Shadow of the Demon Lord @ Gamezilla RPG night

Henri's personal journal entry 428
not again

After returning from Ashbourne I spent two days immersed in research at the library. Trying to follow up the only lead we had to Red Leaf’s true identity was finding to be near impossible. None of the old records of town or that of the outer areas of the Soldier Forest helped me provide any resolve of the clue “you have walked past me before, may times each one of you, not beneath the trees”. Maybe I’m approaching this all wrong and, quite frankly, would knowing who Red Leaf is really make a difference. We know that the Fey don’t give care about who or why someone was engaging with demons in the village.

I’m quite concerned about he letter that was found. It has been three years and my fear had just started to reside… I came to Chuton as an outcast, someone whom the locals would scorn due to my heritage, but I decided to call this place home. Father Bert was the first one in town to show kindness to me and now I find out that, like Thalo, he too is being branded a heretic. Did he befriend me in order to use my blood as well?

I’m worried about the inquisition sending soldiers. They will be quick to judge me based on my appearance alone. Once again, I am afraid.

Some of the town want to go hide in Crossings but it doesn’t make sense for us all to flee as they will just hunt us down. A similar result would occur if we attacked them, they would come back in even larger numbers.

Seeking refuge with Red Leaf the Fey is a fatal choice unto itself.

Maybe Huve & Lion can spin a story about a cleansing, as there are many graves from the deaths after the Festival so maybe the outsiders will believe that the town has dealt with the evil presence and spare us… then again, these people can not be reasoned with.

The leaders of Chuton need to come up with a plan that will keep us safe.

I’m so confused and don’t know what to do. Maybe I should run away again… but even if I do, the shadow will just follow me.

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The man with many cheeses

Adeline Hart had been seen talking with Rusty, so she was clearly suspect in the trouble that we’ve had recently.

She was last seen on the way to Meriview, the hobbit town. So she was clearly suspect in that respect, too. More importantly, Meriview is where we get our best cheeses. So something clearly needed to be done. Besides, we had it on good authority that she was from Down South. What more need I say.

Coal the Tinker, Nodoun Fastcloak the Dwarf, Urrgghh (an Orc preacher) and I (Porky) made a motley crew, but we had a mission. This time of year, the hobbits would just be laying down the best cheeses for the year. If we didn’t do something, they would never get to mature.

We were off to Meriview to save the baby cheeses (see what I did there).

When we got close we realized that Adeline was already at work. All the animals were acting strangely. We found her horse and followed it back to the point where it had bucked her off. I would have, too, if I was that poor horse. She was clearly up to no good.

No wonder the animals were acting strangely – there was a huge boar in the middle of town that had a hobbit or a baby or something sewn to its chest. That probably explained why children had disappeared, too. Definitely up to no good.

Turns out she was a vivisectionist, and had an evil book that detailed how to cut people up. The surprise was that the book was clearly in Rusty’s writing. She was a spry thing, but we took her down in the end. Her and her evil laboratory.

We left it up to the town to decide her fate. The mayor determined that she should burn at the stake, and the mother of the children that she had killed lit the fire. Can’t get more just than that.

The hobbits were right greatful for our help. They feasted us like heroes, and gave us wonderful cheeses for our reward.

And you know what they say about the man with many cheeses…

- Porky

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Henri's journal entry 427...
Fricken Faeries!

The mechanical imagination of the Clockwork mind never ceases to amaze me.

As the town gathered today outside the burned remains of the Town Hall for the funeral rites for those who died in the previous days, the Lion told me of their new idea of a “will”. After the mass killing in Chuton during the Festival of Forgiveness, there was a level of confusion among the families of those slaughtered as to who would get the belongings of the departed. Lion suggested the drafting of a legal document whereby a living person would decree how their worldly possessions are distributed after their death. Genius!

Lion engaged my services to document each “will” and the first person it wanted me to assist with possibly drafting a “will” for was Ruby the midwife. While the Lion was questioning Ruby to gain information for the “will”, I thought that I sensed a dark energy coming from Ruby and I’m not sure what it was at this point. I might be overly sensitive due to the recent happenings in town so will just observe from a distance as I might be completely wrong.

Shortly following that chat, we spoke with the coffin maker and she seemed quite keen on the idea of the “will” so I must remember to have a follow up conversation with her. The fee is only 1SP which I will share with the Lion.

Mayor Izzy came forward and spoke briefly and handed over the funeral proceedings to Huve. She has a very difficult role to step in the place of Father Bert who was such a charismatic and kind soul, but Huva’s message about community unity after such a horrific disaster was inspirational and well accepted. A true testament of her faith in the New God.

