Conquest of the Northern Wastes


Chapter 1: Evil Leaves the Heart of Kazuun
Chapter 2: Evil is Revealed
Chapter 3: The Palace of the Silver Princess


Chapter 1: Evil Leaves the Heart of Kazuun

Our adventure begins in a region known as the Outer Lands with a coup d'état in the secret and diabolically evil village of Kazuun, hidden in the Thrall Mountains.  With the King and his family executed by the Wizard Na-Run, the hired guards and mercenaries of the King are exiled, according to ancient law.  Leaving last are our adventurers: Orieth, a monk from the Koto-Lin monastery to the east, near the river Tok, Sheena, a beautiful sorceress from the town of Bel-farie in the settled lands to the west, across the Sheall river, and Thokk, a half-Orc Barbarian from the Northern Wastes, by the Great White Sea.

While leaving, in the middle of the secret pass through the mountains leading out of the village, the party is ambushed by five undead skeletons. Though wounded in the battle, they are victorious, yet, for reasons unknown, they do not question the reason for the attack or who might have sent these undead.  Then, after having traveled to the main east-west road, found a few hours north of the mountains, the party rests to recoup their strength.  Unfortunately, they find hardship, spending over a month alternatively fighting, gathering food, and resting, for without the aid of a cleric it takes many days to heal following their battles.  Among the creatures fought are a black bear, a halfling rouge on donkey-back,  a Brass Dragon (tiny, and merely repelled), a most foul badger, and a wandering ghoul.  In fact, the only friendly travelers they met were a band of monks who offered healing mushrooms, which didn't have too many lasting ill-effects, that healed them more quickly (Orieth did not partake of the mushrooms).

Finally, after defeating a Carrion Crawler who showed up to begin feasting on the rapidly accumulating corpses, the party decided to leave, continuing to the west, especially since the beast had managed to paralyze the monk and the barbarian, and, only by the grace of Sheena's magic missiles and skill with her crossbow, did the party escape with their lives.  

Shortly, the travelers met up with a strange new character.  A cleric wearing black robes and traveling with a carriage covered in black cloth, into which he retreated every morning, and was not to be seen again until sundown.  He convinced the party to help him in his quest to begin a new church in the area, and garnered their aid in attacking bandits who had stolen all his gold with which he had come to do so.  The party only agreed after Sheena, having had a private conversation with Chris, for that was what the cleric said his name was, assuaged the party's doubts about the cleric's strange behavior.

With this new companion they continued to the west to meet up with their final comrade.  A fair faced Elf on horseback, who had an offer.  He had apparently won a treasure map in a poker game from a drunken Dwarf named Elmer in the nearby town of Eltar.  His negotiations failed, and the party attacked the Elf called Kel, putting him to the brink of death.  Tied up, and naked, the cleric healed him and he agreed to submit to the will of the party.  His treasure map made no sense, since it called for the treasure lying near the coast of a large body of water, the map indicating it was to the south, yet the only large body of water known in these parts is the Great White Sea to the north.

Thar Be Gold by the Sea

To obtain more details on the map, the previous owner, Elmer, was to be sought.  Unfortunately, this would have to be done with some delicacy as Kel had informed the party that, with the exception of the cleric, their pictures and descriptions were known in Eltar in connection with a recent new streak of banditry on the roads between Eltar and Vevos to the west.  The party knew it was not them, since they had not yet even traveled as far as Eltar, so some wondered how this could be the case.

It was be decided that the cleric would make a noisy entrance at the main gate, while the other four took a quiet approach using a knotted rope to scale the 12 foot high wall around the town.  The distraction was the cleric getting chased by a pack of a dozen wolves, obtaining entry after shouted pleads to the guards during his run to the main eastern gate.

While the party hid in an alley, Kel located the dwarf in the inn and questioned him about the map.  The only intelligible responses he received was that it was obtained for the no small sum of 100 gold from a Paladin, so it "must be a legitimate map", and that the paladin was there on a mission to gain money for medicines to help fight an outbreak of 'the crud' in his homeland.  Chris, on the other hand overhead many rumors about the map, which, if any, can be believed is questionable:

The party then leaves the city, through the front gate, the guard apparently not interested in detaining nor questioning the people leaving at such a late hour.


