Alternate Earth Campaign

The Valley . . . Our New Home?

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It was some months ago when you began to make plans for your leaving. You were refugees, outcasts, explorers, accused of crimes, or simply looking for a fresh start. You quietly sought out others in a similar situation. The small group coalesced, materials were gathered, goodbyes were said, and you met in the middle of the night at the edge of the city of Zobeck.

You planned well, leaving in late winter, when the worst snows had passed, and passing through civilized areas with well-kept roads that made the ice and rain of winter little more than an inconvenience. You adopted new identities and carefully disguised your intentions. Still, you weren’t the only ones seeking a new home far from the corruption and decrepitude of city life. Word of your journey sometimes traveled ahead of you, and new pilgrims would simply turn up in the morning, trudging along beside your wagons and ponies. They numbered almost 30 by the time the last inn faded into the distance.

For a month you forged ahead into the wilderness, into lands unclaimed by any king. You sometimes felt as if you were the first people to ever walk through these forests, to cross these rivers. But as far from civilization as you were, you would occasionally see the smoke of a cook fire against the horizon, and the mud of a game trail sometimes revealed the prints of shod horses. Still, you haven’t seen another being for weeks.

Your goal is land known to some of you as Staropolska, to others as Vandalia. You have not decided where to settle — on the coast? Beside a river? You’re in uncharted territory. But your planning has established this: you will arrive in late spring, giving you plenty of time to establish yourselves and even cycle crops before winter sets in again. You have enough supplies (supplemented by hunting as you traveled) to last for the entire journey plus an extra month. When only one month of supplies remain, that is when you will begin seeking your ideal location, the place where you will build your future.

With no map to follow, you’ve been traveling alongside a river. You’re heading north, against the river’s flow. A severe mountain range has been on the northern horizon for days. When the sky is clear you can see the vast arms of the range sweeping away to the west and east.

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A Fungus Among Us? . . . Not Any More!

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So the party came together and drifted apart then joined one final time to destroy Zuggtmoy!

After discovering from the goblin shaman that there was a ‘bone face’ wizard (or several of them) agitating local goblin tribes, the party headed into the village of Hommlett to meet contacts and rest up. They learned, variously that the OCD White One had headed down the road to a slighted keep, called the Moathouse, whichwas the last place that Prince Thrommel and the Lady Tillahi were ever seen alive.

The party headed that way, and found the roasted corpses of several giant frogs along the path.
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Aerindor’s hound, Fane, began tracking down a path around to the east of the keep, and the party discovered a secret entrance to the main tower. The entrance led both into the main tower and down deeper into the Donjon. They burst into the tower and quickly dispatched the bandits lairing there. After some little extra searching, they headed down a staircase into the bowels. Immediately the Donjon tried to digest Agarius as green slime dropped on him from above. the first glob missed him, but he jumped right into the path of the second one. Sir Sebastian cured the disease before the veteran turned into a puddle of green goo.

The Paladin and the Priestess then destroyed a dozen zombies with their divine power. The party then found a trail leading to a secret door in a pillar with a rusty ladder leading below. Lucius began having past life flashbacks and the party withdrew after further destroying 4 ghouls in the catacombs.

They took another tack and found a hideous ogre who was quickly downed – Aerindor’s bolt of lightning ultimately electrocuting the brute. They then discovered two human merchants and a gnome who were kept as prisoners in the ogre’s larder. The gnome gave Aerindor a ring proclaiming him a ‘gnome friend’ and the Merchants promised rewards. A short time later, the party encountered some gnolls and haggled with them to get directions to the ‘master’ in exchange for 4 platinum coins.

The party broke into the master’s chambers and Lykaeus launched a hellish conflagration into the barracks room. A score of voices screamed in agonizing pain as they died. One soldier was miraculously uninjured, but quickly dispatched. Further into the room they could hear someone pounding on a door, calling in a pain-choked voice for the master to come aid him. The party headed in and Agarius recognized the burned man as a fellow soldier from the 83rd legion. The veterans began talking when the door burst open and a white robed wizard threw a ball of flame into the room, causing some injury amongst the party. They retaliated. The white robed one was quickly killed, and the master was held by magic, until Aerindor punctured his throat with his golden spear.

Searching the bodies, they discovered that the white wizard had some horrible demonic face grafted to his chest.

The party decided to quickly rest in the Master’s chambers and press on the the true temple, led by Sir Bertran.

