Orian Branch

Guide to the Adventure
Table of Contents

Part I – The Sages of Oria

A Tale of Two Princes – The party leaves their quiet village.
The Path of the Emissaries – The party travels to Berit.
Three Orian branches – The party discovers important information about a plot, a network, and a fabulous artifact.
Tracking the Branch – The party sorts out some confusing clues.
A Diverting Decision – The party finds trouble, not the Branch, in Berit.
Chance Encounters – The party runs into a thief and a mercenary, setting them on a fast track to answers.
The Many Requests – The party is asked to do deeds… some noble, others shady.
The Road North – Interesting things happen as the party begins the second leg of its trading adventure.

Part II – A Hiding Place

Divided Interests – The party splits up to carry out a grand scheme.
Road to Legends – The party makes its way around the old forest.
Monsters and Madmen – Rocks fall; everyone dies.

View
Monsters and Madmen
Here Be Monsters...

The road stretched ahead of them, barely visible in the wilderness, toward Eyllisenddare on the other side of the unclaimed territory. What awaited them there?

Resolution

The party headed into the untamed land between Savrannirsse and Eyllisenddare as the sun approached its zenith. Nolt drove the wagon, and Saline sat beside him, watching for monsters and raiders.

They were about half-way to the border of the forest when a huge shape burst out of the ground by the side of the road, spooking the horses. Nolt fought desperately to control them, but the wagon veered from side to side, throwing Saline from her seat. She rolled to a stop on the ground and lay still as the horses plunged toward the horizon with the monster in pursuit.

The hulking form swiped at the wagon, catching one of the back wheels and tearing out its spokes. Nolt fought with the reigns and tried to shoot the monster with one of his poisoned crossbow bolts. Ragnor leaned out the back of the wagon and swiped at the thing with his morningstar and axe, doing a fair bit of damage.

The wagon skewed to the left as the back wheel shattered, and the traces broke from the horses, who fled toward the horizon.

Nolt leapt off the wagon and shot a bolt at the monster as Ragnor dusted himself off and charged the thing. The monster swung at Nolt with its huge arms, but he managed to dodge the blows. Ragnor shouted to him to look out behind him, but it was too late. A dozen tiny arrows seemed to grow out of his back as a troupe of goblins rushed from a group of rocks piled near the roadside. Nolt slumped to the ground as the goblins piled onto his arms and legs, holding him while their fellows beat him with clubs. Ragnor fought bravely, but the great monster battered him mercilessly. Finally, with one last burst of strength, he plunged his axe into the monster’s neck, and the thing fell to the ground. As Ragnor braced his legs for the coming goblins, his vision blurred, and he lost consciousness.

When Saline caught up to the wagon, the goblins had taken what they wanted and pulled Nolt to pieces. She searched the wagon and found the true Orian Branch. She put it in her pack and headed toward the woods.

When she got there, she took the road south to Millfaire, where she sold the Branch and went into hiding.

In Kepita, Grayson delivered the fake Branch to Julian without any trouble, but that night, Rayne got drunk in the castle tavern and revealed the deception. Julian’s spies informed him of the truth, and Julian had Grayson, Rayne, Kheldar, and Alayla accused of trying to assassinate the emperor and hanged as traitors after a summary trial.

Here ends the campaign of Nolt Hyum and the other adventurers from Marsena.

View
Road to Legends
The party gathers rumors, spreads mayhem.

As strangers in a strange land, the party must now find places to drop branches.

Action

The party continued along the road toward Corner. They passed through the corner of Gnomeshore, where they saw some half-dragon gnomes who guarded the area from a tall tower with no door at ground level. The gnomes told them about the next town, but they didn’t know where the dungeon they sought was.
In Corner, a little village, the party visited the only tavern in town, a place without even a name on its sign, and heard that information about artifact might possibly be had at a certain temple.
On the 12th of Hexilis, near the end of the day, the party reached Elbow, the town where the road turned northeast to follow the edge of the old forest toward the capital of Savrannirsse. Nolt asked around and heard that the dungeon they wanted might be on the southern side of the northern mountain range, Whitemount. Saline, who had rejoined the party at the Hall of Sages, went to a tavern and ordered some drinks. Though she was drinking only elven wines, her low tolerance for alcohol quickly caught up to her. She spent several gold on drinks for herself and others, and she woke up in a wizard’s tower next to a half-elf wizard who had his eyes closed in rest.
This wizard had not been amused that the elf woman he brought home had promptly passed out without so much as a kiss, but Saline didn’t know this.
Saline made her way back to the wagon and passed out inside. Nolt spent some time at the local barracks hospital, healing wounded soldiers. Later, Nolt woke Saline up, and they went back to the tavern. Saline got a bath there, and Nolt disguised himself as Saline and ordered her a drink. Saline drank the drink and tried to start an orgy in the bar. The owner threw her out on the street, where she began approaching men on the street and making indecent proposals to them. After some of them accepted her offers, she slept right out on the street.
In the morning (14 Hexilis), the party left Elbow and headed north.
They reached Sundown Village in the morning on the next day. Saline went to the tavern and attempted a knife trick to make money. But she didn’t have any skill with this trick and stabbed herself in the hand.
After asking around and hearing that the dungeon they sought might be in the Beyomund waste, they continued north on the road. After rounding the top of a small mountain range, they came to a sign pointing to Longview, the capital of Savrannirsse. They turned aside and traveled to the city. There, Nolt visited his order’s temple and left one of the fake branches with the high priest there.
The high priest asked him to look for some missing paladins, especially one named Zima, who might be found in Nirswold or Kitsuni.
Nolt ran into an elf named Lyndon Edris, who was looking for a certain sword and offering to give a handsome reward for it.
After this, Nolt took Saline to a very crowded bar. Saline asked the serving boy for fruit juice, but Nolt ordered a her a dwarven ale with a shot of dwarven whiskey poured into it. Nolt started a bar fight by throwing money into the crowd.
In the morning, on the 17th of Hexilis, the party headed south again and came to the edge of Savrannirsse, where there were signs warning that the land beyond was untamed territory. The road stretched ahead of them, barely visible in the wilderness, toward Eyllisenddare on the other side of the unclaimed territory.

Session Rewards

A surprise.

