Legacy of Brutality

Ascent of Mount Morningfall
New heroes adventure in Neradia

Folk rejoiced as spring bloomed throughout Eamonvale. Blue skies replaced gray, snows melted, and flowers bloomed on the hillsides of high mountain valleys. Traveling minstrels strode the open roads singing lays of the “Prince Returned to Delver’s Dale”, and the impending tournament and coronation was the talk of every taproom and manor. Merchants, and herders, knights, and ne’r do wells were all on the move.

Amongst the bustling crowd in The Vintner’s Rest sat two sturdy souls, a dwarf and a swarthy, bearded man, listening intently to a pair of shepherds tell of ravaged flocks near the vineyards of Angleheath: “In years past, the Knight of the Manor, Jaeruun, would have sussed out the problem. He’s not called the Pillar of Light for nothing. Aye, but that lights gone missing. The Pillar hasn’t been seen about since first thaw. Maybe he’s training for the joust in the Dale this summer… maybe Danzig got ‘im.”

The dwarf grunted and tapped the hammer amulet that held his beard in place, “I begin to understand why Master Mallet sent me on this wine buying mission. Seems it won’t be so mundane after all! Har!”

“And perhaps I’ll earn that gold you slipped my way, oh dwarf” the swarthy warrior said as he quaffed his ale and wetted his jet black beard with foam. “Ah, but its good to get out of the Grey Citadel and feel the sun again. I’m afraid the winters chill will last through summer in that dour town.”

The day dawned clear and crisp as it does only when Spring is fresh and new, secure in place in the season. Clouds scudded up the valley to nest above the Grey Citadel along the flanks of the World Mountain, but that was far away. Here, in the lower end of the Eamon Vale, as the halfling town of Angleheath drew nearer, the sun did indeed warm the beards of the stolid travelers as they led their mule amongst the vines heavy with grapes and along a muddy cart track.

A scream rent the peace of the day and a small child burst through the hedge a few paces from the travelers. “Help! we are beset! Dragons from the sky! Father! Mother is in the house! Help!”

Cursing and grunting, the two warriors drew their weapons and followed the child to a small glen where two winged reptiles the size of horses terrorized this bucolic farm. A red drake atop the farmhouse tore at the thatch roof, while a green one stood athwart the small form of a halfling farmer. Somewhere, a pig snorted.
The battle was joined! Javelins flew! Prayers were sent to Moradin and mighty hammer blows punctuated them. The drakes were swift and elusive opponents, and their talons rent the boiled leather cuirass of the southern man, but nevertheless, these two hardened warriors soon slew the beasts. After a short rest, the two followed a pig to a neighboring farm where another drake pawed at another helpless farmer, only this lizard wore an elaborate saddle complete with saddle bags, and seemed to have no interest in eating or violence. In fact, it seemed fairly docile, so much so that the servant of Moradin attempted to mount the beast, which lead to a comical state of affairs involving a foot caught in a stirrup and a drake which flew away, leaving the dwarf left holding a saddlebag. In the saddlebag was an ancient dagger, elaborately exotic in design, and still smelling of the dust of a millenia. There was also a small vial filled with a very viscous fluid.
Finally, at the village, a mob children armed with rocks and pitchforks were sorely tempted to take matters into their own hands against a fourth drake who seemed to have crash landed in town. The children were dissuaded by the martial types who approached the lizard, which bore an iron collar, a brand of Ouroboros, and many, many scars of a life lived in torment. The creature seemed to be speaking some ancient language as it shook violently, spasmed, and finally lay still, a tragic creature laid to rest.
The townsfolk feted the two warriors for their brave defense and gifted them with a great many barrels of wine, now if only they would discover the source of these reptilian depredations! So the duo set early the next morn, still drunk from excess, hiking east, toward the singular figure of the Morningfall Mount. They discovered the be-saddled drake in a small clearing in the forest, dead now, at final rest at the foot of a strangely armored warrior whose crumpled form lay half buried in the loam due to the impact of some unimaginable fall. The corpse was that of an Eladrin (that in-bred race of fey who are most commonly found amongst the corrupt fleshpots of far off Asgulan), bearing arms of another age. Amongst the gaunt man’s effects were found ancient coins and a map of the region with the Morningfall Mount dead center.

