Blackfell March

Chapter 6: T'sais
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Chapter 3: Disruption

Bors and Luther return to Ulfrecht where they meet Arturo in the town square next to a large statue of a stone horse. Arturo tells them that after tailing the thieves guild, he has identified a number of important personalities: the half-ogre Lourganne, the Akmeri wizard Drashan, the sly dart-thrower Hetwick and the pierced and foul-mouthed Caglan. He has never seen Lunnegan, the boss, but knows that he is based out of the Coinhouse and coordinates some meetings from beneath the town jail.

Pennythane, it turns out, has recruited the thieves guild of Ulfrecht to assist him in pulling a grand heist on Blackfell Keep. Arturo doesn’t know what they plan to steal and can’t keep track of Pennythane, so he has followed Caglan’s routes for days and caught the filthy thief in a pit trap. The trio goes to collect their captive.

Caglan makes a bizarre threat of dismemberment, but the trio ignores this and proceeds to take him North. He is uncooperative, but they figure Edmund Thane will be happy to get the information on the heist out of him.

Before they can make it through the slums and out of the city, they are ambushed by thugs, who strike from the rooftops with crossbows, as well as a small pack of mangy dogs.

Arturo sneaks up the side of one of the buildings and cuts down and unaware thug. Bors and Luther each enter a building; Bors gets surrounded by dogs but kills one and locks the other in a room. By the time Luther makes it to a roof, the thugs have grabbed Caglan and are dragging him away. Luther dives down, kills one thug with his greatsword, and allows the other to flee.

The trio drags Caglan along the banks of the Tarn as a foggy night falls upon them. From the mists, a wily Bagaturian man approaches and beckons Bors to him. He introduces himself as the one Bors knows him to be: Derngh Pahkh, the mystic.

Bors calls back to Luther and Arturo about who he has found, and Arturo is in disbelief, but Bors follows Derngh to a cove in the muck at the river’s side. As he follows, he sees two shadowy figures waiting in the mists, one short and one tall, but Derngh calls his attention to a set of three items and associated instructions.

First, he warns that Pennythane is no mere thief, but actually a powerful lich, and hands Bors a mace of disruption which he says Luther must use to kill Pennythane. Next, he gives Bors a sealed letter, and tells him that Arturo must deliver the letter to Yngvar the Apothecary back in Ulfrecht. Finally, he tells him that he will take Caglan, and that when Pennythane is destroyed Bors and his companions must come to this very cove, open the Aboleth’s Tome to the page he specifies, and meditate on the inscription until a ritual completes itself. Bors accepts the task, and after much bickering with Arturo, gets his companions to surrender Caglan to Derngh.

The trio returns to Ulfrecht by morning. Luther takes the mace and goes to Gantt’s Tavern while Bors and Arturo go to Yngvar’s shop. At the tavern, Luther meets Ponderosa, Strombardi mercenary, and Hetwick of the Thieves Guild. He interrupts an argument they are having to take Hetwick outside and give him the shakedown. Hetwick is too slippery for Luther, however, and he gets away to the frustration of the paladin.

At Yngvar’s Arturo remains skeptical and almost opens the note he is meant to deliver, but Bors discourages him. When they deliver the not, Yngvar cowers in fear and begs for Arturo’s mercy, saying that he will give them what they demand: Yngvar’s Ascenders, Yngvar’s Alterer, and his own stationary, which resembles the note they just handed him. Arturo demands to read the note and sees that it is written in his own handwriting, and is a threat of blackmail and capture to Yngvar. Evidently Yngvar has a dark past with perverse experiments on humans and animals and merely wants to live peacefully in Ulfrecht. Arturo is alarmed, and suspects magic, but follows through because Bors gives him assurance and at any rate he wants the hat and gloves/boots, which allow him to change his appearance and scale walls, respectively.

Shorter summary of rest:

-Next day
-Arturo goes to infiltrate the Thieves’ Guild, using the Alterer to become Caglan
-Drashan and Lourganne trust him, but Lunnegan orders Drashan to hold the imposter
-Arturo bluffs hella hard, buys time, and takes a golden sword of a rack as Pennythane comes back
-Pennythane puts a suggestion on Arturo to change back and lead the Guild to his companions

-Meanwhile, Bors and Luther try to engage Hetwick, go outside and realize that the Thieves’ Guild is inbound, so Bors stalls and fights Hetwick etc. while Luther goes berserk in the barm intimidating Gantt and invigorating Ponderosa

-Crazy fight with Drashan flying, Arturo fighting Lourganne on a rooftop, Ponderosa charging out to fight Pennythane and Bors battling Hetwick
-a voice in Arturo’s head proclaims that Atensior has awoken and is happy to be back in the hands of one with a noble heart
-Arturo gibs Lourganne with Atensior, which it turns out it is sunblade
-Pennythane kills Ponderosa and moves to take out Arturo, holding him and casting him to the ground
-Luther comes barreling out of the tavern, his belt glowing and granting him giant’s strength, and destroys Pennythane in one blow using the mace

