Old Kingdom : The Forsaken

Sword Beyond the Gates

When last we met our merry band of … heroes? Whatever. Jury is still out on that one. 

Anyway, we have horses that have been acquired through totally legit means as well as information about the upcoming sword deal and have returned to the ship to spend the night. We still don't know how we're going to get the sword (it is not going to happen via my mom Dominique). We spend the day discussing how to get the sword. Many plans are being discussed, should we get the sword before the deal the deal? During the deal? After the deal? Should we club the buyer or Lenariel, hide them in a closet and glamour ourselves to look like them? We also are discussing sending Corian to seduce Lenariel and then we steal the sword? (No kink shaming in this house!) 

Evie remembers that Lenarial usually travels with a small crew, typically two guards who typically carry Charter-spelled swords and wear Charter-spelled armor. She is pretty capable herself however as she is an Abhorsen also. Muriel suggests that we could drug Lenarial's lackeys, hmm good idea but how? Roxy uses her Sight to view the Lackeys and unfortunately they arrive in town and head straight to the hotel to do the deal. Damn. No drugging opportunities. However! We are thinking we can ambush them after they land their airship to avoid town police interference. Finn suggests that we start by sending one person in to try and convince her to give the sword to us before outright attaching her. Muriel then adds that we could approach her and tell her that we have a message from the Clayr and that if she goes through with selling the sword then dire consequences will befall us all. Duh duh DUHHH!!! If she still does not give up the sword then we will ambush them!! ARMBURSH THERMM

We happened to have stolen enough money to afford rooms at the hotel the buyer is staying at and decide to stay there an try to spy/gain more information about Mr. Wolfgang. Roxie get many rooms but just not quite enough and shucks Evie and Rogariel (Evans) are forced to share… oh darn ;). Sexy sexy times happen in Roxy and Dipper's room and Evie and Rogariel's room Rowr! 

That night Corian as he is just on the edge of falling asleep (likely after sexy times with Bronwyn) hears a lovely melody playing out in the street… It makes him want to take a walk and find out what the beautiful sound is… (Oh NO! The Pied Piper that is stealing all the children!) Corian follows his instincts and leaves the hotel to discover the source of the sound. He notices someone else, a young maybe 13 year old child out walking also. Corian follows him, but not too closely until he gets to the edge of town. At that point Corian tries to get the kid's attention and notices that his eyes are closed and he doesn't respond to Corian's voice. Not good. Corian grabs the kid's shoulder and stops him from going any further. Corian wakes up the kid who opens his eyes and is very startled! The kid thinks that Corian is trying to kidnap him and yells for the guards! As the guards footsteps come closer suddenly the music starts up again but is playing a different tune… after a minute the guards and the kid all collapse to the ground. Corian thinks quickly and picks up the kid and heads back into town. The sound changes again and this time Corian can't resist it and he is frozen in his tracks. He is bound and can't move. Corian tries to whisper Charter marks to afflict confusion on his pursuer and although he pulled off the spell it still doesn't seem to have an effect on them. The person seems to be old and decrepit looking, wearing rags, she (it turns out to be an elderly woman) gathers the kid up and whispers to Corian, "Someone must save the children…" The music resumes and the kid begins to sleep walk on his own again following her out of town. It isn't until the footsteps fade into the distance that Corian is released from the binding spell. Corian rushes to the edge of town again and tries to look for the old woman and the kid but they are nowhere to be found. He gives up and heads back to the hotel. 

The next morning arrives without further incident. We spend the part of the morning foraging for poisonous plants we can use, unfortunately only finding some that will cause severe stomach aches/the runs. Eh. It'll do. We spend the rest of the morning scouting around the hotel and airship site in preparation. Evie spots some good airships around that we can hide behind when Lenarial's airship arrives. Roxie finds placed around the hotel that can serve as good hiding spots for ambushes or hiding spots if we need to get away from anyone.

We get in our places and are ready when Lenarial and her two lackey's arrive and disembark their airship. Corian approaches cautiously and the guards demand him to state his business. Corian tells Lenarial that he has a message for her from the Clayr. He tells her the Clayr have seen her with a sword and warns her that they have seen negative consequences if she proceeds with selling the sword. Lenarial the Jerk only seems interested in the money and isn't interested in any negative consequences that may befall the Kingdom. Ah well we tried. Corian gives us the signal to attack!

Roxy tries to sneak up behind Lenarial, so far successful. Evie starts to provoke Lenarial to distract her attention. Finn casts a binding spell on one of the guards and it is an epic spell! However somehow the guard's armor uses all of it's Charter-spelled energy to block the spell, damn. Muriel conjures her Hamsters and somehow that also causes the other guard's armor to use up all it's Charter magic protection. Roxy continued to be The Night and snuck up behind Lenariel bound her arms to her side and puts Alacrea (her Charter-spelled boot knife) to her neck. Suddenly Lenarial is willing to Parlay saying that we found the one thing that she values over money. Roxy is sufficiently threatening and Lenarial motions to the sword at her side. Roxy calls to Evie to get the sword from Lenarial. She says that she supposes the King sent her for the sword too. Say whaaat?! The pot thickens. Apparently the King sent Romaniel to retrieve the sword and when she was taking too long he sent Lenarial. Evie asks Lenarial if she slept with the King too? Lenarial just smiled and didn't answer. Seriously what a Jerk. Evie tells the lackeys to drop their swords and remove their armor. They look at Lenarial for approval and she nods for them to follow our commands. Lenarial continues to be a total Jerk and she and Evie banter for a while. Suddenly Muriel's danger sense goes off and she says "we gotta go!" Roxy knocks out Lenarial and we jump on our horses and try to get away as fast as possible. Suddenly the ground starts rumbling and Chaos stones start erupting out of the ground! SHIT SHIT SHIT