“Well,” said the dwarf, “We’d better get climbing.”

The ascent of Mount Morningfall was an epic tale in and of itself, not one to easily be forgotten by any man, and a lesson in frivolous undertakings, for the Mount exacted its toll for passage. But the view was spectacular.
Finally the ascent was finished, and the heroes crested the ridge at a dizzying height, to find a wonder to behold. Suddenly, the name of this mountain took on new meaning. The bowl shaped valley that opened beneath their feet was littered with massive pieces of sundered marble and stonework overgrown with bushes, moss, and trees. the debris was not merely scattered across the ground but suspended in midair throughout the valley, as if frozen in place and weathered over a millennia. Not even the passage of time could disguise the catastrophic event that must have taken place here. Pieces of elaborate architecture, both embedded in the ground and hovering above it, radiated upward and outward from the lowest point in the valley. The most prominent edifice amongst the airborne flotsam was a nearly undamaged tower near the bottom of the valley but well above the surface. Descending into this valley, the dwarf discovered that chunks of rock as large as a table could be pushed as if it floated in water, and would even hold his weight. What strange sorcery took place here? A ring of statues guarded the final pitch into the center of the hanging vale. These statues were rooted to the earth. Each depicted an armored sentinel wearing armor of a similar style to the fallen rider. As the duo approached, an apparition appeared before them.
The phantom spoke in a town ancient and mournful, like a cold wind whistling on a barren heath: “This is no place for the breathing. It is a said tomb meant for the dead. My name was Tiburcaex Verak in life, but now I am something less. My soldiers and I mean to do you no harm, but our honor may require that preference to become meaningless if you persist in this place. We are duty bound to the last remaining scio of a once glorious house of warriors and scholarship. It causes me great torment to siphon the life of living things, and yet we must carry out the will of our new steward, even as doing so compromises the entirety of our noble history and brings the Worm that much closer to final victory. Such are the vagaries of honor. LOSo be it. This is your warning. Leave while you can or forfeit your lives to our necrotic swords. We can only stand idle a moment longer.”

The sorrow evident in the ghost’s voice led the scion of Moradin to believe he could reason with this honorable ghost, and so he attempted to parlay. The spirit answered some questions, and told a tale of the Last War of Autumn, when Danzig’s giants forced the Elder sky city of Urustranes to crash into this mountain, killing thousands and crippling the defenses of those who stood against the Winter Imperium. Gut all this availed the dwarf little, and soon enough he was convinced to make a break for it. Too late, elven spectres appeared about these heroes and so a battle with the chill breath of the grave began.

The spectres of ancient eladrin warriors unleashed the cosmic sorrow that had pent up for a thousand years, crying forth their anguish, driving the two warriors to their knees. Phantom swords clashed with hammer and spear. But soon enough it was over, for these ghosts had little of the fighting spirit in them.

Exausted, tired, and well spent in the favors of Moradin and Mithras, the two mountaineers looked down the valley at that hanging tower which had become their goal.

Epistle of Torund - The End of the Beggar King
Of the End of the Beggar King and the rise of a greater evil.

The following epistle was sent by Torund to the head priests Moradin for Dun Eamon and for Delver’s Dale, following the encounter with the Beggar King of Punjar

4th of Greeting 16,886

Dear Holy Fathers,

I was tested and was worthy found. Praise to Haela, Duerra, and Gunnra. We have enemies of our people slain and have their unholy meeting places destroyed. With the blessed Gift Eamon and the wary Samir, we cleansed the earth of the obscene Beggar King and his worm-spawn minions. Moradin be praised.

As you know, my companions Barouck and Uzi and I gave chase to the iniquitous Bargle to some circus of the ancients. Him farther pursuing, we found ourselves to the very heights of the World Mountain transported. I left their company, to my duties in the mines to return, but on my journey I was by the hated Storm Giants captured.

Months did I in their dungeon languish, by the living rock and Moradin’s grace nourished and sustained, until Gift Eamon and Samir arrived did, and they rescued me. Our numbers to few the giant tribe to slay, we thinned their warriors and returned to Grey Citadel of Dun Eamon, where our welcome most uncourteous was, and so, our trial not yet finished, to the beggar town Punjar, we attempted shelter, food, and rest to find.