-Drashan and Hetwick retreat, and Luther, Bors, Arturo race to complete Derngh Pahkh’s instructions
-Bors read’s the words in the aboleth text as the moon strikes the hollow, and crazy voices happen as the night becomes mistier, just like two nights ago
-in the distance, they see themselves dragging Caglan to the north
-Arturo, noting the group’s possession of Yngvar’s stationary, the Alterer, and the mace, realizes he was Derngh all along. He chides Bors for his silly beliefs and tells the paladin and dwarf to stand back while he transforms and carries out Derngh’s actions as best as he remembers
-The past selves go back South, and the present selves, evidently in a time loop, find themselves with a slowly-waking Caglan to take to Blackfell Keep
-Caglan mutters something about a phylactery, and the party realizes the goal behind the heist and that Edmund’s motives may be darker than they seem

Other notes: Lourganne killed by Arturo, Pennythane’s form destroyed by Luther, Caglan captured

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Chapter 2: Southbound

(unedited version, first half)

 

get into ulfrecht with arturo, he goes off to gather intel, luther asks mayor about trouble in the area. gets info about gnoll attacks in jost, decides to go fix that and get some hired help
goes to the stinking tankard, pays gantt for info on sellswords, talks to two dudes who are uninterested, then runs into bors
bors is down, but says he’s on a mission of enlightenment, and is more interested in spiritual rewards than monetary ones. luther says this is a altruistic mission, and bors concurs, so they head south. they run into some hyenas which get them real bad, so they jump into one of the tarnfingers to escape. they walk all night and wind up at a farm run by Ransbert, who lets them in. luther name drops and gets hospitality, R says that his daughter joanna is sick from hooking up with some guy named jeremy, and luther heals her w/ paladin stuff. luther hits the sack and rests for the whole day. bors goes out at night and finds jeremy being beset by two gnolls and a hyena. jeremy dies, and the gnolls shoot at bors as he attacks the hyena, but they hit it and kill it. bors takes his body and hides in the barn, then falls asleep.
they wake up in the morning to joanna screaming at the body of jeremy, luther prepares a burial ceremony, and Ransbert and the Jenfords (jeremy’s family) are there. Jenford asks luther about his family, and says he has a son who is “special”. luther goes to talk to him (benjamin) and he clearly has some kind of powers, so they take him with them to deal with the gnolls.
luther gets the crazy idea to get rabad the accoster to take out the gnolls instead. they head south, and run into two gnolls, and benjamin displays spellcasting. they take them out but luther am very hurteh.
they eventually run into some bugbears and luther name drops again. they are escorted to a floating fort on the bog, where they meet rabad. luther has an audience with him (bors and ben are escorted out), and tells him that he had to deal with a bugbear and some goblins and that the thane would not be pleased to hear that rabad’s dudes are attacking his people. when rabad says that those goblins were not under his command, luther says that he won’t tell emound that if rabad doesn’t help. rabad agrees and goes to have some kind of martial contest with luther, but luther passes out and then wakes up with rabad over him. rabad says that he agrees, but that luther needs to turn ben over to him. luther goes to relay the message
bors bonds with a bugbear named aratt, then luther walks in and tells them the terms. ben agrees and luther reminds him what he’s helping to save. rabad says that the gnolls are lead by the flind grachcha, an enemy of his, and that they will be dead before the night is done. they leave, and when they arrive in jost, the people are gathered aronud a spike with a flind head on it and gnoll scalps below it. luther makes a speach about how he made this happen by securing the cooperation of rabad, then has to deescalate benjamin’s father when he says that ben was traded to rabad. luther reminds him that his son has become the man that his father never thought he should become, and that he should be proud. luther gives some of the bag of gems to the jenfords and to ransbert so that they can restore their own farms and to invest in jost to make it prosperous
they head back north, but make a stop at ashen abbey in Bashkel so that luther can confess to father barthanas and begin his repentance. the father gives him some words about how what I did will have worldy consequences and that I must accept them so that there is hope for the good people all over. luther agrees and hands over the last portion of the gems to father barthanas as a tithe. bors was meditating in the vestibule the whole time.
they return to blackfell keep, cpt zess stops them and says that he deems bors to be a security threat, and that he will be allowed into the dungeon only. they agree and luther says he will relay bors’ questions about derngh pahkh to the thane. turns out that the thane is busy, so luther goes to lady jilian and talks to her about his business with the gnolls and rabad while she’s painting a still life. She says that rabad is not trustworthy unless he’s acting in his own best interests. luther agrees, then heads off to see if the thane is free.
edmound’s consort is leaving the room, and peter the squire is helping the thane to get dressed. luther tells him that the situation with pennythane is not yet resolved, but that he dealt with a gnoll incursion in jost. edmound asks luther why rabad hadn’t handled that and luther says “that’s what I asked him”, and that he eventually got rabad to take out grachcha and put an end to the incursion. edmound is pleased, but says to ask him first before dealing with rabad again. luther brings up bors and the derngh pahkh situation, edmound is intrigued, and asks luther to retrieve bors.
bors was escorted by everard and drummond to the dungeon, and they leave him with an old pastry to snack on. bors likey likes. luther arrives not long after and gets him out, then they head up to the thane’s room, but are redirected to his library/study. the thane asks bors about what he are, then reveals that the book he’s reading is one given to him by derngh pahkh about psionics. he says he and derngh have both annotated it and that he’s copied the relevant portions for himself, so he will give it to bors as a gift. he accepts and leaves. edmound tells luther to resume dealing with the pennythane situation, so he departs.