Evie and Muriel yell at us to cover our ears as they ring their bells to try and send the dead back before they fully arise. The three Abhorsens, Evie, Muriel, and Romaniel ring their bells and delay the dead from rising! Elariel and Ariel on Evie's request send a huge flock of gore crows to the town and Corian and Dipper (riding on his bound free-magic creature that is currently a wyvern) go into town to try and scare/convince people to evacuate. We ride on to the Abhorsen's house! It takes us the rest of that day and into the night to get there. Unfortunately Elariel and Ariel cannot cross the river to the Abhorsen's house. Evie finds them a cave that can be secured for them to stay in while we are in the house. 

Ariel is very sad that we have to leave her and Elariel says to her chagrin that it is possible for them to be human again. Their bodies are just in front of the 9th Gate. Elariel says that it's not worth it to be human again but after some discussion with Evie Elariel reluctantly agrees that they can try to retrieve their bodies. She says that she knows where they are and how to bring their bodies back, after all she has done it once before. Elariel says that it was Ranna that kept their bodies there. She says that she heard (felt?) Ranna call to her and that's what kept her from crossing the final gate. Elariel also requests that Muriel and Evie go with them into Death and travel with them as far as they can but Elariel and Ariel will need to go alone into the 9th to get their bodies. 

The Plan! Muriel and Evie will travel with Roxy, Finn, Rogariel, Romaniel, and Bronwyn into the Abhorsen's house and Corian and Dipper with stay with Elariel and Ariel to protect them while they go into Death to retrieve their bodies. Muriel and Evie will then go into Death from the Abhorsen's house to meet up with Elariel and Ariel to join them on their journey. Once Elariel and Ariel return from Death they with travel with Dipper and Corian on Dipper's wyvern to get to the Abhorsen's house as fast as possible. 

THEN we will use Ytanitha (the sword we procured from Lenarial) and save the world!!

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We made a mistaaaake...
Journey thru space and time...

We broke the the glaive, and are now hurling thru space and time. Damn. Folks are throwing up, the ship is breaking, and we are fucked.

Muriel repairs the ship with ice magic well enough for us to land safely. We need to figure out where the heck we are in time. We head into town. Roxie knows folks inn town because the Night Blades do business in Ancelstaire. We find a newspaper saying that it is yesterday. Also we notice that Abhorson  are not welcome in this town.

We decide we want to prepare for Lenariel coming to town. We are going to ask around and find out about deals going down. We notice that on a bulletin board says that the town has many missing children. They all went missing in the night, many on the same night. 

Muriel goes to a local tavern and recognizes another ship captain. She begins talking to the ships crew. She is so cool. She is schmoozing and drinking (nursing a beer really…) and cool. Galindra (the captain) comes in. They go to talk in the big G's room. Muriel asks her about the sword, does she know anyone who might be interested in such a thing. G says maybe a fellow named Killian or Wolfgang. Apparently Killian doesn't like people from the old kingdom.  He also likes charter spelled artifacts. He will be in an upscale location. 

Roxie goes to chat with the Night Blades. She uses the symbol of a gore crow in lingerie to get into the secret hideout. There is more secret and weird Night Blade talk. She finds out that there is someone looking for the sword along the border of Ancelstaire. Mal has been tight-lipped about the whole thing. She also finds out that there are some Pan Pipes playing at night (probably a necromancer) and kidnapping children. Also… (geez these guys know a lot…)  the king may have been in town 2 days ago. He was in disguise (not a royal visit) and was around the airships. 

The Red Stilikin is where Killian is staying, possibly Lenoriel. We can't get the lady at the desk to tell us the whether Killian and Lenoriel are staying there. So Muriel conjures a hamster in her drink and Eviel checks the Ledger. Indeed, Killian + 1 (we think Lenoriel) in room 5.

Roxie uses her sight to try and devine something about the deal tomorrow. She sees Lenoriel meeting with Killian in his room. They both have guards. 

Muriel is going to try and get us a ship. We are going to talk to illiariel (the forsaken). She says that we can be anywhere (in life) when we go into death to destroy the chaos stones. They are at the 7th gate, surrounded by dead things. Ramoniel thinks that we should go to the  Abhorson's house, when we go into death. We will go on horseback. 

Muriel suggests she can also sabotage Lenoriel's airship. Finn is still trying to re-work the Prince's sabotage item from our trip. Roxie steals money for us to buy horses. 

And how are we going to get the sword you ask…????

 

 

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YAS KWEEN

People are paired off for the night. Finn and the King, Roxy and Dipper, Corian and Bronwyn, and… uh… the Abhorsen sisters. Evie starts research on Ganel. Finn awakes alone, but finds the King and says goodbye. King has loaned us the use of a larger airship equipped with military equipment.

We decide to start looking lower a couple miles out from the chaos stones; our agreed objective is extracting Ramonael and anyone she's with and getting out of Dodge. A couple days out, Muriel can see the Chaos stones further out, so we slow and go lower. About a mile out, the ship nosedives, the sendings seem to be taking it down hard and fast. Ahh yeah.

