Blood Brothers

Following Trails

Malkor was eerily silent after being resurrected. He also couldn’t remember why he wanted to go to Silverymoon, and neither could anyone else, so they didn’t. With Malkor almost back to full health, the group decided on a more mundane method of travel for this journey.
They walked to the temple with no surprises. Unfortunately, as they were now two days late, the Orcs had come and went. There were no signs of a battle, but definite signs that a dozen or so Orcs had camped, and then left the way they had come—north. The group tracked them out of the Evermoors, where the tracks met the road and split. Five pair going northwest up the road, toward the border of the kingdom of many-arrows, and seven going southeast, most likely back to the headquarters. The visionaries decided to track the five headed northwest, and so they did. When the road passed the tip of the Moonwood, the tracks split again. Three sets up to the Moonwood, and two off the road and north, into the Kingdom of many-arrows. The visionaries followed into the Moonwood, and marched until Diir caught the faint aroma of roasting boar, tinged with the smell of Orcs. He stopped the group and moved stealthily ahead.

Diir, accompanied by his faithful wolf Megareg, came to the edge of a clearing, and peered in at the trio of Orcs. One stood and went to the opposite edge of the clearing and relieved himself. The other two sat in silence, occasionally prodding the roasting boar. Diir speaking Orcish, attempted to fool the Orcs into thinking that he was another orc, who happened to be defecating in the vicinity and wanted to know their patrol route. They invited him to share in their boar, but upon finding an Elf, and not believing that Obould would hire a mercenary elf to investigate them (Did they have any idea who they were? He did not.) The trio drew their greataxes, and Diir unleashed hell with a cry of “ARROOOOOOWS!” alerting the rest of the visionaries to the commencement of a fight (Mondo probably rolled his eyes)

Diir sent Megareg around to the opposite side of the clearing to take care of the lone Orc, while he quickly dispatched one with a flurry of arrows to the throat. Megareg attacked and tripped the lone Orc, who stood up, and with a mighty (read: lucky) swing of his greataxe, cleaved the poor wolf in twain.
The rest of the visionaries made it to the clearing, and Ivan and Gravel made quick work of the remaining two Orcs. While they had no patrol maps, they did find the Orcs rather well equipped.

Malkor popped a convenient extra dimensional space, and the visionaries rested and Diir mourned the loss of his friend. In the morning, the group teleported home, to re-analyze their plan.

Mondo and Sammy went to talk to Murith, but before they could speak, she announced that she had come to some conclusions. She felt remorseful for what she had done to the innocent civilians they had taken, and for turning them into soulforged in a very cruel fashion. Their lives weighed heavy on her heart, and though she still felt a twisted loyalty, she wanted to do everything she could to assist in the rescue of the civilians. Mondo offered that their cleric could perform a ritual, if she was willing, that would not only lift the burden of her misdeeds, but would give her an entirely new outlook on life. She agreed on the one condition that they not ask her to directly harm Raza, as she did not know if she could. Mondo assured that they would not ask this of her, and she proceeded with him to Charmelo.

Charmelo and Murith sat at a table, across from each other. The pair discussed what was to happen, and the burden that Murith needed lifted from her. Charmelo took her hands in his, and began muttering in prayer to Lathander. Moments later, Murith’s face lightened, and Charmelo released her hands, saying only “It is done.”

While this was happening, the visionaries were deciding that the time for subtlety had passed. They needed to go in and get those people out. Mondo ran some quick calculations and figured they would only need 300 or so trips. Hmm. Well, they could just go and kill the Thayans, then. The group seemed to like this plan, and Mondo executed a teleport directly into the centre of the Thayan base! Only, they didn’t go anywhere. Mondo was flummoxed, and could not determine why exactly the teleport had failed.

They tried again, this time targeting the refuse room. It worked. They used the same methods as before to climb out of the rotten mess and up into the toilet room above. They made it down the hallway at first, and turned down the passageway which led to the crypts. They found that the bodies—statues—were gone. The markings on the ground showed the bodies being dragged out of their resting spots, dragged a short way, then no more tracks.

