From the Ashes of Angels

Hrafn's Journal -- Harvestide 27 - Trials
Game Session 8 - 6/24/2015

Harvestide 26

With more questions than ever, we headed back south to report in on our findings at the farms. The day was relatively uneventful. We checked in with a few farmsteads on our way and it seems the group of suspicious travelers haven’t made it this far south yet. It will probably be a few more weeks before they make it as far as the city if they continue on their current path.

We were able to meet with the Abbess. I am honored that someone of her stature has been able to make herself so available to us. We must be doing truly important work for the faith.

Harvestide 27

Her attention is upon us…

I awoke from a strange dream. I was wandering through corridors of mists, turning seemingly at random, before coming to an open place in the mist and finding a symbol of the raven in the “floor” of the place before the dream faded away. As it faded away I think the parting mists were revealing the main chamber of the temple, near the high altar…

Once I opened myself in prayer I could feel Her watching. I headed towards the main worship hall and heard Hali’s distinctive voice calling a question through the normally somber and quiet space. Once I saw into the hall, all that was there were my recent travelling companions. There were no attendants or priests, no worshipers. This seemed amiss and with the feeling of Her presence and the mysterious dream, I rushed back toward my room to claim my weapon and begin to check on the clergy here.

I ran into Dirge and Drelf, who headed off to check on the safety of the Abbess, and I awoke another senior brother with whom we checked on the temple. It seems my concerns were unwarranted…

I stopped in my room and geared up, preparing to follow the dream as best I could. I tried to make my way through the halls as I had through the corridors of mist in my vision, but the dream had already begun to fade. By this time Dirge had joined me again and reported that the Abbess’ guards said she was resting undisturbed.

In order to enter through the main doors of the temple, we made our way outside by a side door. Things seemed calm and normal, with a few people in the square and light and sound from the Inn across the square, as normal. The Eye was large in the sky and seemed to be turned toward us as well, surely not a good omen.

As we entered the hall, we found it still empty other than our recent travelling companions, gathered near the main altar.

As we gathered there and entered into prayer, images and feelings of a gateway appeared in the mind’s eye just beyond the altar. As we each touched the altar it became unnaturally cold to the touch, and a faint image of a gateway appeared. As my companions began to pass through, I prepared to try to hold the connection open long enough to allow Hali and Deitrich time to retrieve their armor, but when they tried to pass from the main hall they found they could not pass the doorways, so we all proceeded through the gate, following our companions who had proceeded us.

Once through, all found they were fully equipped as if we were in the field. We stood upon a large disk of stone or metal, carved with the image of the Raven from my dream, seemingly floating in endless darkness and mist, with the faint shimmering of the gateway behind us, and a tall, deeply cloaked figure standing before us.

Soon the figure addressed us. I believe it a divine servant, as it spoke in my native tongue but all present seemed to understand. I have to assume it used the language of the gods, which it is said any who understand language can interpret. It said our Queen had taken an interest in our activities and was pleased with what She had seen, but also that She was unsure we possessed the skills required to survive the events to come. She had decided to test us.

It warned us that the trials would test us sorely, and that they were unending. After each test we would have to choose if we had proven ourselves and should leave, or if we should remain for the next test, and that each would become harder than the previous. The challenges would test our abilities in combat as well as in skill, and that after each, a gateway for retreat would briefly appear, and during that time we would have to make our choice.

With that, the figure flew off into the darkness and mist, and we waited…

After a few minutes, some of my companions began to look as if they were growing impatient, possibly wondering if our first challenge was to find our way to where we were to be tested. Just then, the mists expanded outward and formed dark corridors, and a large obelisk rose up from the center of the disk, with glyphs and pictograms depicting parables from the teachings of the Raven Queen, though jumbled up. We found ourselves assaulted by zombies while we also raced to properly arrange the pictograms on the obelisk.

We made relatively easy work of the first test, and the gateway for retreat remained open for about five minutes, before closing. A sack of silver coins even appeared after we were victorious. I’m hastily scribbling down my thoughts while we wait for the trials to continue.

I have confidence that we can prove ourselves worthy, but feel our greater test will be in determining when to withdraw. Pride and overconfidence could prove to be greater enemies than those conjured to test us. We have only been together for a relatively short time as a group, and have not had the best track record of keeping all on their feet. If we wish to prove our worthiness of Her trust and attention, I feel like showing our longevity and prudent use of our resources will be key.

I pray for the wisdom to be able to offer true consul to these brave souls, and that we may be judged worthy.