The extra sendings are attacking the airship as Evie wrestles for control of the wheel. Finn helps Muriel to her feet and then goes to attack one of them trying to chop the ropes, blowing it over the side. Evie yells for Corian, who scrambles up and goes to her side to analyze the charter "hacking" that seems to have occurred. Roxy draws her charter boot knife, which grows to cutlass size as she swings. Dipper jumps off with his pig/wyvern and tries to keep the airship together. Fighting breaks out around the ship and the military sendings fight to chop the ropes. Corian works on "resetting" the sendings' charter magic, which eventually works with the three remaining ones.

Roxy Sees Ramonael unconscious in a cave, and we head for the nearby mountain range. But then, looking out towards Ganel, we see an undulating mass that Ariel identifies as many dead, dissolved. Then Finn sees a group making their way towards Ganel, with Hastinean at the lead. And it looks like he's taking the free magic-infected remnants of his party with them.

We make it to a cave by following recent hunting trails through the woods, and Finn notices a glamor covering a cave entrance. We go in and see a jumpy soldier who says he and the Aborsen-in-Waiting are the only ones who got out, and Ramonael is grievously injured. Evie has to go into Death to see if she can be brought back from beyond the first gate.

Ramonael goes into Death, and the Dog appears beside her, ready to be her companion. She goes through the first gate, and makes her way around the sinkholes in the 2nd precinct, freezes the whirlpool and walks down into the 3rd precinct. She sense Ramonael's presence just ahead.  She and the dog break a chain holding Ramonael in place, and an abomination surges up to be sent away by the Walker Evie is ringing.

Ramonael and her guard, Ragarael (Captain America), call the thing in town a Grimgather, breaking bodies down and making a construct. They tried to get to an airship, but free magic woodwyrd smashed it with a tree. They ran through the woods, and the abomination holding her could only be defeated by taking her into death with it.

Ragarael pulls us aside after Ramonael goes to sleep, and says that he was here a few days before her, before the Belisaere army. He had come initially with the King, and was left to watch over things until reinforcements came. They got there, and there were no chaos stones, but the King was certain the reports couldn't have been wrong, but the stones appeared a couple of days after his leaving. Evie asks "And… who gave us the ship?" Finn gets super defensive since it's his boyfriend, super awkward. 

Ragarael thinks that since all the Abhorsens were called here, all others might be dead. Roxy sneaks away to try and See the king, but her vision gets clouded when it closes in.  We set up watch rotation and in the morning, Ragarael and Evie talk, and suspicion clouds their thoughts on the King. Finn and Corian talk, Finn is very conflicted, lets Corian know the King has a corrupted Charter mark, asks if someone with a corrupted mark retains any of themselves. Corian tells him that they can turn back, but they have to be willing to give things up in return.

We take them back to the ship and search the ship for any magical tracking items. Roxy finds a red orb in the bottom of a barrel of apples, and we examine it – seems to be the thing that broadcast the signal to hack the sendings. Finn analyzes, finds it to be a device made by the same people that make the armored sendings.

Roxy experiments with the remembrancer's mirror, finds that it goes back about 24 hours, but she can look at different places. She tries again to See the King, but her vision clouds again. She reports that the mirror only shows her a previous day. We head towards the Rift, and it gets colder and colder, and we stop at a town and find the provisioners at a church of the 9 bright shiners, and then onwards to the Rift proper. It's a huge gash in the earth, and hard to find places to climb down. We travel another day on foot, find a path that looks like it leads down into the Rift.

Ragarael's shield is pretty damn cool.

We finish descending and see the ice city in the distance. However… the ice seems to be no longer there. From a bit above it, the city is super not encased in ice. Chunks of the original huge chaos stones remain, some pieces crumbled and fallen. The buildings are mostly intact. The original Clayr's library is near the center, and some old paperwings at the edge.

Ramonael says that the two other Abhorsen corps members were left with the encampment, and maybe they found a way to break through the ice?

 

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As The Crow Flies

We stay overnight in the witches’ village.

Finn wakes up in the night because he senses someone using a massive amount of magic outside our cabin. Finn goes outside to investigate. There is a circle of The Whispered Dark on the ground and the witches are there. Herne is with them too. The witches spookily turn to look at Finn. Herne smiles at Finn and tells him to get into the circle quickly. Finn looks at his arm and sees the binding that Hadasa put on it has mostly faded. Finn hastily agrees. Herne lifts a sword and brings it down on Finn’s arm. And then Finn wakes up from the nightmare.

In the real world Finn’s arm is not doing too well. The veins have spread. Finn goes and wakes up Corian to show him. Corian attempts some of his nice Free Magic but the infection absorbs the energy. Corian does something to decrease the pain but by dawn the infection is spreading still quickly. Corian wants to go see Herne but Finn insists they bring Evie too.

They call Herne away from breakfast to talk to him. Herne says Finn’s infection shouldn’t be this bad in this short amount of time. Herne starts calling to the witches but Finn and Evie stop him. Finn asks if Herne is going to chop his arm off. Herne says of course not. But Finn and Evie are still very anxious. Herne goes to speak to the witches to arrange a ritual.

The Sisters of Whispered Darkness start to draw a circle just like in Finn’s dream. The ritual is very deva vu for Finn and he stands still when Herne beckons him into the circle. Free Magic chanting creeps everyone else out. The witches bring Herne a box that looks an awful lot like the small pyramid artifact that Evie found on the pirate ship weeks ago.

