Between: the details and minutia After some time recuperating and working on things at Durag-Dol, the heroes decided to return to Altdorf for some needed supplies. They also figured that it would be a good opportunity to check on all of their loose ends and recruit some more help if possible.
While there the heroes were told by a friend at the Amethyst College that a southern trader had recently inquired about rare books and perhaps would be interested in buying some of the items Kozar had acquired from the necromancer. While everyone else was doing there thing Kozar followed up on this contact and met a man who called himself Barak (the trader). He was obviously Arabic and always kept his face covered with a scarf or veil, even when eating. Nevertheless, he was able to offer a significant amount of money for the trip and after some conversation he mentioned that he would also like some help delivering the book. The heroes’ money supply was quickly being depleted with all of Durag-Dol’s needed repairs, and Barak made a very good offer.
The heroes decided to act as guards for Barak and soon set off. Kozar, Olaf, the Dark Elf (DE), Aaron’s great sworder (GS) (I am not sure how we worked him in) all accompanied Barak while BM stayed with the dwarfs at Durag-Dol to make sure things were running smoothly. Barak preferred to travel by land down to the Border Prince lands and then take a boat around the Arabian Peninsula. On the way, the heroes made a stop in Highdeck, a small town built on the ruins of an ancient dwarf city. Barak needed a few days to finish up business and so the heroes decided to explore a little. They were able to get a surprisingly good tip from a drunk local who knew how to enter the ruins below the city. The heroes couldn’t resist and were soon trekking through ancient dwarf halls.
They had not gone far when they stumbled upon a strange cult preparing to sacrifice a young boy of about twelve years. The heroes quickly intervened before the ritual could be completed and made short work of the four cultists present. They were also able to save the young boy who was unfortunately so traumatized that he quit speaking. The heroes later found out that the cultists were none other than the boys parents and they were worshipping _, who is claimed by some to be a variant of Thal. At any rate, the heroes put the boy in the care of a Shallyan priest and went back to exploring.
Up to this point, they had found very little amidst the ruins. It looked like the locals had been down to these parts of the ruins and taken anything valuable long ago. However, one of the heroes spotted a secret door which led the heroes into an unplundered section. Here they found all sorts of broken weapons, old skeletons, and destruction. Highdeck had been overrun by green skins and the ruins showed it. Everything was destroyed and the heroes were only able to salvage a few worthwhile items. Things did get a little more interesting though.
After exploring a few rooms and passages with several bodies the heroes came into a room where a great battle had taken place. It was a huge open space and was littered with bodies. After searching for some time they uncovered the body of what they believed to be a grand old dwarf. He was in a very damaged but still impressive incomplete suit of ancient armor and still held a huge book in his dead hands. This they took and added it to their plunders, even though they not understand any of the words. This turned out to be Highdeck’s last stand, and this their Book of Grudges. They later returned it to the dwarf scholars at Slayer Keep and were rewarded handsomely.
They still had time to kill however and so the heroes continued on. A few chambers later they came across a strange green glow. They were weary and soon that caution was shown to be warranted. As they drew closer to what looked to be a pulsating globe of green mist, it suddenly sent out a shock wave that animated several orc skeletons. The heroes began destroying everything that came at them, but every few seconds the orb would pulse again and more would rise. As they watched, the orb took the distinct shape of an orc shaman, but remained opaque and insubstantial. The heroes were forced to withdraw to regroup and the orc skeletons fell to the ground after going a short distance. The heroes regrouped and came back with a new strategy to destroy the orb. Olaf had been given several spell arrows from the dwarfs and attacked the orb with them and several others took shots with their muskets. In the mean time, they had to fight off several orc skeletons but they managed to extinguish the ord. Or so they thought.
The heroes quickly searched the remains and found the shaman’s skeleton but little of value. They did not have long to enjoy their victory though as several minutes after their victory the orb began to form again. I had originally created the orb to stop the heroes from exploring because I didn’t want to have to create any more of the map, which I was doing spontaneously. I did decide to let them “kill” the thing and explore a little more before having it begin again. I did not make them fight anymore skeletons but they were smart enough to make a quick get away. Their time was short anyway and they were a little battered from their success. I told them that this was the psychic residue of the great WAAGH of the orc war band that had somehow continued on here. This WAAGH had taken on a life of its own and continued to fight and destroy anyone who came too close. So the heroes didn’t get too sidetracked but still came away with something significant. They were also able to do some recruiting while there as many dwarfs still live in the town.