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Trials of Night: A Chance to Catch Ones Breath
Recollections of The Iron Raven

Catching my breath for a moment….

A lot has happened since the last night passed.

The night faded to day as one might expect, we awoke amongst the farm houses we’ve been investigating. We scoured the area Hrafn believe the ethereal wind changed directions in his ritual induced vision last night but found nothing. It was decided that we should report back in on what we’ve learned to the abbess and see if she had any insights before blindly heading north in search of anything that could connect to what we’ve learned so far. Along the way we spoke with what farmers we could to see if we could gage the progress of the “cloaked group of interest”. We encountered some sightings on the other side of the river and some of the others pieced together an idea as to when they might reach the city. I don’t recall the time frame, and they’re a little distracted at the moment…maybe three weeks????

So why are they busy…? Well the Abbess didn’t have any particular insights, but appreciated the information none-the-less. So we elected to rest and recover with a good night’s rest and head out for the north on the morrow. We haven’t gotten there yet.

Hrafn, Drelf, and I attended the late night prayer, which culminated around midnight. They retired to bed from there while I sought out my usual solace polishing some of the icons after the chapel emptied out. I saw the far side of 1:00 before deciding I should also get some rest, as we were facing a long trek at the end of the night.

On the way back to my dorm bed I encountered Hali coming the other direction. She made no sign of noticing my presence. I haled her, but she took no notice. I attempted to touch her shoulder only to have my hand pass through. Was I dreaming…? Was this a sign, a vision…? Had something happened to Hali? I followed at an observant distance…a short time later she was joined by Hrafn, and then by the rest in the chapel. I continued to fallow as they walked up the main aisle, then through the gate in the rail separating the main alter from the congregation. I slipped through the gate right as they passed into the alter and disappeared.

Clearly, this was an omen of some sort. I dropped to my knees and began praying as hard as I could, with all my heart, willing myself to understand what the Lady was saying. Try as I might I couldn’t get more than a desire, a pull towards the alter….so I stayed rooted there, praying where I was supposed to be. That is, until Deitrich Essenbach pulled me from my contemplations to inquire as to what I’d seen. It turns out from the sounds of it the rest of my compatriots who’d turned in had the same dream. A dream that had ultimately led them to this alter some how. I will need to find out more about what they saw, when there is time.

Eventually all of them arrived at the alter, in various states of dress and preparedness. We were the only people present at this point. Hrafn and Drelf began to lead us in a prayer, that we might better understand the message the Lady was sending us. As the prayer was joined I felt the pull towards the alter increase in strength until finally I found myself walk blindly into it and stumble. Soon after the others each followed, though more gracefully from what I understand. A door appeared in my mind’s eye beyond the alter. The pull was almost palpable. I quickly made my way around, over, through…? to it and passed through.

We found ourselves on a disc of sorts surrounded by black nothingness. A divine being appeared before us and informed us that the Lady was please by what she’d seen from her chosen so far and looked forward to what was to come from us on our future path. However, She believes we might not be experienced enough for what lies ahead of us. As a result She has decided to test us, that she might better understand what we are capable of and we might learn from the experiences.

The divine being has informed us that the trials will test our fighting mettle , our skills, and our ability reason…and that they will not end. We are to push ourselves as far as we might, but to stop before the trials take our lives. The trials will consist of an endless number of rounds, after each round the door we entered through will re-appear and allow us to depart this realm. If we don’t leave then, it will not appear again until the next challenge is overcome. He then faded back into the blackness.

I drew my blades and prepared. Nothing happened immediately. Some of my compatriots prodded the blackness with various objects and even one reached their hand into it and hit something solid. I cracked a sunrod, but its light didn’t pierce the veil. Eventually, the darkness receded and halls appeared before us, with walls of thick fog. Four pillars appeared, one in each corner of the complex that had appeared…and a larger one appeared in our midst. Drelf informed us that the faces depicted moral lessons in simple pictures. We needed to figure out how to complete the lesson they each showed. A small host of grasping zombies also materialized as the darkness receded. Those would also need dispatching. And with that, the first round began.

We solved most of the pillars (all but 3?) before killing the last zombie. When the last zombie fell, so too did the remaining pillars. Moments later the darkness began to refill the halls, herding us each back to the center disc we started on. It is here that I now sit.

Catching my breath for a moment….

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Scattered thoughts
Recollections of The Iron Raven

It is hard to write when one is not used to detailing ones thoughts. The rigors of life outside the temple are many and pull at you in all directions.

