Branching Out

From Ardrana

This adventure began in the village of Promise Junction, where the group of adventurers led by Bramus and Toshiro were tasked with investigating several situations around the area. The first item on the docket were checking a cave near Lake Shen, where the gnolls who live nearby had reported humanoids exiting and attacking them. This took precedence while the group awaited word from Floyk regarding the next merchant group bound for the village, which would need protection from the Gar-bears orcs which had been raiding along the main road.

The cave expedition

Having deciding their course of action, after lunch Toshiro led part of the group out to the hillside, where they set up a campsite a short distance from the cave entrance. Brozhin scouted the area while Emi and Makoto searched for the body after checking in with Tula, the swanmay guardian of the area. After finding it, none of those present could identify the creature, other than noting that it had similarities to both lizard men and troglodytes. Rin then drew a picture of the body, and after Siege cut off a piece of its tail for examination Emi returned with it to the Red Dragon Inn to see what else could be learned.

While the others were away, Bramus, Klaven, and Solidus went out on patrol of the village, inviting Chalcedony and Ishmakha to accompany them. They first went to the General Store, where they asked Drusank about the lack of caravans. He mentioned that there had been one or two that had come from the north, but nothing from the west in over two weeks. After that, the group visited the proposed site of the combined temple of Varice and Heironeous, then the area around the temple of Gruumsh and the ruined one of Perasin.

After Emi's arrival, the group discussed the dead creature from the lakeside. While reviewing the picture and tail piece, Yejoz identified the creature as a tren, a mixed-breed humanoid created by mad wizards. Facing the unknown, Klaven asked if Eckhorn could join the expedition the next day, but Cellani objected to losing both him and Alvin from her kitchen staff. Everyone turned in for the night, awaiting final decisions in the morning.

Against the tren

That night out by the lake, the group experienced a flyover by a winged owlbear. Later, during Toshiro's watch, he witnessed a humanoid dragging something out of the cave. Before the changeover to Rin's watch, he cast wailing wind to warn of any further exits. Rin went down to investigate what had been left, finding the corpse of yet another unknown creature. As she returned to camp, though, the wail sounded, three tren emerged from the cave, and battle was joined. More tren entered the fray, but the party defeated them before Makoto could return with Tula's aid. The group decamped and accompanied the swanmay back to her domicile, where they spent the rest of the night outside.

The remaining group members at the inn gathered. They were introduced to Josephine, the new member of the kitchen staff, which meant that both Eckhorn and Alvin could accompany them to the cave. The Karis mage Mazhik also joined them and, after a final discussion with Bramus, they set off to join their comrades.

Back at Lake Shen, Tula asked for aid in burying the bodies of the tren. They also re-examined the other dead creature, which Brozhin said looked familiar, although he did not know its name. As they went about that task, Rin sought an omen, which, after healing Siege, she told him warned of chaos and evil to come on this day.

Meanwhile, Rodney and Tara arrived, seeking the bear cub being tended by Tula, just as the rest of the group came up the path to the swanmay's cabin. Tara was introduced to the group, but she recognized Nyla as once being a "concubine" of her friend Turgan. Nyla objected to the moniker, and the two had a staredown before the druid departed with Tula.

After dispensing with the remaining corpses, everyone entered the cave. They walked south for some time, noting large amounts of debris. As they did, Brozhin revealed to Nyla that he, too, knew Tara and Turgan, who had been associated with a person he had been hired to kill by The Black Knight, from whom he was in hiding. They agreed to help each other should the need arise.

The group reached a cross-passage, and were attacked by a group of tren. Klaven, Toshiro and Nyla quickly dispatched three with the aid of Alvin's snow cone. The others fled, and the party pursued them, leaving behind a trap to prevent an attack from the rear. After circling back to head north, they came upon a larger force of the creatures, which they decided to engage. After a hard-fought battle, during which Makoto was badly injured, and the discovery of an even larger group further into the complex, the party retreated to the surface. Emi, Rin and Siege carried Makoto back to the RDI while the rest camped out near Tula's cabin. As they settled in, several party members expressed displeasure with Alvin's recklessness during the battle, as he had negated several spells including two separate hostile images cast by Makoto. After some heated discussion, Alvin reluctantly agreed to consult with Toshiro before doing anything similar in the future.