Fane was apparently agitated by a murder of crows flying over the ruins of a tower on the Northeast wall but the party went straight into the cathedral itself.
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Inside, they explored several possible entrances, including a giant staircase sealed by silver chained, bronze clad doors. As the party was investigating a pit that seemed to drop more than a hundred feet down, they noticed that Sir Bertran was heading to the doors, with his great war-axe in his hand. He cut through the doors as if they were rotten wood and headed to the twin doors at the front of the cathedral. behind him the party could see huge earth elementals clustered around a small ziggurat. Lykaeus dropped a pair of fireballs into the room, destroying two of the creatures. The survivors dis not pursue. The party realized that Sir Bertran’s actions were not of his own volition and they used their magic to remove a mystical belt that he wore. After much struggling, they discovered that the belt was possessed by demonic forces which the Priestess was able to exorcise.

Finally assuring themselves that Sir Bertran could not again be possessed, they returned his belt, but in the original chaos, Agarius threw the war-axe down the well. The party resolved to head into the well to get it and found that there was a huge room devoted to the ‘evil’ aspect of the element of air, with a strange, giant bronze cube suspended in the middle of the room. The party pondered this for a few moments, then headed further into the temple. Sir Sebastian led the way, searching for the greatest concentrations of evil, and the part came to another of the sealed doors. Sir Bertran felt no compulsion, but the party resolved to sunder the door anyway, reasoning that the horrible evil the Paladin sensed beyond it was the target of their searches.

Inside, after some vile sculptures of fungi, they found a hideous old crone. She was selling, but they weren’t buying. Turns out she was Zuggtmoy, Demon Lady of Fungi . . .
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Their first attacks did nothing, but Sister Adriel began channeling divine power so that the rest of the party could harm harm the Demon Queen. Their spells were still ineffective, but they began cutting into her viciously, sending bits and pieced of fungus around the room . . . in less that 30 seconds, it was over. Zuggtmoy had been fed to a cuisinart . . .

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Ambushed by Goblins!

Speculatorus Secundus Lucius Amicus was correct to mistrust this barn/shack. After rather thorough efforts to patrol and fortify the area (particularly considering the rotten weather) the party finally bedded down for the night. When Lykaeus (bitching the whole time about his rheumatism) and Titus Agarius were on watch, inexplicably the veteran dozed off and the old man might have too if not for his incessant bitching . . . in fact that might be what saved them all. Lykaeus looked to Titus for some affirmation only to find him sound asleep . . . and dashing past the sleeping sentry were a bunch of stealthy little humanoids with evil, thirsty looking blades.’

Lykaeus was a bit befuddled but then Aerindor’s dog Faine (Sp?)started barking and Aerindor jumped straight to his feet. The others were roused as well and goblins began to fall in droves.

Outside, Lykaeus was shouting in some strange language, right before a bunch of crossbow bolts peppered the 4.5 foot half wall right next to him. Aerindor came out and scanned intently for the source of the bolts (the ruined house), then Agarius and Sir Bertran rushed the ruins and inexplicably found six goblins fast asleep on the ground. Sir Bertran finished off 5 of them and dragged the sixth, some sort of shaman by the look of him, back into the barn. Agarius took a pair of the crossbows and Lucius took another. The rest were burned.

Agarius went down into the recently discovered secret room below the fire pit and shot a few flaming arrows into the little tunnel down there. He ultimately determined that the tunnel ran to the large stump in the field to the north.

Up top, Aerindor had discovered the frozen, shattered bodies of two goblins, and a bit beyond them, the frozen corpses of three bugbears. Agarius had also heard what sounded like troops marching away. back in the barn, the sleeping prisoner started convulsing and thrashing . . .

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out in the rain

The Innkeeper from the last village you passed through told you that the rains in this area had been unseasonably heavy, and that travelers say two of the three roads into Hommlett had been closed by flash floods and rock slides. He certainly wasn’t wrong about the rain, you think as you huddle tighter in your cloak, trying to ignore the rain battering your face. Visibility is very poor. He also told to that if things got bad – like now – there was an old three-sided barn a little more than halfway to the village where you could find shelter. You think that might be it up ahead. The innkeeper also warned you that in the worst of the rains travelers have been known to go missing. Bandits probably. But it would have to be brave or desperate men to attack a large band of armed folks such as yourselves: Two knights and their squires, a militant priestess and a northern barbarian joined by a Roman inquisitor, a veteran of the legions and a doddering old scholar with a scathing tongue (well he might not be much use).