Chapter 2: Evil is Revealed

Not satisfied with their last outing, the party returns to the town, via the front gates.  Chris climbs the outside wall of the inn while Kel tries to enter the room directly: both wanting to steal away the sleeping dwarf.  Foiled by a dark window and a locked door, respectively, they give up their approach and attempt to storm the inn as a group.  Though scouting information from the cleric does reveal that the town's old and respected wizard is among the few patrons frequenting the inn at that late hour, this does not deter them from the venture.

Upon making their intentions known, two of the patrons flee, while the innkeeper reaches under the bar for a greatsword to fend off the attacking Monk.  Sheena tries to hurl a magic missle at the wizard, but its energy is dissipated before contact.  In one mighty blow, the innkeeper dispatches the monk, and leaps over the bar to the party's wizard Kel.  Despite the death cry of their fellow comrade, the party presses the attack.  The town's wizard imbibes a potion rendering him invisible and the innkeeper dispatches quickly the party's wizard.

At this second death the remaining two members flee (the barbarian chose to stay at camp and so was not there) and manage to escape to their horses with their lives, passing the two dead guards at the main gate who had by this time, been completely drained of blood.

Thar Be Gold!

After heading east a few days to put distance between them and Eltar, the party is set upon by a band of goblins.  Though two make off with one of the horses, packs and all, they manage to kill of chase off the rest.  After this, it is decided that they will seek the treasure North, off the road.

Several days of rough travel for the party's wagon, through the foothills, brings the party to a road running north-east.  Following this they come to an abandoned mining town and meet up with two new characters.  A monk named Corak, and a sorcerer name Talis.  They too have a map they are trying to follow.

Once the maps are compared, and details combined, the party is able to make more sense of where the treasure might be.  Continuing the path to the north, they come upon a dry riverbed.  Since a river was indicated on the second map, they follow it to what the hope will be the right location at the shore.  Along the way, they locate an important landmark indicated on both maps.  It is an old abandoned castle.  However, a quick investigation of it reveals that there is more to it than meets the eye.

Once at the shore, the party commences searching the beach for a cave wherein might lie the treasure.  Only at the extreme low tide is one revealed for a short time.  Corak and Thokk are the only two brave enough to investigate.  Lying a mere 60' inside the cave are two large chests.  Unfortunately, neither adventurer sees the monstrous spiders laying in wait.

A fierce battle ensues, two two, though outnumbered five to two fight alone, unwilling to call upon their friends and be forced to give up first crack at the loot.  Though, when one is down and the other near death, Corak finally calls for aid.  Sheena and Talis, rush in, each dispatching one of the two remaining spiders, and save their compatriots from total death.

One chest revealed three wondrous magical items, and some gold, while the other only rotten books, unusable.  Three days later, after rest, healing, and the regaining of strength lost to the spider's venom, the party makes a thorough search of the cave, which does yield additional gold, and a few gems hidden among the sand.

As this chapter closes, attention is turned to the abandoned castle.  While seeking a way in past a large iron portcullis, the party wonders at the strange voices and eternal screams that can be heard coming from inside.


Chapter 3: The Palace of the Silver Princess

It took the combined strength of all of them to lift the outer portcullis, and then only after trying for several minutes.   Unfortunately, they discovered that two needed to be left behind holding up the portcullis a precious second after they let go to allow times for the remaining three to enter the castle.  Once inside, four distinct paths presented themselves, two to the south and and one each of east and west, each of which had its own smaller portcullis.  Having chosen the west path, and not wanting to leave anyone behind they quickly ran through the portcullis they lifted, with only the barbarian rogue's reflexes failing him, causing some small damage.

The first room they find is some kind of study or classroom, with paper, ink, and pens scattered throughout, and large oak tables on their sides in one corner.  Greedy for treasure, a search of the room reveals a band of Kobols hiding behind the tables.  Though they would have preferred to have left the party alone, they were forced to fight.  Unfortunately for them, the sorceress Sheena, barbarian rogue Thokk, and monk Corak proved adept enough to dispatch all five kobolds without much trouble. (90xp, 50cp)

After passing the next room, containing nothing but rotting stores, the party fall victim to a pit trap in the floor.  On the way down, Thokk notices a secret door in the right wall.  Again, only the rogue fails to avoid hurting himself in the trap.  Sheena tumbles when she reaches the bottom to break her fall, and the monk discovers that his vest is actually a vest of feather falling.  Already hurt by the portcullis, Thokk loses consciousness and is not so immediately tended to by the other party members.  

