Thule: Gateways to Darkness

The wax cools

After the grisly discoveries in the chandlery, our heroes surreptitiously return the missing persons to their homes… with express instructions to keep the rescue under wraps, since the breadth of this cult is unknown. However, the joy at seeing their loved ones alive is barely contained by each family. The secret may not last long, not to mention the fact that there are rumors starting to spread about the healing hands of the Lomari merchant, Timbo.

There were many items harvested from past victims of sacrifice, as well as several interesting possessions on the dead chandler and cultist. On Catalina’s body was a key, a ring of climbing, two potions of pass without trace, and an everburning torch. On the cultist there was a scroll of continual flame, a wand of dominate person (3 charges), a +1 dagger, and gems worth “348 gold”. Inside the barrel labeled “paraffin” were two sets of studded leather armor, a chain shirt, 4 daggers, a short sword, a +1 shortbow, 15 arrows, and a potion of greater healing.

What happened to the bodies? There were two thralls and a cultist.

Settling down for the night in Putoro

Our heroes find comfortable places at the long table on the first floor of the Weeping Willow, and Boris brings out flagons of wine…some of their dwindling stock. The inn is empty save for a traveling priestess of Asura, who has come to aid in the treating of the sickness. The rooms purchased at a reduced rate are bare but comfortable.

Around the table and over a platter of roasted (and disease free) venison, the group fills each other in on their discoveries. Rowan crossed the river and met Trago- one of the purebloods rescued earlier in the day. He thanked the party for their intervention and offered the hospitality of Snake Row in return. He also admitted to being afraid to leave Snake Row again, until relations return to normal, and wanted the group to check up on his cousin Garvil…the hound master at Bear Manor. Rowan was then directed to Melara, who used to work in the Manor for Baroness Anya before being turned out. Melara gives Rowan a brief summary of the recent history of Putoro and its importance to trade in the region. She also provides the name of the young boy of Deond and Anya, and heir to the barony- Marek.

Lucien and Osaiya had tracked east after leaving the chandlery, passing a boarded-up weaver’s and then coming to a great set of double doors set into the hill on the bank of the river. After some careful study, Lucien decides the doors haven’t been used in at least a couple of weeks. He also notes what appears to have been a flow of wax some time before they were last used, and their are wagon wheel impressions in the wax. The waxen lobe is covered with patches of dirt and fresh growth. As the two of them make arrangements for lodging, they observe the wax golem in the chandlery going about his business and tidying up.

Timbo and Vulash are the last to rejoin the group, having visited the local Temple of Herum. They came upon a priest, Radu, in the middle of a ritual parading around the temple with a censer whilst cutting his arms. He revealed that he had cured the first victims of tallow-throat, gardeners from the manor, but they had fallen ill again and died shortly thereafter. He has generally been successful in curing otherwise healthy folk of the disease, but cannot work fast enough to save the already weak. He said there were three stages of tallow-throat, the final one involving a horrific eruption of the swollen throat and ‘dark creatures’ issuing forth. He has lost most of his acolytes to these things, and is struggling to find precautions while still treating the sick. A pressing issue is that many of the sick will not seek aid, because they become cantankerous and asocial as the disease worsens. He also notes that the disease was contained to the manor until the baron expelled the purebloods.

A couple of locals make their way in, sheepishly confessing that they didn’t think the pureblood farmers were guilty of kidnapping and thanking the group for stopping Captain Groy. They begin to ask about the adventurers- who they are and where they came from… Osaiya politely talks to them for a while before turning the questioning around. The locals say that there have been rumors of shadows stalking the valley at night for many years, but they never attacked humans. Last month, people started coming down with a strange disease and then began disappearing. The baron made a speech warning the townsfolk of dangerous shadow creatures…

vicious cycle

greatest of wheels turn
when cessation is futile
foresight is aegis

Of course I knew the mage was an impostor. The pathway to his doom was laid bare in my mind before the truth was revealed. I am frankly relieved, for a moment there I thought that I had been overcome by the desire to destroy a perfect innocent. Thankfully that is not the case.

When I wield the power it becomes mine. Sources of power have no inherent morality in onto themselves. Evil gravitates to these sources of power as you might expect. The forces of Evil are not clear headed when they seek power, they are good at attaining it, terrible at wielding it. This is good. We will continue to take the power until the force from beyond withers in enervation.

It is only natural that I enjoy my studies, that the execution of the lesson is also pleasurable.
I hope to engage in more field-tests soon.

Farms, Caves, and Deceiving Wizards

After being transported back to the tower, yet again by the cubes strange magic, we find Croathia much changed. He seems more himself, but less the Croathia we have come to know, even lucid enough to take audience whilst sitting in the great serpent chair at the base of the tower.

