Annals of Aldamere

"Vengeance is mine, I will repay" says the Lord
Olis, Gretta, Thorne, Gabriel, Aerik

The restless dead of Balout sought revenge against Ser Avery‘s sacking of their village, and the source was to be found in the heart of the town hall. Within was found a vengeful spirit and a Revenant Knight. In the name of their pagan goddess, Podago, they intended to slay the Knights of the Red Fish, which is to say Ser Marcel’s Order of Saint Dagon—also known as “Ser not appearing in this journal entry”. Reluctant to bring further suffering upon the fallen priestess, Thorne first attempted to mollify the angry spirit but in the end was forced to a battle of wills for his soul. The veteran Olis and Aerik stood firm against the Knight and his minions with the aid of the faithful hound Borz and Gretta‘s earnest support, while Gabriel invoked the blessing of Saint Belarion to strengthen the party against the assault. Ser Marcel’s men prevailed, but little sense of victory was felt for having merely finished the Canon’s butchery once and for all.

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Go East, Young Knight
Ser Marcel, Thorne, Gabriel, Olis, Father Henges

Having returned the surviving children to Winnownog and rested from the long toils at Mount Bubi, Ser Marcel with the strong urging of Thorne decided to return to see Charl for the promised help with our quests. The troop stopped on the way in Feurgard to rid themselves of various treasures and trinkets, as well as to deliver a proper tithe and for Olis to send a share of his earnings on to his family.

Upon returning to Albugang, Ser Marcels’ men found the Charl’s curse had left… her? him?… in the body of an old crone. The Charl provided a blessed potion that would allow us to interrogate the deceased victims of the Robberbaron’s attacks that we may find some clue as to how to proceed with Ser Marcel’s task.

After some short deliberation, the party set off to the East to seek some way to free the spirit of Thorne’s sister from the power of the rat shaman. The Charl recommended we start our search in Margaburg

After many days travel though muddy terrain, Gabriel found strange tracks which pointed the company to a sacked village of Ballout—the poorly done handywork of Archbishop Phaedra’s Knight, Ser Avery. The spirits and ill-treated corpses did not find their rest…

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Ravings

I find it hard to write. Right or wrong, She’s gone. We’re gone. We aren’t here. “We” isn’t here.

That thing, demon thing, little rat took away the context. My faithful fellows watched and marked me better for his theft. I had less sharp edges. I could be held in the eyes and understood.
Z
I can feel them weighing things. The eyes of their whore god burning into them. But she was not a thing to be set so callously upon the scale cosmic.

Beginning as the thing I would always have but never take, she became what I hadn’t, and then, unknown, what I had to lose. If I let honesty take me, I could admit that I don’t know if it was her or me, or we, that died – then or now. That was rent, that opened as a door. That the dying was important, I’m certain. In her absence should be a perfect her-shaped hole, but isn’t. Can’t sort out I from we from she. Magic was hers, but now mine. Maybe ours. I feel as a cheap spectre riding a stolen frame. Even if ’twere mine to start. The sensation of her absence, a hook in my soul? Where flap the tattered remnants of two who were one, there is no perfect division of self. I am not all I should be, but where I am not, I am her. The parts that are hurt to touch, but touching them is my only strength. Magic.

East screams to be attended and the pious and wise counsel waiting. We must save the grubs of the village of history deniers, the spider-doubters. Only once we have performed this ritual will we be unbound from the constraints of their code. In the midst of this, their madness seems to pass and we break free, only to encounter… can a virus of the mind be spread through the words of an impostor? It’s garments and vestiges are of a piece with ours, it claims to be brother to us, yet whence did it come? Where does it go? After it’s brief touch, the big faith came. Self important lunatics cover’d in the glory of the sacred harlot. In place of their hearts is rot. They preach peace and leave a river of blood behind and care nothing for the tiny lives they ruin or those who’s salvation slid through their fingers like so much ash from a witch’s pyre. There was much bending and scraping. Many words uttered that sounded like hope but meant despair. They are not men, they are dogs and they will return. The world reels back from their passing and the small folk wail. Curse all who inflicted this church upon us. Fuck Thesme.

But up the mount we go, knowing doom waits still. Somehow, amidst it all, a quiet fell. Amidst the silent menace of the struggle with the Chagma: a thing of beauty. A tear in the skin of the world. Portal, passage, perilous and strange. Through it came the limb of god, finally judging them unworthy and I rejoiced. Not for us, but for them. For in that moment, despite their failure, at least they knew. “This is what it means!” For us, that day might never come. Despite the grasping outstretched hands of saints vieing endlessly for our need, none is made clear. Knowing that some is real makes what is not all the more loathsome. What I know is this: there are more worlds than these, and She holds sway in none of them. This is only the start.

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Return to Mount Bubi
Olis, Marcel, Thorne, Gabriel, Gretta

Returning once more to the base of Mount Bubi driven by Ser Marcel‘s and Gabriel’s zeal to rescue the children come what may, and against the wise council of Thorne, the party once more began the trek back to the dread Chogma Temple.

Upon returning to the mount, the first indication of something strange was that the troll’s body expected to have been thrown to the base was no where to be found. Once back into the complex of worked tunnels, a transformed Chogma priest attacked the party and was quickly put down by the righteousness of Ser Marcel’s quest. Regaining entrance to the Temple itself met no resistance, and it appeared some huge insect had been rampaging about and slaying many giant ants.

Descending the shaft the party was lead to by Azholt‘s final interrogation with the aid of Olis’s climbing prowess, the party found the way directly to the heart of the Chogma ritual chamber guarded only by a monstrous yellow spider. Their ritual had been begun with only the five missing children, having used some work of blasphemous magic to warp the three remaining ratmen into some grotesque simulacrum of human children.

