pair of heavy bundles, “Within is everything Commander Grailoc could spare.”

The man then turned to the door, placing both his hands on the wood before whispering an unintelligible phrase. Before your eyes the wood warped and twisted, and then, there was no door at all. Beyond the portal was a shadowy landing illuminated only by a smattering of phosphorescent lichen. Stairs carved from the earth itself lead downward. Once all of you crossed onto the landing, the wood of the door regrew behind you, locking you in the Root Cellar.
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“The challenges you faced within the Root Cellar were not the worst you were to see. A cold swim, a hungry darkmantle – or three, and a few elementals would seem to be child’s play in no time. Your friends from the Order were there to greet you as you emerged from the hole though, and with a strange note. It seemed as if Master Anbrung thought there was somewhere nearby that may interest you. It turns out, he was right. Your discovery in that glade was both terrible and fortuitous, but I am getting ahead of myself.”


Summary:

  • Commander Grailoc of the Sure Flights freed the party into a dungeon beneath Icen Watch known as the Root Cellar
  • The party was assaulted by a group of creatures that attacked from the ceiling
  • The group was forced to cross a room full of corrosive slime followed by the chilling waters of an underground lake
  • An ancient druidic circle summoned elementals to dissuade thieves, though the party claimed a pair of archaic, magical weapons
  • The party encountered a group of pale humanoids worshiping near formless statues but passed by them without incident
  • Amok & Molly, members of the Order Cerberus waited for the party on the otherside of the Root Cellar with a map and brief note from Master Anbrung
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A Sure Flight to Icen Watch

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“The world lead you west then. Most of you knew that the Sureflights had a reputation for being inhospitable, but what choice did you have? Burroughs could not support the refugees after the raid, and they most certainly would not harbor the captive orcs and goblins. Fate, it seemed, had made the choice for you. The paths through the old growth forests of the west were full of danger, however, and the trip itself proved to be..eventful. Then, there were the rangers and druids of the Sureflights themselves. Inhospitable may have been an understatement, eh?

The group left the Black Wound’s forward camp in the early evening. To stay longer would have been suicide. The surviving non-captive orcs and goblins still far outnumbered your band. If Owkbanok, or another powerful leader, returned and rallied the camp’s scattered numbers, you were all sure that you wouldn’t have survived. So you lead the captives west towards the safety of Icen Watch.

An hour of travel sees the trees change from sturdy oaks and strong pines to the giants of old growth. Trunks as thick as three men fill your path. Undergrowth becomes sparse, as does the light of the sun, moon and stars. Fallen pine needles and leaves carpet the forest floors, and the sound of your rag-tag band’s passage is mostly muffled. The captured orcs and goblins, however, prove to be a nuisance.

The orcs in particular seem to enjoy making as much noise as possible while they travel – alerting every living thing to your presence while the goblins constantly attempt to escape. Some of the tiny devils chew upon their bindings, others slip them entirely before being rounded up by angry human refugees. Travel is slow and the burdens great.


“You killed a traitor, eh? Didn’t remember THAT now, huh? You’re learning so much, or rather, you’re re-learning so many things about yourselves. Ahzitima, did you guess that the enemies amongst your own kin were willing to hound you for miles. Axle, you encountered friends you didn’t know you had. Ryn, did you expect to find fey ruins so close to human lands? With each adventure, your flock grew, Callum. Dorian, each selfless act attracted the attention of those thought long dead. Finally, Yolo, your timing proved to be quite fortuitous. But back to the issue of the traitor, one Garon June. It seemed not everybody believed Lord Valter’s declaration, despite its apparent validation by the King, and were willing to risk much to free you…”


Summary:

  • Rescued a drugged human girl from the den of an owlbear female
  • Woke to a horde of stinging wasps and the nearby remnants of their shattered nests
  • Were lead into the grove of a deadly assassin vine
  • Met the orc Amok and the human Molly of the Order Cerberus
  • Learned of a mine where slaves of the Black Wound tribe pull all manner of strange objects out of
  • Learned that the orcs and goblins of the Black Wound tribe are purportedly supported by mythical beings known as “ogres”
  • Discovered that Garon June has been declared a traitor to the Kingdom of Man
  • Were imprisoned when you refused to join Lord Emissary Valter on a trip back to Endenmere
  • Convinced Commander Grailoc that you did not kill Garon June
  • Promised your freedom by Grailoc and the First Master of the druids of the Sureflights, Anbrung
  • Forfeited June’s bow and stylized armor per the request of Grailoc
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