Far Primus

Don't You Ever Forget
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17th of Olid – 25th of Corell, 561 QC

Having successfully passed the tests in the basement beneath the manor, the villains of Branderscar were finally fully welcomed into Cardinal Thorn’s circle. A toast was made, and their training truly began. For three months, the Cardinal and Tiadoro whipped and molded the villains, driving their bodies and sharpening their minds. They were not alone. Another group, known as the White Ravens, was being trained alongside them. However, once the training was complete, it was the escapees that formed the Knot of Thorns.

Bhalthol Rho, Grey Dove, Payne Trayne, Wilhelm Thorn, and Borealis Tarian were brought before the Cardinal and told of their mission. They were to accompany a captain Kargeld Odenkirk and his ship, the Frosthamar, north beyond Talingarde and into the Hordelands. There, they were to deliver the shipment of arms and armaments to a waiting horde of northern bugbears. Afterwards, they were to travel south to the Talingarde tower guarding the border, where they were to harry and sabotage the tower, in preparation for the invading hordes.

The next day, they left. For over a week, the plied the waters just off the eastern coast of Talingarde, heading north. From afar, they encountered a few locals and fishing vessels, but were mostly unmolested. There was a brief incident with a local customs ship. However, with quick wits and sharp minds, they bluffed their way past. A few days and a winter storm later, they pulled into the mouth of a river just north of Talingarde, heading into the Hordelands. That night, they were silently set upon by a group of tritons, aided by strange water elementals. While the captain and sailors fought panic, the party fought the invaders. It was a fierce battle. Balthol was even thrown overboard. However, the escapees were eventually victorious, and the Frosthamar was saved.

Tommy McGregor


Tiadoro’s report:



Name:
Thomas Conor McGregor

Known Alias:
Tommy McGregor, “Mad” Tommy McGregor, “Notorious” Tommy McGregor
Age:
27
Sex:
Male
Height:
5’ 9’’
Weight:
150 lbs
Hair Color:
Brown
Eye Color:
Blue
Skin Color:
Fair
Address:
No history of permanent address on file
Jurisdiction:
Karfeld, Talingarde
Charges Filed:
Lewd Lascivious child under the age of 4
Bullying a knight as a minor
Vandalism of a Funeral Home
Harassment of a Cleric of Heironeous
Nuisancing
Trespassing in a sewer
Impersonating an Orc
Cruelty to a horse, pig, cow, and dog with intent of beastiality
Thievery of a horse, pig, cow, and dog with intent of beastiality
47 counts Truancy from court ordered church services
Desecration of a children’s playground
Public urination while intoxicated
Public urination while not intoxicated
Defecation in the presence of a royal subject
Defecation on a royal subject
Participation in the outlawed game of mob football, aka soccer
Indecent exposure in all public squares of Karfeld
Possession of poison with intent to distribute
Selling and supplying poison to minors
28 counts Soliciting a woman of ill-repute
39 counts Public intoxication with disorderly conduct
16 counts Resisting arrest with excessive use of violence
31 counts aggravated assault and battery with the following used as weapons: Fist, Head, Foot, Dagger, Candlestick, Brick, Holy Symbol of Heironeous, Ham leg, Human leg, Victim’s wooden leg, Shoe, Spoon, Cat, and one episode noted in particular of “grabbing a man’s balls and twisting while farting in his face”
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The Nine Lessons: Lessening

16th – 17th of Olid, 561 QC

Dr. Mortimer Blackweather was drained by the previous battles, and retreated back to the manor. However, the remaining escapees (Payne Trayne, Grey Dove, Wilhelm Thorn, and Borealis Tarian) soldiered on, plowing deeper into the basement below. They marched through 5 more rooms, encountering devious traps, ravenous undead, and mysteriously quiet giant fungi. At the end of the basement, they found a lone officer of the Alerion guard imprisoned behind an iron-enforced door. How long had he been there? Why was he imprisoned deep beneath a manor house so far from his home? Why did he still have his full complement of arms and armor? These questions were neither asked nor answered. The escapees were united in a single purpose. Grey Dove lured the confused knight out of his cell and into a well-laid ambush. He was slaughtered with little fuss, with Payne Trayne cleaving his head cleanly from his shoulders. His silver-and-sapphire Heironean holy symbol was unceremoniously stripped from his body and returned to Adrastus Thorn.

