The Lanvernite Succession

Into Essington

You left the Oracle of Gneiss, heading deeper into the mountains, still pondering whether all this effort would be worth it. You’d decided to head for the Wall of Beyond, and that meant trekking through the heart of Essington.

You made it through the Elder Crags, encountering only a couple of annoyed hill giants, and journeyed ten days along farmland roads to Waterford, the current capital of Essington. After another hundred miles’ travel west, you reached the spot you were looking for: a lake, two miles wide, with an island in the middle.

The secluded setting was beautiful: tall grass, a gentle slope down to the shore, ducks, insects, reeds and fish, inviting blue water, and the thickly wooded island. But you knew that something was amiss, because the people you spoke with on your way here were frightened of the place. No one had been here in decades.

Suelfred sent his raven out to take a look at the island. The raven reported dense forest and a few white stone buildings, but no creatures. You decided to have a closer look for yourselves.

You worked for two days to build a raft big enough to carry you across the lake. Early in the morning, you dragged it down to the water and clambered aboard. The lake sparkled in the sun and the weather was pleasantly cool as you paddled across. But halfway to the island, you saw a large shadowy shape flash through the water below the raft. It disappeared as you nervously looked all around for clues as to what it was.

The elasmosaurus lunged straight up out of the water and bit savagely at Razor. You hacked at it with swords but it backed away, using its superior reach to attack you from range. Elros’ arrows did little to scare it away but Arkon’s lightning and a conjured shark eventually forced it back into the depths.

Weakened and somewhat shaken from the encounter, you landed on the island and began your search for the Wall of Beyond.

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The Oracle of Gneiss

You retrieved your horses from the stable in Hartborough and traveled overland to Winstow, where you booked passage to Summerstone, the relaxed, sun-dappled capital of Warwickshire. The people were friendly and the food was delicious and abundant, but your task was elsewhere. You pushed inland, toward the Elder Crags.

After a few days of easy travel, you arrived at the foothills. The locals knew of the oracle and gave you good directions. You entered the mountains, following a trail.

About a mile from your destination, you started noticing strange animated objects darting through the trees. They were brownish metal cubes, four inches on a side, with a glassy lens mounted on one face. They flew around, sometimes observing you, making a faint whining noise as they moved. Cautiously, you continued.

The path ended at a white stone temple, round in shape, columned and roofed, about sixty feet in diameter. The cubes buzzed around outside as you entered the temple. Inside you saw no creatures, nor any furniture or decoration other than a circle inscribed on the center of the floor. Arkon stepped into the circle.

“So,” said a snarky female voice in your heads. “Roland lives! Juicy!”

This was not completely unexpected. Marlon Sunbranch had told you that the oracle would extract memories and communicate telepathically. The oracle continued, announcing that she had the information you sought. However, since you could not afford her price, you would be allowed to perform a task for her instead. Would you read a copy of the Nine Histories of the Dark Naga, or would you look deep into the Wall of Beyond?

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The Fate of Jonas Fletcher

After a few days of rest, training and equipping, you headed from Hartborough to find Jonas Fletcher. You chartered a small vessel and headed to the rocky coast of Lanverness, where the cliffs of the Keystone Range drop into the Outer Sea.

After a few days at sea, you reached your destination, anchoring just offshore. Taking the ship’s boat, you rowed to shore, promising the captain that you’d return in five days.

A day of hiking through the mountains led you to Fletcher’s cabin, a one-room house at the crest of a low, grassy hill. No one seemed to be about, and the door was flapping in the breeze. You let yourselves in and were blasted by a wall of stench. Fletcher was lying dead on his bloody bed, decomposing.

You searched his house for clues about his fate. You found his journals, and discovered that he had been injured by an ettin, and seemed to have succumbed to the festering wound. Searching further, you recovered the papers for the Oaken Library, as well as a thin arcane spellbook, which contained a few cantrips and an unfamiliar spell called Astral Claymore.

After giving Fletcher a decent burial, you spent the night in his house before heading back toward the ship. But only a half-hour’s walk away, you encountered three ettins. They had killed Fletcher, but they were no match for you; two of them fell before the third fled into the woods.

You made it back to the ship safely, and sailed back to Silverwyn, making your way to the Oaken Library. Marlon Sunbranch greeted you there and listened to your tale. He was saddened to hear of Fletcher’s death, but grateful for the papers you brought back. In return, as promised, he gave you the results of his search for information on the Amulet of Kings.

According to the diary of a Newport archbishop, hundreds of years ago, the amulet was in the possession of the Greycastle Sorcerers, a group led by a powerful figure named Mortimer Greycastle. Although the Oaken Library had no further information about the amulet or the Greycastle Sorcerers, Sunbranch suggested that you seek out Bluestone Spire, an academy of magical lore located in North Sambria, for further research.