On our journey, though short, we learned of a great evil in the Punjar at work. The Black Hand and the Dog Brotherhood had together with the Beggar King of Punjar, robbery and slavery to commit, banded. This terror to end, we marched to the wretched lair, a den of thieves and black magic, and we slew his minions, his lieutenants, and the abomination himself.

Unfortunately, we could not all the evil cleanse. The mad sorcerer Beggar King had a great summoning spell, a vast malevolent Shadow Worm to command, wrought. If this beast the black worm Stygoth joins, then will we many sorrows and sufferings have. Also, some villains escaped with the Countess of Harrowgrave.

We have the surviving captives to Dun Eamon escorted and have the blasphemous charnal house with fire extirpated. We now give chase to the highwaymen who hold the noble Countess.

Your Humble Servant
Torund, Elect of the Valkar

Against the Beggar King of Punjar
A trio of naturalists are caught up in a darkness at the edge of town

It has been many moons since last we visited the Lands of Neradia. The King of Delver’s Dale still waits to be crowned and those responsible for that crowning have disappeared once again into the swampy arcana of adventure.

In the meantime, we follow the stories of other heroes…

Some time ago, a strangely religious dwarf called Torund found himself on an accidental journey while pursuing an escaping convict. He found himself transported to the flanks of Koshtra Belorn, the Heavenly Mountain, the World Mountain. After some adventure, Torund was captured by stone giants and left to languish like a rat in the larder.

Gift Eamon was visited by a vision that led him to leave his home amongst the guards of the Black Eagle Castle and take up the mantle of a mountaineer, scaling the World Mountain as best he could. Along the way he met a primitive elf from the mysterious east who had been disillusioned with his first taste of civilization in the Grey Citadel of Dun Eamon. Together the pair discovered Torund in the Stone Giants’ Larder and made their way back down the Mountain.

As it happened, the trio found the end of their road out of the Stonehearts in an early evening that had grown dark precipitously quickly. They had come down from the mountain passes into this lonely rugged gorge of the River Eamon and here confronted the great City Amongst the Peaks, the Grey Citadel of Dun Eamon, renowned for its metallurgy, for its brave Griffon Knights who defended against the aggressions of the Giant Clans, and for being a city built in the very midst of the greatest river of the north as it crashed its way down furious waterfalls on its way out of the Giant’s Gap and down through the Golden Gates. It is a gloomy place, filled with mist and fog and the endless roar of water.

“If you don’t have anything to trade and you don’t have any money, then why should I let armed men through the Rivergate after dark. And with the new edict to boot. Begone with ye! Into the mists whence ye came, perhaps you can find a rat’s nest in the Punjar… but beware the dogs, they seem to like the pungent fog that hangs over the river this night.”

So saying the high shutter clapped shut in the lookout tower of the front gate. The rain fell steadily, dripping off soaked cloaks and clothing. Finally, the weary companions had made it back to civilization, to the renowned city of Dun Eamon, only to find the gates closed at midnight, and little sympathy from the Watch.

A heavy miasma hung over the gorge of Dun Eamon. A fog unnaturally thick and leaden with grey pollution. A howl and series of barks pierced the night air.

“That is no dog or wolf,” said, Samir the Wild Rogue. “That is the sound of feral men. The Dog Brothers. I have seen them before wearing their mangy pelts. It would not do to meet them this night.”

The Punjar of Dun Eamon is an outcast outpost of an outcast outpost. Here is where those who are too scorned to live in the Citadel live in hovels amongst the crumbling stones of an ancient monastery that pre-dates the Imperium of the Winter’s Dark. No one knows what god once was worshipped in this place, but some vestige of veneration still lurks in the minds of the local populace, for they continue to bury their dead in the vast cemeteries and mausoleums that line the bank of the Eamon River, where the headwaters spill forth from Giant’s Gap. Here live the undertakers, thieves, beggars, and those with no business of benefit to the city … But perhaps there would be shelter from the dire mist.

The fog only became thicker as they hurried through the dark, trying not to stumble. Barks and howls drifted about the foggy air. Once, Gift saw a lamp light behind him. He stopped and clashed his shield. “Show yourself if friend you be!” The light disappeared.