The Free Magic creature rips itself out of Finn’s arm and he screams. The creature falls into the box. Finn’s muscles are shredded on his arm; it hangs limp and useless. The witches rush forward with healing Charter Magic. They seem to replace Finn’s missing musculature with vines and leaves, binding it together in a Charter spell. The witches say his skin will grow over it in time, but for now he needs to make sure nothing interferes with the Charter magic holding it together.

We get back to Weylyn and Herne tells them off. Dipper tells us that he wants to come back with us. Dipper says he wants Roxy to show him around the mainland. 

Ariel and Evie feel death above the party. It is a Gore crow. Then a swarm chasing after the first. Muriel sounds the alarm. Evie sends dark fire at the swarm. Finn sends shooting star at the remaining swarm.

The gore crow gives Evie a message from Romaniel about trouble in Ganel. We remember the prince telling us that new chaos stones had popped up in Ganel. 

We decide to head to Ganel. We head back to Belisare  on the way to Ganel. 

Roxy meets up with Mal. She tells him that we are going to Ganel. He tells Roxy that the King is back. The rumors are true, new chaos stones have arisen. The King has called for all available abhorsens to go to Ganel. 

Muriel sneaks a Evie-disguised Finn into the castle to see the King. They are taken to different rooms than ever before, with much more security. The King is pleased to see them. And when Finn drops the glamour, the King is ecstatic. The King says he had the charges against Finn dropped in light of the dangers in Ganel. The King hasn't known who to trust. He says that people have been turned by the chaos stones and now call themselves the Lords of Chaos. This cult is trying to destroy those who worship the charter. Romaniel is missing in action. 

Finn tries to check the King's the charter mark. Muriel leaves graciously after dealing with third wheel syndrome for a moment. She goes to find Quinona. 

Finn and the King "check each other's charter marks". :) The King says he could use Finn's help running the kingdom. Yep. He's proposing. On one knee and everything. There is a kinda yes and sex, let's call it hot sex on the royal fuckin table!!!!!!

end scene. 

 

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Showdown with Sae-Oth

The only light is coming from Finn's Charter mark. Evie and Muriel feel the presence of thousands of dead welling up. Sae-Oth approaches.

We plan on destroying the sword, gauntlet, and the sunstone amulet for the ritual. The Abhorsens will try to hold off the Dead while Corian and Finn try to prep the ritual.

Evie begins by ringing Saraneth to bind Sae-Oth, but he shakes it off and keeps walking. He slams a fist into the ground and sends a wave of bones at the adventurer Abhorsen. Luckily Evie manages to dodge out of the way. Arielle screams and runs into the church. Herne plants a stick in the ground that immediately blooms into a tree of bioluminecent lights. Roxie uses the sunstone to burn Sae-Oth with light. Finn opens the box again and the Abhorsens feel the forming Dead recoil from it. Muriel also rings Saraneth and Sae-Oth only pauses briefly. Evie joins in too but the Greater Dead is not phased.

Sae-Oth brings a massive sword down on Muriel who parries with Airino, but the strength of the Greater Dead mashes the bow into her forehead. Herne slices the air next to Sae-Oth. Corian continues to build the ritual. Finn casts balefire at Sae-Oth and the light smashes into his darkness but does not seem to hurt him. Roxie creates a wall of ice but Sae-Oth just smashes through it. Bone construct undead attack us all.

Most of us get our collective posteriors kicked around while Corian works to set up the spell that will bind Sae-Oth while sacrificing Charter-spelled artifacts. We eventually get Sae-Oth into the trap and bind him. We are in rough shape. Evie sees Kibeth is unconscious and coaxes her back into soapstone form.

We head back to the portal to leave the Forest Below. We get back to the witch's hut and hear a fight happening outside. They are finishing off the bloodheart-infected witches. We ask to sleep and have our wounds tended to. Muriel is given a medicine to help her blood poisoning over a few days. The witches also give us rooms and food.

The witches kind of proposition Corian but he declines and I think we all almost died of shock. We identify some magical items.

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The Forest Below

Evie notices beyond the box is a small obelisk or gravestone. And she sees an artifact near her feet amongst the bones. It's made of wood with green Charter marks, a quarterstaff. It pulses with magic. Finn studies it further an it has an inscription that ends with "I am the oak apocalypse." Finn thinks the staff is made to knock out someone rather than killing them.

Evie wants to look at the obelisk. Evie notices a ring on a skeleton and pulls it off with an apology. She sees the mark for Kibeth circulating on it. The inscription: "Usareth, Usereth, bound by the Wallmakers, I walk in Death without fear." Evie shows us the ring; she says she thinks it's meant for her. Immediately Corian and Finn want to see it. The ring allows a non-Abhorsen to Walk in Death or bolsters the ability of an Abhorsen to do so.

The box is getting warmer as we get closer to it and there is char marks on the ground around it but no bones. Standing next to it is like standing next to a furnace. Arielle has gotten taller and spikier as we go through this bony terrain; she is picking up more pieces.

As we get closer to the obelisk we realize it's actually the steeple of a buried church. Evie immediately jumps in and goes down the stairs. Muriel hurries in behind her sister and the rest follow too.

This church is like none we have ever seen in the Old Kingdom. There is the hot metal smell of Free Magic everywhere, there are corrupted Charter marks that are writing everywhere. Evie sees the phrase "Children of Orannis" several places. Corian does not recognize the culture this church could have come from. Roxy also recognizes Asol'tha's name. We know it is a Third Kindred but we don't know what that means.