Where was I…ah yes, being hunted…

Turns out we were being hunted, by Dire Wolves… thought they were rather mangy and famished. Probably not as terrible as true healthy Dire Wolves might be. But they were desperate for something to eat and they brought friends, some other scraggly wolves that hoped to get a bit of whatever their bigger brethren didn’t eat. We were able to dispatch them after a few tense moments.

We moved on in search of the source of the mysterious quiet of this section of the forest. We came across a swath of a dozen or so small humanoid tracks we later determined to likely be kobalds. Our investigation ultimately lead to the site of a flash of something green overhead and a glimpse of said dragon as it dove into some thicker growths further ahead in search of some prey or another. We elected to backtrack in the direction of what we believed to be a Shadow Crossing. Hali had done some sort of ritual that had pointed off in another direction.

In persuit of the Shadow Crossing we came across another troup of Kobalds, sporting a crude green banner. Probably off to serve the new dragon denizen of these parts. We all hid, including Hali some how, and got ready for their approach. When it became evident that they would not notice us, despite practically walking on top of us, Hrafn gave the signal to let them pass. I don’t know why, they are foul creatures after all. We should not fear facing them. But he had his reasons I’m sure, and he’s more learned than I.

We eventualy found the Shadow Crossing. It appears to be anchored to what used to be a Fey Crossing…a circle of mushrooms. We settled down for the night to see what we’d see. Deitrich Essenbach reported seeing movements within the faint light emanating from the circle, but no one else noticed. I think he might have been trying to appear more observant….or he was just seeing things.


Jumping ahead***

We eventually ended up back at the Temple of the Black Star to report all that we had found. The Abbess gave Hrafn and Hali some rituals to work on learning and they took to doing so. While we waited I wiled away the hours getting some always sought relief from my troubled slumber, returning again to the icons of the temple to quiet contemplation. Deitrich came looking for me, apparently bored and looking for a sparing partner. Practice is good and one can always find ways to improve….and we all need to learn to work together when it’s time to act. He seems to be a fine swordsman, accomplished in his own…effective…if rather brutish techniques. I enjoyed the chance to spar and learn a bit from what he had to offer. sigh after several good opening bouts though it became clear, as I expected, he views me as naught but a child. I guess I don’t fit his expectation of a warrior. I’ll win him over too, eventually…

We headed out the next day in search of a farmstead to the north, which had been rumored to also be the site of a Shadow Crossing. We found it deserted and the cart gone. It felt as if there was an eerie presence in the root cellar pressing upon you…and it reeked to high hell. We found two newish graves in the family plot out past the tool shed. The closest neighbors said that their newborn had died earlier this year, with the mother following soon after in grief. The father packed up his remaining sons and headed off to the northeast.

The evening as the last ray of sun faded from sight, a specter of the mother and child appeared from their graves, along with some other spirits from the root cellar, and attacked. Hrafn called for us to stay close while he prepared a blessing from the Raven Queen to protect us in this fight. As Her blessing washed over us it also blasted away the restless spirits. Hrafn was able to sustain his pray for the duration of the skirmish while we put them all back to their uneasy rests.

Hali did a ritual that ultimately indicated we’d better exhume the child if we wanted he and his mother to finally rest. So Drelf, Dietrich, and I grabbed shovels and started digging. We found the baby buried in a makeshift wooden box, which after much investigation appears to have been tied closed with rope…but something had burned away the bindings. Drelf took one of the viles of holy water and anointed the child only to find that wherever the water touched its skin blackened. This was not expected. He lightly bathed its entire body and examined it for symbols or other clues. A ritual was cast upon the child to make it so it would not again rise as an undead. The body crumbled to ash. Drelf collected the ashes to bring back to the Abbess for inspection.

We could not figure out what else to do about the root cellar, so we did our best to bar the hatch and scrawl a warning for passers by to not enter. We then informed what neighbors we could of the potential danger and to stay away. We’d try and have the temple send more help out to deal with it when they could. On the whole, people seemed confused as to why anyone would come out here to help them. It seems to me they’re fairly self absorbed in their own troubles and worries to really believe that anyone might be willing to help.

We headed back towards the circle of farms we’d first investigated. Along the way we found word that the creepy talkative group had passed this way. I don’t really know what to call them, so I’ll just go with the “cloaked group of interest”. Good enough…. So in general the cloaked group of interest appeared to be heading south (and west?) from the direction of the mountains.