The Cardinal was pleased with the results.

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The Nine Lessons
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13th – 16th of Olid, 561 QC

After a few days of lazing about the manor, the party was greeted by Tiadoro bearing gifts. He had all of the equipment they had requested, along with a couple of surprises from the Cardinal. Good news for them, as some Branderscarian soldiery showed up at the manor door moments later. While Tiadoro left to keep them occupied, five of the escapees (Payne Trayne, Dr. Mortimer Blackweather, Grey Dove, Wilhelm Thorn, and Borealis Tarian) took a side route out of the manor, flanking the unprepared guardsmen. The battle was won handily by the party (although Payne was felled following an unprotected charge), and Tiadoro was duly impressed.

The five were taken to see Cardinal Thorn directly after the battle. The Cardinal gave them a chance to explore the Nine Lessons, a series of rooms under the Manor. They accepted, and were shown downstairs. In the dank and gloom of the Manor basement, they navigated through three increasingly fiendish rooms. The last was a magically darkened chamber, where they were attacked from below by a vampiric mist. With a combination of torches, spells, and grit, they managed to destroy the blood-sucking creature, but not before being seriously depleted.

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The Manor

12th – 13th of Olid, 561 QC

The escaped prisoners spent the night fleeing through the Southern Moors. They stumbled through the disorienting rain, barely keeping ahead of the chasing dogs and guards. With Wilhelm in the lead, they slogged through miles of brackish swamp, frequently losing their bearings. They had finally managed to put some distance between themselves and their pursuers when they were ambushed by a pair of giant toads, one of whom swallowed Grey Dove whole. Luckily, the party was able to kill the toad quickly, and Dr. Mort deftly extricated the dying Grey Dove from its still-warm belly. She was resuscitated. Eventually, as the sun began to rise, the party cleared the thickest part of the swamps, and found themselves in front of the manor-house.

With a helpful Tiadoro and his band of slaves playing host, the party spent the day resting and recuperating in the manor; Healing their wounds and getting some well-deserved rest before they met with the master of the house, a Cardinal Adrastus Thorn. They had a brief meeting, and, after some prevaricating, they agreed to work for the Cardinal. A deal was brokered, and a compact was signed in blood.

On the 18th hour of the 13th of Olid, 561 QC, the escaped prisoners became the Ninth Knot of Thorns.

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Balthol Rho


Taverns, Public Houses & Dives
By Bhalthol Rho, Connoisseur

Mysterious Mansion by the Moors
4.5 out of 5 stars

Today’s destination is strictly for those “in the know.” Halfway between a rock and hard place, even getting here is quite an adventure. But my oh my, once you arrive, you’ll never want to leave. Don’t let the shabby exterior fool you; it’s what inside that counts!

That which I loved:

  • The service! Finally an establishment that knows how to take care of its patrons. One needs but ask, gesture languidly, or grunt, and one receives. Bravo!
  • The atmosphere! Silver scones, fine tapestries, rich woodwork. Elegant, yet cozy.
  • The hosts! Such charming people! Delightfully malevolent.

That which I loved not:

  • The turkey leg was a bit on the dry side. A brine would do wonders.

Directions:
If you’re coming from Brandescar Prison, head straight through the Moors, wander aimlessly for a day or two, and then turn left at the giant man-eating frogs.

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A Great Escape
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12th of Olid, 561 QC

And the Forsaken escaped.

With the bloviating Bolthol leading the way, the prisoners crept, lied, and killed their way out of Branderscar. The barged into Branderscar Tower, killing the surprised warden. The snuck along the ramparts, and onto the gatehouse roof. While fighting off waves of guards, they managed to belay the ropes and climb down the gatehouse walls. In the process of fleeing, two of their number were cut down by arrows. However, before any more could fall, they managed to trick and kill the lone guard on the other side of the bridge, and force their way out through the gated entrance.

Now, outside of the prison walls, they have miles of brackish swamp to survive. With angry prisoner guards and dogs behind them, and a threatening swamp ahead of them, their options are dwindling. The manor may be their only hope… if they can make it…

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Branderscar
12th of Olid, 561 QC
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In the kingdom of Talingarde, many crimes may send one to Branderscar Prison, but the sentence has but one meaning. The guilty are wicked and irredeemable. Each has received the same greeting on arrival. Held down by rough hands and branded upon the arm with a runic F. The mark signifies forsaken and the painful scar is indelible proof that each has betrayed the great and eternal love of Heironeous and his chosen mortal vassals.