After she spoke, we heard a report from Vert, the Rusty Crown’s barman (now proprietor) who told of several surly characters that he observed connecting with Rusty, who we found was involved with the Festival Day Massacre. The townsfolk split into five groups each investigating the whereabouts of those who Rusty was seen speaking with. My preference would have been to stay at home in town to contemplate my new-found abilities, however the Lion suggested I come with it to Ashborne.

The Lion, Owen the Blacksmith and I started to travel the road to Ashborne to follow a man wearing a wide brimmed hat and a mask, when a young orcish girl called Raya decided to follow us. Lion rightfully challenged whether or not the child of only 12 years should be allowed to accompany us, however as it was established she had no local family, it would be ok. I am even still uneasy with that decision, even moreso after what I witnessed that child do.

When we arrived at the river crossing a very foreboding sign awaited us, the wooden planks of the bridge had all been removed and stood in a criss-cross manner along the river bank. I tried to sense in the shadows if I could see anyone but it appeared to only be us in the area. Carelessly, the child plunged into the river and quickly swam to the other side. Owen tossed over his rope to the child who tied it to a bridge post, and while this was going on Lion lept across the river. After tying down the end of rope on our side, I watched Own make his way across by climbing the rope hand over hand and then, reluctantly, I scurried across as well. Again, I scanned the shadows and although I didn’t see any forms, I had a feeling we were being observed.

Rather than take the road on to the town, we followed along the river and found a path leading up to the edge of the city. When we were in view I concentrated a moment to clear my mind and tried to sense any thoughts the area. Moving closer to the entrance to the town where the road entered I could feel that there were a few people there. We moved closer and saw a caravan and decided that Owen, being the only human among us, would approach the group of people. He did so, and must have been successful in his communication as the next thig I knew, Owen signalled for us to join him.

We met Suzanna, the mayor of Ashborn who told us of her city’s demise. Their village was being destroyed by vines (which ended up being the same type of vines used in the ritual that raised the shadow creatures at the Festival) and a Mr Attwood, who ended up being the man we were looking for, was acting as an emissary for a Fey who told them that they had to depart town or all die. Suzanna decided to take the villagers to another town to seek assistance to fight the faery that took over their town. She also asked us to bring Mr Attwood, a prominent villager and owner of the mill, back with us so he wouldn’t be left behind. We agreed, for a price negotiated by Lion.

The four of us decided to not head through the middle of town as it was slowly being decimated by massive vines growing through the buildings turning them to rubble and we followed the treeline on the outskirts of the city. We found an entrance that lead towards the mill which seemed to be the epicentre of the vine activity, and where Mr Attwood was meant to be. As we started in towards the mill I had a feeling of unease as the vines started to part before us making a clear path to our destination.

When we approached the building the doors slammed open and we could see some forms inside. I cleared my mind once again and tried to sense how many people were in the building before us and there seemed to be only two intelligent lifeforms inside.

As we entered, the Lion used her chest light to scan the building and we saw a majestic oak with red leaves coming out of the middle of the mill floor, and seated next to it was a human form. As Lion’s light passed over what appeared to be Mr Attwood we noted that a huge thorn seemed to penetrate from the back of his skull through his mouth.

Frighteningly, Mr Attwood ‘waved’ at us and seemed to speak and asked what we were doing there. Obviously, his animated form was controlled by what we thought was a tree but was a powerful Faery.

The rest of the time spent in the mill confounded me. Each of my companions struck bargains with the Fey, whom we found was nicknamed “Red Leaf”. I was so troubled by the fact they were sharing secrets or gaining favours with Red Leaf that I have blocked out most of what transpired. I do remember sensing magic on some trinket given to the Orc child, and also some further information on who the ancient Fey really is which I must research further. Lastly, I remember Owen and Lion thinking they tricked the Fey by agreeing to burn a body of one of the villagers in return for information, knowing that we’d be returning with Mr Attwood who was obviously dead and using his body to fulfil the requirement. Don’t they know you can’t trick a Faery and this one is making claim to lands she says belongs to her, the entire land that is and was the Soldier Forest!

We were granted leave and took Mr Attwood back to entrance of the town and there were four men waiting as the caravan had left. One of the men had wandered over to the wood’s edge so Lion and Owen presented the body of Mr Attwood to the remaining three and advised that they needed to leave immediately (I remember now that “all the villagers must go” was part of the requirements Red Leaf stated). They were hesitant to follow on and so I decided to try something out and cleared my head and focussed on projecting a voice of the faery into the mind of one of the men saying, “I told you that you must go and now my vines will rip through your body and you will suffer a painful death”. Needless to say, he turned and ran down the road and the other two seeing him bolt left quickly after. There was still a bonfire going so we placed Mr Attwood onto the fire, may the profit guide his soul.