Now, trapped, the party realizes that they need the rogue's skill to disable the trap and let them out, and there appears to be no way of easily disabling the mechanism from the inside.  A short time passes and a mist starts to fill the tiny room.  Coalescing out of this mist is a familiar face, the cleric Chris.  He uses all his healing power on the barbarian, then leaves the way he came.  With Thokk now conscious, he agrees that there's no way to disable the device, so he and the monk simply bash the ceiling until it gives.

The party climbs out of the hole and immediately tends to the secret door.  It leads west down some stairs to another door at the bottom (also concealed from the other side).  This leads to hallway with steps at either end.  The first room they find contains the remains of bunks, bedrolls, round oaken tables, stools, benches, and dead soldiers which have been beheaded.  Along the north walls lies a line of six heads.  The party examines the insignias on the uniforms, and the DM mistakenly tells them there aren't any, but as a super special bonus reveals that there really were here on this web page, for the good players who come read it.  They resemble a wolf's head with a battlement and ball between the ears, two slanted eyes, an arrow where the nose should be and a lightning bolt on the arrow.

Proceeding up some stairs in the back of the room, they find another room containing old footlockers.  A search of these reveals three gold coin shaped octagonal discs with differently oriented octagons in the middle.  Backtracking through the first room, the party proceeds down the stairs.  The worked stone walls of the castle gives way to natural cavern.  The sharp ears of the monk make the party hesitate and turn back around because they hear animal growls in the darkness ahead.

The other end of passage led up stairs to a T junction with stairs going down on the right.  They took the stairs down several stories to the underground caverns again.  At the bottom they found a small worship alcove with a beautifully carved statue of a woman holding a small girl in her hands.  The child appears to be playing with a small ball which she clutches in her hand.  An inscription on the base of the statue reads "The secret treasure of one's heart can be found in love." While searching this cave, they do find a small slot in the base of the statue, but before they can investigate it further, they are attacked by a Xorn, who kills them all...

Or so they thought.  They awaken in prison cells, which they find unlocked.  Their wounds healed just enough to make them conscious.  Missing from each of their purses are the equivalent of 50 gold.  There seems to be no clue to the identity or whereabouts of their kind benefactor.

Searching for a way out, they find another alcove, but this time with  six statues arranged in a circle with marble benches in the center.  Each status has the remains of candles and other burnt offerings before it.  Concealed in the arm of one of the statues, the players find a wand, which they quickly discover, by simply waving it at the barbarian, gives off light when the command word is spoken.

Finding a worked stone corridor, they follow it through some rooms of no import to spiral stairs going up many stories.  The steps lead to a tower, which unlike the other three has not yet crumbled upon itself.  Once at the top, they find it empty, except for many weapon racks and two large gongs which the barbarian keeps asking to be allowed to hit.  From this exit, they use their belt of levitation and vest of feather falling together, to send someone down once per day to get food, until the cleric can fully heal their wounds.

Concerning Travis

Fully healed and more confident, the three head back down into the castle.  The first room the come upon contains a small male gnome eating dinner.  He asks how the adventurers are feeling, and also asks if they've seen his pen, ink, paper, and necklace of colored beads that he swears he left in the room across the hall.  They return the items (obtained in an exhaustive, time consuming search of the rooms of no import), and ask about this castle.  The gnome introduces himself as Travis, and says he lives here because it's nice, as long as you stay below ground where it's not haunted.  Travis says that adventurers come in all the time following tales of treasure to be found, but he suspects that all adventurers end up leaving with is previous adventurers' treasure.  Finally, He keeps a potion of invisibility handy in case of hard monsters to deal with like the Xorn.  He then asks the party to leave so he can eat his meat in peace.

