Time Marches

Fairy Tales III: Giant Killers

Day 5 in Thelanis

After leaving the castle of Blunderbore and Rebecks, the Giant Killers decide to continue along the track of the story of Jack the Giant Killer. They find the Happy Prince on the road, who is out to seek his fortune by slaying the ettin Thunderdell. The party joins with him, and together they go to Thunderdell’s castle, where — following a variant of the story popular among gnomes — they design an elaborate machine to slay the ettin. They then take his teasures.

Rather than pursuing this story further, they then decide to change courses to Jack and the Beanstalk. They go to the beanstalk planted by Samson previously, where they meet a prophet of Saint Derli named Renshaw, who apparently wandered into Thelanis inadvertantly and has been stuck in this realm for some time. To escape the realm, he joins with the party as they climb up to resolve the fairy tale. At the top of the beanstalk they find a solid cloud with the castle of Gogmagog, the Lord of the Clouds. While Vaxin and Renshaw sneak in a convenient side entrance to steal his three treasures — one of the story’s requirements — the others fight Gogmagog directly, trying to pull him to the edge of the clouds and push him off. This is because killing him is also a necessary point in the story.

Though both sides struggle somewhat, they are ultimately successful, and return to Luchair with Gogmagog’s treasure. With this, they have completed the cycle. The archfey of this realm, the King Without Sorrow, regains some lucidity about the reality of the situation, and offers them the chance to keep just one of the treasures they found here. They choose the luck stone. The story then ends, and they can finally leave on their boat of reeds, together with Renshaw and Rogdan, whose courage has been restored by the party’s success.

Main Characters: Samson Grugnak, Peril Edenhall, Garrrth Thicktrunk, Kraft, Vaxin, Renshaw

Day 5 in Thelanis

The party awakens from a fitful sleep in the mountain castle of Blunderbore and Rebecks, the recently-slain Lords of Stone: stone giant brothers who once ruled the giants of the land in the domain of Luchair. They try to loot the castle, but find that the brothers had little of value worth taking. Vaxin finds a treasure chest in a bedroom which turns out to be a mimic, but after beating it into submission (after nearly being slain by it) he discovers only a small amount of money within.

This being the third day of the story, they expect that there should be new sudden developments to propel the story forward. They don’t have Rogdan to consult today, as he is still in Luchair, so they try to recall what will happen on the third day. They know that the matter of the Lord of the Clouds, the giant in the sky, is still unresolved, and Rogdan believes he will be upset by the fact that the party planted the beanstalk, but that story continues Jack and the Beanstalk, and for now they are pursuing Jack the Giant Slayer. The details they remember about this story at this point are somewhat hazy, but they recall that at around this point the Happy Prince comes of age, and joins Jack on his quest to kill the giants plaguing the land.

With this in mind, they climb down the mountain and go wandering through the forest, and sure enough, they find the Happy Prince, who has just come of age and has struck out from Luchair in search of adventure. He joins with the party as the Narrative demands, and immediately begins referring to the others as his subordinates, giving them each rankings based on how obedient they are.

The Happy Prince, it seems, is out looking for a two-headed giant named Thunderdell, who has also supposedly made his home in the woods somewhere. The party helps the Happy Prince search, and not long after, they discover his castle. In the most common version story, Jack and the Happy Prince convince Thunderdell that an army is approaching his castle to slay him, and they all barricade themselves in his castle together. Then, they kill the giant while he sleeps and rob him of his four magical treasures.

Samson, however, recounts a version of the story popular among gnomes, where Jack instead builds an elaborate machine to drop a boulder on Thunderdell’s heads, then knock on his door and trigger the mechanism, slaying him with ingenuity. The party decides to go with this more elaborate option, and set about building a complicated contraption to drop a boulder on Thunderdell’s head. The system, involving candles, ropes, pulleys, and a variety of other devices, works flawlessly, and Thunderdell is slain with the power of science.

They search his castle and find three of his four treasures: his magical sword, shoes, and cap. They cannot find his magical cloak. They distribute the treasures amongst themselves and then discuss the flow of the tale.

They are again foggy on what happens next. They know that there is a devil that Jack meets on the road who ensorcels him, but they are unable to recall the exact circumstances. They do, however, recall that Jack and the Beanstalk is near its end — all that is left is to take the three treasures of Gogmagog, Lord of the Clouds, and slay him. Seeing that the tale they’re currently after has much more distance to go, they decide to change course and climb the beanstalk Samson planted.