View
Divided Interests
Greed and political intrigue call the party in different directions

One prince wants them to steal the Branch. One prince wants them to speak to the Sages. A small town cries out for help. And the call of greed comes to everyone. Which road will the party travel, and will they work together, or at cross purposes?

Action

A young dwarven lad approached Rayne and handed him a note asking him to meet with the local herbalist. When he had slipped away from the group and met with him, the herbalist told Rayne that the mayor’s son had engaged him to contract quietly with adventurers to obtain the Orian Branch for him, for the glory of the dwarven state of Nuppan. In return for this, Rayne’s party would receive a reward of 5,000 pp.
Rayne told the dwarf he’d think about it. When he told the group about this (at a moment when Magnus was occupied elsewhere), Nolt asked Rayne to point the herbalist out to him, which he did.
Nolt met with the herbalist and told him that the party could only take on this task if paid in advance. The herbalist said the mayor’s son hadn’t given him that much money, but that he could give an advance of 50 pp. The herbalist didn’t want to flash that kind of money in the tavern, so he and Nolt went out into the alley. The dwarf gave him the bag of money, and Nolt stabbed him with a poisoned crossbow bolt, killing him.
Grayson and Magnus went to the local authorities and informed to them against Owen Colgate, and Nolt and Ragnor traded the voucher for a ton of iron, for which they bought a cart and an ox.
Returning to Parvus on the 27th of Pentilis, they found that the village had managed to get a party of adventurers to go into the monster lair to clear it out, so the party turned east and made for the Hall of Sages.
As they passed below the mountains, they noticed something glimmering in the hills. Investigating, they found a pile of unguarded treasure. Or, so it appeared. When Nolt picked up a handful of the treasure, he felt a touch on his shoulder and heard some arcane muttering, and he was suddenly overcome with the need to dance. Magnus watched his dance routine and then covered his retreat back to the wagon. The pixie that had been guarding the treasure laughed at them and became visible long enough to make a make rude noise and gesture toward them. Nolt got away with a few small gems.
Finally, on the 31st of Pentilis, they reached the Hall of Sages.
The party discussed the situation with the sages, telling them of the attempts to buy the theft of the Branch and handing over the note Ursen had sent.
It was finally decided that the party would take the Branch to a dungeon in Mesarunde that Ragnor had heard about in rumors. The party also decided to use misdirection to protect the artifact. The sages agreed and provided them, after a week, with five fake copies of the Branch, indistinguishable except to the eye of those who had previously handled the real thing, each fake having a separate small difference in appearance, close enough to fool anyone who had heard of it but not close enough that the party might mistake the reall for the imposter.
Thus equipped, the party set out on the 1st of Hexilis toward Berit, leaving one fake in the vault for the sages to continue to guard along with the other valuable and dangerous things there.
By the time they reached Jocasta on the 2nd, the party had discussed plans and decided to send one fake to Julian, drop one overboard during the trip across the ocean, find places to leave the other two fakes, and locate the legendary dungeon that was built for another legendary object, somehow overcome its protections, and leave the Branch at its deepest recess. Nolt argued that they didn’t really need to send one to Nuppan.
(This was just as well, because, though no one in the party knew it, the herbalist was working for Owen Colgate, not the mayor’s son.)
At Berit, the party split up, with Rayne and Grayson returning to Kepita on Rayne’s horse, Ragnor disappearing into town on some unknown errands, and Nolt and Magnus taking the iron to the docks to find Captain Teagalley. The dockmaster told them that Teagalley was in port and was staying at the Empty Floor Inn. Teagalley paid them 900 gp for the iron and agreed to take them across to Mesarunde for the cost of their food. Nolt gave him 10 pp from what he’d gotten off the Nuppani herbalist.
Nolt decided not to visit “the Crow”, even though he owed the party for having the two Brigadines arrested.
They sailed on the evening tide. Just before the boat weighed anchor, Ragnor showed up again, with a half-elf sorcerer following him. The half-elf introduced himself as Drabear, a native of Rissen. The crossing was uneventful, and near the halfway mark, two and a half days into the voyage on the 7th of Hexilis, the party securely tied the second fake to a couple of heavy anchors they’d bought in town. They heaved it overboard, and it sank beneath the waves, never to be seen again. Magnus insisted on telling Teagalley’s sailors the major facts about the Branch and its history, and they gave him funny looks the rest of the voyage.
Their boat docked in Happort, Seashire on the 10th of Hexilis, and the party drove their wagon off the boat, thanking Teagalley for his help. As they saw one of the sailors heading into the local tavern, one of the sailors who’d seen the fake branch go overboard, they decided to get out of town quickly. Two hours later, they were in Centerville, where they got some information about the lay of the land and how far they would have to travel to reach Ragnor’s hometown, Portsmouth.

View
The Trip North
The party goes north while plots are woven behind them.

The party heads north with a legitimate mission and a dangerous side task from a dangerous noble. What awaits them on the road?

