When we last left our heroes, they had just raided Shaman's Crown, capturing the evil, red-haired cleric Morgrissa, as well as a number of her crew, including the orc barbarian Barrath. Letting the orcs go on promise of their good conduct and leaving the wounded thugs behind, they traveled with the rescued Allayn (nephew of Lord Khulvan of Dhunraven) and the trussed Morgrissa, back to Cador. They bore a letter from a "Lord Beoric", incriminating the Cadorian merchant Cordwellyn, employer of that traitorous guide Venya. After enduring a fearsome owlbear attack, they reached the hamlet. Invellios was still blind from Morgrissa's curse.
Our heroes enter Cador in the evening, and hurry to the house of the town warden, Aelric. He embraces the rescued Allayn, and listens to the adventurers' hasty story. Then he quickly marshals his men, and they raid Cordwellyn's home. In his basement storeroom, they find a skulking Venya, who fails to down an Invisibility potion and slip away before being captured. Cordwellyn, the richest man in Cador (and probably in the entire northern third of Dhunraven Manor), puffs and fumes at these accusations. He is placed under house arrest, while Venya is chained and thrown into the town cell.
In the morning, awakening from a refreshing sleep in a real bed, Sarah remembers a scroll of Dispel Magic in her bag. Apologizing to Invellios, she tries the scroll without mishap, and his cloudy eyes clear. He can see again! Invellios remains very subdued and introspective after the recovery of his sight.
Over an official breakfast, Allayn, Aelric, Brodan the Stout (the town cleric and Aelric's right-hand man), and our heroes confer. The letter from Lord Beoric implicates political moves by the ruler of Mortyr, one of the other four principalities of the Corum confederation. Aelric explains that Dhunraven is hard-pressed on all sides: orc raids from the south, hobgoblins to the west, the cold winter wind building in the north, and now, it seems, treachery from their neighbors to the east by attempting to poison Dhunraven-hobgoblin relations. News of this must reach Lord Khulvan in El Dorado quickly, and a trial must be summarily held. To this end, Allayn and our heroes should head south with a number of Cador guards, escorting the three main prisoners--Venya, Cordwellyn, and Morgrissa. Meanwhile, Brodan will lead a small troop of men back to Shaman's Crown to investigate for further evidence or any remaining prisoners there. Strohm, our heroes' Alvorin guide, will accompany them, before turning north to rejoin his people with the news.
It takes two days to hike to the river, a day waiting for the patrol boat, and another to race down the icy river Tarn back to El Dorado.
Our heroes met with Lord Khulvan again, who grants them the 3000gp they had recovered in chests with Allayn as a reward (well over his promised 2000gp). He also grants them non-hereditary yeoman titles, deeding them stewardship of the lands of and around Shaman's Crown. (Luceo later comments to his companions, "Whoopty doo. Sound like a political move to get some security on the border, if you ask me.")
The following day, our heroes explore town. They find a sage to ID a few of their found magic items, and Luceo talks Sarah into accompanying him to the small local Arcane Order library, where he spends the day researching the Citadel that Spanned the World. It was a magical structure built centuries ago by a mage order known as The Horadrim. The Citadel, among its many other uses, allowed mages to teleport instantly across the world. As part of its structure, five massive standing stones, or pylons, were erected at far corners of Tellure. The Citadel was later destroyed by a rival mage faction, doing great damage to the world and actually weakening the fabric of reality around the pylons. Luceo learns that the City of the Dead, where the Oracle told him his future lies, has built up around the southwest Pylon, which is only about 2 weeks journey southeast.
The next day, the trial begins. Our heroes testify of their findings in general.
The day after, the guilt of Venya is investigated, based on reports and Allayn's testimony of his involvement on the attack on Allayn's trading party. All morning, Venya stays silent. In the afternoon session, Venya realizes that Cordwellyn isn't going to get him out of this one, and begins to confess and accuse. The next morning, he is found dead in his cell. There is no evidence of poison; he seems to have choked to death on his gruel dinner.
The third day of the trial focuses on Morgrissa. She is lead in, wrapped in chains and her mouth stuffed with dark red wax to keep her from casting any spells. She still commands the attention of everyone in the room, silently surveying the room with her cold eyes. She is not offered a chance to speak in her defense, and she is found guilty of murder and high treason by the end of the morning. In the afternoon, Cordwellyn is acquitted of charges of treason due to the circumstantial nature of the evidence--a single note and the accusations of a criminal (Venya) whom Cordwellyn claims had snuck into his basement. Still, everyone knows his power and credibility in Dhunraven is shattered. The implication of Lord Beoric of Mortyr is not made public.
The next morning, they burn Morgrissa at the stake. (It was deemed safer than hanging, so that, in her darkness, she might not rise from the dead.) A crowed gathers, cheered by the destruction of an evil cleric, the blunting of one of so many threats to their land. Our heroes watch from Lord Khulvan's viewing stand. The flames do not melt the cold hatred from her eyes, but they do catch her red hair aflame, and they melt the red wax from her mouth until it runs down her throat and chest. Though it seems only a black skeleton remains within the inferno, Morgrissa finally frees her hands and tongue enough to call down, by her dark god Hextor and with her dying breath, a vile curse. Those nearest her flee, and the square empties. After the flames die down, no one is able to overcome their cold and dread to approach that pile of ashes.