The beanstalk, originally planted with three beans of different colours, has grown into three separate beanstalks coiled into one: one red, one green, and one blue. The red one is burning hot to the touch, the blue one is slick and hard to hold on to, and the green one periodically grows and drops thorns. Before they begin climbing, they encounter another traveler not native to Thelanis: Renshaw, a human sorcerer who claims to have received his power by the blessings of Saint Derli, the prophet of Dol Dorn worshipped by some as a demigod. Renshaw claims to be the prophet of a coming “second reformation” of Derli’s faith, which will establish a belief that Derli is not just a prophet or a demigod, but Dol Dorn himself.

The prophet claims to have accidentally stumbled into Thelanis and has been trapped in Luchair for some time, and saw the beanstalk as a potential way out. To this end, he joins the party in climbing the stalk to get to Gogmagog’s castle. Climbing the stalk proves challenging, as they must constantly switch between different sorts of danger, but eventually, all make it up. At the top, they find themselves on a solid cloud, on which sits yet another giant castle.

The treasures they are after are, according to the story, within the castle. There are three such treasures: a singing harp, a goose that lays golden eggs, and a bag full of golden coins. After some scouting around the perimeter of Gogmagog’s castle, the party discovers a convenient unguarded servant’s entrance around the back. Knowing, however, that the cloud giant is vigilant, and that he must die to complete the story, they hatch a plan: Vaxin, who is adept at moving silently, and Renshaw, whose magic can render himself invisible, will sneak in through the servant’s entrance while the others work to slay Gogmagog.

Vaxin and Renshaw wait for the others to initiate the conflict before sneaking inside. They take an extremely direct approach: Kraft hammers on the door to the castle with his maul until Gogmagog opens it, and the party immediately attacks the giant. As soon as the conflict breaks out, Vaxin and Renshaw enter through the side door.

Gogmagog overwhelms the party very quickly — he is considerably stronger than Cormoran, Blunderbore, Rebecks, or Thunderdell. The party adopts a strategy of gradually pulling him back towards the edge of the cloud that supports the castle, intending to pushing him over the edge. Each party member is repeatedly beat into unconsciousness or knocked down with the giant rocks Gogmagog carries, and while the Happy Prince and Peril struggle to use their fey magic to keep the others up, it is an extremely one-sided battle.

Meanwhile, Vaxin and Renshaw manage to locate the golden goose. They leave it at first, deciding to come for it last. They discover the bag of coins as well, which is giant-sized; Renshaw summons a floating disk of force to carry it. The singing harp is playing itself in a room with Gogmagog’s wife, who appears to have been put to sleep by its melody. They steal the harp, and Renshaw puts her back to sleep with magic. They then leave the room quickly, use the harp to entrance the goose, and head out the front door to see the rest of the party fighting Gogmagog.

They join the fray, and their influence is enough to finally turn the tides of battle, allowing the party to push Gogmagog off the edge of the cloud after several failed tries. After he tumbles to his death, crushing a house below, the party descends the beanstalk.

After travelling for what feels like a very short time, they make it back to Luchair, where everyone inexplicably knows of the Giant Killers’ victory, and the whole town is celebrating wildly. The flow of the crowd pushes the party to the castle, where the King Without Sorrow finally comes out to greet them and his son. The story has ended, and the world is about to reset itself for the next cycle. As the town blurs around them, it becomes apparent that the King Without Sorrow is the archfey at the center of this shard of Thelanis.

He seems to have only a vague awareness of the truth of the situation, but regains some lucidity as their surroundings lose structure. The magical items they acquired, he explains, cannot ordinarily be taken out of Luchair, but he will allow them to keep one. They choose the luck stone they acquired from Cormoran’s hoard. As the story breaks down, they get back on their boat of reeds. They are joined by Renshaw, and by Rogdan, who is inspired by their success and wants to discover what happened to his companions.

The Giant Killers continue down the river, which carries them out to what appears to be a vast sea, shrouded in fog.

Fairy Tales II: Blunderbore and Rebecks

Day 4 in Thelanis

The second day begins in Luchair, the heart of the realm of the King Without Sorrow. This marks the second day of the Jack and the Giants cycle.

Following advice given to them by Rogdan on their first day here, the party follows the tale of Jack the Giant Slayer. To do this, they go out into the woods and look for the magic fountain, where Jack falls asleep and is abducted by the Lords of Stone, the giant brothers Blunderbore and Rebecks. Vaxin and Peril remember alternate versions of the story that allow them to avoid falling asleep, but the others are taken by the giants back to their mountain castle.