Back at the inn, Oashute, Mayor Labeese's financial advisor, approached Solidus about his proposed temple. After telling him of Chalcedony's involvement, the Halfling inquired about using the site of the ruined temple of Perasin in the village. The Gnome questioned the wisdom of the idea, wondering whether Perasin's priests might seek to reclaim it. Solidus then said he would contact both denominations about the matter and set the matter aside for the time being. He set about writing a letter to Nerym, the High Priest of Varice in Agropthos, to ask for aid, and Chalcedony did the same for her home temple. Solidus also asked Rin to draw a picture of what the temple would look like when finished.

The group carrying Makoto arrived later that evening. Solidus and Lennoy cast curative spells on her, while Rin cast restful sleep, allowing her to recover. Siege and Solidus sought Chalcedony at the boarding house for further healing magic. After escorting her home, they returned to find Gar-bears Orcs squaring off with Bramus, Quellit and the available party members. Solidus cast calm chaos and hold person, quickly bringing the confrontation to a close.

The next morning, the rest of the party returned from the lakeside. Toshiro made his report to Bramus, and more healing spells were cast. Solidus discussed sending his message, and Sinjamin told him it would take at least a week to receive a response, then suggested seeing if Emi would be able to do it. Rin volunteered to communicate the message via dream vision, but Solidus was hesitant.

Bramus then called everyone to the RDI meeting room to discuss the issues that happened during the foray into the caves. Lack of communication was blamed, and strategies going forward were discussed. Gilbert suggested browsing the village's magical library, and the mages set off there. With Shirella's assistance, the mages learned and traded spells, while Makoto learned about Morelen and Varice.

Meanwhile, the warrior types had a sparring session along with Emi and Rin. There, they discussed the party's communication issues and what could be done better regarding pre-battle preparations, especially regarding spellcasting.

Chalcedony returned to the RDI after lunch, letting Solidus know that she had visited the Perasin temple ruins and discovering evil emanations from somewhere within. After discussing methods of sending the message, Chalcedony left to commune with Heironeous for guidance while Solidus deferred communing until dawn prayers. After she left, Solidus told the party about her findings. Emi questioned her trustworthiness, mentioning that Rin discovered no information from a personal reading on her. The group decided to verify her story the next day.

The priestess soon returned, expressing her deity's wish to proceed quickly. She asked about nearby priests of Perasin, and Jambanov noted that there was a temple "nearby" to which Emi could deliver her message the next day. Emi told Makoto that she would ask around about Chalcedony at her destination. Solidus, meanwhile, accepted Rin's offer to contact Nerym.

Mysteries in the village

Before dawn the next morning, Quaithan reported that he had discovered a dead body near the road to the east. Bramus and Toshiro went to investigate along with Rin, who asked Nyla to tell Solidus that her contact was successful. They found the corpse badly beaten, with wide-open eyes and no sign of struggle. Rin drew the scene while the others brought the body back for Lennoy to examine.

After breakfast, Toshiro and Rin went back out with Solidus, Brozhin and Nyla to check out the temple of Perasin. After all three priests detected evil within, an entity with red eyes spoke to Toshiro, insulting him. Toshiro and Solidus immediately attacked, and the entity disappeared in a puff of smoke. However, magic of a conjuration variety was found, and Solidus theorized that the thing may have been from another plane. Brozhin suggested returning in force, and everyone agreed, with Rin suggesting Solidus ask Shazbot, the High Priest of Gruumsh, if he knew anything.

After some discussion, the party returned to the temple of Perasin in force. While Solidus detected no chaos at work, Makoto discovered a large number of what appeared to be the footprints of large insects. Fire beetles were raised as a possible suspect, perhaps being used as a mage's familiar. Shirella was at the inn when they returned, having examined the body, and described some of the ways the person could have been killed.