In the afternoon, Brodan arrives in town. His men have managed to capture two of Morgrissa's entourage, one of them being the young man whom Sarah left behind to tend his wounded comrades. Brodan also brings Venya's six thugs, whom Sarah had nursed from the brink of death after they attacked the party.
In the morning, Brodan's prisoners are tried. Despite Sarah's pleas on their behalf--especially for the youth who had revealed Allayn's location--they are hung for murder and treason in the afternoon. Venya is posthumously declared guilty, and his discolored and bloating body is strung up as well for good measure. That night, there is a ball at Lord Khulvan's.
Our heroes become quite famous during the trial, but none more than Sarah. She is known as the Pure Lady, praised for her kind heart and gentle ways, and cheered for vanquishing evil and taming the hobgoblin threat. She is certainly more approachable than the other members of her party--a sullen, one-eared elf; a somber dwarf; and a thin man in dark robes still bearing the Outcast's Mark of some foul, dark magic sect. Yet Sarah can not share the people's goodwill. She has been sickened by the trial--the absence of mercy, the inconstancy of the rules, how Morgrissa was allowed no chance of self-defense, how Cordwellyn was let off, surely because of his wealth and prestige. Until now, she had always believed that criminals should be brought to justice. But the justice she's witnessed here was not so pure and ideal.
In the morning, our heroes have had enough of fame, town, royal parties, and justice. They beg leave of Lord Khulvan and his nephew to return to Cador, and from there, back to the Alvorin, as they have promised they would return by the new moon. Lord Khulvan asks them to return as soon as possible in order to facilitate, in any way they can, the re-establishment of trade with "the hobgoblins". As they leave town, a handful of white-robed clerics contemplate, from a distance, the cold, charred post in the town square. Though the wind had blown most of the ashes away, no one has yet been able to approach within 40 feet of the post without weeping and fleeing in panic.
The four adventurers catch a ride up river again, happening to get Hamish's boat again, the captain whose life Sarah saved the month before.
Three days later, they spend the night with Aelric in Cador.
Two nights after that, they are picked up by an Alvorin patrol and taken to the central camp, where they are reunited with Strohm.
Over the next five days, our heroes are rigorously instructed in Alvorin custom and the basics of language. On the fourth day, in preparation of assuming a new allegiance, an old shaman is able to remove the Outcast's Mark from Luceo's face, finally freeing him from his Bleak Academy association, from which he fled so many months ago.
On the night of the new moon, the four pledge to safeguard the tribe and its secrets, to defer to the chief, and to carry themselves always in honor. They are each presented with a new weapon, crafted from the black "onyx steel" known only to the Makaneth Alvorin and engraved with their Alvorin name. Non-Alvorin are banned from using such weapons, and none outside the tribe know the secret of their construction nor the source of the black, crystalline material. Luceo and Invellios each receive a slender dagger. To Rorik is given a handaxe. And Sarah is gifted a morning star with a slender steel shaft and a black onyx head. After the ceremony, there is feasting until dawn. Rorik brings honor to both his dwarven kind and his new tribe by consuming an astounding quantity of intoxicating drink.
Our heroes remain with the Alvorin for nearly a month more. It is comforting to belong somewhere. At first wary of these descendants of his race's ancient enemy, Rorik soon finds common ground. With some of the warriors, he begins to train in using two weapons at once. As he trains, his eyes flash and his blood warms when he thinks of the destruction of his home, Mor Dunehaim. He also questions the Alvorin on the nature of orcs, and begins to learn from them the Orcish tongue.
Sarah prays to her goddess Thaya for guidance after her disillusionment concerning human justice. She works with the shaman adepts in tending the sick and old.
Luceo retreats whenever he can to copy out scrolls and to get out of the cold wind, along with his raven familiar Rasputin. But he also spends hours talking with the shamans about local lore. He learns of the aloof Sky Elves, who live much higher in the Isundrus Mountains, above even the clouds.
Invellios is probably the most restless, carving arrow after arrow and experimenting with different designs. He and Strohm practice archery together. All four adventurers join Alvorin patrols and hunting parties from time to time, and continue to practice their Goblin language. The winter storms grow longer and more frequent, and the snow begins to pile up.
However, as December draws to a close, Luceo and Invellios grow restless enough to move on. Luceo itches to pursue the First Cryptical Book of Hsan, and Invellios, as is his habit, just wants to move on. The two of them beg leave of the chief and other Elders to go "pursue their honor". Leave is granted.
Strohm, Sarah, and Rorik accompany them to Cador, where they will wait for word from El Dorado and stay to assist in the resulting official trade negotiations through the winter. Goodbyes were said all around. Luceo lingers long in his embrace of Sarah-Maria. Luceo and Invellios both swear that they will return to Cador by Spring's Day in order to help Rorik retake Mor Dunehaim in anyway they can. They take the pony Gretel with them, leaving Hans with Rorik and Sarah.
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Last Edited: 24 Apr 2010|
©2006 by Z. Tomaszewski