The prisoners try to escape, but are hampered by Galorax, who refuses to cooperate in favour of the goblin version of the story, where Galorax would save the day. Peril and Vaxin go to the castle and enter through a giant rat hole. The prisoners charge the giants when they show up to eat their captives. Kraft, Reardon, and Samson are knocked out. Galorax uses the power of the story to slay Rebecks, but is killed by Blunderbore just as Peril and Vaxin show up. Reardon regains consciousness, picking Samson and Kraft back up, and together they manage to take down Blunderbore.

The party then rescues the damsels in distress also captured by the giant brothers, and rest for the night.

Main Characters: Galorax, Samson Grugnak, Reardon MacGilabin, Peril Edenhall, Kraft, Vaxin

Day 4 in Thelanis

A new day dawns in the village of Luchair, beginning the second day of the Jack and the Giants cycle. From their conversation with Rogdan the day before, the party knows that two events are likely to happen today: the Lords of Stone, Blunderbore and Rebecks — the stone giants who rule all giants of the land — will try to abduct the party, and the Lord of the Clouds, Gogmagog, will react to Samon’s planting of the beanstalk the day before. The former will further the tale of Jack the Giant Slayer, and the latter will move along the track of Jack and the Beanstalk.

The party converses, and decides to follow along with the Giant Slayer. In the folk story, Jack finds a fountain in the woods, which puts him to sleep when he drinks from it. While he sleeps, Rebecks appears to take Jack back to the castle that Rebecks shares with his brother, and there they prepare to eat him. With this in mind, the party strikes out into the forest again, and the Narrative soon guides them to their destination: a small copse in the forest, in which an ancient fountain inexplicably bubbles with sparkling water.

Confronted with the fountain, the party again discusses among themselves. A few alternative versions of the story are recounted:

  • In the version of the story Peril knows, Jack does not fall asleep at the fountain at all. Rather, the waters of the fountain heal his wounds and relieve his fatigue, and after drinking of it, he pursues Rebecks and Blunderbore willingly.
  • Vaxin remembers a version told to him, where Rebecks fails to realize that the fountain does not affect eladrin. Jac only fakes being asleep.

The others try and fail to recount a version of the story that does not go badly for Jack at this juncture. Peril and Vaxin drink first from the fountain, and are unaffected by it. Peril feels somewhat stronger after drinking from it. They then hide while the others drink, and promptly fall asleep. Peril and Vaxin fail to waken them, and it is not long before Rebecks appears to collect their unconscious bodies. The two still awake hide again as the giant passes and pursue him through the woods.

Rebecks takes the unconscious party members to a castle at the highest peak of the tallest mountain in Luchair’s domain. He puts them in a chamber that is mostly empty, save for a few small odds and ends left by previous victims, and closes the massive door, locking it behind them. Rebecks does not take their weapons or equipment. As the prisoners regain consciousness, they take note of their surroundings and realize there is a tiny, narrow window near the ceiling, which is very high up relative to their size.

A small verbal confrontation takes place between the party members in the castle as they try to settle on a plan. Kraft is assuredly too large to fit through the window, and Samson and Reardon are likely to get stuck. Galorax, by far the smallest of the four, could fit through easily… but he refuses, instead sitting cross-legged on the floor and insisting the story will save them. In the version of the story known to the others, Jack escapes the room, but in Galorax’s version, Jack overcomes the giant at the last minute. The others set up an escape route by hitching a rope to the window (after many tries), but Galorax still refuses to move.

Meanwhile, Vaxin and Peril arrive at the base of the mountain. It seems impossibly tall, but with the Narrative affecting the distance, they only have to climb as far as it takes to be dramatically appropriate. Peril, being familiar with fey environments and the distortions of distance, helps guide Vaxin, who stumbles a bit on the way. They make it up without much trouble.

At the top, Peril and Vaxin are met with a huge door barring entry into the castle itself. They struggle against it, but cannot budge it, so they search around the perimeter. They come across a tunnel leading into the castle’s wall, just barely high enough to get inside without ducking. Peril lights a torch and draws his blade, and they enter. Before long, they discover that the tunnel was made by giant rats, who attack Peril and Vaxin when they discover the intrusion.