They headed back to the hall leading into the central chamber, triggering a trapped rune not far from the door. Fortunately the rune only affected people who didn’t need to make attacks anyways. Hmm. Gravel swung open the door and was faced by soulforged! A heavily accented voice (not Raza’s) announced that they had been expecting them, and ordered the attack.

A spell was cast, causing Gravel to become confused and begin babbling. Ivan rushed past into the fight, and as soon as he crossed the threshold he was wracked with pain, and quickly surrounded by soulforged. Diir made an impossible shot, firing over and through six of his comrades, and manage to hit the arm of the nearest soulforged (the only thing he could see) The whole thing got messy, with spells flying every which way and swords falling all over Ivan. Mondo and Sammy quickly discerned that there was an invisible divine caster running around, in addition to the quartet of soulforged and the visible wizard. Mondo flew out over the soulforged, crossing the threshold and feeling the pain Ivan suffered moments before, but in the process managing to reduce the enemy wizard to a blithering idiot. Kevhorn, needing to get out of the hallway, quickly took the shape of an eagle and soared into the main chamber, away from the main fracas. Ivan fell in the heat of battle, to the sword of bewildered Gravel. Mondo followed shortly after, hit by something the cleric cast. Kevhorn summoned a fierce storm of lighting, and begin picking off the enemy combatants. Sammy cast see invisibility, and began narrating the actions of the cleric to the group, so they could hit her. The battle raged on for hours seconds, with the visionaries ultimately coming out of it victorious, but with heavy casualties. Diir set about healing the group, managing to bring Mondo back to consciousness, but Ivan was too far gone. Diir and Sammy searched the temple complex for any survivors.

All the rooms were empty save for the throne room, or what Raza had made into a throne room. In this chamber they found a pile of bodies. Some flesh and dripping blood from slashes and open wounds, others stone but smashed into nearly unrecognizable shapes. They carefully sifted through to try and find survivors, finding only one statue that was mostly intact, missing three fingers of the right hand and the left arm. Gathering their own casualties and the mostly intact statue, they teleported home.

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The orcish ranger

After their flight from the shoggoth and second run-in with their old friend Shax, the visionaries returned home. Arriving in their night they retired for the evening, intending to start the next day by attempting to locate the Orcish king, in an attempt to using the horde as a distraction for their assault on the Temple.

The next morning, after sending Sticks to town to do some shopping for them, they began hatching their plan. Fortunately, they didn’t have to look very hard for Orcs. A gruff yell from outside caught their attention, and upon emerging they were greeted by around a half dozen Orcs.

One stepped forward, and announced himself as Kezun Brokentongue. He announced that they were not there to fight (odd indeed for Orcs), but were there to make arrangements. Obould had had a change of heart, and was prepared to offer them mercy, if only they would repay him what they owed. See, he figured that they had stolen his gold, and killed more than a few of his soldiers, and it was only fair that they repay him. All he was asking was a small payment of 100 000 gold pieces. He was even willing to let them dictate the time and place of the exchange. Mondo spoke with Kezun, giving him the location of the temple and setting a meeting in three days. Kezun agreed, and gave the map and the directions to a rather small Orc, who proceed to take off.

Kezun, who had spotted Diir hiding in the trees, and having no love for Elves, challenged him to single combat, drawing his bow. A couple arrows flew when Mondo, trying to protect their plan of following the Orcs back to their base, and dominating Obould, began to interfere. Creating a cyclone, he made it difficult for Diir to hit Kezun, frustrating Diir to no end. Diir closed on his target, as Kezun kept ducking away from the vortex to hit Diir with arrows, and soon Gravel and Ivan rushed into the fray, tackling the handful of Orcs who had accompanied Kezun. Malkor ate some delicious popped corn, and enjoyed the view. Almost at Kezun, Diir disappeared as Mondo blanketed him with invisibility, announcing that Kezun had won, and he should totally leave. Kezun, not having any way to continue, stomped off away from the base.