Once we arrived at the circle of farm houses. Hrafn did a ritual to see the last moments of one of the lady’s life. He reported seeing an unnatural wind disturbing the fields in a swath maybe twice? the size of one of the houses. It was cutting across the field within her view, from the north, before changing direction abruptly and heading straight at the house. It impacted the house without visible sign of having done so and the lady died.

Where does this leave us….? I’m guessing head back to the Abbess, drop of the child’s remains, and then head north to see if we can find traces of whatever caused the disturbance in the field…

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Hrafn's Journal -- Harvestide 25 - The Child of Darkness
Game Session 7 - 6/17/2015

Harvestide 23

Hali and I spent the day studying from the Abbess’ ritual books. The Temple generously allowed us to use materials they had on hand to complete the transcriptions. I have now learned the ritual of Last Sight Vision, which I hope will help us in our investigations.

I have to say that I had not envisioned our Patron to have me serve through detective work. Sometimes I feel woefully underequipped to serve in this capacity, but someone must, and I will perform my duties as they are presented to the best of my ability.

Harvestide 24 – The farm of sorrow

We head off to a single farmhouse along the trail towards the Hordelands that is rumored to be a possible Shadow Crossing site. We arrived at the site a bit after mid day. The land and buildings look a bit poorer than some of the others we have visited. The crops are growing in the fields but no one seems to be around.

Upon investigating the house and grounds we found that it appears the family that lived here had recently left. There appeared to be a missing cart from one of the out buildings and two recent graves in the family plot. The root cellar had a malevolent feel about it, and I noticed that we seemed to have trouble completing our prayers in the burial site.

While awaiting the coming of evening, we visited some of the neighboring farms. They reported that the farm work was always hard in the area. The family had recently had a child that passed away. Shortly thereafter the mother passed from the toll of grief. The father and remaining sons left to the northeast soon after. This seems especially strange given that there really isn’t anything in that direction. The neighboring farmers also noted the group of “creepy” folks moving through the area about the same time, fifteen days ago, moving through the region, generally southward.

We returned to the farmstead awaiting evening to see what happened after dark. As soon as the sun set, spectral beings rose from the graves of the mother and child, and several more came from the root cellar. We dispatched the specters.

The baby seemed to be the source of the greatest evil. When we anointed it with Holy Water the skin blackened, and after consecrating the body with the Compose Corpse ritual, it turned to dust. Both were unexpected and indicate the strange nature of the dark spirits here.

Harvestide 25 — The wind of death

We have made our way across the countryside towards the first cluster of houses we first investigated. Speaking to those we pass we confirm that the creepy mystery group has been working its way slowly across the whole area southward for about a month. We also hear reports of harsher, colder weather coming from the north and the mountains, as well as scattered sightings of spirits of the dead or lights to the north as well.

Back at the houses, we performed the ritual of Last Sight Vision on one of the reflections of the residents. I saw a swathe of wind, about the size of one of the farm houses, whip down through the fields from the north, making a sudden turn to head right into the house. There was no indication that it effected anything other than taking the life of the woman whose eyes I saw through.

Everything is pointing to us needing to seek answers to the north…

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Hrafn's Journal -- 22 Harvestide, 1117
Game Session 6 - 6/10/2015

Harvestide 20 – Evening.

Shortly after our last rest, the source of the ‘hunted’ feeling several of us has been noticing revealed itself. We were beset upon by a pack of wolves, including a couple of Dire wolfs. I suspect if they hadn’t been partly starved they may have proven an even greater danger.

After dispatching the poor creatures, we continued on, eventually crossing paths with a track left behind by some small -footed humanoids travelling on a north/south route. They appeared to be several days old.

At this point, Hali performed a ritual to read the lines of fate trailing into the near future. Based on the results, we turned deeper into the forest to try to discover the source of the sudden quieting… A bit further on, we caught a glimpse through the canopy of a mighty flying creature: Dragon! The green beast plunged down into the forest after some prey. Unprepared to fight such a monster, and concentrating on our more immediate goal of finding information about the Shadow Crossings, we turned back toward the forests’ perimeter.

On our return trip, we heard the approach of something in the distance, and concealed ourselves. We were passed by a troupe of kobolds carrying a very crude, green banner. Likely styling themselves worshipers of the dragon. They were led by a better armored individual showing a holy symbol of Tiamat, hardly a surprise. They did not detect us and went on their way. I chose not to exhort our group to an attack, assuming they are unlikely culprits in the Shadow Crossing issue, and fearing riling up their comrades to strike at the local farms before we could spread word of the danger.