Herne tells us that the Children of Orannis are worshipers of the Third Kindred. And they are looking for the weapon that defeated Asol'tha so they can destroy the world with it. Evie asks if there's a sacrificial alter and Herne says yes, probably because "that's their style."

Finn points out that Herne and Corian's order also has their Orannis-worshipping members. Corian says that it's different.

Evie picks up a book and has Muriel look in it too. It has prayer to some bad old gods(?) and also a commandment/instructions on how to trap Sae-Oth. Apparently Sae-Oth is both Asol'tha's herald and also trying to take its power for himself. The Children of Orannis want Sae-Oth re-bound by destroying some Charter weapons (but not specific weapons). So we need to find more Charter spelled weapons.

Herne and Corian offer to stay with Evie while she continues searching the church. But we all end up staying in the church.

Evie figures out that if we close the box, we could see any Charter marks in the dark on the battlefield. But we're nervous about closing the box.

Corian makes a spell that is shaped like an egg and we follow it into the lower levels of the church. We come to an area that is blocked by a cave-in.

Roxy decides to use her Sight. She Sees Finn crafting a spell to carefully move the stones. And then through the tunnel she sees the bones of a monster dripping with black ichor and a Charter-spelled sword through its head. We're concerned that the sword is keeping Asol'tha in check – that may be Asol'tha? We decide to leave that sword (and cave-in) where it is.

We leave the church to go look for more artifacts on the battlefield. Corian finds a Charter-spelled gauntlet. Roxy picks up a small silver hand mirror that is also Charter-spelled. Finn finds an archer with a full quiver and a matching Charter-spelled bow. Evie finds an ordinary Charter-spelled sword and a large magic staff meant for spellcasting.

We head to the entrance for the church. Corian and Finn analyze shit. The gauntlet is identified by it's charter mark as Anathra, "The one who killed a star, none shall stand in my way". Quiver and Bow are identified as Endless and Ino respectively;  "Forged in fire my aim is true."  The mirror is named Kaiurn; "I looked on the first rememberancer, she blessed me with a fraction of her power. The staff is named Mayuna; "Forged in the void, let neither time nor distance stand against you". The quarter-staff is stunning … hehe… no really. It stuns, also the rings bind free magic creatures.

We spend lots of time trying to decide what to keep and what to sacrifice to bind Saygoth. We decide to sacrifice the sun stone amulet, Corian's glave, and either the gantlet or the bow (Muriel's choice). As we are deciding, we hear a loud yelp. Kibeth comes running over the horizon looking tired and bloody… coming up behind her is Saioath (a 7 ft dead creature). Evielle feels the presence of thousands of dead creatures, everyone else can hear the sounds of bones scraping together as the dead rise.

 

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The Enthralled Darkness

We are in the rowan tree.

The Abhorsens sense that the Dead have moved further away so we decide to come out of the tree. Arielle was not doing so well in the rowan tree since it seems to be bad for Dead. Roxy suggests we take some of the tree with us but Muriel notes we would have to be encased in it to shield us from the Dead.

Roxy uses her Sight to point us in the right direction again to the cave. Evie finds the cave first though. Corian calls out the Whispered Dark witches in the cave to announce us. A voice tells Corian to take off his shirt and he obliges with gusto.

The witches come out and apologize, saying it's difficult to know who to trust. We introduce ourselves and are taken aback by Arielle but surprisingly aren't particularly wary of her. They invite us into the cave to talk about Herne.

One of the witches' main purposes is to protect a tree that housed a monster. It is called Sae-oth. Now that Sae-oth is released he has gained control of many of the witches. They think Herne probably got away. In order to free witches we will have to remove or destroy the bloodwood hearts from them individually or kill/imprison Sae-oth again. Sae-oth is probably looking for the weapon that defeated Ashol'tha.

There's approximately ten infected witches. We decide to wait out the night with the witches so the Dead will be weakened during the daylight hours.

The witches accompany us in the morning. Roxy gets up in a tree and notices a shimmer of Charter spells around the village ahead. It's probably some sort of magical warning system. Roxy stealths forward to get a closer look. There are fours witches with a fifth one tied to a stake. There is a wriggling mass of vines moving toward the restrained witch.

We go ahead and charge into the fray to save the witch. And then a bunch of Dead Hands bust out of the ground. There is a mordicant too! Evie manages to get most of the Dead to walk into Death after the rest of the party beat them up some.

We manage to free the witches from the vines and we untie the witch on the stake. Corrian ventures into the village and calls our for Herne. There is a house that is supposedly imprisoning Herne. Evie throws Corrian a key and it unlocks. Corrian peaks in and hears Herne telling some ladies that they need to make the best of the time they have left.

After a few minutes Herne emerges, adjusting his clothes. He embraces Corrian warmly. Corrian tells Herne that Sae-oth is free. There are introductions.

Herne asks for a mirror from one of the witches. Apparently it will teleport you and it's somehow related to Clayr magic. We need to figure out if Sae-oth has gone through to The Forest Below.

We go through the mirror and into The Forest Below. It looks like a root system and is dimly lit. There's some innocuous bioluminescent creatures and an earthy scent of rich soil. It is oddly warm down here. We find some large footprints that belong to an 8-10ft tall reptilian creature by Evie's estimation.

After we've been walking for a mile or two we come upon a valley full of skeletons and rusted armor. It is the remains of an old battle. There is an ornate large box with a small sun in it that lights this place in the middle of the valley.