The next room the adventurers find as they follow the hallway north is a room filled completely with dead, rotting bodies.  It has the distinction of being the only room in the place that the party did not decide to spend at least an hour searching, for to do so would strongly test their fortitude.  The next door in the hall contained the following: An iron maiden, branding irons, filthy blood stained straw, lengths of chains, non-animated skeletons, and small wooden cages suspended from the ceiling.  Hanging from one of the cages was a bit of what appeared to be a tattered nightgown.  The party took great interest in this tattered piece of nightgown, for it was thought by all to be a vital clue to a puzzle they had not yet discovered.  The several small gray mice peering at them from the relative safety of the wall did not agree, and thought them quite mad.  Nevertheless, the search of this room brought with it an unexpected shock.  Travis burst into the room, shortly after their search, and commenced screaming "I knew you couldn't resist my treasure!  No one could!" while waving a meat cleaver around.  He connected once with Thokk, nearly killing him, but the remainder of his blows missed and the party quickly brought him down. (The monk Corak has not proved as inept as Orieth had been: Corak actually hit something.)  Perhaps unsurprisingly, nothing the party would consider treasure was found in the room.

Now knowing the occupant of the room they wanted to search thoroughly but could not was no longer alive, the party beelines back to Travis's eating room and thoroughly searched it.  It revealed 2 rubies, 1 large emerald, a magical dagger, familiar ink, pen, paper, and colored beads, and a gold ring with the initials D and B carved into the shape of heart on its inside.

Finding their way

Now with proper treasure found, the adventurers are ready to leave the castle, hopefully via the front gate.  Only two more rooms are searched before the party does, indeed, find a corridor leading to one of the southward portcullises near the front gate.  The first contained a sack with three human skulls, a dagger, a dagger blade, 11sp, a fresh bloody finger, several small spiders, and six seconds later, they realized a very large spider who surprised the party by dropping upon them from the ceiling.   Good fighting from the three dispatches this beast without too much difficulty.  Everything except the sack, skulls, and spiders (dead or alive) were retained by the party.  This included the finger, presumably, for the same reason as the bit of nightgown.

The final room searched that day contained nothing, except stars.  Thinking this an illusion, the players tested their theory until it did indeed turn out to be an illusion.  A thorough  search of the room revealed nothing of interest.  The last item of note encountered on the way out was another pit trap, this time avoided because it's craftily concealed door had been bashed apart from beneath, presumably, by a previous band of adventured who, like this party, had gotten trapped inside without a competent thief to get them out.

Tiny Bubbles

Before re-entering the castle, the party rests a day to recover their strength (and their cleric's healing spells).  While waiting for the barbarian (and his player) to reawaken, the Sorceress and Monk go looking for trouble (and the little bit of XP needed to level) in the nearby forest.  Luckily, they find some.   In a cave near the shore, suggested by one of their maps, they find an earth elemental.  A mighty flurry of blows by the Monk fells the beast.  Next, in the forest, they are attacked by a wild boar.  It fights well after it is dying, but the two do manage to slay that beast as well.

One the barbarian wakes up, it is decided to go back into the castle, though Sheena does question why.  She felt that heading west to uncover some of the reasons why they are wanted for banditry is a better course of action.  She is convinced to at least try to finish exploring the place, and the party attempts the southern leading passage from the left set of portcullises.   The first room they find was apparently a kitchen and it contained a snake in one corner, which was deftly dispatched by a well aimed sling bullet, a keg of beans, and three pots of water, one of which contained a foul smelling green fungus.  The barbarian warned the party of touching the fungus as the smell would not wash off for weeks, so the party took three beans from the keg, and moved on.

Searching the corridors carefully for traps an secret entrances as they walk, the rogue does discover a secret door leading to treasure.  Seven bags filled with coins, about 1,000 per bag (all copper).  They heft this trove back to the gates, and proceed with their searching. Down some steps they reach a cavernous area with a pool of fresh smelling water.  Bubbles occasionally rise to the surface of the water, but it is otherwise quiet.  There is a ledge leading around the cavern to the other side wide enough for only a single person to inch across.  Thokk touches the water, and immediately twelve magical bubble rise to the surface to attack the party.  Thokk backs up, and the sorceress pulls the monk away from the water's edge.  The Monk then engages one at range, popping it, but the others sink to just below the surface, thus showing the intelligence of these strange creatures.  The party decides to forgo killing the tiny bubbles as to get across they would have to be subject to attack by nearly all of them at once, due to their small size, who lie in waiting at the edge of the pool.