I turned to look towards the man who went near the woods (maybe he was relieving himself?) just in time to see what appeared to be the Orc child smashing into his skull knocking him to the ground. I feel that the words of the Faery somehow got to the child and I will not be involved. I do not trust this child.

We quickly caught up to the slow-moving caravan and Owen and I went to see Mayor Suzanna by ourselves as Lion felt obligated to follow the Orc child who went running off.
We advised what happened to Mr Attwood and requested payment for returning him as requested. Suzanna wasn’t pleased he was dead and refused. We spoke of the deal we struck and in turn she acquiesced. Because of this the four of us returned to Chuton with a gold coin that we have decided to donate to the rebuilding of the town hall.

Out of the five groups that travelled off, I had to follow the one that encountered a damned faery! I didn’t want to even go in the first place and now I must deal with the nightmares that will likely ensue. I escaped the clutches of the fey after they cut my horns off only to be confronted by them again. I chose Chuton as a quiet place to seek refuge from my past and I hope the recent problems are over soon as I don’t want to have to search for a new home. Why did Father Bert need to die, he was the only one who I truly trusted after what happened in Burxton three years ago.
Henri

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Steam and Blood
Alaric's account of the fall of Oldoak

From the journal of  Alaric Clay:

I had hardly left my books and workshop in the few days since the demon shadow pronounced its curse on Chuton: the night of the Festival of Forgiveness, when the Town Hall burned down, the bells tolled for us, and our very shadows rose up against us.

On one of my few forays into the streets, I saw an unusual figure: a man in a battered straw boater, clearly not a local, heading towards the cemetery. I wouldn't normally worry about a stranger in town – I'm used to all manner of folk after years studying in Sixton – but after recent events…I made sure to mention it to others after the memorial, especially when it seemed he might be one of the suspicious folk Vert had spotted in the Rusty Crown over the last few weeks.

Roach had seen the same man, and I considered going with the goblin to look for him, but I've felt the need of late to keep an eye on Bzzzantine; I can't help but feel somewhat responsible for the little clockwork's actions since I reactivated it. It's one of the reasons I've made a study of technomancy; I need to understand better how clockworks function. Bzzzantine had discovered strange trail of maggots crawling from the earth in what looked like the tracks of small wheels, heading out of town past the Bailey's farm. The tracks headed towards Oldoak – home to the nearest train depot. Smelling a whiff of magic, and the chance to see some trains up close, I decided to accompany Bzzzantine and the others seeking to follow this lead. Along with Sister Hüvje, Branka the farrier dwarf, and Tonk the goblin – who it turns out has also been learning the magic of Time – we set off on foot following the tracks. Using my newly mastered ability to sense magic, I confirmed that the maggots were unnatural – most likely an unintended side effect of some other magical phenomenon.

Along the way we encountered a pair of city toffs headed to Sixton; despite our best efforts, the man of the pair insisted on heading in the wrong direction, towards Chuton. They were walking from Oldoak because the trains had stopped running, and indeed we hadn't heard their rumbling during the journey. They told us they'd encountering a woman in an elegant dress, dragging a large suitcase – likely the source of the tracks we were following. She gave them wrong directions, and we realised her description matched another of the suspicious customers of the Rusty Crown.

Further on we encountered an enormous boar in the middle of the road, wearing an iron collar but with its chain unlocked. While the rest of us wondered how best to get past it, Tonk fed it some biscuits and it took a shine to the goblin, following us for half an hour or so along the path. In truth I think Tonk had taken a shine to the boar as well, because when we met its owner, the boar breeder Giovanni, he seemed disappointed to hand it over. Giovanni was extremely grateful, and told us how a woman with a suitcase had frightened all his boars off to clear the road by firing a gun into the air. As thanks he told us to drop his name at the hotel in Oldoak so we could secure a room at no charge.

When we eventually arrived, the depot was a sight to behold – not least because of all the trains stood there, unmoving, filled with passengers growing more agitated by the minute. I've seen steam works before, of course, but even to a student of technomancy like myself the depot at Oldoak seemed something of a monstrosity: inefficient and poorly planned. We talked to the ticket clerk, discovering that the trains had stopped because the Controller had walked off the job and gone missing. With no-one to direct them, the conductors and engineers had grown restless and eventually started a strike, leaving the passengers stranded. Bzzzantine spotted an unusual robed and hooded figure walking through the station, and before I or Hüvje – who had a sense of foreboding about the figure – could stop him, flew off to pursue it. He tracked it as far as the striking purple VIP train, a private locomotive on a private track which the clerk had told us had been bought out by a single investor - the same woman we had been following. Before he could find out more, though, Bzzzantine was deactivated by a workman wielding an electrical technomantic device, though we were able to revive him before he was sold off.