Sure enough, the barn is right where the innkeeper said it would be. It isn’t much. The front only enclosed by a partial half wall and a dilapidated gate, leaving nearly 6 feet of open air between it and the oddly sloped roof. At least the unpleasant opening isn’t facing directly into the wind and rain. The old, grayed wood is somewhat disheartening but the charred skeleton the old farmhouse across the lane is worse. Oddly the center of the floor of the barn is old dressed stone. And travelers before you had clearly used it to set up their fire pit; there was even some stored wood would next to the ash-filled ring of stones in the middle of the barn.

Time to get some heat into these old chilled bones …

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Leaving the Fallen Henning

The party fled the henning as it collapsed into the Nentir River. Over half of the hill had fallen, but some of the internal structures still looked to be intact. Several sidhe and Romans were still inside when it crashed down.

The soldiers and sailors had portaged the boats around the hill onto the eastern shore of the river about a half mile north of the tower. The party headed towards the vessels to continue their journey. Looking back at the wreckage, several large figures could be seen fleeing the remainder of the henning to the east. shortly there after another figure pulled itself from teh wreckage of the tower and began trudging northward.

The green crystal at the center of the tower shattered and there was a great flash of light. When vision returned, the party could see that some of the hill remained more or less intact, but that there was a large crater quickly filling with water. On the eastern shore, a figure picked itself up out of the mud and continued to trudge northward, towards the boats.

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The Dark Henning

The party left the sailors and soldiers on the ships to their task and began to scale the strange hill. As they neared the top they came much closer to one of the strange twisted trees. It appeared to be a battered treant, incompletely petrified. On the ground nearby, Volodymyr found several round stones protruding from the earth. Unearthing one, it became clear that these stones were worked by chisels for use in heavy siege equipment. In fact the petrified treant looked as though it had suffered strikes from several of these stones.

Dowsabel also became aware of a significant source of power within the hill. However, there was something strange about that power, as if it was closed behind a wall. After some contemplation, Dowsabel postulated that the the petrification could have soemthing to do with the power emanating from within the hill.

Deciding that nothing further could be gained from their investigations, the party continued its trek to the summit. At the top they found that the ground was very smooth and covered with calf high grass. Looking over teh edge, they could see that the doorway was about thirty feet down.

Dowsabel, who was using the power of the crystal sphere to see through Vermudo’s eyes, used her magic to fly Volosymyr down to the doorway.

Remains of battle
Volodymyr landed in an unlit corridor that curved away to his left. To his right was a wall pierced with arrow slits (which he did not immediately notice). Under the flickering light of his torch he examined the corridor and found it to be of far better construction than what was apparent on the outside. The outer wall was of solid, well laid stone blocks, but they were cut unevenly and presented a very rough facade.

The interior, by contrast was constructed of very well fitted stone as would befit a palace or cathedral. The corridor was vaulted as well, at least 25 feet high, where the torch cast flickering shadows on the ceiling.

To either side of the corridor had been swept piles of bones, like dust collecting in corners. The bones showed signs of wounds made with edged weapons, but also appeared to have been gnawed on. Several skulls and neck bones appeared to have been sliced clean through by a powerful blade. Another artifact was a moldering leather breastplate bearing the eagle of Rome.

Amongst the remains, and occasionally in the walls, were bronze tipped arrowheads of fey manufacture. They may once have been enchanted by their makers but were now of little more than historical value.

Dowsabel recalled that lore of old held that fey creatures found the touch of iron very painful and relied on an exceptionally high grade of bronze, thought to be more desirable than Corinthian bronze, itself valued more than gold.

While examining the remains, the party heard movement on the far side of the arrow slits. Trying to peek through, volodymyr startled a group of goblins fumbling with crossbows. Several fired accidentally and one bolt marked Volodymyr’s cheek.

Chaos ensued and the befuddled goblins began an exodus down a staircase along the outer wall of the tower. Commands shouted by Vermudo for the goblins to stop fleeing did not halt the exodus, but did reveal that one goblin, evidently not liked by the others, was willing, perhaps even eager to parlay.

Valet
Running round the curving corridor came a strange goblin who was dressed in a waistcoat with a tarnished fob chain. He was only to pleased to offer greeting to the guests in behalf of the master. The goblin guide led the party to his master – down one flight of stairs, through a pair of beautiful oaken doors and through a wing dedicated to kitchens and dining rooms. Strangely, even though the party was certain that it was at least 60 feet under ground, panels in the ceiling above showed the stars above.