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Chapter 1: The Crucible

Luther arrives to Blackfell Keep and is greeted by Everard and Drummond, along with a slew of other guards. Inside, he swears an oath to his Thane in the dark, when the latter lights a chain of torches and reveals a horde of well-dressed Keep staff, townsfolk, food, and wine. It is a surprise party to welcome the new Housecarl.

Edmund leaves with a mistress, and Luther speaks to Jillian, Lady of Blackfell to ask who is worth meeting. She points out Zess, Captain of the Guard as well as a ruffian who seems to be a questionable guest.

Luther speaks to Zess, who is dismissive and even chides Luther for not dealing with the ruffian, who Zess says is poisoning the drinks for all they know. Luther leaves to speak with Everard and Drummond, who say that Zess is just overprotective.

So Luther talks to the ruffian himself, who he finds out is Arturo the Ox, a Strombardi bounty hunter chasing Pennythane, a halfling conman who has caused trouble for thieves guilds an town governments alike. He is believed to be in Ulfrecht.

Ulfrecht’s Mayor, Lars Burchhardt, is getting very drunk, so Arturo makes a move and intimidates him in a corner. Clearly he knows stuff about the Thieves Guild in Ulfrecht, but he breaks down crying before Arturo gets anything useful and Zess intervenes.

Luther deescalates the situation before violence happens, and Zess insists that Luther escort Arturo to the dungeon. Luther obliges him to avoid further conflict. While he locks Arturo up, Luther makes sure that the ruffian has some food—which is easy, because Arturo has been pocketing custard rolls all evening. Luther then rejoins the party to wait for a chance to speak with the Thane.

When the chance comes, Peter the Squire escorts Luther to see the Thane. He finds his lord staring out a window and feeding his pet bear, and explains that the so-called ruffian is a Strombardi bounty hunter looking for the halfling Pennythane. Edmund tells Luther to free Arturo and help him with his quest, and further tells him that he will pay double whatever the current bounty is, so long as Arturo brings him the halfling alive. Finally, he gives Luther a bag of jewels and tells him to take it to Valdr Blackmallet, the finest smith in Bashkel just south of the Keep. Valdr, he says, should be happy to give Luther some better arms and armor.

Arturo and Luther find Valdr in the outskirts of Bashkel, next to the hut of a charcoal-maker. Luther recognizes his heraldry. Valdr thinks the gems are fine and even points out the quality of old Strombardi coins in the bag, but he tells Luther that he has a more pressing need: his best crucible has been stolen by goblins, which he identified from an abandoned game of stickbeetle. He tells Luther he can refit some platemail, and asks Arturo about what tools someone in his “profession” would enjoy. Arturo is pursed-lipped but mentions he has a passion for whittling.

Luther and Arturo follow the goblin trail to the outskirts of Blackfell forest. In a clearing, they see four goblins and a bugbear making a camp. One of the goblins takes the crucible out of the bugbear’s bag, giggles, and defecates in it. The bugbear gets enraged and bites the goblin’s face, incapacitating it.

At this opportunity, Luther starts working himself into a righteous berserker rage. The goblins notice and rush Luther at the bugbear’s command, at which point Arturo hides. Arturo springs out and deals a mighty blow to the bugbear with his bastard sword, and Luther delivers the finishing blow. One of the goblins charges Arturo and the others go for Luther; this is foolish, as the berserking paladin fanatically swings his greatsword and cuts on down before it even touches him.

Arturo kills the goblin that is in his face by tossing it face-first into a campfire. The final goblin gets on his knees to surrender, but the froth-mouthed Luther understands only death. He bisects the goblin even as it kneels.

Arturo, though alarmed by Luther’s ferocity, keeps his composure and washes out the crucible while the paladin recovers his strength. They rest for a while, but resolve to make it back to Valdr by the morning.

When they do, Valdr is very grateful, and gives Luther good-fitting plate. To Arturo, he gives a fine set of lock-picks, hammers, a saw, a chisel, and a whittling knife. Arturo is mainly interested in the knife. Armed with their new equipment, the pair sets off to find Pennythane in the river city of Ulfrecht.

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