With the help of an unknown noble, the forsaken managed to sneak free of their chains and cells. They then released a fellow ogre prisoner named Grumblejack, and slaughtered all of the guards on their floor. They crept their way down to the lower levels of the prison keep, which was remarkably unguarded. They searched around, finding enough spare arms and armor to equip themselves and don the disguises of prison guards. They also ran into the ill-tempered Sergeant Blackerly, who they killed quickly, quietly, and without incident.

However, when they walked out of the keep fully equipped and disguised, their quiet times were over: a pack of kenneled dogs barked madly; a pointing, accusatory statue stood over them; and guards on the parapets above leveled bullseye lanterns down on them.

Dr. Mortimer Blackweather

Before Dr. Mort was unjustly arrested for a bit of harmless grave-digging, he ran an unpopular advice column in the local paper. Copied below is a recent edition:

Bedside Manner with Doctor Mort
A Weekly Advice Column on All Matters Phlegmatic, Choleric, Sanguine & Melancholic
by Mortimer Blackweather, A Doctor of Medicine

~ ~ ~

Dear Dr. Mort,
My stomach is most vexed. I spend my days squatting in the fields, crying for relief, or thee mercy of death. Is it a terrible spirit haunting my bowels?
- Squatting in Strathmont

Dear Squatting,
Almost certainly! Seek treatment from a qualified exorcist. To prevent a relapse, make a balm of fenugreek and owl grease and apply twice daily to the stomach area. If you don’t make your own owl grease, just ask your friendly neighborhood owl grinder.

Your Faithful Servant,
Dr. Mort

~ ~ ~

Dear Dr. Mort,
The leaches you prescribed some weeks ago prove ineffective, I am still bleeding. Darkness is all around. Death, is that you?
- Listless and leached

Dear Listless,
As my father, Dr. Blackweather Sr, is fond of saying, you can never use too many leaches! Trying doubling the number and make sure you have nice, uniform coverage over the genital areas. Don’t be shy! The leaches don’t mind.

Your Faithful Servant,
Dr. Mort

~ ~ ~

Dear Dr. Mort,
My vision becomes blurred. My work as a smith suffers. My longswords are crooked, my helmets don’t fit. I fear I will lose everything, and become a pauper.
- Blurry Blacksmith

Dear Blurry,
Think back and try to remember when the problem first started. If it was during a full moon, it’s likely you’ve offended a druid. Embark on a quest into the wilderness to find the druid and challenge he or she to ritual combat. Emerge victorious and the druid’s clanmother will be honor-bound to restore your vision. If the moon wasn’t full, you need glasses.

Your Faithful Servant,
Dr. Mort

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The Harrowed Realm: Striding Fortress
Harrowed Realm, 71st Hour – ?
Devereau & Zassrion

After a much-needed rest in the Nightpeddler’s Tent, the party (Ra Quel, Eduard du Leon, Adanna Fionn, Finwick Shortwick, and Maya Foxtail) followed the tokens to a massive striding castle, roaming through the endless wastes of The Trackless Dearth. At the foot of the stomping keep, they encountered a pursuing Lord Brambleson. With his help, they ’ported themselves to the courtyard above, where they encountered a shriveled gnome and his diseased ogre minions. They made quick work of them, all the while being peppered from above by freezing arrows. In the middle of the battle, they lost track of Brambleson.

They then charged the front gates, and burst into a palatial room filled with silks, scantily clad women, a dancing dervish, and a masked courtier. These enemies turned out to be a trio of succubi, their missing friend, Horros Moonshadow (though evil, and dark-skinned), and the halfling they had been searching the breadth of the Harrowed Realm for: Devereau. There was a pitched battle in which Horros was curb-stomped, and Finwick and Eduard nearly had their souls sucked out by the Succubi. Devereau was damaged early, but managed to sneak away. After a struggle, the party defeated the remaining succubi, and made their way upstairs.