Action

The party continued north. At the border of Rissen, the guard searched their wagon before letting them pass. When asked, he said some rabble rousers had been causing trouble in the kingdom.
The trip to Ha’envale passed without incident, and the party arrived on the 18th of Pentilis. The first to sight the city was Grayson, who was driving the wagon. They noticed the palace on a hill, a walled section on the other hill, and a section of town between the two hills.
As they approached the southern wayside section of town, a lad approached the wagon and offered to sell Grayson a treasure map for 20gp, saying that his father had left him this copy of his own map before he went into Ha’envale’s undercity to retrieve the treasure. The father never returned, he said. Grayson gave the lad 8pp and took the map.
As the party passed the short road between the two trade roads, they saw banners and stalls and a large crowd of people celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the opening of the road. The party didn’t stop to take part in the festivities, choosing instead to go straight down the road until they came to a large inn at the junction of the two trade roads.
Nolt Hyum, concerned about the possibility an assassin may have come to Ha’envale from Berit, stayed cooped up in the back of the wagon until they reached the inn, then pulled his hood over his head and slipped quickly into the building. He paid 15gp for a suite big enough to house the whole party. Someone in the party noticed a human warrior sitting at one of the tables in the tavern and went up to him. He introduced himself as Magnus Silvercrown, a paladin from Kettan, and most of the party hit it off with him pretty quickly, telling him of their travels and inviting him to join them.
Just then, the party noticed a man walking through the tavern. They shouted to him, “Hey, Travers”, and Travers looked startled. They invited him over to their table, but he plead urgent business and fled the building. Nolt Hyum and Rayne followed him, and Ragnor followed them. Nolt Hyum caught up with Travers and asked him what he was going out to do. Travers told him the errand was supposed to be a secret and would he please shove off so he didn’t attract any more attention. Nolt Hyum returned to the inn, while Rayne continued to follow surreptitiously, with Toska and Ragnor trailing him.
They tailed him to an abandoned building down a dark alley, where he was meeting with a spy of Rissen‘s king, telling him that the king ought to know that Princess Ranisha had been raped by the prince while in Kettan. Before sneaking up and hearing this, Rayne sent Toska back to the inn to get the rest of the party. As the spy was getting ready to leave, Rayne dropped his marbles in front of the door, and the man slipped and almost fell. Rayne took his knees out from under him and got his arms around the man and started hitting him with his fist. Travers tried to jump over the fallen spy, but Ragnor grabbed his pants leg and stood firm while his momentum took him face-first into the pavement, knocking him cold. Ragnor then started hitting the spy, just as the other party members came into the end of the alley. Nolt Hyum came up and knocked the spy one more time on the head, knocking him out.
The party dragged the men into the house where they’d been meeting, and Nolt Hyum demanded an explanation. Everyone agreed that the situation was bad no matter how this came to the king’s attention, but they were divided on how to handle it. Nolt Hyum started to tie up the two men with his ropes, but then slipped a bolt out of his case and stabbed each of the unconscious men with it. Only Ragnor saw it, but Ragnor was distracted from doing anything about it by the reappearance of a white cat that had served as a useful red herring when Travers checked to see if he’d been followed. While Ragnor went outside to try to catch the cat, Magnus checked the two men for possessions and found that the spy’s pulse was fast and thready. He laid on hands and brought the spy to consciousness, but after shaking a moment, the man tensed up and frothed at the mouth. Grayson checked the spy and found a white paste in his mouth, which he identified as a fast-acting poison, but the type of poison was not consistent with the shaking, so he was bothered by this conflict.
Finding them both dead, Magnus checked them for possessions. The spy was carrying nothing of value, but Travers had 600gp and a magical battleaxe, which Grayson identified as having a very sharp edge and the ability to harm insubstantial creatures.
After a nervous night in the inn, the party headed north. After about three hours, Grayson stopped the wagon, because he heard a monster cry nearby. The party spread out near the wagon and shot down an owl-bear as it came out of the woods at them.
Two days later, they arrived at Parvus, a small village that had once been larger, the party learned, before a large number of monsters started raiding the town. Nolt Hyum stayed with the wagon, while the rest of the party tried to find the entrance to the monster lair. Magnus’ horse stopped before a group of boards on the ground. Finding that it came up as a door-like cover. Inside, Grayson lit a torch, and the others moved forward into a small room, where they encountered a water elemental. They got in some solid hits on it, but it was hurting the party. Suddenly, the form of a woman came from behind them and said, “You actually came? Please be careful.” She then put on a ring and banished the water elemental. Having done this, she melted into the shadows.
The party decided not to continue without their cleric and returned to the wagon, vowing to return when they had completed their delivery of the Kettani spices, fruits, and coffee.
Three more days of travel brought the party to the Nuppan Mining Co-op on the 23rd of Pentilis, where they made their delivery and started making plans for the next steps, but a rider approached seeking Grayson. He had a pair of letters from Ursen, which he gave to Grayson. The prince wanted the party to send word to Julian that they had a plan to extract The Orian Branch from the Hall of Sages, but to instead take the second letter to the Sages of Oria. Nolt Hyum sent Julian the proceeds of the shipment: 300gp and the two bearer drafts. Grayson wrote a note to Julian and another to Ursen, and sent them by the courier when he returned.

Session Rewards

700gp
Treasure Map
Sealed Letter to Sages of Oria
Magic weapon: battleaxe

Character Perspectives

Player Characters can add their in-character thoughts here.

View
Requests
The party is asked to do some deeds.

Having completed their task, the party must now deal with some requests arising out of their previous actions.

Action

During the training, Ragnor figured out that the ring he was wearing was making him clumsy, and he removed it and put it in his belt pouch.
After the training, on the 3rd of Pentilis, the party gathered in the council chamber of the sages and received the boons they had requested at the beginning of the training: Grayson received an amulet that made his skin as hard as armor; Rayne received the services of a batman, whose salary would be paid by the sages; Nolt Hyum had his heirloom ring enchanted to heal some of the wounds of whomever he touched with it once per hour; Ragnor had his treophy bear head turned into a cowl that enhanced his strength; and Saline was allowed to stay with the sages and study with them. Additionally, the sages exchanged the party’s small coins for larger denominations at an even rate without an exchange fee.

Those Angered and Pleased in Berit

The quartet reached Berit on the 8th of Pentilis, after killing a giant constrictor snake on the road. They made their way quickly to the Indigo Dagger. Along the roads through town, Nolt Hyum noticed they were being followed, and when they reached their destination, he called their follower out. The assassin declared that Nolt Hyum must die. Nolt Hyum shot him, but the bolt didn’t penetrate his armor. Rayne dropped marbles on the floor, and the assassin slipped as he charged toward the cleric. Ragnor attacked him and did some damage, but Nolt Hyum killed the assassin with another poisoned crossbow bolt. He quickly searched the body and removed its valuables, finding a medallion bearing a guild mark he didn’t recognize.
The counterman agreed for a small fee to dispose of the body.
The party met with ‘the Crow’ and told him that the Branch had been returned. He gave Grayson a ribbon-wrapped certificate that turned out to be a voucher for a ton of Nuppan Mining Co-op iron. He also told the party that Zethar was currently swimming in the bay, but that questioning had yielded the names of two Brigadine contacts. He promised the party 100gp for each of the two that the party either killed or had arrested. He recommended they go through local authorities, though, in either case.So, the party agreed to take care of Edsel Glendower in Kepita and Owen Colgate in Nuppan.
At the inn, they ran into Captain Teagalley, who reminded them he was interested in building a trade network in Oria. He paid them 100gp to escort a shipment of three trunks to Kepita. He also offered to pay them 900gp for the iron they were promised.