Tonk meanwhile visited Oldoak's twelve-storey hotel, owned by the same company who ran the rail depot, and pretended to be a servant to the woman with the suitcase. He was convincing enough that the concierge revealed her room number – 66, on the sixth floor. When we went to check in – without Tonk, in case it was handy to have someone not obviously part of our group – we requested and got the rooms flanking hers.

Heading up in the lift, we could hear water running in the communal bathroom shared by our rooms, but were unsure how to proceed. Tonk and Bzzzantine decided to stay in the rooms upstairs, while the rest of us descended to investigate the Controller's room on the first floor. The lock had been broken, and the room itself ransacked; clearly he'd been the victim of foul play. We took a photo of the Controller, and I tried to detect magical influence, which was present – but drowned out but the much more powerful presence of the woman, which I could feel even five storeys below!

At around that time Tonk and Bzzzantine came running down the stairs to tell us they'd seen the woman – she had jumped out the window of her room and transformed into a bat, flying to the depot! What's more, Bzzzantine had flown in through her window and let Tonk in, and they'd discovered not only her bag, full of alchemical materials, but a body hanging upside down in the bathroom, its throat cut and its blood drained into the bath.

Realising our quarry was making her escape, Tonk and I used Time magic to speed up Branka and myself so we could reach the VIP train before it left. We were successful, arriving in time to see the woman on the engine, disengaging the carriages by snapping the coupling with her bare hands. Three cloaked figures like the one Bzzzantine had already seen stood in the carriage, and begged her not to leave them behind; a quick thinking Branka encouraged them not to let her do that, and they grabbed her, slowing her escape, though she used Air magic to try and break their grip. Their hoods blew back, revealing not faces but crystal orbs, filled with mysterious liquid – these were magical constructs of some kind!

The woman used her gusts of foul wind to try and smash the automatons, but they held fast as Branka and I neared the train. I tried to wound her with my newly learned magic dart spell, but she suffered barely a scratch. She finally broke free of the creatures, only one of which survived, but I hit upon a plan. Knowing my friends were counting on me, and bolstered by their faith in my engineering knowledge, I concentrated and quickly worked out which was the break lever; I then constructed a magic wrench, one of the basic tools of technomancy, and used its magic to throw it into the mechanism, jamming on the brake.

As Branka drew near and readied to smite the woman with her hammer, Hüvje commanded her to stay, brandishing her symbol of the New God – and to all of our surprise, a beam of shining bright light shot from it, seeming to sear the woman's arm! Though she seemed mostly unhurt, the experience seemed to strike fear into her heart, and she enacted some kind of foul ritual; I didn't hear the words she spoke, but she removed a glove, revealing that she was missing a finger, and before our eyes cut off another digit, summoning somehow a black portal which enveloped her. We had stopped the train, but our quarry had still escaped.

The remaining automaton appealed to us for help in an uncertain voice. We followed it onto the train, where we discovered an astounding sight: an advanced alchemical laboratory, fully mobile, along with detailed notes making it clear that the woman and other occupants of the train had been deeply involved in the events of the Festival of Forgiveness! But weirder things were in store: concealed in the train was a large basin, filled with unusual purple liquid, and submerged within was a wizened old man, barely alive but clearly possessed of great magical power. It seemed the automatons served him, and spoke on his behalf; he had used his alchemical prowess to make concoctions for the woman, including some which could bend others to her will, controlling their actions. It was this she carried in her case, and which caused maggots to sprout from the earth in its wake. The automaton and the notes also revealed to us that we would find the answers we seek in Crossings – and that this was where the woman was headed, "when the stars were bright".

The wizened old man and his servants feared for their lives, but he could not be moved with the train system in deadlock. He instead extracted a promise from Branka that she, still vital a century from now, would return to this spot – and it became clear the old man was a time wizard of much more advanced skill than Tonk or I! Before our eyes, he and his servant vanished into the future, and only the passage of a century will reveal his fate. I gathered up the evidence from the train, and at Hüvje's request also procured some of the more expensive alchemical equipment to help replenish the town's coffers – though I confess I am finding it far too fascinating to sell immediately…

We spent the night in the hotel after cutting down the man in the bathroom – who was of course the Controller – and laying him to rest as best we could. We stayed in one room and kept a watch, however, because by now the frustrated passengers, rail workers and hotel staff had fallen in to anarchy and looting. As we left the next day to return home, taking the woman's case along with our other spoils, we were left with the depressing certainty that Oldoak was no longer a civilized place – and that soon it would probably vanish from the map altogether.