Disappointed with the meager information you uncovered, and daunted by the prospect of a long journey and difficult search to find Bluestone Spire, you decided to seek out the Oracle of Gneiss, in the Elder Crags of Warwickshire.

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The Oaken Library

The next day you left the road junction and headed for Fensedge. Upon arrival, you asked the townsfolk about the most recent Iron Guard patrol. Their answer suggested that you’d lost them. You decided to abandon the chase and instead pursue one of James Rathbone’s leads, the Oaken Library, in Silverwyn.

You struck out through the farmland until you reached the edges of the settled lands near the Keystone Range. You skirted the mountains for a few days, before finding a road to Hartborough. From there you traveled southeast into Moon Forest, and found the Oaken Library at the southern end of the Wolfswold Mountains.

As you entered the library, a wood elf named Marlon Sunbranch introduced himself and talked a little about the library. You explained that you were looking for information about the Amulet of Kings. He said that the library could help you for 15,000 gold pieces. Looking you over, he offered two other alternatives, missions that you could perform for the library in lieu of their normal research fee. The first mission was to slay the Wolfswold Chimera, which had been terrorizing the elves of Moon Forest. The second option was to carry a bundle of papers to Jonas Fletcher at his cabin in the eastern Keystone Range, and bring back a return package.

You mulled over your options, and then headed back to Hartborough to rest, train and re-equip.

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Return to Crystal Falls

After two more days of travel, you arrived at the outskirts of Crystal Falls behind James Rathbone’s house. But where his house should have been, you saw only smoking ruins. There was no sign of Rathbone or anyone else at the site.

Investigating in Crystal Falls, you discovered that the Iron Guard was responsible for burning the house. However, the townsfolk blamed you for attracting the Iron Guard’s attention. You decided to leave town, heading down the switchback road into Newkirk Forest in hopes of catching the Iron Guard unit that burned Rathbone’s house.

After a day of travel, you reached a junction. To the left, the road headed toward Daughterlode and Banfield. To the right, the road led to Fensedge. You decided to camp for the night. As you were tying up your horses, you heard a screech coming from overhead. Through gaps in the canopy, you glimpsed a creature flying overhead. You moved toward the trees and started untying the horses.

Suddenly, you saw it. A green dragon came screaming toward you, belching corrosive green vapor. As it wheeled around for another pass, you drew weapons and readied spells.

The dragon flashed between the trees and pounced on Suelfred. You sprang into action, surrounding the dragon and hacking it down. Crisis averted, you moved off the road and camped among the trees until morning.

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The Old Dwarven Mine

You followed the stream from Crystal Falls east toward its source in the Keystone Range. From there you used James Rathbone’s directions and your survival sense to keep moving in the right direction. You fought a flight of three griffons, killing two of them. After two days, you finally reached the old dwarven mine.

You approached across an open field and dismounted. Readying weapons, you entered the mine with Max in the lead. The tunnel lead straight into the mountain, but there was an intersection only a few yards inside. Max entered the intersection and was immediately attacked from both sides by ogres wielding greatclubs.

Max was knocked unconscious, but the rest of you revived Max and forced the ogres to retreat. More ogres appeared, but once you formed your battle line, it was clear that they were overmatched. You defeated them, and recovered much coin as well as a chest from their lair.

You explored the mine, locating a deep elevator shaft as well as a mined out emerald agate seam. Confident of at least temporary safety, you brought the horses inside and prepared to descend into the mine’s lower reaches.

With Razor guarding the horses above, you discovered a large square room with four tunnels exiting at its corners. One of the tunnels was a short dead end. Choosing another tunnel, you discovered another mined-out emerald agate vein. Returning to explore a third tunnel, you found a live emerald agate face. Even better, a pile of emerald agate lay on the floor. Scooping up one hundred pounds of the stone, you headed back to the bottom of the elevator shaft.

Just as you were preparing to ascend, you noticed two humanoids emerging from the last of the four tunnels. They attacked, swatting at you with their open palms. One of the creatures fixed its eyes upon Max, enthralling him with his gaze. But quick action from the rest of the group destroyed the creatures, turning them into clouds of vapor.

You decided to explore the fourth tunnel, and you found what you’d hoped to find: two coffins. But there was also a larger and more elaborate third coffin. You decided to destroy all three, hoping you wouldn’t have to meet the two creatures’ vampiric overlord. Leaving the coffins in flames, you exited the mine and headed back to Crystal Falls.

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Crystal Falls

A few miles past Troggs Mouth was the picturesque mining hamlet of Crystal Falls. After stopping at an inn to ask directions, you located James Rathbone’s house at the end of a road above the town.

You knocked on the door. It opened a crack, and a wizened face appeared. Rathbone was suspicious of you until you mentioned the pass phrase “Athena arrives”. He swung the door wide and welcomed you in.