The Journey Home

The party decided to sell their cart and buy a large vardo wagon, which they hitched to Grayson’s and Nolt Hyum’s horses. Nolt Hyum and Ragnor returned to the Indigo Dagger, where Nolt Hyum paid the counterman to spread a rumor that the assassin had succeeded in killing the cleric. He then went into a back room and polymorphed himself to look like Saline and stayed in that form until well out of the city.
The journey to Kepita passed almost without incident. The only notable thing that happened was that the Risseni guard post at the border of Kettan was manned, though the guard just watched them pass and didn’t stop them.
The party delivered the shipment to the palace on the 16th of Pentilis and reported their doings to the emperor, returned their badges of emissary, and informed to him against Edsel Glendower, whom Heth agreed to arrest. After promising that, if possible, the party could attend his interrogation, Heth had them escorted to their quarters for the night.

New Tasks

As the party retired in their room, they were interrupted by a servant who informed them that the prince requested their presence. They were lead to a receiving room, where they met with Julian. Prince Julian commanded them to carry a load of dried fruits to Nuppan and, when they arrived, to send back the payment, less 100gp, by courier. He also offered them 1000gp to bring him the Orian Branch.
They readily agreed to carry the shipment, but they questioned the task of retrieving the Branch. Julian said it was the will of the emperor, but the party required proof of that. Julian told them to wait and left. Eventually, he came back with a scroll containing an imperial commission. As Nolt Hyum unrolled the commission, he found three bearer drafts tucked inside it, worth 100gp each. He rerolled the commission and said, “Very well. We will see what we can do.”
Julian left, and they returned to their chambers and discussed the events. Nolt Hyum showed the others the commission and the bribe of two bearer drafts offered in addition to the offered 1000gp. They decided to show these to the emperor and called for a servant, who informed them that Emperor Heth was no longer granting audiences, it being late in the evening. The party decided to speak to him in the morning.
However, they were wakened by the sound of trumpets, and when they asked a servant, they learned that Heth had just departed for a summit with the leaders of Nonnen. The party feeling that it wouldn’t be wise to try to catch up with the emperor’s retinue, they broke fast instead. Afterward, Julian met them at the stables and showed them the trunks to load on their wagon. Nolt Hyum hinted that he wasn’t feeling well, but when it became clear that Julian would expect the rest of the party to continue without him, he agreed to start out with them and hope for the best. The party rode out of Kepita and, having learned that Ursen was visiting the village of Ekelston and expected back that day, detoured from their quest onto the road leading there for about an hour, until they heard the approach of several horses.
Ursen’s standard came into view, and the party hailed him. He ordered a tent pitched and food broken out, and when this was done, he listened as they ate to the tale the party told him. Nolt Hyum gave Ursen the commission and two of the bearer drafts. The prince examined the commission and pronounced it an apt forgery, but obviously not his father’s hand. The party asked about the shipment, and the prince’s servants broke the magical and tamper-evident seals and found what was expected in the shipment: coffee and dried fruits. The shipment was resealed and reloaded, and the prince gave the party his orders:
“Continue to Nuppan. I will confer with my father and send a fast courier to meet you there and give you instructions. For now, tell no one of my brother’s deeds.”
He also gave them a set of code phrases that he would include in his letter, so that they might be sure it came from him. The party returned to the road north and stopped for the night about a mile from the border of Rissen.

Session Rewards

a bearer draft worth 100gp that was not revealed to Prince Ursen
100gp from Capt. Teagalley
a voucher for a ton of iron

View
Chance Encounters
The party runs into some contacts again

Now that the party is together again, the search for the Branch can continue.

Action

Kheldar reminded the group that the emperor would want to be informed of the situation. He volunteered to carry word back to Kepita. Alayla accompanied him, because she wanted to go back and visit her family for a time.

Brotherhood

It was decided that Chaos Village was the best place to investigate the poison and the thieves’ guild. The party stumbled into a place call the Indigo Dagger, a sort of a speakeasy where alcohol, drugs, and other pleasures can be purchased. Rayne and Grayson each bought an ale at the bar. They noticed someone watching them intently from the corner, and they went over to the table and sat across from the man, who had on a thieves’ guild cufflink.
He said, “You paid for a grand funeral: burial, headstone, moruners. How did you know the deceased?”
Grayson admitted that they hadn’t known the halfling, and told him they had come across his body in Jocasta on their way back from the Hall of Sages. He asked for, and was given, both of the dead thief’s cufflinks. When he heard that the deceased had made off with the Branch, he became troubled, suggesting that his “brother” had acted foolishly in accepting the job and saying that whoever had hired him must be very rich or powerful. He knew nothing of the poison used to kill the thief. Further, he told the party that if they were to recover the Branch, his organization would see to it that they were rewarded handsomely. So, the party now had two clients for the same job.
Their contact suggested they stay at the Twisted Pot Inn, or send word to the Indigo Dagger for “The Crow”, where they were staying, so he could send them a message if he learned more.

Fresh Off the Boat

Meanwhile, at the docks of Berit, a dwarven mercenary named Ragnor Kneeslasher had just arrived on board a boat he had protected from pirates on its journey over from Mesarunde. He wandered around the docks, looking for work, and as evening approached, he made his way to Hospitality Village and got a room at the Twisted Pot Inn and settled in at their bar for a nice flagon of dwarven ale.
The party came in and ordered drinks. Rayne noticed Ragnor sitting by himself and went over to introduce himself. Grayson brought Rayne’s drink to him. He told them of his voyage, and they told him something of their travels. Ragnor told them that the poison sounded like Lunia paste, a mixture of nightshade and lunia flower extract favored by the cult of the Selenites in Mesarunde. He told them that the Selenites worship a deity named Selena, and Nolt Hyum said there was no such deity. Ragnor agreed, but maintained that was what the Selenites believed in. Ragnor was also able to tell them that the Brigadines were a powerful faction in Mesarunde. Rayne invited Ragnor to travel with them. His pockets heavy with his pay from the voyage, he agreed to travel with them just for the adventure. Grayson told the innkeeper that “the Crow” had sent them, and he gave gave them a huge discount on the room fee.
They sent word to “the Crow” asking him about the Selenites and the Brigadines. He sent a note back that he’d never heard of the Selenites, but that the Brigadines, as they described them, would fit what they guessed about whoever had paid to have the Branch stolen.