Samir the Elf decided to scout about while Gift and Torund hunkered their backs against a large skull shaped boulder. No sooner had the stealthy rogue returned when he was greeted in the Elven tongue by a hidden stranger.

“Please good sirs! I see that you are no Dog Brothers or Black Hands! Nor are you the insensate guardsmen of the Rivergate! You will help me will you not?”

“My mistress, the Countess of Harrowgrave, last surviving heir to the Castle of the Midnight Sun has been abducted! We were only a stones throw from our destination, yonder soggy rock, when we were overtaken in our carriage and my ladies were borne away. I only escaped because I fell insensate off the beaten path.”

And so the companions took the woman named Dahlia into their care as they approached the Punjar of Dun Eamon.

The dwarf, half-elf and elf walked into the tavern, a dilapidated affair that did not even boast a sign, only a fireplace, weak broth and a black bearded bard softly singing a song called “The Charnel House Blues”: “To the Charnel House the Beggar King did ride/ amongst the ashes there he did lose his mind…”

And then the Dogs arrived. Swift battles blurred as the Trifecta of Fate raced with bloody swords through the ruinous tenements, avoiding Dog Brothers and Black Hand Thieves. Soon enough they found themselves peering through a sinister iron gate, watching the a broken Charnel Tower belch its blackness in the backround.

After suffering the effects of a hungry lock, the companions burst through the gate. What followed was a running battle in the cramped allyways, stairwells and attics of the warehouse tenements that headquartered the Black Hands of the Beggar King.

In the cut and thrust of things, Gift Eamon became overwhelmed by zealotry and began summarily executing prisoners who had surrendered to his care. Quickly, Rhiannon sent word to her wayward warrior and expressed her disapproval.

A corpulent devil witch was routed and run through as were many beggars. Finally the Beggar King was braced in his resplendent redoubt. But lo! Twas a trap! The guards were mannequins and the Beggar King himself was merely an inebriated young girl, of the retinue, dressed up in tawdry finery.

Gift Eamon fell victim to the eagerness of youth, finding himself trapped inside a steel crate suspended from the ceiling of an underground cavern. Swift black water rushed underneath and beyond was a cave strewn with slave pens and guarded by a rabid ape.

His companions soon came to his aid and the ape was slain, slaves were rescued, and a further river access was discovered with a scuttled boat pulled up on the shore where once there were two. Some slavers had escaped, and taken the Countess Concepcion as well!

Doggedly, the Trifecta of the Beggar King’s Demise raced up the stairs and found themselves in the furnace room of the Charnel House. There, finally, was the true Beggar King, caught amidst a ritual too terrible to control, and so he was stuck half-way, with the very stuff of Shadow raging out his every orifice and coalescing far above as a roiling cloud of winged darkness. Bats flew about everywhere and two burning skeletal forms stepped forth from the furnace.

The battle was intense but brief and when the Beggar King fell, all was suddenly quiet for a moment, until the entire area began to collapse. Running up the stairs, the companions were only barely able to leap to the safety of nearby rooftops before the tower crumbled.

High above, a demon had been released. In form it seemed serpentine, like a dragon of darkest dreams. It roared a promise to recover its stolen eye and then retreated, flying away to solidify its presence in the mortal realm.

And so, at the end of a hard fought night, the Trio looted the abandoned buildings, finding gold and bric-a-brac. Some of which seemed of import: a crystal ball with a dragon eye floating within, a unicorn horn, a Hellfire Wand, and a copper tube holding one dozen Phoenix feathers. Finally, there was a trove of papers, missives stolen from kidnapping victims, and other were correspondence between various associates of the Beggar King. Gift Eamon used the unicorn horn as an offering in the penance that he made to his Goddess to ask forgiveness for his fundamentalist behavior.

Papers: Letter to Virmlaith with a map on the back. Also, a letter from somewhere completely different… Message from the Midnight Sun

Tales of Cedric - The Dragon - Part 2
From the minstrel tales of Cedric, Lord of the Forest

Cedric’s Journal- 14th day of Moradi – Year of Long Knives

Or, the tale as told by campfires and hearths of Eamonvale, a tale of one of their own, favored of Rhiannon:

. . .

And the black wyrm spoke, “I have slain my enemies, crushed their bones in my jaw. I have rent their flesh with my talons and boiled their bodies with my breath. But her curses still linger, afflicting me as it does you kine. I will tell you how to end it, and you will go and do so.”