As the two of them fend off the rats, the prisoners see the door opening to their empty room. Blunderbore and Rebecks are waiting in the corridor beyond, ready to eat their captives. The party decides to try and rush the giants, an endeavour that quickly turns against them. Kraft holds the giants off for as long as possible as his companions provide support, but eventually he is knocked out by a rock thrown by Rebecks. Samson is also knocked down not long after via a rock thrown by Blunderbore.

Reardon is knocked out as well, at about the same time as Vaxin and Peril arrive. Galorax takes advantage of the goblin version of the story, where Jak, the goblin prince, pulls out his magic sword that grows stronger when the situation is dire. Empowered by this magic sword produced by the Narrative, he slays Rebecks, but just as in the story, the sword fails at the most critical moment. It is useless against Blunderbore, who grabs Galorax and slams him into the ground repeatedly until the ancient goblin dies.

At this point, Vaxin and Peril strike. The two of them manage to take down the wounded Blunderbore with the help of Reardon, who regains enough coherence to push healing magic into Kraft and Samson.

With the giants felled, they set free the prisoners from an adjoining room, which is full of damsels-in-distress, and rest for the night.

Fairy Tales I: Jack and the Giants

Day 3 in Thelanis

On their way to the Isle of Dread, the party’s boat of reeds provided by Elias Alastai ends up at a lake next to a town called Luchair, which is full of apparent humans that seem oblivious to the idea of being in Thelanis. They soon discover they have stumbled into the realm of an archfey, associated with stories about giants: in particular, Jack the Giant-killer and Jack and the Beanstalk. A lone mercenary from the missing Tharashk mercenaries, Rogdan, explains that he deserted here out of fear after the mercenaries travelled through several archfey realms with substantial casualties. He explains that like all other archfey realms, the only way out is to complete one of the relevant stories, or a known variant of one of those stories.

The party tries to pursue both stories at once, with Samson planting magic beans in the ground and the others slaying the hill giant Cormoran. They receive a hero’s welcome and the title of “Giant-killers” back in Luchair from the mysterious “King Without Sorrow,” who then gives the party all of Cormoran’s stolen wealth. While retrieving this hoard, the party encounters Sir Humpty of Dumpty, who watches a damaged wall that marks the border between Luchair and the giants’ territory. Galorax attempts to knock him off his wall before realizing that a nursery rhyme is not equivalent to a fairy tale, which accidentally tangles the party up in another, unrelated tale.

They manage to escape the tale related to Sir Humpty and return to Luchair, where they rest the night in the Giant’s Folly in.

Main Characters:Galorax, Samson Grugnak, Peril Edenhall, Kraft, Vaxin

Day 3 in Thelanis

The party drifts along the river on the boat of reeds provided to them by Elias Alastai, and soon find themselves outside of the eladrin domain. The river winds down through some hills and feeds into a pristine lake in a shallow valley. The river appears to stop here, and is the only river that feeds the lake, but there is a town built on the shores. They drift towards it, making a fairly straight path despite not paddling in any way and no obvious current to the lake.

The boat arrives at the harbour at what appears to be noontime, where a number of fisherman from the town regard them with curiosity, but not suspicion. They are almost entirely human by the looks of them. As the party disembarks, Galorax tries to hawk wares to the townspeople, who examine the goods from afar with some interest, but none express a desire to purchase anything. Peril, meanwhile, speaks with some guards who are overseeing the harbour. The guards speak Common, and inform the party that they have arrived in the “idyllic” town of Luchair. They are, he says, the first visitors the town has had in some time.

When questioned about the Faerie Courts, the guard claims to have no idea what Peril is talking about. Peril asks where Luchair is actually located, but this line of questioning gets nowhere; the guards will only refer to the town’s location in general terms (“it’s in the valley”, “it’s west of the mountains”, and so on). Samson inquires who rules these lands, at which point the guard points towards the great white palace at Luchair’s center, and answers with the “King Without Sorrow.” He then directs the party to the town’s only in, the Giant’s Folly. At this point the party splits up to seek information, with Galorax and Vaxin going to the Giant’s Folly, and the others going to the palace.

At the Giant’s Folly, the party encounters only two daytime drinkers. One is a half-orc, grizzled and scarred, wearing the undercoat of a suit of armour and a sword belt. The other is an eladrin woman, dressed in fine clothing and sipping at the same green spirit that Reardon drank before. Galorax goes to speak with the half-orc, while Vaxin sits at the table with the eladrin woman.