The Order of Chaos

Canvassing the taverns, the party ran into Zethar again, and Grayson invited him to dinner, ostensibly to hear more about how they might join the Brigadines.
They sent word for “the Crow” that he would be here at this time, and that evening, the bar at the Twisted Pot Inn was full of patrons. The party dined in their room with Zethar. After dinner, they asked him about the Branch, and he bolted for the door, but Ragnor tripped him and pinned him on the floor. They tied him to a chair and interrogated him. Eventually, they got him to tell them that he had ordered the Branch stolen, but he claimed they’d never find it. Through threats, intimidation, and accurately gauging when he was lying, the party eventually got him to reveal that he had “sent the Branch to the bottom of the sea.” Through more questions, they learned that he hadn’t thrown it in the ocean, but had, as he said, sent it to the bottom of the sea. That didn’t make sense, but they had ascertained that he was telling the truth when he said it, so they knew it must be some riddle.
They searched his bag and found three daggers, one of them magical, two vials of liquid, one amber and one blue (the blue one Zethar identified as Lunia paste), a flask of liquid, a sap, and a map of the nation of Rissen.
Looking at the map, they noticed that there is a very large lake in Rissen called the Small Sea. Ragnor and Rayne simultaneously shouted, “Aha!” and told the rest of the party that it must be at the southern tip of the lake. Grayson theorized that the lake might have something to do with the enemy the Branch was created to fight.
Grayson told Zethar he was free to go, without his things. They followed him down the stairs, where, just outside the bar room, seven or eight halflings piled onto Zethar and stuffed him into a large sack. In a moment, they had carried him out into the night. Their contact came up to them and said they wouldn’t have to worry about Zethar any further.

The Bottom of the Sea

Because Ragnor and Saline didn’t have horses, Grayson bought a cart and harnessed it to his horse.
The party made its way to the south end of the Small Sea, where they found a large shrine or small temple to the deity of roads. Across the road from it, there stood a small copse of trees. Someone spotted a set of deer tracks. Rayne followed them out to an area of the plain that had been chewed on, then around and back into the trees. Within the shrine, they found an altar, a statue, and two offering boxes. Ragnor paid his respects at the altar. Grayson tried to detect magic on the altar, the statue, and one of the offering boxes before he found an aura somewhere beyond the walls of the shrine. He walked out to the edge of the trees and tried again to detect magic. He found an aura nearby on the ground and a bunch of auras up in the air a ways into the little forest. Saline went into the trees and found a shiny ring on the ground. Someone suggested the ring might turn people into deer. Saline put it on, but nothing happened. She gave the ring to Grayson, who examined it and found its magic aura to match a spell to slow the falling of its wearer. He gave the ring to Ragnor, who put it on.
The party heard a heavy rustling sound, and Rayne and Grayson got ready to attack it if it was something hostile. A huge bear came into view, and Rayn let off a shot, but it missed. Rayne ran up to the bear, drawing his axe, and swung at it, but he missed. Ragnor charged up and swung his waraxe, landing a palpable hit. Ragnor noticed that he fumbled just slightly when grabbing his weapons, but thought nothing of it. The battle raged, but eventually, the bear was down, and Ragnor claimed the bear’s claws and head.

But Why Two?

Someone said it was strange a shrine should have two offering boxes, so they went back into the shrine, and Grayson stood near the second offering box and tried to detect magic. He sensed an aura, so he concentrated on it and tried to identify it, but suddenly, the box grew an arm and hit him with such force that he was knocked unconscious. Nolt Hyum dragged him away from the box and healed him enough that he could fight. Rayne and Ragnor rushed in and started hitting the offering box. Grayson hit the offering box with the edge of a cone of fire. The battle was brief, ended when Ragnor sliced the box in half with a mighty blow. Inside, they found a magical hand-and-a-half sword, which Grayson claimed.
Ragnor decided to go check out the auras Grayson had sensed, while Rayne and Grayson decided to rest in the shrine. Saline went with him, in case of trouble. They heard something in the underbrush, and when they looked, they saw a deer. Looking up into the trees, he saw a long stick laying across two boughs. He climbed up to it, noting that he was taking a long time to get a grip on the branches as he climbed. When he reached the limb about 30 ft. up, Ragnor looked out and saw the Branch. Breaking off a thin limb, he used it to push the Branch off its perch. The Branch fell and hit Saline in the head. Ragnor twisted the ring on his finger, took a deep breath, and jumped off the limb. For a heart-wrenching second, he thought it wouldn’t work, as he plummeted toward the ground, but just as he was going fast enough to hurt himself, he slowed and floated safely to the forest floor.

Amazing Powers

Ragnor picked up the branch, cutting himself on a sharp place on one of the rings. Bringing it back to the shrine, he showed it to the rest of the party. Ragnor noticed that the cut he’d gotten from the branch was closed by the time he got to the shrine. Grayson tried to detect its magical auras, but he fainted, because they were too strong to bear. Still, as they examined it without magic, they noticed that whoever held it was slowly healed of all wounds. As visions of enduring warfare played in their minds, they decided the Branch must quickly go back to the Hall of Sages. Fearing that a city guard might detect the auras of the Branch, they chose to circle around each city on the way. They wrapped the Branch in cloth and stuck it in their cart.
They paused near Berit only long enough for Rayne to take some silver pieces in and buy a chest for the piles of small coin they were finding. By the time they had passed around Pallas and were on their way to the Hall itself, Ragnor had noticed an increase in the clumsiness of his movements, and he had determined that it started some time after leaving Berit, but he had not yet figured out exactly when it started, nor its cause.