We settled down to camp near an inactive Shadow Crossing that Hali’s ritual had also pointed out. This one seemed to overlay a place where a Fey crossing might be expected. In a circle of mushrooms in a once-tended grove. The ring even gave off a faint light after sunset and the feel of the Shadowfell in the immediate surrounds.

Other than Deitrich reporting some faint shadows moving inside the ring during his watch, the night passed quietly enough.

Harvestide 21

After saying some prayers at the mushroom circle, hoping to guide any nearby souls having trouble passing to the site, we set off. We went back out into the fields and split into two groups to spread word to the local farmsteads about the kobolds we had seen. We refrained from spreading the inevitable fear that knowledge of a close by dragon might bring. Some of the farmers reported seeing a distant group of humanoid moving through the area, well armed and purposefully keeping their distance from any of the locals. Certainly this is of interest if we can track them down.

We spent the night among the houses again, witnessing the same tableau of shadowed reflections going through their evenings. Some of our more sensitive members reported feeling almost as if the night fell from the north, rather than from the east. Odd indeed, but perhaps they felt something of whatever it was that brought the Shadow Crossing?

Harvestide 22

Today we returned to the city and reported to the Abbess. She mentioned that possibly the Baron would be moved to do something about the dragon, though I’m not sure how convinced she was of her own words. We spoke of what we found among the farm houses, and also discussed possible rituals that may allow us to interact with those to see something of what happened the night they disappeared. The Abbess also seemed interested in the shadow crossing we found in the wood, mentioning it may be useful if we must ever venture to the other side…

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Hrafn's Journal -- 20 Harvestide, 1117
Game Session 5 - 6/3/2015

Harvestide 19, continued

Not long had we settled in for sleep, having set a modified watch schedule to keep more eyes out as part of our investigation, then those of us not on watch were awakened.

The watch team had noticed moving lights inside some of the houses. Dirge even claimed to have seen a shadowy human figure beyond the houses…

We geared up and went in to investigate. Unlike during our daytime exploration, at night there was a strange, prickling feeling as we crossed the threshold of the farmhouse. It wasn’t as intense as what we experienced under the tomb, but definitely marked something unusual.

At first, things seemed much as we had left them, but then spectral images of the inhabitants came into view. Unlike ghosts, they seemed to pay us no mind, as if they were memories given faint form of the last night these people inhabited the house. While a few of our number noted faint stirrings of dust or cobwebs in the corners of some of the rooms, all else was still and quiet.

Just as some of the group started up the stairs, another spectral man entered through the rear of the house, and strangely the candle he carried gave off light as he entered. I’m at a loss to say how this phenomena manifests. He passed right through me on his way up the stairs, and he disappeared when he laid down in a bed, his candle light extinguishing as well.

Finally we were wrapping up our survey of the house when Monique extinguished her candle while still in the basement…

We were immediately beset upon by griefmotes. They are particularly tricky little undead balls of sorrow who can disappears before your eyes and freeze their victims. They did seem to act strangely, trying to escape the house, but apparently unable. Fortunately their disorientation allowed us to defeat them without permanent losses.

Once the fight was done, we surveyed the other houses and found no more disturbances or lights. Eventually we settled back down and managed to get some rest.

20 Harvestide

After readying ourselves for the day we made off for the forest to do some investigations there. It seems the situation within must be particularly rough for the wildlife as the bodies of the drakes we’d defeated only a half day prior had been ravaged by scavengers. This included what looked like signs of creatures that normally would not eat the dead…

None of us are wilderness experts by any means, but we did our best to plot a course through the forest so that we could take an arcing path that will bring us back out to the forest’s edge with time to make it back to the farm settlement by nightfall.

While we traveled through the wood we noticed a cacophony of animal sounds. It seems odd to me that it would be sounding so full of life when such violent death seems to lair in this place. We’d best be on our guards for with the strange behavior we’ve already witnessed, who knows what creatures that might normally avoid us may choose to attack instead.

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Night Falls...Day Breaks
Recollections of The Iron Raven

Change of plans….

We camped between the houses, such that we could observe all of them. It was figured that this would improve out chances of noticing evening happenings. We broke up into two watches instead of three and settled down for the night. I was to be on second watch some time after midnight.