There, they finally encountered Zassrion, the massive draconic ruler of the Harrowed Realm, in his vault-ceilinged library. The battle was joined. After some early success, the party was pushed back, and badly hurt. Zassrion cornered Eduard and Adanna, tore into both of them, and left their nearly lifeless bodies bloody and still. In the meantime, Seeker snuck back and nearly assassinated Finwick with freezing arrows from the shadows. Things were looking grim for the party. However, with some last-second healing from Maya, they were able to turn it around. Adanna and Eduard were brought back from the brink, and Finwick saved himself by burning Seeker to death with a flaming sphere. Eduard made one last heroic blow with his lance, piercing Zassrion’s skull, and bringing his reign to an end.

As soon as Zassrion fell, the Striding Fortress began to fall to pieces around them. It was a mad scramble, but they managed to pull Rilrador’s Magnificent Thought from Devereau’s lifeless body, and to figure out how to use the golden telescope to escape back home. The last thing that Eduard saw before he shifted back to Far Primus was the walls of the Striding Fortress collapsing, revealing the endless desert around him.

The party came to in the same dull and dreary alley in Westcrown that they had originally left from, but the world around them had changed. Buildings were obliterated, and uncontrolled fires burned. They could hear the crash of battle, and the screams of the dying.

War had come to Far Primus.

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The Harrowed Realm: Nearly There
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Harrowed Realm, 62nd – 71st Hour

The party (Adanna Fionn, Finwick Shortwick, Ra Quel, Maya Foxtail, and Eduard du Leon) continued into the Sanguine Playhouse. Inside, they found chaos. An out-of-control fiddle was chased by a tiny cricket-man, enticing Maya to dance with wild abandon. Ra Quel was discovered as the newest lead actress in the Harrowed Realm, and nearly paralyzed by the honor. FInwick was almost destroyed again by Zassrion’s vengeful bishops, but managed to wake himself from the nightmare. Eduard charged and nearly single-handedly destroyed the Consipirator Twins inside the playhouse before they could lift a finger. Adanna brought the wrath of Pelor down on a blinded, wailing marionette. In the end, the party left with another token, and a few more stories to tell.

They then trekked on for over 8 hours; into the Trackless Dearth they went, chasing down the Nightpeddler. They found him and his slaves picking up camp, ready to move to their next location. After a few minutes of lunch and pleasantries in the Nightpeddller’s tent, Finwick pulled a card, and the battle was joined. There was an initial hiccup, but the party quickly turned the battle around, and the Nightpeddler was turned into a burnt smear in his own tent. After a bit of searching, they freed the captive slaves, and moved on.

They now have the final token; the path to the Striding Fortress lays before them.

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The Harrowed Realm: God Save the Queen

Harrowed Realm, 41st – 62nd Hour

Unsure of the whereabouts of the missing Horros Moonshadow, the party (Adanna Fionn, Finwick Shortwick, Ra Quel, and Maya Foxtail) wearily decided to move on. They pressed forward to the Manmolds, hoping to arrive before any of the recently slain Conspirators could be re-made by Marzalee. After a few minutes of searching through the maze of the molds, they found the maker queen and her midwife toiling away in their grub factory. In an instant, the battle was joined, Powerful magics were deployed, and massive wax golems spilled out of boiling vats. There were some difficulties during the battle, particularly when Finwick was nearly engulfed by a roiling wax construct and saved at the last minute by Adanna’s holy might. However, the party handily defeated the inhabitants of the mold. After taking the token that they needed, and searching the remains of the Manmolds, they burned the building to the ground, hoping to silence the endless re-creation of the storykin.

After some rest and many more hours trekking through the Briar, they found themselves in front of the Sanguine Playhouse, the sound of a feverish fiddle wafting through the decrepit entrance doors.

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Adanna Fionn

Finnwick is back with us and in full health, if not full spirits. Unfortunately he cannot recall any useful details about his abductors or where he was taken. Most importantly he did not see Horros, and does not know how he came into possession of the Harrow Deck Horros once held. My hopes of seeing Horros again are not high. My prayers to Pelor have led me to believe he is gone to some far away place we cannot reach. If Pelor wills he must be taken away from us, then so be it. I will always have faith in Pelor that she works for a greater purpose we can never fully understand. But I cannot disguise my sadness. And I cannot hide my tears.

Now all we can do is what Horros wanted. And that was to press on and be rid of Zasrean and this Pelor forsaken realm hastily. He grasped the consequences of the time shift in this world more than any of us, and we will honor his memory by heading his advice. So we left the Profit’s Garden and headed directly toward the Man Molds. To where Marzalay, the “Queen Mother,” reanimates the immortal Story-kin creatures.