Conclusion

They reached the Hall of Sages on the evening of the 32nd of Aprilis to find the sages in mourning clothes. They learned that the head sage had died the previous night, heartsick over the loss of the Branch. A cleric was expected in the morning to try to revive him.
When morning came, the cleric came and communed with the dead man, but he refused to come back, saying that even if the Branch were recovered, his peaceful days guarding it were over. The sages met, with Grayson allowed to listen in, and nominated candidates for the position of head sage. They went around the circle, talking about why they thought one or another would be the best one, each pointing to one of his or her fellows as the best choice. When they finished, they voted, and elected one of them by an overwhelming majority.
When they were finished, the head sage asked Grayson what news they brought. He invited the sages and the party to the vault, where he said he wished to examine matters further. There, he produced the Branch and returned it to its place on the pedestal.
The sages gave each member of the party a week of training in their chosen fighting professions and offered each the request of a boon.

Session Rewards

1 PC level
a backpack
two daggers
a magic dagger (returning)
a vial of Lunia paste (injury toxin)
a vial of amber liquid (injestion toxin)
a flask of unidentified liquid
a sap
a map of Rissen
a magic ring (slowfall/clumsy)
1 boon each from the Sages of Oria

View
Chance Encounters
The party finds answers, and new mysteries.

Now that the party is together again, the search for the Branch can continue.

Action

Kheldar reminded the group that the emperor would want to be informed of the situation. He volunteered to carry word back to Kepita. Alayla accompanied him, because she wanted to go back and visit her family for a time.

Brotherhood

It was decided that Chaos Village was the best place to investigate the poison and the thieves’ guild. The party stumbled into a place call the Indigo Dagger, a sort of a speakeasy where alcohol, drugs, and other pleasures can be purchased. Rayne and Grayson each bought an ale at the bar. They noticed someone watching them intently from the corner, and they went over to the table and sat across from the man, who had on a thieves’ guild cufflink.
He said, “You paid for a grand funeral: burial, headstone, moruners. How did you know the deceased?”
Grayson admitted that they hadn’t known the halfling, and told him they had come across his body in Jocasta on their way back from the Hall of Sages. He asked for, and was given, both of the dead thief’s cufflinks. When he heard that the deceased had made off with the Branch, he became troubled, suggesting that his “brother” had acted foolishly in accepting the job and saying that whoever had hired him must be very rich or powerful. He knew nothing of the poison used to kill the thief. Further, he told the party that if they were to recover the Branch, his organization would see to it that they were rewarded handsomely. So, the party now had two clients for the same job.
Their contact suggested they stay at the Twisted Pot Inn, or send word to the Indigo Dagger for “The Crow”, where they were staying, so he could send them a message if he learned more.

Fresh Off the Boat

Meanwhile, at the docks of Berit, a dwarven mercenary named Ragnor Kneeslasher had just arrived on board a boat he had protected from pirates on its journey over from Mesarunde. He wandered around the docks, looking for work, and as evening approached, he made his way to Hospitality Village and got a room at the Twisted Pot Inn and settled in at their bar for a nice flagon of dwarven ale.
The party came in and ordered drinks. Rayne noticed Ragnor sitting by himself and went over to introduce himself. Grayson brought Rayne’s drink to him. He told them of his voyage, and they told him something of their travels. Ragnor told them that the poison sounded like Lunia paste, a mixture of nightshade and Lunia flower extract favored by the cult of the Selenites in Mesarunde. He told them that the Selenites worship a deity named Selena, and Nolt Hyum said there was no such deity. Ragnor agreed, but maintained that was what the Selenites believed in. Ragnor was also able to tell them that the Brigadines were a powerful faction in Mesarunde. Rayne invited Ragnor to travel with them. His pockets heavy with his pay from the voyage, he agreed to travel with them just for the adventure. Grayson told the innkeeper that “the Crow” had sent them, and he gave gave them a huge discount on the room fee.
They sent word to “the Crow” asking him about the Selenites and the Brigadines. He sent a note back that he’d never heard of the Selenites, but that the Brigadines, as they described them, would fit what they guessed about whoever had paid to have the Branch stolen.

The Order of Chaos

Canvassing the taverns, the party ran into Zethar again, and Grayson invited him to dinner, ostensibly to hear more about how they might join the Brigadines.
They sent word for “the Crow” that he would be here at this time, and that evening, the bar at the Twisted Pot Inn was full of patrons. The party dined in their room with Zethar. After dinner, they asked him about the Branch, and he bolted for the door, but Ragnor tripped him and pinned him on the floor. They tied him to a chair and interrogated him. Eventually, they got him to tell them that he had ordered the Branch stolen, but he claimed they’d never find it. Through threats, intimidation, and accurately gauging when he was lying, the party eventually got him to reveal that he had “sent the Branch to the bottom of the sea.” Through more questions, they learned that he hadn’t thrown it in the ocean, but had, as he said, sent it to the bottom of the sea. That didn’t make sense, but they had ascertained that he was telling the truth when he said it, so they knew it must be some riddle.
They searched his bag and found three daggers, one of them magical, two vials of liquid, one amber and one blue (the blue one Zethar identified as Lunia paste), a flask of liquid, a sap, and a map of the nation of Rissen.
Looking at the map, they noticed that there is a very large lake in Rissen called the Small Sea. Ragnor and Rayne simultaneously shouted, “Aha!” and told the rest of the party that it must be at the southern tip of the lake. Grayson theorized that the lake might have something to do with the enemy the Branch was created to fight.
Grayson told Zethar he was free to go, without his things. They followed him down the stairs, where, just outside the bar room, seven or eight halflings piled onto Zethar and stuffed him into a large sack. In a moment, they had carried him out into the night. Their contact came up to them and said they wouldn’t have to worry about Zethar any further.