Some time after second watch had settled in and fell to slumbering our awake compatriots noted some lights moving in various houses. They roused the rest of us. I grabbed my blades and made ready to approach a house. Hrafn gestured that I should put on my armor…that probably would be helpful. shrug While doing so I too noted a light in a nearby window. As soon as we were set I quietly made my way over to the house.

After gently opening the door we filed inside, Deitrich Essenbach bringing up the rear and watching the other buildings. What we found I cannot really understand. They were people somewhere between here and the beyond, seeming to just be going about their evening activities. I went over to a lady in the corner appearing to be tending to some mending; mending that also seemed to be laying on the floor in our reality.

Did something kill these people and these but shadows….memories of what their life had been?

Drelfand I led the way upstairs, while a man came in through (literally) the front door, carrying a candle. I am told the downstairs apparitions vanished when the candle entered the room. The man made his way upstairs, passing through Hrafn with an icy coldness on his way to bed. He entered one of the upstairs bedrooms, lay down in bed, and blew out the candle before sinking through the bed. All the while, I had been notinceing movement out of the corner of my eyes in the corners of various rooms, but I couldn’t

Lastly, some of us went to investigate the basement. It was completely dark, so I lit a candle and led Drelf and Dirge down the rickety stairs. There was nothing down there we could see, though I shown the light all around. I gestured the other two back up the stairs, moved to the base of the stair, and blew out the candle. I’d been thinking to see if anything appeared once the light was gone, something that couldn’t be seen in the presence of the candle…

…well I still couldn’t SEE them, but I suddenly felt their despair wash over me from the darkness in biting waves of cold misery. It quite nearly froze me where I stood. I did my best to regain my senses and rushed headlong up the stairs back into the welcoming moonlight and my friends. I raised the alarm as best I could, but all I could really think for the moment was just how cold I was and of a need to get warm. Someone through a sunrod to the bottom of the stairs, Hrafn I think. Deitrich moved to block the stairs and intercept whatever might come rushing up after me. Drelf quick stepped down past him to investigate and engaged what turned out to be two tiny balls of darkness exuding sorrow. They quickly fled his onslaught and rushed Deitrich who pinned one as the other…bounded by?

More revealed themselves within the house, yet they all headed for the doors which they couldn’t get out. Failing to escape they turned their misery on those of us closes to them. I admit, I was torn as to what to do. They seemed more scared than vicious, yet I couldn’t deny the attacks they had inflicted on myself and those with me. I quickly turned to Hrafn for guidance; he assured me of their undead nature and that we should put them to rest. I fell inward on my training and that was it. We dispatched them all.

Once night faded, we gathered up our gear and headed back to the forest. The carrion I’d piled up previously had been ravaged by a variety of beasts of all sizes. We headed off into the forest. The sounds were rather intense, more so than I would have expected from the descriptions of what forests were like. We found the remains of many beasts and animals picked clean as we ventured beneath the forest’s canopy.

As we pressed on with out exploration, I eventually came to the understanding…perhaps more like “feeling”….that we were being watched, or rather hunted. I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something out there.

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Hrafn's Journal -- 19 Harvestide, 1117
Game Session 4 - 5/27/2015

18 Harvestide – Late Afternoon

After catching our breaths from the battle, we examined our surroundings. The chambers of our final confrontation were definitely unusual. The transition from the tunnel into the first chamber seemed like something that couldn’t be manufactured by any humanoid craft. Considering the feeling of the area, I suspect this place may be some sort of shadow crossing into the Shadowfell.

We returned to the Temple of the Black Star and reported our findings to the Abbess. It seems she was not overly surprised to hear our report that a shadow crossing may have opened so close to the city.

We discussed the magical helm we found, seeking her thoughts on its powers in relation to our Queen’s ways. She agreed it sounded like something that should be used with great caution, and suggested that if we sought more direct judgement on the matter by our Patron that there is a shrine in the mountains where it is said She may focus Her gaze.

After some more discussion, we agree to head to a cluster of farming homes a bit more than a half day’s journey from the city to investigate one of the other areas of shadow crossing in hopes of discovering something that had been missed by those who had already been there. We leave in the morning

19 Harvestide, 1117

On our way out of town we stopped for some supplies. It seems that the herbs and other components required for healing rituals are in short supply this year. Since winter, several merchant caravans carrying such supplies had been robbed.

We made our way uneventfully to a cluster of farm houses at the appointed location. They seemed abandoned as if the occupants had just gotten up and left. There were no signs of panic, nor signs that the occupants packed up or planned to leave. One of our group noticed a few sets of footprints that just seemed to stop in mid-stride.