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The Whispered Darkness

Diperan comes along with us on the back of a wyvern. It doesn't look quite like a real one though – it seems like a Free Magic creature, not a Charter Magic construct. A lot of the gear he has on the thing has Charter marks on it though.

We head toward Weylyn. They have an airship dock. Diperan and his wyvern are able to keep pace with the airship. When we land the wyvern follows Diperan dutifully. Weylyn is the seat of the local mages' guild, but it has nothing to do with the Royal mage Corps that Finn belongs to. Here Herne was trying to make peace between the local mages and the Witches of Rowan Hollow.

Corian, Muriel, and Evie go to talk to the mages while the others go to the bar. The mages' guild is the largest building in town with ornate carvings and embellishments on the architecture, including Charter marks. The guild is lively this time of day. Corian has been here a few times before. We get misdirected by a bunch of bureaucracy. We finally get to the Dean of the business office just past noon.

A person in magenta robes adorned with both Free and Charter magic symbols greets us. There were a lot of Undead rising when Herne was taken during treaty negotiations and the only witnesses are still recovering. We are given a map of the area with markings of where the Witches are and another point of interest where the mages guild was investigating something. There seems to be fair amount of animosity between the two groups. The incident was about a week ago.

The Dean says that the Witches wouldn't let them cut a single tree down if they had their way. We go visit the Department of Artifacts and Entities. Evie persistently knocks after not getting an answer. The door slowly opens on its own. Evie barges in. An unkempt man in black and gold robes is inside. She asks him if he knows Herne. The man in the black robes knows of Herne at least. Evie claims we were sent by the monks.

Corian chats up the man (his name is Squelch) and he gets up and closes the door like he doesn't want to be overheard. Squelch says there is a large tree that the guild is interested in that has an artifact in it, and it may lead to The Forest Below. Evie knows that underneath forests are a thing in local mythtologies. The reason why they might want to get to The Forest Below is an old battle created the Barrens on the other side of the island. A bunch of magical artifacts caused all the rowan trees to grow and they suspect there may be caverns underneath where the magic artifacts are still intact and the roots are feeding them.

There is a portal that may lead to the Forest Below or simply be in the Forest Below. The tree of interest is to the northeast of the village.

The whole group heads to the infirmary to examine the sleeping witnesses. There are mages with white robes with red trim. Unfortunately we forgot to ask the names of the witnesses to Herne's disappearance. Evie says we are here to see if we can wake up the "sleeping" soldiers that were brought back after the Undead attack. A first aid mage sees our Bells and happily accepts our offer to help. They say they've exhausted Charter magic based options already.

Evie and Muriel examine the soldiers. Our Dead Sense does not go off. Evie feels that Ranna has power over them right now. She uses Mosrael to wake them and both gasp heavily, gulping in air like they haven't breathed in awhile.

They don't know what happened to Herne – there was a lot of confusion. Evie tells them to start at the beginning. "What did we unleash?!" One of them starts crying, they are in extreme distress. Roxy uses some Charter marks to help calm them. "They said Sae-Oth was in the tree!!" The Witches warned them but the mages tried to cut it down to get an artifact anyway. But this Undead creature made the forest come alive and creatures attached themselves to their friends and made them turn on their allies. The parasites were like vines that wrapped around the humans. Sae-Oth was a huge shadowy creature with red eyes and a mouth that dripped fire. Herne may have gone with the Witches and ran. The Witches started singing which made them fall asleep.

The woken mages say Sae-Oth was a myth. It's supposed to be the herald of the thing that devastated the island so long ago. The last time it took armies to fight it off – and this thing was called Ashol'tha. Evie writes a note to the mages' guild about the state of the awakened's trauma.

Roxy says the Witches in her Vision that sang at her had vines on them like the parasite things the awakened mages described. Roxy meditates to look for non-infected Witches. She hears some different singing far off. She Sees a cave in the forest with three Witches. Two are speaking nervously to each other while one keeps watch. Roxy comes out of it without a headache.

We decide to send a note to the presumably uninfected Witches in the cave to warn them that we are coming and we are friendly. Muriel uses her crafting skills to fold a crane construct to hone in our targets.

We tell our other traveling companions what we plan to do. Arielle and the Disreputable Dog decide to come with us. As we go into the woods the Dog smells something "that shouldn't exist." The Dog seems disturbed at the mention of Sae-Oth. She says "that would explain the Third Kindred" and won't explain what she means. Then the Dog runs away into the woods towards the direction we are heading. The Third Kindred are from the time of Orannis from before the Charter was formed.

We start hearing the singing and like Bells we can't shut it out. Corian, Evie, and Roxy start to stumble like they are drowsy. They are under the effects of drowsy. Muriel rings Mosrael which counters it but alerts the Dead in the area to our exact location. We run away! Evie notices a hollow tree that we can squeeze into and hide. It's a rowan tree that has magical properties and will probably shield us from detection to a certain extent. Arielle seesm to be hurt by the tree to a certai extent but Evie casts a shielding spell on her that seems to help.

We hear voices outside the tree arguing. It sounds like they are splitting up to look for us. The footsteps get further away. Muriel feels the presence of a dozen dead split into two groups, plus a living person in each group.

We cower in the tree for awhile.

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Reunion
"You went out for a bro brew and got into a bar brawl!"

After tea it is time to go to Corian's family home for dinner. Bronwyn pointedly takes Corian's arm on our way back and Finn sulks at the back of the posse.