Since then, Tonk and I have been trying to make sense of the alchemical notes, supplies and equipment, and with his help I believe I have grasped the basics of the art. Perhaps this will prove useful when we confront the woman and he co-conspirators in Crossings – for surely that is where we must go next. I pray to the Maiden in the Moon that the sign will be obvious when the time is right, because I fear to take up the art of astrology again…

Alaric Clay

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Deposition re - Ashborne Vs Redleaf (Fey)

Deposition delivered to Henri the Faun, detailing good faith negotiations between citizen representatives of the village of Chuton (who in the context of this deposition are named as The Lion – Lawyer and Watchman,  Henri the Faun – and Owen - Blacksmith. Be it noted that Ryla, an orc child mentioned in this deposition, is discounted as a citizen representative of these negotiations being under-age but may be called to give witness to the events recounted with the provision of adult council) and Redleaf, representing the new fey administration of the village of Ashborne.                                   .

I (name redacted) otherwise known these 27 years as The Lion, swear upon the Old Gods and the New that the following is a true account of the events of (date). 

Upon approval of the mayor and citizens of Chuton, it was given to myself, Owen the Blacksmith and Henri the Scribe to travel to Ashborne in pursuit of a courier who had been seen dealing with Rusty, former owner of the Rusty Crown. This shady figure in black slouch hat with his face covered completely by a black mask spoke in a raspy, broken voice. When he was described, it reminded me of those who work in the mill town of Ashborne and must breath in the harsh dust laden air of that place. They cover their mouths with dust masks. As Henri and I were about to depart, Owen indicated his interest and an offer of the protection of his hammer. We were already on the road through the forest towards Ashborne when we became aware of a filthy orc child scampering through the undergrowth, trailing us.  Ryla had, when much younger, at times clambered onto my back as the other children do – which I suffer but do not enjoy AND you may write that down, Henri!  Owen, Henri and I didn't feel right about leaving her unsupervised in the forest. I'm told orc children grow up much quicker and how her parents raise her is their affair while in Chuton but on the road as the shadows grew, I for one wasn't about to chase her off, so she joined us. I learned later that she's certainly able to defend herself, is formidable even, but she is never-the-less a minor, and we the adults here. 

We experienced some difficulty approaching Ashborne, for the bridge had been removed. Not destroyed but dismantled with care, by what means we couldn't ascertain.  Ryla made the crossing with cunning and a child's abandon that would have given me a heart-attack if I still possessed a heart, flinging herself into the river, disappearing under the water then bounding out and up the embankment with great agility.  We crossed by means of a rope, but I caution that the bridge remains dismantled and there is no easy access to Ashborne now. 

At the entrance to Ashborne the Mayor was in the process of organising the final evacuation of all living inhabitants of Ashborne. They stood outside of the town itself, well packed and equipped with wagons. Night had fallen by now, lights and camp fires burning among the refugees but nary a one in the town itself.  We approached with caution and introduced ourselves to Mayor Suzanna who was leading the evacuation. This is what she recounted as I recollect it:

Some days ago, the entire town of Ashborne began to have visions of destruction. These visions were a warning from a fey entity who claimed the land the town sits on and all the woods around it by right of prior-settlement. This fey had been recalled by the sounding of the bells, those we all heard in Chuton. The entire town was under notice of eviction, given sufficient time to pack and leave. When the town hesitated, destruction was wrought. Houses were crushed by large, strangling vines that penetrated the bricks and timbers, crushing them in vice-like grip until inevitably the weakened structures collapsed.  The refugees camped outside only awaited the Mayor's word and she only waited for the return of one man, a Mr Atwood, the owner of the town's mill and source of the town's riches.  Once he was with the townsfolk again, they would leave, raise a militia using his funding, and return to re-take Ashborne.  Mr Atwood, however, had been chosen as the fey-entity's emissary and was still within Ashborne, at the mill. 

At this point, with the approval of Owen and Henri, I negotiated an agreement with the Mayor that we would enter Ashborne and speak with Mr Atwood, encouraging him to leave the town with us. We would protect him if possible. 

Time being pressing we went into Ashborne at once. Ryla accompanied us, showing herself a resourceful child, very aware of scents and the natural environment. Nature had asserted itself over Ashborne most violently. Every house and businesses in the town had suffered under the strangle and crush of enormous crimson vines, many still in the process of collapse. The creak and crack of timbers and tumbling of bricks and mortar were extremely unnerving, especially considering there was not a single light in the town.  Nothing made any approach or attack upon us, however and we arrived at the mill situated on the river in the center of Ashborne. 

An enormous crimson tree had split the mill wheel and was visibly in the process of growing and branching. The mill house doors collapsed alarmingly as we approached, providing a yawning dark entrance into the building. I switched on the night-watch lantern I have internal to my design and played it slowly within the the building. It was quite dramatic, actually. Yes, I know that's irrelevant, Henri, but nevertheless true. I heard you gasp. So did Oswin and Ryla snarled. 