The Visionaries performed a quick patch, and Diir set off to stalk his prey. Travelling swiftly and silently through the woods alongside the road. He tracked the prints and found a spot where the runner, and then Kezun, had met up with a third orc, and it appeared that Kezun had been healed. One set of prints strayed off into the woods, and two continued on the roads. Mondo, flying behind Diir, volunteered to track through the woods, while Diir took the pair.

Diir, catching up to the pair, took them both down with a single arrow each, exploding their brains with relative ease.

Mondo found Kezun, alone in a clearing, tending to a camp. Mondo discussed that he only wanted to insure that the word had gone off to Obould, which Kezun assured him it had. With that, all the visionaries returned to headquarters.

Sticks returned with the goods, and the group decided to head off for the temple. They were a few short hours away when they received a message from Charmelo and Sticks back at the base. Apparently they had an unconscious Murith on their hands, as Raza had teleported in and dumped her, saying only “She should be with friends.”
The ground hastily returned, to find a bandaged and healing Murith, still unconscious. Mondo and Charmelo set up a couple spells to insure their safety, and insure than they could believe anything she told them, and waited for her to wake up. Upon waking, Sammy had a bit of a heart to heart, trying to discern not only what had happened, but whether Murith could be trusted.

When Diir had said “See you soon.” On the way out of the temple, Murith had realized that they had no intention of leaving things be, and she realized that she had made a mistake. She immediately alerted Raza, who had a bit of a hissy-cow. He had her severely beaten by soulforged and gnolls, while he tortured her with magic. He stripped her of her tattoos (which signify rank among the red wizards) and left her unconscious and scarred, to starve for several days before apparently delivering her to the Visionaries. She was not an evil person, but had operated out of a misguided sense of loyalty and devotion. It was all she had ever known.

The visionaries offered her sanctuary, temporarily, while they figured out what to do about Raza. Their deadline with the Orcs was closing fast, and Malkor (for some reason) wanted to go to Silverymoon. Mondo, not having any teleport locations, needed a picture, something he could use as an anchor to get them there quickly. Thinking that surely Alton could help, the group headed off to Tower’s Shadow.

They didn’t make it. About halfway there, the ground rumbled and shook and bursting for several feet in front of them was a huge frost worm, disturbed by the thawing ground, and seeking out food. The massive beast writher and sprayed the group with frosty breath, preparing to move in. Gravel and Ivan rushed in, weapons drawn, only to be swiftly rebuffed. It didn’t take long for the group, always fastidious, to bring the creature to its knees, as it were, but it wasn’t all they were expecting. As the worm writhed and screeched, shuddering violently in the throes of death before exploding, covering the group with a massive rain of icy blood and shards of ice. Gravel dropped, unconscious, and Malkor was killed. The creature dead, the group gather up the wounded and returned as quickly as possible to the headquarters. Charmelo could bring him back, but they needed a diamond, and then diamond dust to bring him back to full strength once he returned. Mondo flew (literally) to the town of Lhuvenhead, where there was a jeweller of some renown, sure to have a diamond. He made it back swiftly and Charmelo called forth the power of Lathander and pulled his soul back from the planes. Gasping, Malkor bucked and began to breathe once more. The group breathed a collective sigh of relief, and silently considered their mortality.

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A brief history of the False Visionaries...
There and back again...wait what?

The False Visionaries are an adventuring company operating within the Silver Marches, in northern Faerûn. One of the visionaries was called Pix; he was a soulforged, basically a construct with a human soul. He had no memory of his creation, only of waking up in a cavern in Thay, and slowly making his way across Faerûn before meeting Gravel, a half-orc fighter, and shortly thereafter the rest of the founding members of the FV (Grohim, dwarf cleric; Bron, human paladin; Malic, human fighter; Diir, an elf ranger, and Raf, human wizard). Soon after the formation of the company, Bron received a tip about the whereabouts of his long lost sister, and left to pursue it, recommending Kevhorn, a half-elf druid, as his replacement. During their first major adventure, Raf was killed when he fell down a hole and an ogre fell on top of him(fun fact: he is the only member of FV who is known to have died.). Shortly after Raf’s death, they aided in the rescue of some civilians, one of whom was a human wilder named Matilde, who proceeded to join the FV.