 As we arrive a tall muscular man in robes does too. He and Corian greet each other and embrace. Diparen asks if Corian has found a wife yet. Diparen kisses the backs of everyone's hands (Evie, Finn, Roxy, and Muriel but Bronwyn does not let him). Corian tells Diparen that we are looking for some knowledge from the church. Diparen says Herne, Corian's mentor, has been missing for awhile. Herne went to investigate the Witches of Rowan Hollow on his own and has been missing for a week – he should have returned four days ago. 

Inside Corian's mother calls him her "baby boy" and she asks who the lucky girl is and Bronwyn volunteers it is her. Bronwyn gives her a hug and Diparen and Prolius look very surprised. Diparen asks Roxy about the Knight Blades and she is very cool about it. Diparen tells Roxy a story she has heard from Corian before but somehow it is completely new to her when Diparen is telling it. In the kitchen Prolius asks Corian about Bronwyn. Diparen sits himself between Evie and Roxy.

The Witches are practioners of Free Magic and not so much with the Charter. Diparen says they have an "uneasy" alliance with the Witches. Herne went to meet the Witches because he was trying to make peace with them after a few disputes with the border guards. Corian says Herne is a "master" of martial fighting with magic. The Witches were upset with the people of the town of Weyland because they were cutting down trees. Muriel suggests using a tracking spell to find Herne if we had something of his to work off of.

Evie states she would like to hear some embarassing stories about Corian. Finn asks about sending post from the island and then also asks to use some paper and pen. Finn is pointedly writing to his and Bronwyn's mother and aunt.

Apparently leaving to find a wife is a thing on this island to avoid inbreeding. Diparen isn't married yet though just because he "hasn't had the time". Women too leave to find husbands. It's also a way to prevent the island's culture from becoming too insular.

There are some rumors about kidnappings in the west by the Blood Horse Tribe. They were one of the three tribes of the north that refused to unify with other tribes and left the mainland. The Blood Horse Tribe live in an area crawling with Free Magic creatures. The Blood Horse Tribe may be kidnapping decendants of the Silver Moon Tribe (who also never unified).

During dessert some people in heavy armor with swords pull up in a carriage and sound like they come into the living room. Evie asks Corian's mom if they are expecting guests. It's Prolius's wife apparently. Two women, Diparen's sister and Prolius's wife, come in half-armored having shed parts of it in the living room. Esael winces as Corian hugs her and reveals she has a big gash on his arm. She's also seven months pregnant and Prolius is looking at her worriedly. Esael warns him that she's not about to start "doting" on this child before it is even born. Finn heals Esael. Corian introduces us all.

Evie tells Corian's family to avoid Hastinean. Prolius says scholars come from the mainland and usually go to the church. Diparen hasn't been to the church for awhile though. There aren't Abhorsens on the island but there are orders of monks that do similar jobs. There are orders for each of The Nine. Corian is from the order of Kibeth, Herne is of the order of Astarael and essentially acts as an Abhorsen. Only a handful of the monks carry necromancer's bells and some can sense the Dead. Evie is getting visibly upset. Corian suggests they take a walk, stop by the church and the airship.

Muriel, Finn, and Evie go back to the airship to check on Arielle. We see two figures in robs close to the airship. One is incredibly tall and sniffing around the air of the airship. It whips around and sniffs at us. It tells the shorter person that Finn is infected. The woman says Haadasa is the same of the thing and it also knows there is something Dead on the ship. They are part of the order of Orannis. The Haadasa apparently seek out things that should not be and destroy them.

They suggest we register our "Undead servant" and the church. Haadasa will also look at Finn's arm if we go by the church later. Haadasa is kind of lizardy with horns. And the woman says the thing in Finn will take over him if left too long – it may reach his brain sooner or later. Finn is concerned about losing his arm. Haadasa looks at Finn's arm and licks it, then starts to do some magic to him. It clamps down on Finn's upper arm. Some corrupted Charter marks now hold the thing in Finn in check for the next few days. They say it is a malignant Free Magic creature and they have seen similar things before.

Muriel asks about the creature that was attached to Cervane. They says it is a Gormoranth and were thought to be all gone from the world. Finn's arm didn't like attacking it because it doesn't want to harm other Free Magic creatures. We need to visit Hueszil to get something done to keep Finn's infection from spreading to his brain.

Meanwhile Corian and Bronwyn are on their way to the church. Bronwyn says she's sorry for being so forward but mostly she was doing all that to get a rise out of Finn and Evie. Corian says Finn is worried about her but it's coming from a good place. And he tells Bronwyn that she shouldn't run around with him if she's doing it to get at her brother. Bronwyn says she genuinely likes him though. Bronwyn wants to prove herself on this adventure but Corian warns her about danger.

The church has nine bells, Charter marks, and symbols of Free Magic. There are only a handful of worshippers here this time at night. Corian starts pointing out places at the church and monestary to Bronwyn. The monks are not surprised by Corian bringing a woman to the monestary quarters after hours. Corian gathers some hair from Herne's comb.

Meanwhile Diparen and Roxy have gotten into a bar brawl!

Numea, head of the Orannis, was ailing and merged with her Free Magic companion and became Haadasa. The Ranna have been saying the woods are waking and they're nervous the kidnapping of Silver Moon Tribe people has something to do with it. Supposedly the Silver Moon Tribe kept certain things sleeping.

Finn will stay with the airship overnight. Corian says the Orannis are sometimes overzealous.

We leave Finn and Bronwyn alone. They discuss their respective romantic entanglements.