My light showed the trunk of the crimson tree penetrating the back interior wall of the mill. The trunk was split, forming a hollow, very throne-like. Upon that throne was Mr Atwood, the very same darkly clad figure that Rusty had spoken with a few days ago, before the attacks upon Chuton. With caution, I asked permission to approach and Mr Atwood beckoned us to do so. This was alarming, his limbs loose and his body slumped against the wooden throne. As we got closer we saw his pallid face, devoid of emotion, or even life, and the huge thorn that thrust from the tree, through the back of his head and his open mouth.  I don't mean to shock or disgust but these are the facts. The crimson tree had made a puppet of Mr Atwood, it's "emissary". 

I have read of the Fey and that they are arrogant, tricky, immensely powerful. We were three townsfolk and only Owen, with his well muscled arms, of any use with a weapon. And we had a child with us. Quick consultation agreed that there was no way we could successfully attack this creature. We approached as mediators instead, between the Mayor of Ashborne and this returning Fey landlord, keen to evict unwanted tenants.

Through a mix of glib-tongue, gross-flattery, great tact and care and the exchange of contractual agreements, we learned a great deal.The fey's common name was Redleaf. Redleaf knows a lot about dealings in what he/she sees as its domain. He/she didn't know why Chuton had been attacked, had only observed it. A woman of power with a great deal of luggage was the instigator of the attacks upon Chuton. I do, in fact, suspect that Redleaf did more than this, delivering sproutlings to Rusty via his/her emissary, Mr Attwood.  Redleaf was not behind the removal of the bridge into Ashborne. There is some other information too long to be detailed in this deposition, which can be delivered to Mayor Izzy and other town representatives of Chuton. I'd also advise the deposition of Owen and Henri and of the child Ryla (with appropriate council.) 

There may be some that believe our actions ignoble or cowardly. No, we did not attack nor antagonize Redleaf, being utterly convinced that it was not within our power nor within Chuton's interest to interfere in the disagreement between Ashborne's current occupant and it's former. Does the ant take issue with the foot about to step on it or instead swiftly move aside? We departed the town (rather, we were permitted to leave by Redleaf). My feeling is we left on amicable terms, with Mr Attwood's corpse. This we burned.

Ashborne and the seizure by Redleaf of the woodlands and connecting roads remains of great concern and will impact enormously upon Chuton.  Currently, our new neighbour is ….passive, perhaps is the best word. Disinterested or otherwise engaged in reclaiming lost possessions. We will need to decide what to do when Redleaf deigns to notice Chuton. 

The Lion or The Nightwatch

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Dropping a Grantham
Or...How a Chrissie Todd invented Orthopedics

Do you like my new boots? Viktus gave it to me, the hat too. He said he didn't need them any more. What he actually said was :

"Chuton and all those who reside there are damned. Your souls will rot in hell and your bodies burned. "

But Chrissie speaks four languages, so I  knew what he really meant. 

The boots are a bit big , but they are better than the pair Chris gave me in the graveyard and they fit real snug if you stuff Grantham Sprouts in there , tight.

 "Who's Viktus?" 

Oh, he's a Witchfinder, big hat, great boots, long brown coat. Overbearing, full of righteous bile. You know the type. 

I killed him and then he gave me his boots. It's ok, he deserved it. He breezed through Grantham while they were busy burning people alive, cheered on as the next village hung sisters for being witches , then handed a mother nails and a hammer to close up the barrel she had drowned her baby in. He deserved it and now I have his boots.  

So he won't be bothering Chuton again anytime soon. You're welcome , by the way. 

I wonder what an "Inquisition" is and why it would want to visit Chuton?  

Chrissie Todd

dropping a Grantham eating too many Grantham sprouts and farting a lot. 

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THE BELLS SPOKE DOOM
LEVEL 1 (NOVICE)

The night of the festival was two days ago. The town is still in mourning over the lives lost in the terrible battle with the great demon and living shadows. Chuton will not be beaten though. Its people have proved themselves resilient heroes! The crisis is averted… those bells are stilling ringing though.

Chuton now prepares for funeral rites. As bodies sworn to the old gods are laid out for Father Death to reap, and those sworn to the New God to be committed to the ground, whispers sound throughout the village. “Who did this to us?” – “Why did they do it?” – “How can we make them pay!?”

The Mass funeral will be held at noon today for Father Bob, the heroes Terry the orc and Stenk the changeling, the 30 other villagers killed in the attack and the poor halflings found dead at the Rusted Crown. The whole village will be there, joined in mourning. Izzy will be giving the eulogy and making an announcement to the village. Word on the street is he’ll be asking for volunteers to find who did this terrible thing!