Emi returned soon after, saying that she'd visited the RDI in Nazivonema, and that the temple there would soon send a representative back. Later, the group met with the mayor, who told them to focus on the farmhand's death for now. The group worked out a series of patrols for that night to try and catch the perpetrator.

After dinner, Solidus and Toshiro visited Shazbot, who told them that what they saw at the ruined temple may have been a positive omen from Gruumsh. When they further told him that representatives from Perasin would be visiting, Shazbot became excited, thinking that it portended war between Perasin and Gruumsh. He asked the two if they would be on the side of the orcs, and while they tried to demur he happily took it as agreement. He also mentioned that, before it was dedicated to Perasin, the temple across the road had been dedicated to a "girly-girl drow god".

That night's patrols started off quiet, but as the third shift prepared to make its rounds Jambanov emerged with a delegation from the temple in Nazivonema. Led by a holy warrior named Taguchi Sato, it included Sum Ran Dum Shmo, a priest of Perasin, and two half-orcish warriors, Stom and Pete. They were asked to wait until first light to visit the ruins, and chose to spar in the compound while doing so.

Meanwhile, the third shift -- comprising Toshiro, Nyla, and Gilbert -- began its night's work. Nyla was examining the door to one of the farms, when its owner, Maud Frickert, emerged. She revealed that it was her worker, Vernon, who had been killed the previous night, and told the group that she had heard loud shouting beforehand. Upon their return, that information was passed on to Bramus.

Before breakfast, several members of the group met with the Perasin delegation. Solidus read Shmo's mood as anxious, and eventually everyone went into the inn for a meal. Afterwards, the Perasin followers were escorted to the ruins, where Rin used a glyph of revealing. This brought forth a rune on the south wall, which Rin identified as representing the goddess Kiaransalee, patroness of undead and revenge. Two other indicators appeared: one visible through a crack in the floor implying an underground source, and the other behind a pillar. The latter was investigated by Sato, who discovered a demon roach that he quickly dispatched, theorizing that this was the presence Solidus drove off on his previous visit. Shmo stated that the rune would have to be removed, and returned to Nazivonema to confer with High Priest Molbo.

Preparing to depart

Later that morning, a return message was received from Hobmeh, Drusank's merchant contact in Floyk. Bramus told the party that a caravan of six wagons would be coming soon, and that they were to meet it at Vamnik Outpost in five days. Eckhorn expressed concern that the party didn't have enough people to guard that large a caravan, so recruitment plans were made.

That afternoon, Rin cast speak with dead on Vernon. He told a strange tale of being attacked by a pumpkin-head, which smashed him while laughing. After being reminded of the straw found nearby, Toshiro wondered if perhaps someone had animated a scarecrow from one of the farms in the area. The party decided to talk to Maud again before departing the next morning, so sent Gilbert to invite her to dinner.

The group went back to the ruined temple, where they convinced Sato to allow Stom and Pete to leave the next morning. Just before dinner, a gnoll named Lamu showed up, volunteering to accompany them as well. Shortly thereafter, a small group of Chipmunk orcs also appeared. One of them, named Makdad, was the one Klaven had defeated in wrestling at the Blood, Bone and Brew several days earlier, and he also volunteered to join the guards.

Maud Frickert arrived for dinner, saying she believed she might know why Vernon had been killed. In the RDI meeting room, she explained that her late husband had been partners with a man named Ocsiban to create a magical seed to increase crop production, and that he'd hidden a sample somewhere on their farm. She produced a document he'd left, but nobody could make heads or tails of it. Gilbert volunteered to attempt to read it magically. Bramus said he'd arrange for the RDI's staff to patrol the farm, and suggested the group check in with Tara.

Later that evening, Chalcedony arrived, asking Solidus about the people occupying the temple ruins. After being assured of their lawful nature, her attention turned to questions about the justice system in the village. The party spent the evening listening to Gilbert's set, intending to head out to meet the caravan the next day.

Cast of characters

This adventure was run by Shelley Proulx. Below is a list of characters who have been involved at one point or another:

Adventure timeline

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