Meeting the master
The valet led the party to a spiral staircase and headed back up, arrived at beautifully furnished apartments given over largely to library and laboratory space. Seated at the far end of a long table in one of the rooms was a tall figure clad in dark colors. His ears were slightly pointed and he looked at Effron and called him cousin Sevash and called him nephew. The master was called Lughaidh. He claimed no other appellation, itself a form of arrogance. There was clearly a sense of power and great age in the master and his manor, but somehow a threadbare feeling communicated itself. Lughaidh was unfailingly polite but seemed to be weighing the value of the party in his own scales.

The story of the hill

Lughaidh related the following information as he chatted with the group: He was the architect of this tower which was called a ‘henning,’ or elf hill, from which (according to folk tales) elves crept on mist shrouded nights to steal babies and replace them with changelings. He stated that he built the henning to tap into a great powersource, but confessed that he did not know the extent of the success of his work, because his wife and her new consort, the Ailarri Lord Aenuroth had taken his tower from him and taken over his own work. Lughaidh did not have any information to offer about the Roman invasion of the tower becasue he was imprisoned in his own dungeon.
****The following flashes of information were revealed to Dowsabel by the crystal she carried: Lughaidh was a great lord of Atlantis who stalked out of a magnificent council chamber, after bitter argument with many fey lords, but most passionately with a beautiful elvish woman ****

He did know that his wife’s sister had given her own life to try to stop the advance of the Roman invaders and that she still haunted the third floor of the ring. She hated all living things but reviled only Lughaidh above Romans.
****The crystal showed a beautiful elven woman giving that same orb to a young elvish woman and imploring her to flee, only moments before the invaders hove into sight. They were opposed by a score of elven warriors, with bronze spears led by a tall lord with an exotic silver blade. The great sword hummed with power, snapping through the air as the lord cut heads from shoulders, slaughtering Romans in droves. Yet his own men were falling to the roman advance and the fey warriors were slowly pushed back. Then a new form strove into view. It was a huge armored figure, at least eight feet in height. The elf warriors spears did not harm the construct and the Elf Lord’s blade at first had little effect. But then it started to shimmer and hum with power and the lord sliced it cleanly through the neck of the construct, which then fell, decapitated. The lord was clearly weakened by the struggle, swaying on his feet, yet more troops were approaching, another construct among them. The Elf lady shouted to the lord and pointed down the stairs. He saluted her with his blade, and fell back with the remainder of his men. The lady lashed about the corridor with arcane energies, destroying the legionaries as they advanced. Nothing seemed able to defeat her, yet her form seemed to be becoming more and more translucent as she unleashed her power. Then another construct appeared. The lady lashed it with arcane energies, but they seemed to wash right off. It charged forward and smashed the sorceress to the ground beneath its brutish fists. It then rushed down the stair case, followed closely by scores of legionaries. But as they advanced a ghostly mist rose from the body of the elf sorceress who shrieked in agony, rage and sorrow, cracking the mortar in the walls and blasting the men around her to the floor. The ghost wavered and faded after that horrible scream and the image began to fade, but in the distance could be seen yet more legionaries and at least two more constructs rushing down the hall****

Lughaidh has not deigned to risk his power with the bean sidhe and therefore does not know what has transpired beneath the third level of the tower. He is however, growing concerned. The water that undercut the side of the hill is now suffused with necrotic energies and is hastening the erosion. And the necrotic energies will interact badly with the power in the Core. he does not know the outcome if they should meet, but he fears it will be catastrophic, at least locally. And he is imprisoned within his own tower and cannot leave. Had the party not come along, he would have risked the bean sidhe for fear of a greater threat. Lughaidh wants the party to go into the tower, past the spirit and secure the power source, or at least his freedom.

He then gave the party leave to return to the parlor to deliberate

A draw from the deck
Upon their return, the party saw that Lughaidh was shuffling a set of ivory placards. He told the party that in exchange for their assistance he would, if they wished, draw from the deck for each of them, and if they offered him something of great value, he would bend his will to the cards to search for a fortuitous result . . . the party drew . . .

To the bean sidhe
After the experience with the deck, Lughaidh left, but Volodymyr was now imprisoned within the tower, by means of a stone bracelet that Lughaidh once wore. The party headed down the tower to the restless spirit. There were bodies all about

Laying the spirit to rest

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