Galorax orders the half-orc a drink, which comes from a serving girl who appears as if from nowhere and for which he is not charged. At this point, Galorax learns that the half-orc’s name is Rogdan, and he does not hesitate to reveal his origins as a mercenary of House Tharashk — one of the missing troop. He explains to Galorax that the mercenaries ended up in the Feywild and went through several archfey domains while seeking the Isle of Dread. His companions, Rogdan explains, moved on to another realm, but he chose to remain here, lacking any desire to move forward into more danger.

The eladrin woman, Orivyre, tells Vaxin that she is a traveler from Shae Loralyndar. She describes herself as something between a sightseer and a scholar, who is traversing different archfey realms to satisfy her curiosities. Vaxin asks how she manages to move between the realms, to which she responds with another question, asking which feyspire Vaxin hails from. Vaxin responds that it has been a “very long time” since he left his feyspire, claiming not to recall which. Orivyre asks if he still remembers the “pathways”, and Vaxin shakes his head. She then explains that those who still have deep connections to Thelanis can traverse hidden pathways between realms, but since he cannot, the only way out is to “draw the realm to its natural conclusion.” He nods, thanks her, and goes to join Galorax and Rogdan.

Meanwhile, at the palace, the others find that it is surrounded by an outer wall and patrolled by guards. The royal guards explain that nobody is permitted in the palace who might “bring suffering or sorrow with them,” as the palace is a place in which negative emotions are forbidden by order of the King Without Sorrow. As they are foreign outsiders, the guards explain that they cannot trust the party not to bring such things inside, and refuse them entry to the palace. They also learn that the king’s son, the Happy Prince, is nearing a birthday that, in two days, will mark his passage into adulthood, and so this restriction is especially important right now.

Feeling this is a dead end, they go to join the others in the Giant’s Folly, where they sit at the table with Rogdan. He continues telling his tale, and explains more about the nature of Thelanis: the realms of the archfey are like self-contained worlds, that encapsulate the fairy tale (or tales) that gave rise to the dominant archfey. The only way out is to resolve a story, at which point the boundaries of the archfey’s realm thin until the story “resets” and begins to play out again. Multiple stories can play out in one realm, and variants on the tale can be played out just as well as the “base” story. In this particular realm of Thelanis, they identified two stories: Jack and the Beanstalk, and Jack the Giant-killer.

Rogdan says that the mercenaries were not able to determine who the actual archfey in this realm. They suspected that it was the infamous “Jack,” but after searching for days they were not able to find any such person. They concluded that they were meant to fill Jack’s role in the stories, and decided to pursue completing Jack the Giant-killer. They hunted and killed the cattle-eating hill giant Cormoran, but as Rogdan explains, “the rest of the story was too bloody,” and he deserted his companions, deciding that settling in Luchair forever was preferable to facing any more nightmares of the Feywild. He urges the party to do the same, and Galorax is nearly convinced.

The party decides to pursue both, despite Rogdan’s warnings that this could cause fairy tales to conflict. Vaxin asks what will happen if the stories veer too far off course or become impossible to resolve, and Rogdan tells them that if this happens, the realm will enter a sort of limbo state where nothing can finish for an indefinite period of time before gradually resetting back to its base state. This is a process that can take years, Rogdan says, and recommends that they are very careful not to let this happen.

Undeterred, they continue trying to pursue both. They speak with the barkeep, who points at the giant’s head mounted above the fireplace, and tells the party that the giant’s brother, Cormoran, has been eating cattle north of Luchair. The party leaves on the Road — the only highway out of town — bound for the north. They travel for what feels like only a couple of hours, but on looking back see that they have moved a great distance. Ahead of them, they can see Cormoran in the distance, fat and filthy, eating cattle in the fields of farmers. As they begin to move towards the giant, they meet another traveler on the road.

The traveler appears to most of the party as a hunched old man, carrying a huge bag on his back. To Galorax, he appears as a hobgoblin with a small pack and a mischievous expression, and to Samson, he is a handsome half-orc with a thin smile and a black cloak. They all recognize him as the magic bean merchant of the Jack and the Beanstalk tale. In the most common Darguun variant of the tale, the protagonist Juk encounters a malicious hobgoblin on the road who tricks him into buying cursed beans. Among the orcs of the Shadow Marches, the hero is a bean farmer who deliberately buys three beans of different colours off the bean merchant (who is actually the Traveler, of the Dark Six), and with hard work and diligence, grows them in fertile soil. In this version, one bean is blessed, one is cursed, and one is an unknown quantity.