Rathbone told you the story of Roland’s kidnapping, and his minor role in it. He’d been waiting fifteen years for someone to contact him with news of Roland. During his long wait, he’d been making plans.

Rathbone wanted you to assassinate Sax via an elaborate plot, using teleportation and explosive runes. Although you were unlikely to survive the attempt, there was a chance that Sax would die. If it was not successful, at least Rathbone would be able to recruit more assassins to try again later.

Sensing that you didn’t like his plan, Rathbone mentioned an alternative: the Amulet of Kings, an artifact lost many years ago. He didn’t know much else about it, except that it supposedly would give immense power to a true king. He had three ideas about how to get more information about it: the Oracle of Gneiss, the Oaken Library, and an informational spell of his own devising. His spell required five hundred pounds of emerald agate; he already had four hundred pounds, and knew that more could be found at an old dwarven mine, only thirty miles to the west, in the Keystone Range.

Since the Oracle and Library were far away, you decided to seek out the old mine. Rathbone gave you detailed directions to the mine, but he warned you that many dangerous creatures lived in the mountains. He also gave you a tiny vial of oil, to be used in case death should befall any of you on your adventure.

The next morning you bade Rathbone goodbye, and headed into the mountains.

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Into the Troggs Mouth

After two days on the road, you approached Fensedge. Not wanting to give John Coppersmith extra witnesses to your presence here, you decided to skirt the town to the north and reconnect with the road on the east. The road you rejoined was not like the one you left: it was untended and overgrown, clearly disused for some time. You followed the track up into the foothills of the Keystone Range.

Toward the end of the day, you spotted an incredible sight: the Troggs Mouth, an enormous tunnel bored straight into side of a mountain. The road continued straight inside, and it was clear that something was living in the tunnel. You decided to retreat some distance and camp for the night.

The next morning, you entered Troggs Mouth. The mouth of the tunnel was inhabited by gnolls and a troll, which you defeated in a furious battle among their tents and belongings. After catching your breath, you readied your light sources and headed into the heart of the mountain.

The tunnel was arrow-straight, twenty feet high and thirty wide. After a third of a mile, you noticed a complex of rooms off to one side. A minotaur burst through a door and charged. You were surprised, but you fought back and dispatched the beast.

Discovering a parallel service tunnel, you continued moving east. After the service tunnel rejoined the main tunnel, you came across the rubble of a major collapse. Fortunately, the footing was secure and the headroom was such that you could continue. You were surprised to discover that the cave-in extended hundreds of feet upward to the sky. You were even more surprised to see the gold-studded nest of what you assumed to be dragon. Not wanting to pick a fight with the owner, you hurried past the nest and out of the Troggs Mouth. The tunnel was only one mile long, but it was not a journey you would relish taking again.

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Iron Guard Ambush

Max knew the man on the horse—John Coppersmith, a notorious captain of the Iron Guard. Ignoring Coppersmith’s threats, you moved to engage. You battled the squad of men, wounding and frightening off two of them and killing a third. Seeing his men’s morale crumbling, and under attack by Arkon’s dinosaur Razor, Coppersmith fled the battlefield, cursing your group and his own cowardly troops. Victorious, you questioned the survivors and headed down the road toward Fensedge and Crystal Falls.

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Prelude

After a fitful night of sleep outside the town of Smallway, you each woke up with new sense of excitement. You spent Woden’s Day scouting around town, wearing street clothes. You located the Queen’s Head, and as the sun set over the Snowy Mountains you entered.

It was easy enough to recognize each other; everyone else in the place looked like regulars, laughing and slapping backs. You all settled in at a five-seat table and waited for Jeremy Stone, but after an hour he still hadn’t shown up.

Suddenly, the sending tablets activated. Each of you felt the hum, and perceived the glow, even though you’d carefully hidden the tablets inside knapsacks and deep pockets. Elros got up and headed to the outhouse; when he returned, he nodded to Arkon, who did the same. Both tablets had the same message:

James Rathbone, Oak Hollow Lane, Crystal Falls, “Athena arrives”

Although none of you had ever been there, you knew Crystal Falls to be a mining village some 70 miles to the east of Smallway, at the edge of the Keystone Range. Arkon suggested that you split up and meet at a large tree southeast of town, one hour after sunrise. You agreed, left the Queen’s Head one by one, and disappeared into the night.

Early next morning you met at the agreed-upon spot, and suited up in your adventuring gear. When everyone was ready, you struck out along the road.

“There they are!” cried a voice. You looked back toward Smallway. Coming around a bend you saw a squad of soldiers wearing red tunics. They drew weapons and broke into a jog. Behind them a man on a horse yelled at you, “Stop right there! Halt! Halt or you’re all dead!”

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