After questioning some of the folks in line to see Croathia, we are directed again by Osaiya’s connection with other members of Set and move to follow an old man sent to deconsecrate an old temple. On the journey, strange lucid, and shared dreams plague our group while storms rage. The storm and dreams cease together, and we finally come upon a farmhouse on a hill, and an old man sitting on the porch awaiting us.

The temple lies below the farmhouse, but the main entrance is collaped. Oren (the old man) tells us he was attacked by a bear on his journey and that there is also a bear in the house. Doh Mi, Luciens familiar changes to a centipede and crawls through the rubble to see a statue of Mithra in a small chapel. In order to find the other entrance, we must enter the house. I take the form of the brown bear that is inside, but it is unnecessary (Vulash manages to intimidate it without an animal form). The bear retreats to the woods.

farmhouse, bear smell

water pool, swim
stinky mold
human kneeling spot, papers
food place, rotten, do not eat
more papers
death smell, look in box, fight metal men, see fire
dead end, no smell
soft sleeping place, Oren smell? hmph
no Oren, need to find him

Oren stands, but not Oren? has magic, and bones
we fight, I am not afraid

After defeating the wizard (who probably killed the real Oren) and his skeletal minions, we head back to the dead end at the southern end of the caverns. Lucien heads back to the sarcophagus room and sits on the bench that had triggered a question before. Once the answer to the riddle is found, the dead end shimmers and we move through to a dark room. We find an old man…. the real Oren! He is deconsecrating the temple so we head outside to wait. When we fill him in on our mission, he offers his wisdom that gods battle and spill over into our world.

We camp on the farmhouse lawn. I sleep like a hibernating bear…….

poking into the unknown 4
when the void stares back

Lucien Allomage
knife in the darkness
welcome in a time of need
from whence doth it bide

Our abilities grow rapidly as our activities continue. My companions are already more formidable than I would have imagined in such a short time. I believe there is some greater force behind us. And by that I mean greater than… those who wait. Imprisoned. I will resist the urge to say more.

The hunger of the void was destroyed today, or at least its feeble avatar in this realm. Feeble compared its master, anyway. I cannot imagine the destruction that the entity in its true form would have wrought on this world had it been allowed to enter. It would have diseased and consumed us all. I am sure we are doing the right thing. We are aligned.

Doh-mi is a useful companion. It is a odd creature, but has served faithfully so far and I feel compelled to trust it. It’s eyes are overlarge and black. Glassy. I can see myself in them, but it is a distorted image… and upside down.

Golden tears
A most unnatural cavern

As we travel, the perils of the jungle pres.ent themselves in the forms of eagles and a saber toothed cat. Such creatures do not exist in the city and prove that nature is truly superior to the creations of man, but we are cunning enough to best the threats for now.

We come upon a cave with a main entrance and one hidden entrance behind a waterfall. We struggle up the hidden entrance, thinking it safer than proceeding along the obvious route. Inside the cave are a series of cavernous rooms with strange humanoid statues of soldiers, wizards, and royalty. We keep finding strange writings which no one in our party can decipher. We are attacked by two undead, but are able to quickly put them to the endless rest.

We come upon a room and are able to surprise a beastman who is tending to a fire. He presents the most difficult foe yet (although Vulash will not admit this) and our party is in great need of rest. Before such a decision is made, we enter one of the last rooms in the cave and find Madder Keb along with several hooded figures ready to protect him. They threaten us, and even Vulash is forced to accept our weakened state and admit we are in no position to fight these men. We back out and decide to hide behind the waterfall. As we rest, Madder Keb and his men leave the cave and Lucien lets them go in favor of letting all of us regain our strength. During our rest we are able to finish exploring the cave where Madder Keb was chanting. We find the most hideous burial: a mummified man with gold dripping from his face and limbs as if it were warm blood. He seems to have met a most unfortunate end.

After fully resting, we move to catch up to Madder Keb. Luckily, they stopped for rest as well, so we come upon there camp. Timbo and my other self act quickly and quietly infiltrate and are able to help ensure a quick victory with the element of surprise on our side. It feel good to stretch my muscles and extend my claws.

Lucien hunts around the bodies, and finds one of the cylinders to our cube. Unbeknownst to our party, he decides to connect the two pieces and is immediately engulfed in strange flames. Before I know what’s happening, our group is transported to a strange place with creatures and symbols that are unfamiliar and will not even try to begin to comprehend. Someone (maybe Osaiya) speaks of old gods, but before I have a chance to tell her that the only gods are the gods of nature, we are transported again and I find myself back on the 6th floor of the tower of the black flame…. sigh back to the city.