The merchant, appearing to the party simultaneously in different ways, offers up the beans. Galorax is asked to trade the golden antler he acquired from the Elkweald, but he pretends he does not have it. Kraft tries offering a finger, but the merchant does not want that. He asks for Peril’s medallion he found in the Moon Spire, but he will not give this up either. Vaxin has nothing to give, so Samson reluctantly offers his goggles of night, which the merchant accepts. Because the variant of the tale known to Samson has been followed in this case, Samson receives a bag with three beans: one red, one blue, and one black. Samson plants them in the ground in an equilateral triangle, choosing the spacing and angles carefully so he can keep track of which one is which and so that they will not overgrow one another.

After this, the party discusses their options for defeating the giant Cormoran, and they exchange the versions of the tale known to each of them. They identify some variants:

  • Peril knows two versions of the story. One has Jack tripping and falling into a magic gourd, which makes him taller than Cormoran. Another has Jack luring the giant to the edge of a gorge, blinding him, and pushing him off the edge.
  • The version Galorax is familiar with (from Darguun) is similar to Peril’s second version, but has Juk the goblin hero breaking Cormoran’s knees with a crowbar instead of blinding him.
  • Kraft’s understanding of the story has Jack wrestling Cormoran to the ground, rather than luring him into a pitfall trap (or to the edge of a gorge).

They go looking for an appropriately-sized gorge and discover one nearby. Galorax imitates a female giant to try and draw Cormoran near, which works, but sends him into a rage when he discovers Galorax is not a giant at all. The hill giant states his intent to crush the party, and he begins swinging his oversized club wildly. Peril and Galorax attempt to use their bows to blind Cormoran, one shot in each eye, but are met with little fortune. Galorax ends up skirting dangerously close to the gorge with Cormoran on his trail. Vaxin hides in a bush, and Samson offers only one shot from his thundergun — momentarily dazing the giant — before wandering off to tend to the beans.

Vaxin then emerges from the bush, attempting to climb Cormoran to blind the giant, but is thrown off and nearly falls into the gorge himself. After a time, Peril and Galorax finally manage to blind Cormoran. Kraft swings his great maul into the back of the giant’s legs, causing him to buckle but not fall. Galorax steps forward with his crowbar, bringing the justice of the story to Cormoran by finishing what Kraft started and shattering the giant’s kneecaps. Bone splinters fly from flesh as the giant topples into the gorge, screaming as he falls.

With their work done, the party rejoins Samson, who has somehow produced a straw hat and a watering can made out of a skull, just as in the story he’s familiar with. With Samson, the party returns to Luchair. While the road led straight out of town from the Giant’s Folly before, it now goes directly to the palace. Despite the fact that few people in Luchair were aware of what they were doing, the town is now in celebration over the party’s triumph against Cormoran. They follow the road to meet the King Without Sorrow. The King, resembling an aged eladrin with a white beard, is one of very few definitive non-humans in the town.

The King greets them and thanks them for their efforts, bestowing upon them the title of “Giant-killers.” He then offers the party the entirety of Cormoran’s hoard, which “all of the king’s horses and men” will be sent to retrieve. They ride out with a small army’s worth of people and horses, beyond the gorge where Cormoran fell and to a great wall marking the border of the King Without Sorrow’s domain and the giants’ territories. A Cormoran-sized hole has been punched through the wall, where stands one lone knight in strangely round, shining white armour. One of the riders identifies the man on the wall as Sir Humpty of Dumpty, the Knight of the Glen, who is charged with watching the wall (even though there’s not much point with a huge hole in it). The knight waves as they pass.

Cormoran’s hoard is in a huge cave a short distance away from the wall. The party finds various gemstones, coins, and miscellaneous goods with mild fey enchantments among the hoard. On their way back, Galorax recalls the nursery rhyme of Humpty Dumpty: in Darguun, Humpty is an egg made of gold, and Galorax sees him in golden armour. He is deliberately knocked off the wall by a stronger person in the goblin version of the rhyme, who gains great wealth but is cursed forever. Galorax fires an arrow at Humpty, attempting to knock him off the wall, but misses… twice. It occurs to him after Humpty discovers him that a nursery rhyme is not the same as a fairy tale, and that completing that story probably won’t give them a way out.