After their crushing defeat of the lich Caligero, the visionaries took time to expand their operation, hiring underlings to do the more mundane jobs. During this time, Malic left the group, as he was sick of fighting undead, and wanted to stab something that would bleed. He was replaced by Malkor, a human sorcerer.

They were tasked with solving a curse on the small duchy of Lhuvenhead, just down the Rauvin River. The “curse” was actually the combination of a mindflayer in a coal mine, a werepanther in the woods, and an anti-paladin of Cyric in the Queen’s court. As a reward, they were given the deed to MineCo Mine # 3.14159…, the coal mine where the mindflayer dwelt. The mine has been operating under their ownership for several months.

During some downtime, Bron arrived unexpectedly, badly wounded and looking harried. He said he had encountered some Red Wizards, killed them, and recovered two journals: one, in Thayan, detailing a horrific process of driving human souls into metal bodies, and another, in Dwarven, full of schematics resembling Pix signed by one Bauk Magrin. Some strange visitors arrived at the FV headquarters, demanding that Pix be remanded into their custody, citing that he was their property. They were recognized as Red Wizards of Thay. Pix, intrigued by a construct that accompanied them which clearly followed his design, approached the Thayans. Before anyone could react, the leader, who is called Raza, grabbed Pix and teleported away, followed by the others, leaving a summoned Hezrou demon in their place.

The managed to track the Thayans to the edge of Everlund, where they learned of an odd surge in the availability of magical items, something that Thayans are known for. They found a dealer named Jarvi Magrin-Omek, and deduced he was fencing the Thayans items. Diir bought a cheap Ring of Protection, as well. They eventually learned that Bauk was Jarvi’s wife’s uncle, and had a workshop in Sundabar before mysteriously disappearing, years back.
The FV went to Sundabar to search Bauk’s workshop, and on their first night there, were ambushed while sleeping. Matilde was kidnapped, and a threatening letter of warning from Raza was left in her stead. The next day, they found a red wizard also investigating Bauk’s workshop. After an awkward conversation, it was revealed that the stranger was no red wizard, but an underground operative of the Harpers, working to take the red wizard presence out of the Silver Marches, only he couldn’t find them. The Stranger was named Mondoshawan Mangalore, a completely normal name, like Luke, or Rickets. He agreed to work with the FV towards a common goal. They found clues in Bauk’s workshop indicating that he was being held by the Thayans, and that they were operating out of somewhere in the Evermoors.

On their way back to Everlund, they stopped at HQ for a bit of rest and to pick up some profits from the mine. They received a strange note requesting their presence in Tower’s Shadow, a stone’s throw from the HQ. Just outside the town gates, they find a young, maybe 14 year old, girl, sobbing on the side of the road. They approach her to see if they can aid her distress, and she informs them her brothers and father are all dead. When they ask what happened, she shouts “You killed them!” and suddenly a column of flame bursts from the ground, catching many of the Visionaries in its burst. She leaps to her feet and announces that they are about to die, at the hands of Samantha Ferrell! She turns invisible, but the Visionaries track her footprints in the mud at the side of the road, and Gravel grabs hold of her, while Diir holds a sword against her throat. Mondo is apprehensive about this; he wanted to help (a very Harper thing to do) and proceeds to ask why she needs so badly for the visionaries to die. He may have convinced her to tell him using magic. She agrees to calm, if he will protect her. He takes her aside and finds that her father, a drunken gambler, had made a deal with a devil (Shax), agreeing to give the devil his sons. When the devil went to retrieve his prize, he found the boys’ souls had been consumed by a lich, and that they were long dead. Returning to Petric Ferrell, the devil demanded he pay up, so Petric offered him Samantha, who watched, curled up in a corner in fear, as the devil agreed, then tore her father to shreds. Shax turned his icy eyes on her and told her that she could either kill those who had stolen his original prize from him, or she could return with him to the nine hells, and be his servant for all eternity. Mondo, horrified, promised that he would protect her, and that they would kill Shax, and free her from his grasp. From that point, Sammie followed the group as a companion.