Housekeeping:

Thank you all for a great game last session, and for all of your great writeups on the Obsidian Portal! We will be setting up a MailChimp mailing list to send out information for each session via email. The info will also be posted on the Obsidian Portal and on Facebook.

RULEBOOKS

Reminder: if you’d like a copy of the Shadow of the Demon Lord rulebook, there are 4 copies left at AU $70 each. (Substantially less than your soul!) We probably won’t order another box, so last chance to buy.

FORTUNE

Here’s how we will be awarding Fortune at the start of each game: The forces of darkness will be defeated if people unite against it!

Fortune expires at the end of each night, it does not carry over to next week. At the start of each table play session, you can earn Fortune as follows:

1. Count the number of players at the table who you didn't play with last week (including the GM)

2. Roll a D6

3. If you roll the number of new players or fewer, you start with Fortune!

4. So, if there are three people you didn't play with last time, roll 1-3 to gain Fortune. During the session, you can earn Fortune at the GM's discretion as per usual. You can only have one Fortune token at a time.

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Vale Terry
A new gravestone has appeared in a distant corner of the graveyard

 RIP Terry. An Orc who died, Saving a worthless human village from Unspeakable Evil, Did they give thanks, Of course not!

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Stenk's redemption

Stenk was at the same time relieved and horrified. Relieved that the matter he is to ask forgiveness of the town for in the annual Festival of Forgiveness  is a paltry matter compared to what has been revealed so far; horrified that the crime of murder was so readily forgiven! Stenk knew the ways of the New God, of which he was a street preacher, are all about forgiveness and renewal but really! Stenk resolved to confer with Father Bert later.

Stenk has lived amongst the 200 odd souls of Chuton for the last two years as a monstrous, muscular, youthful Orc. Stenk's profession as a street preacher of the New God and his unshakeable practice of always referring to himself in the third person has raised more than a few eyebrows. Doing what is unthinkable for a changeling. Stenk nearly bellows his confession, more of a challenge than a confession.

Stenk hadn't counted on revealing his true form, a form even Stenk doesn't like. Acknowledging that it should be part of the forgiveness (although in Stenk's mind it's a steeper price than the murderers paid – i.e. none!), Stenk willed his true form to be revealed. Nessus approved of the change, declaring it an improvement on an Orc. Stenk understood, but also understood that Nessus was in the minority. Gratefully Stenk assumed, to him, his natural form.  Relieved, seeing only three or four participants left to go, Stenk let his mind wander.

Wait, what's that? Not forgiven? Father Bert is choking..wait I'm choking too!  Blindly, Stenk flails behind himself with his staff, a couple of swipes and the pressure is gone.  Rasping for breath, Stenk blurrily sees another shadow strangling someone, who it was he knows not and doesn't care, one hit and that shadow too dissipates.

Leaning on his staff, Stenk looks round.  Turning, he finds one of the villagers presenting him with a pot, with vines and bones and … things. Is this you, he's asked?

"Preposterous. I reveal myself as a changeling right before I bewitch us all. No, that is not me, I don't think that's even a changeling vine."

In relatively short order the gathering splits in to groups to investigate for clues. Stenk elects to head to the standing stones, where it is said the vines come from.  Stenk is surprised and gladdened that the orc hating dwarf is part of the party.  Maybe it's Stenk's imagination, maybe they can be friends? That would be nice.

Nearing the stones, we all became aware that we could barely hear.  It wasn't that there's no sound, it's that sound around us is being suppressed. Even with Stenk's best sermon delivering voice, he could barely make himself heard to his companions.

We crest the rise, Stenk and the barber to the fore. Stenk notices that the stone directly opposite has what seem to be reflections of him and his companions, all of them staring at Stenk.  Tugging the barber's sleeve, Stenk points to the stones then steps behind the barber.  All the eyes snap to the barber.

Interesting.  Not quite as interesting as the two giant tusks floating and rotating in the middle of the lake.

The barber leads off around the edge of the lake, coming to the first stone.  Leaning down, we see that four vines hold appear to hold the stone in place.  Gesturing for Stenk to follow, the barber continues around to the next stone, where it can be seen that four vines hold that stone in place too, then on to the third stone of five, which is opposite the crest of the hill.  One of the vines has been cut, most likely the one that was found in the pots in the hall.

The oppression is becoming unbearable.  With a mix of gestures and charades, we decide to try and snare the horns in the middle of the lake.  After several fruitless attempts, including an attempted trick shot with a bow and arrow, the barber loses his patience just before Stenk did, ties rope around his waist which is held on to by Stenk and the apothecary.  Swimming out, the barber reaches for and grabs the horns.