Humpty summons his horse, which Galorax attempts to steal, inadvertently stumbling into a different fairy tale entirely — one he is not particularly familiar with. Sir Humpty of Dumpty insists on boiling Galorax and the others until they confess to their crimes, but Galorax makes use of what little he knows of this tale: the Knight of the Glen has a notoriously terrible memory in the Darguun version, which mischievous goblins exploit. They convince Sir Humpty that the horse was stolen by one of the king’s riders, whom he seizes with his great strength and drags off for boiling.

The party then returns with their loot to Luchair, heading for the Giant’s Folly. Despite it having been “midday” for their entire adventure to this point, it is now suddenly the tail end of sunset. In the Giant’s Folly they find Cormoran’s head mounted above the fireplace next to his brother’s head. Kraft angrily tries to claim Cormoran’s head until Peril convinces him that the trophy will just vanish as soon as they leave the realm. They then have another drink with Rogdan, who warns them of the dangers of the coming day: Blunderbore and Rebecks, the Lords of Stone — the giants who rule the lands outside of Luchair — are going to collect the party and drag them to their castle by any means necessary. This led to a particularly bloody conflict for Rogdan’s mercenaries, which is what prompted him to desert before. He also warns them that the Lord of the Clouds, the giant in the sky, may react to the planting of the beanstalk(s).

Armed with this information, the party retires for the night.

The Palace of the Twisted King

Day 1 in Thelanis

The party regroups in the Ironwood Spire and sets off for a river which marks the edge of the domain of Shae Loralyndar, and the last place Evisalyth can track the missing Tharashk mercenaries to. On the way there, Reardon, Galorax, and Samson become lost, encountering some sort of strange nymph slaver on the way. Reardon and Galorax also meet a strange woman who gives them bracelets to submerge in the river’s waters in exchange for returning them to the road and their companions.

The others are cautioned by eladrin on the road of dangerous weather patterns and a rogue kingdom of something called “fomorians” ahead. They carry on anyway, and on some open plains are set upon by a storm of scorching hot water. They take shelter in a ruin, once a tradepost between two eladrin domains, and here they find evidence of a dismantled Tharashk camp. They also discover tunnels beneath the ruin, and attempt to investigate. In cramped tunnels beneath the ruin they are ambushed by meenlocks, twisted fey that thrive on fear. They are led by an eladrin sorcerer corrupted into becoming a meenlock, called the Twisted King. Unable to maneuver or see properly, the party faces tremendous losses in the tunnels — Duine and Laxus are killed, Reardon loses an eye, Peril develops a limp, and Samson is disfigured by burns.

After searching the tunnels and burning Laxus’ body (in hopes it does not become another meenlock), the party rests in the ruin, attempting to wait out the storm.

Day 2 in Thelanis

The storm subsides, and the four remaining party members make their way to the river, where they meet Vaxin, an eladrin monk specializing in channeling ki through his glaive, and Kraft, a warforged training with him to study his strength. They also encounter Elias Alastai, an archfey associated with rivers, who is revealed to have originally hired the Tharashk mercenaries while in disguise in the Material Plane. He wanted them to map the “Isle of Dread,” an island that was once in his and his sister’s control, and to discover why they can no longer exert power over it or remember any details about it. The mercenaries stumbled into Thelanis, got briefly lost, and then set on the right track, but have not been heard from since.

The party is offered the same task in exchange for a reward and escape from the Fey Courts. They take the opportunity, also seeking to locate the missing mercenaries on the Isle, and Vaxin and Kraft also decide to come along. Elias gives them a partial map and creates them a boat from reeds on the river bank, and they soon set off for the Isle of Dread.

Main Characters: Duine, Galorax, Laxus Secundus, Samson Brugnak, Peril Edenhall, Reardon MacGilabin, Kraft, Vaxin

Force of Nature II: The Sovereign Elk

Sypheros 4, 1027 YK

The party finds themselves in Ironwood Spire, where they meet the eladrin’s leader, Evisalyth. They are asked to bring the Sovereign Elk back through the rift by bonding with it, using drops of its blood to perform the bonding. They also pick up a new traveler: Garrrth Thicktrunk, an ill-mannered earth genasi wizard who seeks the weapon of his hero father.

Sypheros 5, 1027 YK

After a brief and unsuccessful side trek in which Galorax and Laxus attempt to locate a healing spring in Thelanis, the party returns through the rift with their eladrin escort (after confronting the sister of the briar troll who once protected it) and follows the path of the Sovereign Elk through the woods to Yrlag. The Elk, accompanied by several yuan-ti cultists — including the cultists’ leader, Senjarik — is steadily advancing on the palisade walls of the town.