They stopped in at HQ on their way, and were joined then by Ivan, a wandering barbarian seeking employment with the legendary False Visionaries. After a quick drinking game between Diir and Ivan, to determine Ivan’s fortitude, Ivan was inducted as an official member of the False Visionaries.

Heading back into Everlund, en route to the moors, they were stopped by the guard, and their assistance was requested. People had been disappearing, dozens per night, for several nights. Jarvi Magrin-Omek was one of the first, if not THE first who disappeared. That night, Diir was overcome with the irresistible urge to walk to the Evermoors. The visionaries figured out that the ring he had bought from Jarvi had triggered a compulsion, driving him to a destination. They tied a rope to Diir and followed him. He led them to a clearing in the Silverwood, just beside the Evermoors, where they were attacked by a White Dragon. They subdued the dragon and got out of him that he had somehow been finagled into working for the Thayans, he would freeze people as they arrived, then the Thayans would cart them away. They killed the dragon, and followed the Thayans trail into the moors. They came upon a fork in the road, with a signpost pointing to Certain Death, and Serten Deth. They chose Serten Deth and followed the path to a Thayan camp. They snuck in (absurdly easily) and tried to take the overseer of the camp, but when they entered his tent, they found only a red dragon! They proceeded to kill it. They set the slaves running the camp free, gave them some money and sent them to Tower’s Shadow, the town where the FV had been formed.
After escorting the newly freed Thayans back to Everlund, they were approached by an employee of Samwell Callow, for a quick side job. They were enticed by the fact that it was through divinations that Samwell had been told to hire them. Apparently the Gods thought that this mission was “The Next Step on the road to Thay”. The job was to wipe out a local assassin’s guild, which Samwell wanted because they murdered his son. They took the job, killed a bunch of assassins, wiping of the assassin’s guild the Black Hand. Upon reaching the woman who ran the guild, they learned it was Samwell’s ex-wife! She had rigged the murder, and her son was alive and well, and had willingly cooperated, as he was tired of living with his father, and wanted to be an assassin. It seems that she had been gathering data on the Thayans for some time, and willingly exchanged said data for her and her son’s lives.

They followed her information, which happened to follow the trail of Certain Death, and found a millennia old Temple of an ancient race of snake people known as the Sarrukh. After beating some soulforged guards, they made their way into the temple. Finding the main door locked, they took an alternate route which wound them through ancient traps, and one particularly puzzling room, where they were stuck for several hours. Upon solving the puzzle, they found that the only way forward was down a very deep pit. When contemplating their options, Mondo was notified of a large something teleporting into their vicinity. Seconds later, Shax appeared in the small room and started tearing the visionaries up. The battle was raging on, when Ivan, with a mighty blow, sliced the devil clean in half, sending him back to hell from whence he came. That done, they made their way down the pit to a refuse room, full of fresh garbage, and lots of human waste. There was a large archway leading to a steep ramp, at the foot of which there were charred corpses (remains from the ritual of making a soulforged). The imp (Malkor’s familiar) investigated the source of the waste, and found a hole in the ceiling about 100ft up, and was shat upon. The imp proceeded to literally scare the shit out of a Thayan Cleric, and then the FV sealed the toilet-hole. Around that time several of the charred remains reanimated as bodaks, attacking the FV. They barely survived the encounter, and had not a moment’s peace (in a room full of shit, peace is hard to come by), when they heard a familiar voice yell “Geronimoooooo!” from high up the ramp…
A thud and a deep laugh, and Gradu emerges from the mist! Gradu, who was killed weeks ago! More powerful than ever, Gradu scores a couple good hits before being overcome killed again, his body left in the steaming pile of shit.