Stenk gasps in pain as an unearthly din penetrates his ears. Wincing, Stenk looks up to see a figure floating in to the barber from one of the stones! Desperately Stenk hauls on the rope, pulling the barber to shore. Stenk loses track of the action at that point as he pulls the barber, along with the horns, out of the water.  Backing off from the water it becomes clear that the creature, whatever it is, is bound to the lake.  At least we can hear now, whatever fell magic was afoot, the horns seemed to have something to do with it.

We return to the town hall to share what we have learned,  The other groups have made similarly portentous findings. Stenk is ready for the night to end and is turning to head home when – the grave digger. A shadow, no, a demon! Its head brushing the roof of the hall, it bellows its challenge. Stenk's duty is to the people of the village, he must stand against it. He gets a good hit in on its ankle, seeming to slow it down, not enough! The Lion, that wondrous mechanical clockwork, cops a heavy blow sending it spinning.

Spinning round, Stenk lands a heavy blow on the back of the demon's kneecap. Seeing the demon preparing another attack, Stenk knows that The Lion cannot withstand another blow.

"Over here you big dung heap!" Stenk raises his staff to deflect the blow…and that was that last thing Stenk ever did.

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Henri's personal journal entry 425...
Memories of a shadow hound

The scars on my neck are a bit itchy today. Most of the telling signs from my years as a ‘shadow hound’ have disappeared over time but a couple of scars remain.

My mother died when I was five years old. I don’t remember much of her, and my grandparents, her mother and father, didn’t share many stories with me. Since my father left at my birth and disowned me, I’ve had no relationship at all with his parents either. My mother’s parents rejected me too as they couldn’t cope with having a half-breed grandchild with horns and hooves, and when I was 12 they passed me on to people I was told were my aunt & uncle. I found out later that I was sold to them and that they were no relation at all.

Bertram & Gloria Balkan were children of rich gold merchants of eastern Rul and fled to Set from their family lands near Kem due to threats by witch hunters. According to Bertram, he had some business dealings with a corrupt inquisitor that went wrong. He didn’t go into details and just said that he and Gloria had to flee. Close friends of Bertram’s parents had a manor located inside the city walls in northeastern Set, the city of Gods, and so they re-established themselves there.

Bertram thought there had to be a way to take advantage of the many mystics, philosophers, spiritualists, teachers, prophets, disciples and pilgrims that appeared around the Set due to the representations of just about every religion from the New God to the Orcish God of Blood and Iron, and devised a way to prosper from them. Bertram told me the story of how he and Gloria started by taking a small piece of gold to a blacksmith and had him pound it down until he had pieces that were thinner than a leaf. Gloria, dressed as a vestal virgin in a flowing white covering, went to one of the smaller temples and handed out a few small squares of this new ‘gold leaf’ to visiting pilgrims and told them rub the piece of gold onto one of the statues at the temple. She told them that they would gain the favours of the god for their offering. Other pilgrims came to Gloria to ask her where to get the fine sheets of gold she pointed to Bertram and they came and purchased this new ‘gold leaf’ from him to offer up to their god. This started a trend at other temples, and Bertram was the only one who had figured out how to create the gold leaf.

It was so successful that Bertram acquired strong men from the slave markets of Dis to start up his own gold leaf production. He showed me their working room when he was inspecting one day, I couldn’t believe how loud it was! There were 20 men in collars with linked chains connected to the wall so they couldn’t escape with his gold, all pounding heavy mallets against packs of fibre paper each with a minute amount of gold between the pages. I sometimes wonder if the men had a better life working there than if they had found themselves in the fighting pits of Qif.

The collar ‘uncle’ Bertram had on me was a little different than those his working slaves wore. You see, mine wasn’t around my ankle, it was around my neck and it had prongs inside it. I was Bertram’s ‘shadow hound’, someone he would flaunt to his rich friends as the one who would keep an eye on the dark shadows while travelling around to make sure there wasn’t anyone or anything lurking about.

Their hired sword Gornn would always be by Bertram and Gloria’s side and I would point out any potential threats as we travelled through streets or dark alleyways. This act alone would ensure that those who might intend us harm would keep their place as they knew we were aware of their location. If it was just Bertram, Gloria and me, I recon we’d have probably gotten jumped, however having the 22 hand high, enormous rock solid orc half-breed as a guard saved our lives many times. One time a rat came running out of its hiding place and Bertram pulled hard on the leather tether causing the spikey prongs to dig into the soft flesh of my neck. I guess it was my fault for not noticing the rat.

On the way back to the manor from the markets one dimly lit evening there was a group of four hiding in the shadows and I could see their knives drawn. This time I kept quiet and acted like I didn’t see a thing. I had enough of being a pet.

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