Using the cover of a convenient fog, the party strikes at the yuan-ti while Laxus attempts to bond with the Elk. They soon learn that it is under the control of Senjarik, and so the adventurers defeat the yuan-ti before entering the Elk’s mind, also making use of some additional blood carried by the cultists. Here, they push back the poisonous magic and return the Sovereign Elk to Thelanis, finding themselves back on the other side of the rift… which has now closed.

Main Characters: Duine, Galorax, Laxus Secundus, Content Not Found: samson-brugnak, Garrrth Thicktrunk

Force of Nature I: Into the Rift

Sypheros 3, 1027 YK

The party follows Grammond the Mauve’s lead, and ends up in the town of Yrlag on the northern edge of the Shadow Marches. They find that Yrlag is experiencing frequent tremors, which are causing some townspeople to leave.

Sypheros 4, 1027 YK

After speaking with the reeve, Vlayn Felstrom, they learn that the tremors are probably somehow related to the town’s close proximity to a crossing of three leylines. She also reveals that the mercenaries did indeed visit Yrlag, and were hired by the townspeople to deal with yuan-ti cultists that have been plaguing them of late. The party follows the leylines to the crossing, and discover a shrine full of the yuan-ti. After confronting them, the party inadvertently opens a rift to Thelanis, which causes the Sovereign Elk to break free and make a slow but inexorable path towards Yrlag.

They go into the rift and, after being bloodied by a troll dwelling within, come out the other side, where they are confronted by some eladrin. The eladrin take the party as willing prisoners to meet with their leader.

Main Characters: Duine, Galorax, Laxus Secundus, Peril Edenhall, Reardon MacGilabin, Content Not Found: samson-brugnak

The Moon Spire

Rhaan 27, 1027 YK

The party arrives in the hamlet of Carbuncle, deep in the Shadow Marches. In pursuit of information about the missing House Tharashk mercenaries, they question various people. They learn that Carbuncle is full of devout Lharvionists, and that there is a tower that appears as if from nowhere for a three-day period when Lharvion is full. The tower’s appearance coincides with strange mutations in the people of the hamlet, which they consider to be a blessing.

A wizard of the Twelve, Grammond the Mauve, is in the hamlet seeking an item from inside the Moon Spire, which is going to manifest in the next three days. A diviner by specialty, he offers to track down the missing mercenaries for the party if the find the item, called the Oracular. They agree, and spend the night in a guest house.

Rhaan 28, 1027 YK

The next day, their horses are dead, and one of Galorax’s henchmen is missing. They investigate this and discover the henchmen dead as well, and attribute these strange happenings to the appearance of the tower in insubstantial form the night before. They await nightfall, when the tower appears in the moonlight, and enter.

They traverse the odd interior of the tower, where each “level” appears to be its own dimensional space. After making their way through the various dangers, many of which suggest the tower is fey in origin, they make it to the final chamber, where the Oracular is kept. They contemplate destroying it, but decide to take it back to Grammond as agreed. Using an enchantment on the cradle which held the Oracular, the party teleports out of the tower and returns the Oracular to Grammond, who in turn tells them that he can trace the mercenaries no farther than the town of Yrlag to the north.

Main Characters: Duine, Galorax, Laxus Secundus, Peril Edenhall, Reardon MacGilabin, Content Not Found: samson-brugnak

Khyber's Harvest

Rhaan 24, 1027 YK

Six adventurers — two agents of Dragonmarked Houses, two entrepreneurs, a priest, and a wanderer — enter the depths of the Shadow Marches in search of a missing company of House Tharashk mercenaries. Their first destination is the village of Blackroot, where an agent of Tharashk previously searching for the mercenaries, Doria Veledaar, was last known to have been.

Doria and her family are missing when they arrive, but they find some mostly-concealed signs of a struggle in their family home. The party finds a strange religious icon in the house and uses it to help find a trail, which leads to a cave just outside of town. The cave is guarded by orcs from Blackroot, but they push through and uncover a Cult of the Dragon Below, led by the village reeve, Toraash’Dorrm. They slay most of the cultists and kill Toraash, who was attempting to harvest souls and trap them in the many Khyber shards of the cave — once a tradition in Blackroot’s cult. They free Doria, who then points them to the hamlet of Carbuncle to the north.

Main Characters: Duine, Galorax, Laxus Secundus, Peril Edenhall, Reardon MacGilabin, Content Not Found: samson-brugnak


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