The Bottom of the Sea

Because Ragnor and Saline didn’t have horses, Grayson bought a cart and harnessed it to his horse.
The party made its way to the south end of the Small Sea, where they found a large shrine or small temple to the deity of roads. Across the road from it, there stood a small copse of trees. Someone spotted a set of deer tracks. Rayne followed them out to an area of the plain that had been chewed on, then around and back into the trees. Within the shrine, they found an altar, a statue, and two offering boxes. Ragnor paid his respects at the altar. Grayson tried to detect magic on the altar, the statue, and one of the offering boxes before he found an aura somewhere beyond the walls of the shrine. He walked out to the edge of the trees and tried again to detect magic. He found an aura nearby on the ground and a bunch of auras up in the air a ways into the little forest. Saline went into the trees and found a shiny ring on the ground. Someone suggested the ring might turn people into deer. Saline put it on, but nothing happened. She gave the ring to Grayson, who examined it and found its magic aura to match a spell to slow the falling of its wearer. He gave the ring to Ragnor, who put it on.
The party heard a heavy rustling sound, and Rayne and Grayson got ready to attack it if it was something hostile. A huge bear came into view, and Rayn let off a shot, but it missed. Rayne ran up to the bear, drawing his axe, and swung at it, but he missed. Ragnor charged up and swung his waraxe, landing a palpable hit. Ragnor noticed that he fumbled just slightly when grabbing his weapons, but thought nothing of it. The battle raged, but eventually, the bear was down, and Ragnor claimed the bear’s claws and head.

But Why Two?

Someone said it was strange a shrine should have two offering boxes, so they went back into the shrine, and Grayson stood near the second offering box and tried to detect magic. He sensed an aura, so he concentrated on it and tried to identify it, but suddenly, the box grew an arm and hit him with such force that he was knocked unconscious. Nolt Hyum dragged him away from the box and healed him enough that he could fight. Rayne and Ragnor rushed in and started hitting the offering box. Grayson hit the offering box with the edge of a cone of fire. The battle was brief, ended when Ragnor sliced the box in half with a mighty blow. Inside, they found a magical hand-and-a-half sword, which Grayson claimed.
Ragnor decided to go check out the auras Grayson had sensed, while Rayne and Grayson decided to rest in the shrine. Saline went with him, in case of trouble. They heard something in the underbrush, and when they looked, they saw a deer. Looking up into the trees, he saw a long stick laying across two boughs. He climbed up to it, noting that he was taking a long time to get a grip on the branches as he climbed. When he reached the limb about 30 ft. up, Ragnor looked out and saw the Branch. Breaking off a thin limb, he used it to push the Branch off its perch. The Branch fell and hit Saline in the head. Ragnor twisted the ring on his finger, took a deep breath, and jumped off the limb. For a heart-wrenching second, he thought it wouldn’t work, as he plummeted toward the ground, but just as he was going fast enough to hurt himself, he slowed and floated safely to the forest floor.

Amazing Powers

Ragnor picked up the branch, cutting himself on a sharp place on one of the rings. Bringing it back to the shrine, he showed it to the rest of the party. Ragnor noticed that the cut he’d gotten from the branch was closed by the time he got to the shrine. Grayson tried to detect its magical auras, but he fainted, because they were too strong to bear. Still, as they examined it without magic, they noticed that whoever held it was slowly healed of all wounds. As visions of enduring warfare played in their minds, they decided the Branch must quickly go back to the Hall of Sages. Fearing that a city guard might detect the auras of the Branch, they chose to circle around each city on the way. They wrapped the Branch in cloth and stuck it in their cart.
They paused near Berit only long enough for Rayne to take some silver pieces in and buy a chest for the piles of small coin they were finding. By the time they had passed around Pallas and were on their way to the Hall itself, Ragnor had noticed an increase in the clumsiness of his movements, and he had determined that it started some time after leaving Berit, but he had not yet figured out exactly when it started, nor its cause.

Conclusion

They reached the Hall of Sages on the evening of the 32nd of Aprilis to find the sages in mourning clothes. They learned that the head sage had died the previous night, heartsick over the loss of the Branch. A cleric was expected in the morning to try to revive him.
When morning came, the cleric came and communed with the dead man, but he refused to come back, saying that even if the Branch were recovered, his peaceful days guarding it were over. The sages met, with Grayson allowed to listen in, and nominated candidates for the position of head sage. They went around the circle, talking about why they thought one or another would be the best one, each pointing to one of his or her fellows as the best choice. When they finished, they voted, and elected one of them by an overwhelming majority.
When they were finished, the head sage asked Grayson what news they brought. He invited the sages and the party to the vault, where he said he wished to examine matters further. There, he produced the Branch and returned it to its place on the pedestal.
The sages gave each member of the party a week of training in their chosen fighting professions and offered each the request of a boon.

Session Rewards

1 PC level
a backpack
two daggers
a magic dagger (returning)
a vial of Lunia paste (injury toxin)
a vial of amber liquid (injestion toxin)
a flask of unidentified liquid
a sap
a map of Rissen
a magic ring (slowfall/clumsy)
1 boon each from the Sages of Oria

View
A Diverting Decision
The search for the Branch is delayed when the party finds trouble in Berit.

A body to bury and a branch to find. What will the party find in the big city?

Action

Our intrepid adventurers made it to Berit on the 20th of Aprilis. They made their way through the town to the necropolis, where they turned the halfling’s body over to the undertaker and paid for burial, a tombstone carved with the thief’s likeness (since they didn’t know his name), and the customary number of professional mourners.
Then, they went to Watertown in search of information about the thieves’ guild. They entered the Golden Bowl Tavern, where they found a large number of patrons drinking, and an elven female dancing on one of the tables.
Nolt Hyum sat in the corner and ordered food. Most of the party sat down at various tables for a little refreshment. Rayne decided the crowd didn’t look good, and he hid under one of the tables.
Nolt Hyum threw his tankard at Grayson, splashing him and hitting one of the other patrons with the heavy vessel. Rioting ensued, during which, Alayla was knocked out. A man came into the tavern and grabbed Grayson, dragging him toward the door. Nolt Hyum shot the man with a poisoned crossbow bolt, but he shrugged it off and kept going out the door. The man, soon identified as one of the town guard, came back and, along with other guards, one of which kept watch at the door against future pot shots, continued to drag people out of the tavern. The guards pulled the dancing elf off the table and dragged her outside, too.
Soon, the only people in the room were the tavernkeeper, Nolt Hyum, Rayne, and the unconscious ones. Nolt Hyum decided to take this opportunity to question the tavernkeeper quietly. He showed the man the cufflink, and he turned away and claimed ignorance. Nolt Hyum pressed him about the matter, and he said he didn’t remember anything about it. Eventually, he intimated that his memory might be jogged with a sufficient weight of precious metal, but Nolt Hyum offer him a crossbow bolt, instead. He again claimed ignorance, and Nolt Hyum shot him. He fell to the floor, dead.
A scream came from near the door, and Nolt Hyum watched a woman run out of the tavern. He went around the bar and searched the body and the money drawer. As he finished this, he heard the approach of a group of running people.
He went up the stairs (the only other exit to the room), and checked each of the rooms on the second floor. Finding no good place to hide, he turned toward the stairs and tried to bluff the guards into thinking he had nothing to do with the murder of the tavernkeeper. The guards bound him and took him downstairs, where the tavernkeeper’s wife, the woman who had run out, identified him as the murderer. He accused her of the crime, and the guards led them both to the guard station, Nolt Hyum bound, the woman following along free.