Traveling through the Man-Molds was frustrating at first, requiring tedious navigation through an intricate maze of hallways and steam-traps. We eventually came upon the Queen Mother and her mid-wife, in a large room filled with vats and grubs. She noticed us, and battle commenced. Were it just the two of them, we would have defeated them easily using the Harrow Deck cards. Her slimy vat-creatures, however, were quite challenging and nearly suffocated half of us. But Pelor granted us victory, and we obtained Marzalay’s token, Sonoray’s hands, which she had turned into a magical bracelet.

After resting and traveling a bit, we stand now in front of the Sanguine Playhouse. From outside we can hear a vibrant violin performance drowning out whatever else is happening inside. This is where Balama and his Twin reside. They hold Sonoray’s skin, the seventh of eight tokens we need to get to Zasrean and Sonoray’s scarf. Beneditti once told us he found Balama and his Twin “very entertaining.” Coming from an evil sadist, this thought is not encouraging as we enter the front door…

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The Harrowed Realm: A Friend Missing
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Harrowed Realm, 32nd – 41st Hour

After defeating the Barrow King, the party (Adanna Fionn, Finwick Shortwick, Horros Moonshadow, and Maya Foxtail) were accosted by a loud, aggressive paladin named Algon. After some arguing and a few threats, they figured out that they were both after the same thing, and decided to team up to destroy Zassrion. And so, they made their way to The Prophet’s Garden to find Sonnorae. And find her, they did. The tongueless, eyeless Sonnorae managed to surprise the party, blasting them multiple times with horrifying cones if icy death. The party chased her around the decaying garden, Maya nearly dying in the process. Eventually, the party was able to put her down.

There was the briefest of pauses before the world went dark.

Laughing nightmares appeared from nowhere, and surrounded Finwick. Adanna dispelled the darkness just in time to see Finwick being teleported away by the shadowy horrors. Horros immediately drew a card from the Deck, disappearing as well. There were a few moments of chaos and confusion as Algon freaked out and Maya and Adanna tried to figure out what just happened. But, as quickly as he disappeared, FInwick re-appeared. He was sprawled unconscious on the ground, with sickly grey skin and shock-white hair, the remaining cards from the Deck clutched in his hands.

Horros, however, was nowhere to be found.

Horros Moonshadow

What is real is never threatened. What is unreal does not exist. Herein lies peace.

Adanna Fionn


I do not like this Algon. Pelor cannot favor him. Obviously she does not, as he would be more successful in his quest to kill Zasrean if she did. He is a dumb-witted brute who seems to never learn from his mistakes. I cannot respect a human who does not use his experience to his advantage. And what kind of self-proclaimed fighter of evil goes around killing defenseless gnome-weasels? His hypocrisy disgusts me. But we need all the help we can get to defeat Zasrean. And if that means using Algon’s talents in battle to our advantage, so be it.

We encountered Algon in the Demon’s Fen right after slaying the Barrow King. He charged toward us after he slayed the Mourning Crier, intent to shoot first and ask questions later. But using the Harrowed Deck we persuaded him to join our party instead, as we share the same mission. He led us through the Bramble to the Profit’s Garden, where we expected to encounter Sonoray.

I must admit I was surprised to find her so immediately hostile toward us. I had pictured her this poor defeated hag sitting alone in a Garden, waiting for someone to rescue her. But no. Without provocation, this horrible creature ambushed us with some of the most vicious sorcery we have encountered yet. Again using the deck we found aid from a magical unicorn nearby, who thanks to Maya’s direction saved my life.

I thought it was all over when Algon finally slayed the witch. But that was when the real nightmare began. A magical darkness descended suddenly over the Garden. I cast Pelor’s light just in time to witness Finnwick’s abduction by what appeared to be evil demons in black cloaks. Horros’ response was swift and gallant, as always, as he managed to grapple one of these Demons before it could escape. Via Zone of Truth we gathered this demon was one of Zasrean’s Bishops, but could learn no more.

With no other recourse Horros pulled the Inquisitor Card from the Deck. In an instant he disappeared from site. A long minute later, Finnwick’s body appeared, aged and unconscious. In hysterics we called out for Horros, with only silence in return. I fear we have lost him forever.

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