Return to camp to heal, they heft the bags back to the wagon.  The Monk recovers from the weakness he felt upon his attack by the bubble and the party again re-enters the castle.   In these two days, it seems they have gained some intelligence and caution, for not only do they decide to prop open one of the portcullises, to avoid the effects of it clipping them, the Monk also decided to listen at each door before entering it.  They discover a room with collapsing walls, and a purple moss that grows everywhere within it.  The air is heavy and hard to breathe, and the party's torches sputter and threaten to go out.  Surprisingly, though heavy the air smells sweet, and more pungent as time passes.  Thinking it unhealthy, the party torches the moss and leaves the room, though the sorceress down fall asleep to its effects a minute later.

Dragged along by the Monk until she awakens, the party again descend stairs into a natural cave, they find water formed from a natural spring.  The sand in the area is a strange red color.  The party takes some of the sand in case it is important later.  Sheena awakens.  On the way back, they decide to re-investigate the room with the moss, thinking that now the fire has burned out all of the moss, something of value might be found.  Unfortunately, nothing of value remains in the room.  On the way back out, the party notices a strange transparent cube of floating bits of coins, weapons, armor, and the like ambling down the corridor toward them.  they quickly realize this is a threat called a gelatinous cube, and that it has them trapped, for if they fall back they much lead to either the bubbles or a shut portcullis.  Not wanting to be engulfed but the creature, they decide to stand and attack it.  They find the cube amazingly easy to hit, but that it's pseudo-pods are poisonous and that it is very though.  However, with mere tens of feet left between them and the bubbles they destroy the cube.  Within its remains the only useful treasure they find is 10gp and a magical wand.  Sheena will later discover by use of a read magic spell that it is inscribes with magical runes saying it is a wand of healing, which luckily due to the barbarian rogue's new ranger skills, the party can make use of without the aid of the cleric.

Loose ends

With this section of the castle explored, the Monk consults the map he was making and reasons that there must be a secret door in one particular location.  Though his reasoning was flawed due to poor map making, there indeed was a secret door there and it connects the castle corridor interiors together.  Not wanting to encounter either bubbles or Xorn, the party decided to reinvestigate the caverns near where they awoke after waking from Travis's ministrations.  Though much time and spells used to detect magical auras are used little is found in these caverns but statues and signs of ancient care and worship.  In these the caverns, the party abandons three paths, one, wherein they find a room with stalactites and stalagmites, and a statue with arms outstretched, which they declined to search.  Another cave, in which could be seen, through iron bars, water and an occasional glint of silver.  Some mention of using the red sand to dust for prints was made here, but it was not attempted.  And thirdly, a hallway just beyond a pit trap that contained a locked door that none had the skill to try to pick, nor any the strength enough to bash it down.

Returning again to the eastern part of the castle, the party finds a semi-circular room with another statue, this one of a small girl with arms outstretched. Searching the room and the statue, they find nothing.  Continuing they find a completely empty room.  Searching it anyhow a secret door is detected in the back of it. Opening that is revealed a small 5x5 chamber with empty cupboards on the side.  Suspecting a trap, they search carefully and discover a pit trap in the floor of the room.  Unable to properly search the room without disabling the trap, they try to carefully trigger it through the use of a party member and rope.  It, indeed, does trigger (without the party member falling in) but quickly closes itself.  Shortly, they hear the sound of rushing liquid beneath the trap followed by a quick explosion accompanies by fire, heat, and smoke.  Lucky to have not fallen into that trap, and knowing that the other side is merely the star room they've already searched, they proceed.

The next room contains objects large and small, and upon entering it, the barbarian sees a human-like figure in the shadows of one corner.  He immediately grapples with it, much to the delight of the other members who see it to be merely a seamstress's dummy.  In that room, they find a platinum sewing needle which they correctly appraise at about 15gp.