Next the heroes ventured over the Mountains and into the lands of the Border Princes. This also proved to be eventful. On their trek the heroes stopped at a small walled town where they were immediately contacted by the local ruler and asked for assistance. The ruler turned out to be a surprisingly attractive women, who invited the heroes to her palace and wined and dined them. Kozar ended up spending most of the night with her and readily agreed when she asked him to take a correspondence to a neighboring village. It was only partially out of the way so Kozar and two others went with him (I can’t remember exactly who). When they came to the village however, the found the place sacked and burning. There were figures around the town so the heroes hailed them. When the first mounted figure approached however it became obvious that they were not friendly. As the lead figure advanced a huge section of his mounts front quarters sloughed to the ground. Needless to say, the heroes decided to leave as quickly as possible.
As they raced to catch up with their group they were dogged by several men on horseback and a strange loping humanoids. They were able to put some distance between them and their pursuers but not loose them entirely. They quickly sent the wagons ahead and prepared to confront the mysterious pursuers. As they closed in the lead figure began to proselytize! He was indeed a follower of father Nurgle and had come to spread his faith and disease with all he could catch.
What followed was a desperate struggle for the heroes. However with the help of their magical gifts from the Dwarfs and an unexpected ally they prevailed. This follower of Nurgle proved to be a true Chaos champion and nearly proved too much for the heroes. He was a massive brute and wore a thick corselet breastplate and arms. He also had massive spiked gauntlets and a sort of skirt covered in a patchwork of various skins sown together. His marred face was covered with the bottom piece of a great helm (the part that lowers and rises) and kept on with a sort of leather harness. He was armed with a unique flail that appeared to be made of a black orc spine attached to a wooden head. The grip was some sort of claw that also gripped the users forearm and dug its claws in at about the elbow; there is little chance of dropping this weapon. He also carried a very unique shield. A human skin had been stretched across the surface and the still attached head was mounted on the top. There were a variety of cuts and pustules on the skin and it almost appeared to still be bleeding and oozing. The real surprise came when the shield was struck for the first time and the mounted head screamed and vomited a nasty acid bile all over the perpetrator. It was funny to see Moots face while we were doing this fight. I know that some of that is kind of sick, but I really wanted them to get the feel for how fanatic and badass these guys are. This wasn’t a simple mutant or cultist, this was a real-deal champion. To add a little flavor, I came up with little chants or missionary lines for him to say like “Embrace the sickness that is Father Nurgle, he will give you a balm for your suffering and sweet infection for your pain.” I think it might have been a little much for everyone and it was honestly hard to play something that was so obviously vile. Anyway, we don’t do that very often but I might send that idea to Games Workshop so they can work it into one of their miniatures or something like that.
The battle was going well enough when the heroes only had to face the chaos knights, but when the Plague Bearers showed up they looked close to despair. Olaf used 3-6 magical arrows of lightning to down the champion, but everyone else was in bad shape. It was then that they noticed a mysterious shadow racing behind the Plague Bearers slaughtering them one at a time. This was a very unique high elf who had been hunting the band for quit some time. He helped them destroy the last enemies and was insistent that everything be burned including the clothing the heroes were wearing and all of their weapons were sanitized with fire. The elf also told them some supposed stories that surrounded the champion. It was rumored that he was the offspring of a human and an orc. Scholars would say that was impossible as orcs don’t breed, but try convincing the locals of that.
After the much needed help the heroes invited the elf to accompany them south. He readily agreed; he was in fact a shadow warrior of Ulthuan and sworn to hunt down and destroy any enemy of good be it Chaos, undead, etc. Later the heroes noticed that his eyes were solid black and he preferred to sleep during the day and be active at night. He fought with a Naginata; which he could wield as a spear, halberd or two handed sword; and some form of martial arts he had learned in his long life. He eventually told the heroes that he had been enhanced by magic to be able to fight these monsters on their own turf, in the dark and was equipped with some powerful spells, including sun bolt and invisibility, to help him with his task. He was however a sort of vagabond and outcast as evidenced by the fact that he worked alone and did not keep in contact with any other elves. He was a solitary assassin and very good at it. The heroes also noticed later that he sometimes coats his weapons with a powerful poison and sometimes even a bolas. He is all about stealth and is very fanatical about his duty to destroy enemies of the elves.
So with this new recruit, which Barak was not very happy about, the heroes continued their trek through the Border Prince domain to the Dwarf hold of__. From here they sailed around the Arabian Peninsula stopping at various port cities to trade and resupply. It was during one of their first stops that they had a long layover and decided to follow up on a rumor they had heard. Barak actually found out about this and floated it to the heroes so that he could judge their worth. He declined to accompany them of course as he had important business transactions to watch over.
The heroes decided to explore a ruin some distance from the city that was rumored to still contain a good amount of treasure as no one had gotten much from it in the past. (I will have to fill in the details of this after reviewing the module.)
After successfully returning to the ship, the characters made the rest of the voyage without incidents and arrived at __, where they took the last part of the journey by land.