The visionaries take the back way in, popping up into the waste room above them, and following the long corridor until it leads them to a door. Listening carefully, they can hear several pairs of footprints on the other side. After a quick discussion, Mondo decides to attempt to parley with their adversary, a very Harper thing to do. A quick shuffle in the narrow hallway got Mondo to the front, where he squeezed the door open and greeted… a gnoll wearing full plate! He quickly addressed sir gnoll, but, unfortunately for him, the gnoll didn’t speak common, and Mondo’s face met the gnoll’s longsword. Another swift hit and Mondo was down, with Gravel stepping up from the rear to defend his unconscious form. Another gnoll and several soulforged crowd the doorway, while the gnoll barks orders to more soulforged, one who runs to another room. Several seconds later, a voice the Visionaries recognize as the female wizard working for Raza yells “Halt!” Fighting ceases as she offers the Visionaries a deal: the safe return of Pix and Matilde, and the cessation of abductions, if the Visionaries will agree to leave them alone. She also notifies them that she has a sizable force, and if they do not wish to be civil that they can be dead, instead. Upon presenting the two soulforged—wait, TWO soulforged? Matilde may not be as unharmed as the visionaries thought, although she herself, as a soulforged, tells them that she is ok. Pix suggests that they take the deal, as he does not think they can win. Reluctantly, the Visionaries agree and, with their friends, march out the front door of the inner temple, and back out into the world.
The march back is full of bickering, as Diir, Mondo, and most of the party want to head back to stomp the Thayans as soon as possible. The only objections come from the cleric, Grohim, who states that they made a deal, and if they didn’t want to uphold it, then they shouldn’t have agreed, and shouldn’t have fought. He doesn’t agree with the Thayans, but he can’t break his word as easily as the rest of them may want to. Diir has a long conversation with Pix, and Ivan tries to introduce himself to Matilde, but the others notice Matilde is acting strangely. The group silently determines that MA tilde’s mind is magically clouded. Upon dispelling whatever is was that kept her calm and friendly towards her captors, she screams in agony and falls to her knees. Her horror and revulsion at what the Thayans put her through, the violation of her body, her transformation into…whatever she is, it all surfaces, and she is filled with a hateful rage.

A quick telepathic message back to base notified them that there was some trouble at the mine, with miners disappearing, and there were some ongoing trouble with Orc scouts, but nothing serious. The Visionaries stopped at the mine to discover the nature of the disappearances, and were led to a new branch they’d recently opened, only to find an odd, eerie crevice. Scouting the crevice, even the imp was thrown off guard by the feeling that something…unnatural was about. Faint whispers half-remembered led them to think that it might be a Shoggoth that lurked in the cave…but that couldn’t be, Shoggoths weren’t real, after all. Just legends made to scare children. They ventured into the crevice and found themselves on a shelf of rock, overlooking a vast black underground lake. Diir poked to the water, when the surface rippled and a horrid cry of “tekeli-li!” shook them to their cores. Before they could run, however, the shoggoth came surging forward, a hideous, indescribable mass of mouths and tentacles and ooze, ever changing, roiling its way towards them. Its makeshift arms lashed out at them, hitting fast and hard, reinforcing the thought that they were in over their heads. The group started on the retreat, but Grohim, the last in line, was grabbed by a slimy tentacle around his middle, and was quickly drawn in to its very core. The others fled, as the beast consumed every last bit of the Cleric known as Grohim.
Back on the surface, they demanded the foreman close the branch, demolish it, post signs that no one go near it. Dig in the other direction, anything. Abandon that branch at any cost! They took a moment to revitalize themselves and started trekking back to HQ, sullen. Along the road they were faced with a new devil…or so they thought. The hideous thing screeched at them, and demanded their deaths for what they had done to him—to Shax! They surrounded the weakened devil and proceeded to teach him that maybe staying in hell wasn’t such a bad idea, for him, after all, crushing him handily. Grumpier than ever, they continued their march to base…

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