In the morning, Grayson woke up in an alley next to the tavern, and the elven dancer was laying across him. He wriggled out from under her, asked her what had happened, and found she could not remember the events after entering the tavern. He told her his name, and she introduced herself as Saline, a ranger/wizard. Finding her an agreeable person to be around, Grayson invited her to come with him.
The two went into the tavern and found Rayne and Alayla. They compared notes, and not finding Kheldar, they decided to search for him. They canvassed the area of town around the tavern, but their inquiries at other taverns found no one who had seen a monk searching for recipes, and no Kheldar in the flesh. After spending most of the day on this endeavor, the party returned to the tavern and found Kheldar coming down the stairs. He had been in one of the locked rooms upstairs all morning.
They went to the guard station, where they bribed the head guard with drugged wine and money. The drug in the wine did not affect the guard as they had hoped, but he did agree to expedite the trial of Nolt Hyum.
On the morning of the 22nd of Aprilis, Nolt Hyum was brought before the judge, who reviewed the incontrovertible evidence that he had killed the tavernkeeper: the witness, the crossbow bolt matching one shot at a guard earlier in the evening, his presence at the scene, etc. Nolt Hyum claimed to have no memory of the events surrounding the tavernkeeper’s death. Since he was questioned in a zone of truth, and since the judge believed him, and since the head guard whispered something to him, the judge ruled that Nolt Hyum must not be resposible for the death, and therefore should be released. Nolt Hyum offered to pay some damages, claiming that he would give all his money to this. Money changed hands, and the party left the hearing chamber.

View
A Diverting Decision
The search for the Branch is delayed when the party finds trouble in Berit.

A body to bury and a branch to find. What will the party find in the big city?

Action

Our intrepid adventurers made it to Berit on the 20th of Aprilis. They made their way through the town to the necropolis, where they turned the halfling’s body over to the undertaker and paid for burial, a tombstone carved with the thief’s likeness (since they didn’t know his name), and the customary number of professional mourners.
Then, they went to Watertown in search of information about the thieves’ guild. They entered the Golden Bowl Tavern, where they found a large number of patrons drinking, and an elven female dancing on one of the tables.
Nolt Hyum sat in the corner and ordered food. Most of the party sat down at various tables for a little refreshment. Rayne decided the crowd didn’t look good, and he hid under one of the tables.
Nolt Hyum threw his tankard at Grayson, splashing him and hitting one of the other patrons with the heavy vessel. Rioting ensued, during which, Alayla was knocked out. A man came into the tavern and grabbed Grayson, dragging him toward the door. Nolt Hyum shot the man with a poisoned crossbow bolt, but he shrugged it off and kept going out the door. The man, soon identified as one of the town guard, came back and, along with other guards, one of which kept watch at the door against future pot shots, continued to drag people out of the tavern. The guards pulled the dancing elf off the table and dragged her outside, too.
Soon, the only people in the room were the tavernkeeper, Nolt Hyum, Rayne, and the unconscious ones. Nolt Hyum decided to take this opportunity to question the tavernkeeper quietly. He showed the man the cufflink, and he turned away and claimed ignorance. Nolt Hyum pressed him about the matter, and he said he didn’t remember anything about it. Eventually, he intimated that his memory might be jogged with a sufficient weight of precious metal, but Nolt Hyum offer him a crossbow bolt, instead. He again claimed ignorance, and Nolt Hyum shot him. He fell to the floor, dead.
A scream came from near the door, and Nolt Hyum watched a woman run out of the tavern. He went around the bar and searched the body and the money drawer. As he finished this, he heard the approach of a group of running people.
He went up the stairs (the only other exit to the room), and checked each of the rooms on the second floor. Finding no good place to hide, he turned toward the stairs and tried to bluff the guards into thinking he had nothing to do with the murder of the tavernkeeper. The guards bound him and took him downstairs, where the tavernkeeper’s wife, the woman who had run out, identified him as the murderer. He accused her of the crime, and the guards led them both to the guard station, Nolt Hyum bound, the woman following along free.

In the morning, Grayson woke up in an alley next to the tavern, and the elven dancer was laying across him. He wriggled out from under her, asked her what had happened, and found she could not remember the events after entering the tavern. He told her his name, and she introduced herself as Saline, a ranger/wizard. Finding her an agreeable person to be around, Grayson invited her to come with him.
The two went into the tavern and found Rayne and Alayla. They compared notes, and not finding Kheldar, they decided to search for him. They canvassed the area of town around the tavern, but their inquiries at other taverns found no one who had seen a monk searching for recipes, and no Kheldar in the flesh. After spending most of the day on this endeavor, the party returned to the tavern and found Kheldar coming down the stairs. He had been in one of the locked rooms upstairs all morning.
They went to the guard station, where they bribed the head guard with drugged wine and money. The drug in the wine did not affect the guard as they had hoped, but he did agree to expedite the trial of Nolt Hyum.
On the morning of the 22nd of Aprilis, Nolt Hyum was brought before the judge, who reviewed the incontrovertible evidence that he had killed the tavernkeeper: the witness, the crossbow bolt matching one shot at a guard earlier in the evening, his presence at the scene, etc. Nolt Hyum claimed to have no memory of the events surrounding the tavernkeeper’s death. Since he was questioned in a zone of truth, and since the judge believed him, and since the head guard whispered something to him, the judge ruled that Nolt Hyum must not be resposible for the death, and therefore should be released. Nolt Hyum offered to pay some damages, claiming that he would give all his money to this. Money changed hands, and the party left the hearing chamber.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.