Diperan wants to see Roxy to Clayr Seeing. The meditate together (but not naked). Roxy Sees a live area of the woods on the island. There are black robed figures with white death masks. They look directly at Roxy and point at her and harmonize and Roxy snaps out of her vision with a headache. Diperan tells her she Saw the Witches. And Roxy goes to bed with Diperan.

The next day Roxy tells us about her vision. Finn and Evie go to the church. Finn brings tea and flowers to Haadasa and its translator. Haadasa smells the tea and eats the flowers.

We decide to search for Herne first. Muriel sets the airship to Weylyn. Finn prepares a Silence spell.

Corian mentions Roxy disappeared last night. She says she went to a bar and then did her Sight thing.

 

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That Is Not Dead...
"Don't make this into bugs!"

We are left wondering to do with an undead presence in the treeline and a creepy note in hand. The Abhorsen sisters ring their Kibeth bells to call the gore crow back. It has another note. "No bells or I run."

We write back, "No bells. Arielle, is it you? Tell us something only you would know. Are you trapped? Do you need help?" The gore crow takes the note, leaves, and comes back with another. "It's Arielle. I need help." The note mentions where our parents took us for her seventh birthday. We send back "How can we help you? Where are you?" Evie also names the gore crow Ted and Muriel is disgusted.

The next note says that a necromancer is hunting her and she's just inside the woods. Muriel is suspicious again. Evie writes back, "Can you come to us? We can protect you." The message that comes back says "I'm not sure I can trust you while you're wearing the bells. I don't want to go back." We are all like well fuck that.

The gore crow drops a note and flies away. "I didn't think you'd abandon me again." The undead presence begins moving deeper into the woods and away from us. Muriel is convinced the note sender was an undead thing trying to trick us. She says she's glad it's moving away because otherwise she was going to use the bells on it. Evie slaps her with genuine fury and walks away.

The next morning the Dog has caught some rabbits and looks very pleased with herself.

After we take off we see the Grim Gathers' ship pursue us. As we try to outrun them we see them land near where we were camped. Muriel thinks this is confirmation it was a necromancer trying to trick us whereas Evie and Roxy think it means they're going after Arielle. There are some loud arguments.

Roxy meditates to See if she can learn what the pirates are doing. It doesn't even remotely work and she ends up blacking out. She lets us know it didn't work and she looks drained. We press on. Roxy tries again a few hours later. She Sees the sky pirates and the necromancer says, "Definitely went this way." Then she Sees a Dead creature that looks scared as its running through the woods and a gore crow along with it. Roxy relays the details of her vision to us.

We decide to go back and investigate. Muriel flies the ship low near the trees while Evie investigates. We pass over the sky pirates and sense even more Dead up ahead. Evie is sure that one of those presences is Arielle. Eventually we spot an Undead being lifted by a swarm of gore crows above the trees. Evie signals to it to come aboard the airship. It hesitates but lands on the deck of the ship. The Undead smolders in the sunlight. It has silver burning eyes and antlers.

Evie throws a blanket over the Dead creature and guides it into the hold. Muriel guns it out of there.

Evie sets her bells in a trunk. Arielle hugs herself with her arms and kind of cowers. Corian comes down to talk to Arielle too. Arielle says she woke up and saw her sisters but she didn't know who they were because they were so old. Evie tries to comfort Arielle's Undead form. Arielle says she's sorry and that she didn't want to be this. She says she went all the way to the Ninth Gate and something there told her it wasn't her time and then it told her to sleep.

Arielle doesn't know where her body is. She says when she woke she was so hungry and she killed a deer even though she didn't want to. She tries to stay away from people because she's afraid of what she might do. Arielle asks how long it's been and Evie tells her. Arielle only woke up a couple of weeks ago and still feels like she is eight years old. Corian feels awkward and leaves. Evie hugs Arielle and cries while apologizing. Up top Corian informs the rest of us.

When sunset comes Muriel finds a spot to set the airship that isn't quite so visible from overhead. Evie tries to convince Arielle to come out of the hold now that it's dark. Arielle introduces herself to everyone and we've never seen an Undead look nervous before. Muriel is still hesitant to talk to Undead Arielle.

The Dog inspects Arielle. "You're a curious thing, aren't you?" Evie asks the Dog to hunt for some more food. We have an uneventful night and another day of travel. The Dog seems to be spending a lot of time around Arielle.

We stop at a beach with cliffs for the night before the leg of the journey over the water. Muriel finally talks to Arielle and asks if she is okay to be taken over the open water of the sea. Muriel says they will make sure it's safe before starting the journey tomorrow.

We arrive on the island in the early afternoon. The western edge looks devastated – there are dead broken trees across this side. We move inland and start seeing densely packed forest, then rolling hills and plains, small towns and decently sized cities. Corian guides Muriel to his hometown on the far side of the island. It is a large port city with a nice cathedral of an unusual design. Muriel sets down at a dock designated for airships.

Arielle will stay with the Dog on the airship.

Evie asks Corian if Bronwyn is his girlfriend. Corian doesn't want to give a name to the relationship. Corian guides us around the city. Kilts are in fashion for men here and mainly large lizards are the beasts of burden here instead of horses.

Corian says he wants to go by the homestead first, and then Corian will take us to meet his master. Or, more specifically he will take Finn to meet his master who Corian thinks can help Finn with his Free Magic problem.

It turns out Corian's brother's business is a horse and cart transport only with the giant lizards. There is a business office at the homestead. Corian introduces us to his brother, Prolius.

We have awkward tea and Roxy invents the to-go cup.

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