Lucien speaks of the home base or centered power of the cube being the tower of the black flame… I wonder if we will be tied to this horrid tower forever.


poking into the unknown 3
a unplanned visit

Alarming success
Parallels through my world
A moth saved by flame

Mader Kheb was another fool. Letting us go was his last mistake. His cadre was weakened and left in a vulnerable position, he wagered on our fear (to flee) or our rage-dulled wits (to fight his fight). His goal so close, he wished us away and was oblivious to danger.

I see ever more clearly the ether strings pull on the weak minded. The power hungry. I tell myself that is not my fate. I step forward open-eyed. If there be a Purpose, an unseen hand, I will accept this “reality” and create my own Purpose.

We have seen the place beyond the veil. The cube is indeed a powerful object to take us there. As I looked up at the face of the unknowable, I saw… Purpose. Glacial, inexorable Purpose, but the only inkling I could discern beyond overwhelming alieness was deep malice. It is like looking at the ocean and realizing it is simply waiting to rise and consume all.

I will think twice before adding another glyph to our artifact. We must carefully proceed with whom we trust with this information. We must learn more and quickly. I believe now that allowing the disk to be activated with its power was a mistake. We must find the others and stop those who might seek to end the world.

The barriers. They were so fragile… I wonder if such a thing can age.

Breath of Fresh Air

The dumb brutes hadn’t had enough of our troup apparently. We attempted a peaceful night of rest at the Tower of the Black Flame, but were bothered (only slightly) by the thieves from the streets. They were appeased with the large throne/serpent effigy. It seems their band is part of a larger group of organized crime…. interesting.

We find a potion, which Lucien claims will help with falling, and also a series of notes which lead us to the Set Temple to search for clues as to what Kelaklith was up to and where he managed to send the pieces of the cube of which we are now in possession. We are on the hunt for the remainder of the artifact, for Croatia knows it is worth the most whole and wants us to restore it. We are off to the Ghan peninsula in search of a man named Madder Keb who had been in communications with Kelaklith.

As we move off towards the jungles of Ghan, I feel as though I have no control over my destiny anymore. We ride up the river in a boat. A river ride like any other, and that’a all I will say about that.

Off the boat I take a deep breath of the jungle air. By the gods I have forgotten how I miss the deep forested jungle! The relief doesn’t last long though, for we are quickly pursued by large beast hunters and are reduced to running for our lives like savages. We come upon a road and quickly make for it, but they are quick. We make our stand among runes and are able to defeat the beast men.

We hunt for a mummified king with melted tears of gold and other great treasure. My greed is a hungry emotion and I am tingling with excitement to be able to appease it while also spending time in the jungles I love.

Trader Jodum
Loss of a colleague

Timbo’s Journal and Ledger entry #742
We left her at Ghansport. I am uncomfortable taking canoes into the jungle away from her, Asura’s Ishtar. But she has carried me this far and my coin should be safe in her secret holds. The secret holds will be safe from the…captains… and the captains will keep her safe from others. The journey to Ghansport was uneventful aside from waking again in a cold sweat. The nightmares are back. I cannot let them see me like this.

I do not think that Osaiya appreciates the humor of my barge’s name. It is easier to hang back and observe the Dhari, the Northerner, the priestess, and this curious half-elf.

My Trader, Jodum, has…expired. He was a good… businessman. And informant. He always brought me the best dark chocolate and wine at a good price. Price. He knew the price and he knew what he was getting into. He knew his job. It was a contract he chose and that contract was terminated. Early. Not my problem. Yeah. Not my problem.

Spoils from the Tower
Third Floor: 120 gold pieces, 250 silver pieces, a potion of healing, and a small silk pouch with three garnets worth 25 gold pieces each.
Fifth Floor: The hidden compartment in the throne contains five small emeralds worth 100 gold pieces each, and a potion of healing.
Sixth Floor: The wooden case contains three topazes worth 50 gold pieces each, a pair of boots of the winterlands, and an amulet of natural armor +1 (rare, too precious to trade).
Total worth gold pieces: 845
Total silver pieces: 250

My even share: 169 gold pieces, 50 silver pieces, amulet of natural armor +1.
Previous stash: 270 gold pieces
New total: 439 gold pieces, 50 silver pieces, amulet of natural armor +1.

The spoils from the tower were simply not enough! This next job HAS to bring more in. I NEED to bring more in. She needs me to. I have no interest in the black milk trade but the quick, high rate of return had been the most promising. Additionally, it is not easy to call in trades from the other captains for the potions of healing we needed so badly. I could only trade for five. I thought this set of companions would be hardier than the last…


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