Brave Prince Finch responded, in voice bold and true, “But what give you us to complete this favor?”

The wyrm laughed. “You and Forrestwalker will be, interesting, adversaries, if you survive to lead your people. I grant you this, if you complete my task: for one year I will hunt outside of Eamonvale, leaving you livestock to fatten yourselves for my return. So I swear on my ancestor, Ouroboros, begetter and destroyer of this world.”

Satisfied with this oath, the brotherhood set forth to free the land of blight. They entered the tomb of the Dark Herald.

. . .

And off we go...
Pit fighters don't keep journals.

Mreh. Grumble. Buncha bitches… Hope I get to kill somebody soon.

—Baldrick Devilock


In which Dyffyd learns of a Discovery

Soon after the band of Platonic Solids returned triumphantly to Delvers Dale, Dyffyd Kinewatcher returned to the sanctuary of the Temple of Demeter to pay homage and tribute to the great Goddess Demeter.

Dyffyd had grown more confident in his abilities to heal the wounds of others, to right the balance of the wheel of life when disrupted by malicious acts of evil-doers and crazed beasts. The lives of men and beast were to ebb and flow like the tides, in a natural way. And so it was only natural that just as a farmer would ease the growing of the crops by removing weeds and stones, Dyffyd found himself drawn closer and closer to healing the unnaturally caused wounds inflicted by forces of chaos and unrest that his band of companions encountered.

With these thoughts in mind, he hurried away from the castle, past merchants selling roasted meats and baubles, past beggars and paupers, through the industrial quarter, until he finally turned the corner on the Mother Church of Demeter.

He strode confidently up the steps, inhaling the incense deeply as he entered the temple to seek out Mother Patria.

“Mother Patria, I have returned to the temple to pay homage to Demeter and give you the latest tidings of the Brotherhood of Platonic Solids.”

Mother Patria gave Dyffyd a warm look. “Welcome back, young Dyffyd. It is good to see you hale and hearty. I have heard tales of the return of Prince Caradoc but nothing as reliable as from one of the faith. From the tales that have reached my ears, you must have had quite a time!”

And so Dyffyd proceeded to spin the tales of the Brotherhood, and their travels around the land, and how they finally managed to bring Prince Caradoc back home, moderately safely.

Mother Patria congratulated Dyffyd on how far he had progressed from being a young farm boy to a full-fledged representative of the faith of Demeter, and bade him to spend some time in meditation, then return to her office after eventide.

After some time in repose, Dyffyd returned to Mother Patria’s office, happily stopping by the temple treasury to give his tithe. The oil lamps were burning, and a warm blaze crackled in the fireplace. Mother Patria turned to face Dyffyd as the door creaked open, and ushered him in. Dyffyd noticed a tall, thin man, with an aquiline nose buried deep in a pile of scrolls, sitting at a side table. His patchy white beard blended into the dusty woollen hood of his robe. Mother Patria introduced him as Leonid, the temple’s chief archivist. Leonid nodded briefly and returned to his studies.

“Dyffyd, Brother Leonid has made many discoveries over the years, but the one he made last week was the most exciting in months. Come, this must be experienced for the full impact.”

And with that, she ushered the two men out of her office, down a damp corridor, and down and impossibly twisty spiral stone staircase, down, down, down into the nether regions of the temple.

Brother Leonid spoke in a scratchy voice. “I was recategorizing the harvest records of the last two hundred years when a shelf collapsed. You should have seen it! There were scrolls everywhere! The oldest parchments were dangerously close to crumbling, just like the walls. After I made some order out of the scrolls, I set to work repairing the shelves. But the wooden planks would not hold; the wall was too far gone. As I dug deeper to clear the rubble, I broke through to another chamber!”

Mother Patria interrupted. “Dyffyd, we discovered a primitive temple to Demeter that ancient archives referenced, but was thought completely lost. The find was amazing. There were relics, scrolls, and references to the old forms of worship.”

Mother Patria went on to describe the entire scene, interrupted briefly by Brother Leonid, and presently they found themselves in the old temple. Completing the inventory, the duo proceeded to initiate Dyffyd into the more ancient Mysteries of Demeter.