Finding nothing else glaringly obvious, we headed closer to the forest, to see if we could find any sign of incursion from that direction. We didn’t see any major signs of humanoid passage or activity, but when we reached the edge of the wood, we were assaulted by frightened looking, somewhat malnourished drakes. This was definitely unexpected considering they normally lair further into the forest. We had little choice but to dispatch the creatures after their aggressive assault.

Since it was already getting later into the afternoon we decided to return to the area of the houses for the evening. On our way back we detoured to talk to one of the local farmsteaders. The young man there described how one day the farmers were there, the next morning they were gone. Eventually some of the locals went and recovered the livestock, but there had been no sign of the missing people. Some sketchy reports claim lights have been seen in the upper windows of some of the abandoned houses.

The only other real point of note was a comment the man made about the animals of the forest being more aggressive this year. After our experience with the drakes, I cannot help but wonder if there is something stirring in the forest that has upset the natural order and driven some of the creatures out of their normal territory in the woods. Perhaps we will have a chance to look into it further.

Tonight we’re setting up camp in the center of the cluster of abandoned farmsteads. Maybe nighttime will reveal something we could not find in daylight…

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To investigate a Shadow Crossing...you have to start some where.
Recollections of The Iron Raven

We returned to the Temple of the Black Star, from the graveyard to give our report to the Abbess. She seemed pleased by what we’d accomplished, but not surprised by the news. Not even Hrafn’s theory that the chambers that we descended down to might have actually been in the Shadowfell. I confess, his theory definitely caught me by surprise. The others seemed to agree though and I find now fault with his logic.

We presented the Abbess with the question as to if this skull shaped helm, which seems to be able to trap souls, is acceptable to the Goddess’; for Brother Hrafn was quick to note that it seems to be something that she would not condone. Jenaya Reni could not comment one way or the other for sure. She felt that at the least the Goddess would not want to see it used on citizens. Serick, seems to be of another opinion, but he didn’t express it. Additionally, Jenaya Reni offered that if we wanted to seek further guidance we could seek out a small shrine to the Goddess in the mountains north of here. She warns that such a path would likely be treacherous, as the last group she sent on a pilgrimage to the shrine has not been heard from. They left in the spring. She fears the worse.

We spent the night in the Temple’s dorms. Once I’d fixed up my gear and did my best to cleans the leathers we found today, I laid out my gear for the morning then went down to the chapel for some quiet, meditative, cleaning. I met one of the young acolytes while I cleaned. She must have drawn the short straw to get the late night shift cleaning the main chapel. She was rather bashful and I wasn’t able to get much out of her while we worked, nor could I dissuade her from coming to help wherever I tried to work. Oh well, it was less meditative then I might have liked, but the company was nice. I retired after an hour or two and got some much needed…dreamless…sleep.

After the night passed we were up and out early enough. First stop was to get some supplies on the way out of town. Hrafn was able to learn that there is apparently a shortage of Healing Ritual components. There have been targeted raids of caravans carrying such goods since winter. He bought what we could from the one vendor we found with them. It was only a few gold’s worth. Good in a pinch, but that’s about it. We also grabbed a few days provisions then headed out.

It was a pretty uneventful trek out to the location of the largest of the recent shadow crossings. They apparently appear randomly and only remain for a time. It isn’t know what causes them, why they appear where, or pretty much anything else about them. I’m hoping my companions can figure something out because I’m at a loss. My roll here is probably best served keeping a sharp watch out and a quick blade if the need arises.

We searched the half dozen abandoned farm houses at the site of the crossing. We found practically nothing. The only thing of note really is that what “signs” we could find seem to indicate that the residence were last here at some point in the evening (evening tasks were left/dropped while in process). Others have come by since and lead the animals away.

We continued on another hour or so to the forest. Nothing of note was seen here either until just as we were preparing to turn around I noted some drakes lurking near the edge of the woods, just before they decided to strike. From what I’m told they wouldn’t normally roam the edges of such a wood, but rather lurk further within. I noted that they looked famished and we guessed that something had driven them from their usual haunts and led them to attack what they could find (us) out of hunger.

It was a quick confrontation. They attacked quickly and almost overwhelmed us with their ferocity and determination, but we recovered and quickly turned the tables on them. I piled their corpses so that when we return tomorrow it’ll be easier to tell if something else come along and feasted on the carcasses.

