The Skeleton Way

After reuniting with the caravan and curing the hobbled pony, the party sent the caravan on alone while they investigated a footprint of a humanoid which they estimated to have been over one hundred feet tall. The trail of said humanoid, while very old, went into the sparse forest and perhaps accounted for the strange features they saw from the air. While on reconnoiter, the party also discovered an old hill-and-palisade fort nearly overtaken by the forest. It was not abandoned but filled with a horde of the loathsome bakemono. When the party arrived, two Eastrun men were being forced to fight for the bakemono's entertainment, so they swooped down and slew the bakemono chieftain, creating enough chaos to allow the humans to escape. They then proceeded to investigate the strange forest features and discovered a gargantuan humanoid, long dead, lay on the forest floor. Only bones and desiccated flesh remained, plus a hermit living in and among the bones. The hermit claimed to be an apostate of a nearby monastery which hosted the Orange Order of the Way of Death. Their mission, he claimed was to guard the Skeleton Way which led out of the valley, to tend to its needs and to seek enlightenment while doing so.

Getting a Clue

With the pregnant girl safely returned to the Daizu chieftain, the party set out once again for Chiro. Snow's new armor became a matter of some intrigue. An expensive suit of armor that confers excellent protection, it nonetheless is noticed by every thieving heart, which tries to make it their own, even if death is on the line. The party continued along the steps until coming at last to a low valley through which the merchants decline to cut. It being none other than the Valley of Death and Despair. The party insisted that they could protect the caravan and would rather face danger than spend more days afoot than necessary. Bolstered by these promises, the caravan cut into the valley and found the way impeded by a great wood. At the same time, one of their ponies broke a leg. Rather than decrease their speed still further, the party decided to reconnoiter the rest of the valley and see if anyone in it had horses to trade. The way forward led directly into the woods. The way South led around them and toward something known as the Path of Bones. The way North led to a stately manor which could only just be made out from the air. Faced with these choices, the party went North and left the caravan for a day or two. The manor, they found, was deserted and ramshackle, guarded only by a horde of rat men living in the tall grass. They entered to explore and found themselves among the ghostly apparitions of an everlasting dinner party and murder scene. The Kongqu Wang, or Peacock King, was slain by one of six guests, and doomed to live in unlife for all perpetuity until the murderer among them was discovered. This the party did and the house collapsed in their wake, with all inside put to rest. The rat men took over and in exchange for the new abode gave the group magical moldy cheese which they said could cure all wounds.

The Way of the Sword

Having resolved issues in Laster Shores, the party was made aware of a kidnapping of a visiting dignitary and gave chase. The dignitary was none other than one of the Daizu Chieftains who sent his concubine into Laster Shores to receive the best in medical care as all of his other would-be heirs had killed or incapacitated their mothers in childbirth. Two sellswords, aware of the girls import decided to take her hostage and collect whatever bounty they could. The party pursued and saw to her safe return.

Kiss Kiss Stab Stab

After being feasted and celebrated in Merrydale, the party set out for destinations East. They bid their grateful hosts goodbye at the Old Coast Road and fell in with a passing caravan.

Two men-at-arms responsible for guarding the caravan were grateful for the company of knights. The itinerant half-orc priest traveling with them made fast acquaintance with the Paladin Brumbar and the half-orc knight Deathstroke.

After a few days of travel they arrived in the last human inhabitation in the Provinces. Laster Shores is a coastal town on the edge of the Great Sea. Three of the caravan's steppe ponies were ill with hoof rot and the party expected to stay over in Laster Shores for a few days.

At the King's Ransom, a high-priced establishment in the center of the city, the party stabled their mounts and arranged for dinner and rooms. It wasn't long before they made contact with Perry of Saklan and Myla Halfelven. The former was holding court and spinning fantastical tales to any who would listen. The latter was disguised as a serving wench.

Perry advised that he was looking for odd jobs after narrowly escaping with his life from Lord Zerai's keep. He said he was a foreigner in the parts and happy to get anything that would pay for his expensive gambling habit. He could use some help, he advised, and if Snow and company were willing to help him out, he was willing to split the considerable reward he was promised -- 10,000 crowns on a writ by the noblewoman Ana Ames.