Returning back to her office, Mother Patria felt deep within her soul that Dyffyd was coming into his own. She said, “Dyffyd, now that you have seen some of the inner world of Demeter, it is even more imperative that you go forth and do good in Her Name. And so I wanted to share with you some of the precious relics we have discovered.

She brought forward a velvet-lined mahogany box, which contained a heavy bronze pendant. “Young one, this is an ancient symbol of Demeter. With this, you should be able to help keep the natural balance of things. And to protect you…” She trailed off and guestured with a hand to a large dusty chest. Inside the chest was the finest set chail mail armor Dyffyd had ever seen. She recounted the tale of the Dwarven emissary who visited the temple on a mission of peace, and gave as tribute five sets of dwarven armor for the clergy. The armor had all been lost until the recent find.

And so, though weighed down in body, Dyffyd returned much lighter in spirit to Castle Daha, ready for the adventures to come.

Tales of Cedric - The Dragon - Part 1
From the minstrel tales of Cedric, Lord of the Forest

Cedric’s Journal- 19th day of Winter Dark – Year of Four Dragons

Or, the tale as told by campfires and hearths of Eamonvale, a tale of one of their own, favored of Rhiannon:

Gather round and hear the tale of Cedric, Lord of the Forest, Strider in Dark Places, Protector of the Peasants, one of our own from this very valley, the valley of Eamon. Gather round and hear the tale of Cedric and the Black Dragon.

In the year of King Caradoc, Cedric still had no beard. Some suspected what he was to come, but in that time the Strider walked the forest, hunting game and sleeping by cool streams. He had no dreams of glory. He did not search for fame. But by the hand of our Protector, the Daladon, Cedric fell into legend.

At the death of King Brandoch, a Wolf’s Winter stalked the land. Evil marched unabashed, and the people wailed. As the New Year dawned, the winter finally broke, but like Eamon in spring, bringing death to the careless, accursed men streamed through fields and wood, bringing destruction to the Freemen.

Troubled by the folk’s travail, the woodsman spoke to his companions. “Something has undone the balance. To the swamp must we go to set things right.” Prince Finch replied, “We should go to the Lake and seek counsel of the Lady.” And the strider agreed, for the path was unclear.

The forces of Chaos hate the balance, the rhythm and step of things. Strider led his companions by track and trail to the Lake of the Lady, but at the gate to her land five demon dogs waylaid the companions! From all sides the snarling beasts did attack, lunging and biting, from all places at once. Their death howls froze the blood, their slavering fangs did poison the soul. Back and forth, Cedric battled the five. Back and forth, Cedric battled the four. Back and forth Cedric battled the three. Till fleet of foot and true of aim, he lay the five, dead before him.

. . .

Finch Diary: King's Blood and Peasant's joy

A tormented king for a blighted land.

I do not doubt that my father will uphold his duty, while he is able. My duty and that of my brotherhood is to seek a remedy for the curse of the Fox that still claws within him.

Despite the troubles pressing on our hearts, the triumphant return to Delver’s has been like a fantasy. We are hailed as heroes and have been fed, clothed and rewarded as such. My new finery and armor reflect the blood of my birth. My connection to this land is clear and it shall be my life’s work to cleanse and protect it. The days and nights in the wild with my brothers have strengthened and refined my power. I now connect with the spirits of the Fey realm and they assist me in scalding those who do not belong. My thoughts are often of Rhiannon and Daladon. I believe our work does them honor. The one being that I truly seek to please is, of course, the Lady. She is the beauty of the land and the power of the righteous. I have commissioned our palace jewelers to create a symbol to honor her for myself and brother Cedric. We have spent many hours discussing her virtues and mysteries. I have also commissioned a more somber tribute. The wrenching loss of our brooding brother Stephan will not go unrecognized. I seek to have a palace portrait of him as he once was prominently placed for all to observe.

The preparations for the coronation have lifted the people’s eyes from the ground for the first time since Mirana (my cousin!) was taken from them. The sounds and colors in the central square have brought beggar children from their hovels and have made hard men’s eyes twinkle. I have sent word down the roads and across the fields that performers of all sorts shall be hired to entertain our good people during the festivities. The anticipation of grand amusements sends sprits ever upward.


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