We returned to the site of the shadow crossing and proceeded onwards to a farm house on the next hill that might have seen something of what happened. We were informed that it seemed to happen one night about a month back. The boy we talked with had said “night” to them as everyone retired for the evening but no one was seen out and about the next day. He confirmed that a few days after the incident some people braved the strange occurrence and rounded up the animals. They had a couple at their farm here. Once the animals were calmed down he couldn’t decern anything different from their own animals. Some people have reported seeing lights at night is some of the houses at night.

We’d already had the idea, but that seemed to help confirm our path forward. We ventured back to the site of the crossing as the night approached…and are now sitting tight in one of the houses, waiting to see if we can learn anything else once night falls.

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Into the Graveyard
Recollections of The Iron Raven

We got to the graveyard later that afternoon. Nothing was readily seen as we approached so we entered and began to explore its depths. We soon spotted, in a deeper section amongst stones marking the deceased from one of the battles of the Crusades, some Zombies milling about a simple mausoleum.

We moved up to position and Drelf got the jump on them. They reacted quicker than could be expected and started to converge on him. My purpose could not be clearer…I moved up quickly alongside Drelf in support and dispatched one, plunging my blade clearly through its decrepit body. We turned in towards center in support of Hrafn. Next thing I knew the larger zombie had clubbed my hard about the head and I blacked out.

A quick blessing from the Raven Queen through Hrafn and I was back, barely missing a step. When all was said and done I’d dispatched 4 of the foul things. In searching the bodies we noted that one suit of their leathers hadn’t aged in the least since they’d been interred. I rolled them up for examining and cleaning later.

So I know I dropped a goodly number of our foes, but I can’t let that make me over confident. I need to stay on my feet better, or I’m going to have a hard time proving myself in the eyes of these veteran warriors. I know it’s early in our travels together and they probably see me as “still young yet” or “that temple kid”; but this is what I’ve trained for these past three years. They’ll come to see it, if I can’t keep my head….possibly literally.

We moved into the mausoleum. Drelf took the lead and breached the door. He was confronted by a sinister looking skeleton wielding a large sword while attempting to rush the archer in the back corner. He got two in the chest for his efforts and dropped like a stone (just goes to show you it’s not as easy as it looks). Before the rest of us could react the skeleton raised his sword over his head for a finishing blow. By the grace of her Majesty he was missed. There really is no other explanation.

I rushed through the door hugging the wall to the left. Two strikes later and I’d swept clear the flank. Hrafn pressed up the center to the aid of Drelf. Soon after I converged on the pair of them. Drelf went for the archer in the corner while I worked with Hrafn to dispatch two more. Other important highlight…I maintained my feet the entire engagement.

In the back corner near the archer, where a sarcophagus once lay, there was a sloping tunnel leading further underground. We pressed onward. At the bottom was a rough hewn cavern with an eerily lit column at it’s center. Three other such chambers with similar columns branched off this central chamber. Some sort of ghost was there along with several zombies and skeletons.

I sprang ahead to engage the ghost, tossing a dagger into one of the zombies as I went. A glint of something caught my eye as I engaged and I pointed it out to Dirge as the rest of our party poured into the room. Hrafn called on The Raven Queen to deliver a divine blessing onto us to bolster us in the face of such ubominations. When Dirge investigate the column further he caused it to diminish. Drelf was accosted by the ghost and next thing I knew he charged me.

Chaos ensued, but with the Raven Queens blessing upon Hrafn’s lips we could not loose. Dirge and I cleared out several foes from the left side of the room and I rushed the column in that direction and powered it down. Dirge, Drelf, and I had a much harder time with the one in the room straight away, but eventually we got through it and caught up with the rest of the party in the remaining room.

As I said, with the Queens blessing flowing so clearly from Hrafn’s lips we could not loose. It’s hard to say how many I dispatched here, at least 5?, because the dreadful columns kept reanimating their fallen corpses. But just as we had the battle all but wrapped up, he ceased the blessing and walloped me someth’n good. I hope he hasn’t mistakenly read the fervor with which I pour myself into my Queen’s cause as anything more than just that…a devotion to her design. Or was it that he caught a glimpse of my end…?

He apologized later, saying that the ghost had gotten into his head. That makes sense, as it’s what happened to Drelf as well apparently. Oh well, I really don’t need them trying to help speed me along while there is still work to be done. Guess I should be on the watch for signs as well.

Tally count as night falls…around a dozen filthy undead returned to the cycle…I hope. All in all a much better day.

Majestic Queen guide me: lend clarity to my vision, keep my aim true, and guide my purpose…

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