As for Myla, she was in Laster Shores assuming the identity of Harmony, a serving wench. She left Free City after receiving word that her twin sister was in the area searching for their long-lost father. She also wanted Brumbar and company's help, she said, and would speak to them later about how.

The two adventures were inextricably linked, as fortune would have it, but the direct connection was not made until later.

Briefly: From the Library of Samantha Rose

Dear Diary,

I have not trusted a man since I was 13 and the old herbalist tried to have his way with me. Instead, I have dedicated myself to the arcane arts and to Drawmij my master. I have attempted to master the old knowledge -- to bend matter, energy and time to my will. So it is strange indeed that these last few days I have felt powerless over something as insignificant as my heart.

Briefly: From the Journal of Sheikh Fadal

My sleep has been interrupted of late with dreams of my missing girls. My have they grown! Chafika would have been 12, I think. Nada only 10 when they were taken from me. In these dreams they are grown women now.

The Red and the White

Brumbar arrived in Merrydale and made contact with Marjon the Druid who was horrified to find that the artifact had been removed from where it was hidden. He advised the Paladin to return it at once to its secret garden. There it was generally safe from scrying eyes. An item as powerful as it was sure to attract unwanted attention.

Lord Zerai the Collector

Possession of the Halfling artifact weighed heavily upon him, so Brumbar decided to leave Gelder and the domains of men in order to return it to the Halfling Realm of Merrydale from whence it came. The rest of the party was to remain behind in Gelder for his quick return, with the exception of Apollo, who had a matter of vengeance to see to in Bolden. Unfortunately for Apollo, the boat leaving Gelder was not due to depart for another four days.

The Boat of Boblo

By spending six weeks in Gelder, the party enjoyed some celebrity for bringing peace between the Halfings and Humans. In the Princeling’s Rest, they happened upon the last remnant of the lifkavir resistance group – four Halfling “warriors” who were barely out of their teens. The remaining lifkavir were speaking conspiratorially when their confidence was won by Forgo, the party’s recently recruited halfling thief.

Flight of the White Scourge and All that Glitters is not Gelder

Most of the party remained in Gelder enjoying the recently won peace of the town and the fame that came with it. while Solomon backtracked to Ald Calta to train with the Black Order of the Dawn and Brumbar used his magic carpet to deliver Thalwyn to the baroness of Shu.

Halfling Holiday

After a few days of funeral and burial, Reverend Sir Brendan spent five weeks training with the Chaplain of the Black Order of the Dawn -- a prefect of no low station. The rest of the party recuperated and finally bid adieu to Sir Rojer and his Blackguards (a group of 12 newly minted knights who pledged themselves to that knight’s service).

Backstory: Solomon

In my time, I’ve met men and women of extraordinary talent. I always sit quietly, patiently listening to their tales. As they stand and beat their chest victoriously, they tell of their most worthy adversary -- those they each know as the devil. They gather at tables by the dozen, in their pubs and halls, slapping each other on the back and sloshing their drinks as they measure and size one another.

The Bone War of Ald Calta

After a week’s convalescence in Shamsel, the party re-encountered Rojer, formerly of the bridge. He was in the town streets recruiting. He was also in possession of the sword, helm and armor of Faltus. When they inquired as to the health of their former employer, Rojer admitted that he had slain the man for being a thief, and taken his goods.

The City of Ruin

While on the way to the ruined city, the party learned the story of Ald Calta. The ancient place had three types of inhabitants over its long and legendary existence. First, were the so-called Dragon Princes of old, who abandoned the citadel when their world came to an end. Second, were the barbarian men who came to settle there and make a civilization of their own. Third came the undead who rose from the ashes of the previous two. It was against this third group that the party was forced contend.