With the timely aid of St Luljeta, and the martial prowess of Ser Marcel’s men, four of the children were freed and fled before the final step of the ritual was complete. Sadly one village child was sacrificed along with two of the transformed ratfolk. With the escape path blocked by the great gold spider, Ser Marcel’s men were forced to fight a pitch battle with little hope of escape. The fell powers of Byakulose easily shook off Gretta‘s and Thorne’s attempt to subdue her will, and the ritual was still successful in opening a portal to some hell-spawn plane.

As providence would have it, the ritual was not done properly and the efforts of Ser Marcel’s men had done it’s damage. Instead of bringing Black Chogga to the aid of the Chomga, the enraged god merely crushed the gold spider and the high priestess of the Chogma before withdrawing back through the portal.

The weary but victorious company escorted the four rescued children back to Winnownog after determining the portal was likely to fade in time, and recovering what remained of the defeated Chogma’s belongings.

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The expeditious expedition
Marcel, Thorne, Gabriel, Gretta, Wiertof

While taking a brief rest after the encounter with the Chogma raiding party as Gretta tended to Thorne’s wounds, the scout Wiertof caught the sounds of a horse somewhere in the distance in the direction of the retreating Chogma. Gabriel and Wiertof approached with caution and discovered a Knight of Ser Marcel’s order with her tracker examining the foot-prints of our quarry.

Regrouping with the rest of the party, the Knight Sgt Pardo squire to Ser Avery turned out to be part of a larger force returning from an expedition to the East in the service of Archess Phaedra. They had captured the ratman Azholt, who told them stories of the Chogma which Ser Marcel’s men were able to corroborate with the body of a slain warrior. The expedition continued on to Winnownog for the night.

Even the spiritual leader of the expedition, Canon Ryth, however, proved to have little interest in helping the villagers of Winnownog in their plight. Despite having lost a number of their children and many of their able-bodied men to the Chogma, Ser Avery and the Canon were disinclined to commit any time to the task at hand. Their quartermaster was able to secure some additional equipment, and Sister Radica presided over a night of prayer and fasting for Ser Marcel, Gabriel, and even Thorne in preparation, but none of the martial forces of the expedition were going to come to the rescue. Ser Marcel was merely given their blessing as they continued on their way home.

The ratman Azholt provided some additional intelligence, and then was summarily executed upon the Canon’s order. Thankfully Geytha was able to sneak away from the expedition with Thorne’s aid before arriving in Winnownog.

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Farewell to Mount Bubi
Olis, Marcel, Thorne, Gabriel, Gretta

Having rested in the relative safety of the troll’s cave, Ser Marcel‘s men regrouped and began to explore a bit more around Mt. Bubi hoping to find some alternative way to enter the Chogma Temple. Travelling further into the eerily cold cave, another villager’s body was discovered, killed by the intense cold which emanated from a bizarre and dangerous fungus.

The unexplored cavern at the top of the path was another worked cavern which was filled with large—but not bipedal—spiders and their webs. After some effort to clear away the spiders and the webs, the three tunnels leading off revealed to be dead ends or cave-ins, with one containing the hanging remains of the last missing member of the would-be rescue party who had been overwhelmed by the monstrous spiders.

Having exhausted the upper caves, the party moved back down to explore a bit further another tunnel, only to find it too ended in a solid rock face. Continuing down the mountain, Gabriel noticed the recent tracks of group of spider-folk having emerged and headed down to the ground below. Ser Marcel decided to give chase, with Olis and Thorne heartily agreeing.

After many hours of tracking and scouting, the party caught up with the spider-folk raiding party. They turned back to attack and the party positioned up on a ridge to receive them. The battle was fierce, but without the aid of close-quarters, the engagement proved more even than those in the Temple. Three of their warriors were killed, while 2 other warriors and their priest retreated. Thorne was grievously injured, but not fatally.

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Now I lay me down to sleep...
Olis, Marcel, Thorne, Gabriel, Gretta, Martek

As Thorne‘s screams faded into sobbing, the sounds of distant bells brought Ser Marcel’s men to alert as creatures were approaching the Chogma Temple’s entrance foyer where the company had settled down for a few fitful hours rest. Quickly taking defensive positions, no other sounds could be heard save some soft scratching against stone.

Suddenly, the doors burst open to reveal four of the Chogma warriors moving with unnerving speed. A well-placed arrow from Gabriel‘s bow and a lucky toss of Martek’s knife knocked two of the creatures out of position, leaving Ser Marcel and Olis facing two ranks of warriors without an immediate threat from upper ground. Gretta‘s lullaby left one of the warriors distracted, but the presence of two of the white “priest” Chogma made for a difficult fight. Thorne was able to turn one of the warriors against it’s kin, although their own magical defenses proved robust as well. The priests retreated along with two of the warriors, one fell to Thorne’s will and jumped to it’s demise from bridge over the chasm in front of the temple, and one lay slain driven through with arrows, knife wounds, sword blows, and deep clefts from an axe.

Rather than give chase, Thorne’s condition merited a few moments to learn what had befell him in the night, and the answer was at once both disturbing and unclear of it’s relevance to the task at hand. The rat-demon shaman had worked some magic upon him, but also revealed that a clue lay within a tome the Chogma library. After some heated discussion, it was decided to search the storehouse and the library in the hopes of finding some advantage that could help with rescuing the missing children. While a number of texts were recovered, and the rat-demons clue lead to a tome of importance, the immediate relevance was not clear as time would be required to study them in detail. Martek felt that the ‘spider rations’ in the storeroom would somehow prove valuable as well.

After another engagement with strangely oversized insects, the party retreated from the temple to search for a more secure place to recover their spirits and to throw off the lingering effects of poison that had hindered Olis since the engagement with the trapdoor spider.

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