At the next door, the Monk listens and hears growling noises coming from inside.  They bypass this door to check the next one down the hall first and find treasure.  In this room they find seven decorative candle holders worth about 50gp each and a magical harp bereft of string, which, nevertheless plays music music when it is touched.  The party suspects this could be used to calm the savage beast.  Returning to the room with the beast they find it is filled completely with normal colored sand.  The growling seems to be coming from below.  Clearing away the sand carefully they find a pitiful 3 foot long rat-like creature with a duck's bill trapped at the bottom of a pit trap in the center of the room.  They kill it, out of mercy, or just merely for the target practice, in one shot.  Also in the room they find a bag of coins (10gp, 8sp, 9cp) and a jade ring with dragons carved upon it.  A final use of detect magic by Sheena reveals none of it to be magical.  Though some talk of retrieving the rat's remains to be used as ap it trap detector is made, none are willing to lug around the corpse, so the idea is abandoned.

Finally, the party reaches a room with a door and stairs leading up, the first they've found in this castle.  Also in the room is a door and a statue of a small dragon readying for flight.  The barbarian first tries the door to find he is pricked by a poison needle in the handle, he successfully resists its effects, however.  A search of the statue reveals nothing extraordinary, and the party proceeds up the stairs onto the second level of the palace of the silver princess.

A Trip to Town

Upon venturing up the stairs they found a door leading into a room where a family of ugly three armed, three headed Ubues.  The party tried to engage them, but more Ubues came to join the fight and the party was driven back down the stairs.  They decided that they had plenty of loot and needed to get rid of it.

Upon leaving the castle, the party discovered that Chris's wagon was burned to the ground and that neither he nor the wizard was in sight, they belongings having disappeared with them.   The sacks of copper were still there, however.

Though the party did not know of any cities this far to the north, they decided to travel West through the forest just in from the shore in hopes of finding a port city.  Along the way they encountered a rather unfriendly beast, a large four armed albino gorilla called a girallon.  Playing it smart, the party stayed as much out of the grips of those four arms as possible and slayed the beast by outthinking its attacks.

A few days later, the party's camp was attacked by two hungry wolves in the middle of the night.  The barbarian, asleep and without his armor awoke too late to be effective and both he and the Monk were near death.  A barrage of magic missiles cast behind a magic shield enabled the sorcerer to drive the wolves away and save the two party members just in time.  While waiting for the barbarian's wounds to heal naturally for only his ranger skills could enable the use of their curative wand, Sheena also had to fight off a pair of badgers who tried to make a meal of her.

Once the party was awake and healed, they discovered the port city of Portsmouth where the Sheall river meets the Great White Sea.  They immediately located a broker for their goods who bartered their loot for the equivalent of nearly 7,000 gold in goods and items.  They found a wizard to identify the dagger as having a +2 magical bonus when thrown, and the harp when properly played had the ability to fascinate beasts and magical beasts.   The party exchanged the dagger, harp, gems, bags of copper, candlesticks, and the nearly spent wand of cure light for a +1 Orcish double-axe, +1 gauntlets, a ring of protection +1, and 1,000 gold.  With the gold they bought A chain shirt and a mighty composite longbow +4 for the half-orc, more ammunition, a wand of cure lights wounds and four potions of healing (light) explicitly to be used to revive the half-orc.

In an inn in town, they located a famous treasure hunter, and Sheena, via intentionally losing money in a game of dice, managed to find out the identity of the dead soldiers.  They belonged to Isabella, an ex-ruler of these parts.  Sheena was particularly interested in this news and changed her tune from not wanting to return to the castle to insisting the party do so.  Attempts to get the rogue to go with them failed.

On the return route, the only significant encounter was with a pair of Shocker Lizards.  Their combined energies produced a devastating blast that nearly killed half the party, but Sheena again, from range, managed to defeat them. 

Before returning to face the Ubues again, the party decided to tangle with their old nemesis the Xorn.  Strengthened by a spell from Sheena, both the half-orc and the monk were confident in killing it.  While waiting for it to reappear, they discovered a bear cub chained in the back of a cave beneath the castle.  Killing the bear proved an easy task.

 

The Second Level