The Knight of the Crossing

Across the Dagger Sea, the party arrived in the Provinces, but not before the half-breed Deathstroke managed to offend the captain and crew. On the voyage across the sailors first filled his ears with tales of shipwrecks and treasures beneath the waves. Consumed by the lust for this fantastical booty, he begged and cajoled the captain to set anchor so that he might ply the depths. Instead, he was dragged behind the ship for miles and roundly mocked. Once back aboard, he offended and threatened many to the point that they bound and gagged him and left him with his companions on a stretch of sandy shore without even benefit of a port.

The Province of Haller and Hallerhall

By the pronouncement of the King of Bolden, Sir Brumbar, was elevated to the status of a noble and appointed the Baron of Haller and given the keys to Hallerhall itself. In the court of the king, this pronouncement was met with no little stirring among the assembled nobles. Here and there snorts of laughter could be heard along with the clearing of throats.

A Favor for Thomas

In the uneasy calm following the Guild War, the city watch was arresting those who carried weapons in the streets. Brumbar and Snow took shelter and succor from Fr. Thomas. For her part, the rescued Lady Geldorf refused to return to the castle under which she was imprisoned. Instead, she also took shelter while contemplating what courses of action were open to her -- a disgraced woman of good breeding.

A Tale of Two Guilds

Upon arriving in Bolden, Brumbar checked in with the church while Snow sought what information he could from more seedy sources. Information about Thalwyn was hard to come by, however. All Brumbar learned about was the local scandal of the Prince seeking a second marriage to a part-elven mistress. While, Snow learned that the men of Bolden do not part with information easily. He was forced to take work as a hired sword -- the better to learn the city and its environs.

The Hand and the Knife

While in the City of Bolden, Snow’s incessant snooping revealed that The Bakers were no ordinary street gang, but the name given to a particular branch of the so-called Thieves Guild, an entity which he was not aware existed.

Briefly: A Letter from Jym to his Betrothed

Dearest Emi,

I know your anger will be burning bright when you take this letter to Father Henstre and have it read. I hope that when the terrible heat of it has died, though, you will find a way to turn it to the warmth of lasting love.

An Uncommon Wedding

Armed with the salve of the Magister Sylvanus and certain knowledge of where to begin looking for Thalwyn, the party sets out North and East for Bolden. On the way they stop over in Heltorun. The city is all abuzz with news that a local nobleman's son will wed a common serf.

The Search for the Magic Lyre

After meeting Magister Sylvanus in the Mistwood, Sir Brumbar, and Snow worked out a deal to obtain a rare item in exchange for the wizards knowledge. While Father Brendan remained behind in the Mistwood to learn what he can of Elven body art.

Old Things Ought Not Be Disturbed

Rejoined in Peakshadow, Brumbar and Snow made fast re-acquaintance with Father Brendan. Their common cause was to find Erenth's only honest thief -- Thalwyn the Lawful. As their quarry is also a wizard, the three agreed to journey into the Mistwood to seek out the elven warlock rumored to reside within. It was hoped that he would be able to point them in the right direction.

Ashore At Last

Excerpted from the diary of Jack Presser, Captain of all the Ocean's Deep.

We have put ashore expecting to find habitation and civilization and found neither. This land is full of goblins! There is one building distant. It appears to have a strange red hue which is most visible when the sun is behind us. We make for it tomorrow.

69 Days

Excerpts from the diary of Jack Presser, Captain of all the Oceans Deep.

Mad Jack they called me. Because I dared to say that a sea route might be found from Eastrun to Westrun by sailing toward the rising sun. First the kings of Westrun and their learned fools cast me from their courts. Then the princes of the Free Provinces laughed in my face. Finally, the emperors of Eastrun threatened to jail me. Finally, destitute and nearly hopeless, I found myself in the court of the baroness Mai Fung Lee of Shu, begging for ships and a chance to prove my theories.

The Governors Twenty

From the Diary of Myla called Halfelven.

Well, they did it.

I am not sure how with all the odds against them, but there is no doubt they succeeded. My ward, Toland, tells me that they are off the island, the Southrun assassins were stymied and the girl and her brother are safely out of the governor's clutches. That is success by anyone's standards.