From the Ashes of Angels

Hrafn's Journal -- 18 Harvestide, 1117; pg 2
Game Session 3 - 5/20/2015

Upon arrival at the licheyard, nothing unusual was seen. We ventured further in and a bit to the east and saw several figures milling near a tomb.

As we approached through the neat rows of headstones dating to the time of the great crusade we began to see the figures were shambling corpses: zombies. We fought the zombies amid the grave rows, avoiding the freshly overturned dirt where restless corpses seemed to have recently clawed their way from the ground.

The zombies hit hard, but we were victorious, though Monique Iron Raven was knocked out again. I am somewhat concerned that she might be rushing to Lady’s embrace before her allotted time… Ultimately she was revived and we were victorious. We found the zombies wearing the tattered remains of Imperial soldiers of old. Monique also recovered some enchanted armor from the toughest of the zombies.

While we caught our breaths and examined the bashed doors of the tomb, Monique climbed to the roof to see if there were any other undead in sight. She reported seeing no others nearby. Where then were the other bodies from the disturbed graves? There were more than the zombies we put down could account for.

Soon we turned our attention to the battered doors of the tomb before us. It looked as if one had been bashed in and then shoved back into place with the outside surface facing in. Once we moved the door out of the way, the light from outside spilled into the building, dimly illuminating three intact sarcophagi, and a whole in the floor where a fourth had been. Four animated skeletons, wearing the tattered remains of Imperial army officers moved to attack as soon as Drelf entered.

Drelf quickly assaulted two, but they returned the attack with brutal force and he fell to a pair of short ranged arrows. It was clearly not his day to die, as only a different fate could explain how the skeleton standing over his fallen body could have missed with its killing blow. We quickly rushed in and drove the creatures back with the Holy Wrath of the Raven Queen and we quickly put the creatures back to rest. As we caught our breaths and made sure everyone was ready to continue on, we noticed with some curiosity that the three sarcophagi were still sealed.

Once we ventured down into the tunnel where the fourth sarcophagi should have been, we found ourselves bathed in a harsh, blue-white light and I sensed a dark, unholy presence. We had entered into a series of chambers, three arranged off of a central chamber, each with some sort of large plyon, emitting the light. The chambers themselves appeared unworked by tools and were arranged to the north, east and south of the central room. Each pylon was surrounded by defiled ground that I believe was boon to unlife, providing reanimating force to abominations that were felled within it.

We faced off against a spectral undead who directed zombies and skeletons against us. The foul power of the pylons kept animating piles of nearby bones into more skeletal foes. We fought the monsters while buying time for one another to disrupt the powers of the pylons. As each one was broken, their light dimmed, and they stopped animating more foes.

The ghostly creature fought hard against us, proving hard to hurt and very elusive, able to slip beyond sight, evaporating like so much mist before our blades and prayers. It also proved able to cloud our vision and judgement, causing us to see foes where our friends stood… A terrible foe indeed. However, our prayers and spells protected us and tore at our foes, our strikes shattered skeleton after skeleton, and our determination saw us through. We emerged the victors, all pillars dark and our ghostly foe and its minions vanquished.

As we caught our breath and assessed our surroundings, we found quite a number of riches in the cave-like chambers: coins and gems, and a blackened helm set with green gems that seems to be enchanted with potent, dark power over the souls of the recently dead.

Many questions remain… What is this strange place? Is it new or old? Have we accounted for all the disturbed grave sites? Perhaps the Abbess will be able to provide insights once we return to report our findings.

At least for now there are fewer afronts to the cycle of life and death wandering about.

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Some time before night fall
Recolections of The Iron Raven

Wow, out here the hits just keep coming. A few hours after the bandits, we encountered a nest of spiders camped out along the same side of the road. My guess is the bandits had been camped out here to lay their ambush for a little while, else the spiders probably would have eaten them. We attempted to skirt them on the south side, but I guess they were just hungry and came for us.

Deitrich Essenbach strode forward and led the way, but was quickly assaulted. We knew there would be no walking past. Drelf jumped forward to engage but the dastardly spiders were too agile. Being a little slower off the mark I hustled to catch up and covered our left sides; quickly tossing a dagger at one on the lower ground.

CRAP (oops language) I left that dagger down there. What was I thinking?

Anyway, I continued along to the main fight at the front where our front line was attempting to wade into the skirmishing spiders. They swung around behind us Deitrich Essenbach and Hrafn turned back to cover them while Drelf pressed forward. I went with him hoping a good one two combo would put the lead spider down. Have I mentioned we’ve never worked together at all…?

Drelf missed and I tripped up on him attempting my own strike, scoring only a glancing hit. The spider bit me deep on the leg. I could feel it pumping it’s poison into my blood. Moments later it over whelmed me.

Hrafn bandaged the wound and brought me around and I helped clean up what was left of the pests. We continued on to Rejksburg. We entered the gates unquestioned; passing by a set of inattentive guards, who pointed us along to the Temple of the Black Star when questioned. The temple is a massive structure sitting on the city square, and temple to Eraiths sits opposite. Between the two is a walled compound I can only assume is the mayors…or baron…or whoever it is that governs here.

Inside the temple is massive…you must be able to hoast thousands of worshipers here. There are multiple smaller alters through out. I could find a lot of blissful solitude and reprieve from my dreams here. I made my way to the main alter alongside Brother Hrafn to pay my respects and offer up a prayer. We were met shortly there in by the first of several go betweens which would EVENTUALLY lead us to Jenaya Reni.

When we were able to finally meet with her, she thanked us for coming to help with investigating the Shadow Crossing occurrences; however, she had a more immediate need that she hoped we could fill. It turns out the guilty aren’t staying at rest and have run the grave diggers off. We agreed that this is troubling and the Raven Queen would not stand for such things.

So, we spoke with one of the caretakers and headed off…

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Hrafn's Journal -- 18 Harvestide, 1117
Game Session 2 - 5/13/2015

16 Harvestide, 1117 – Evening

Today was evidently slated to be an eventful day in the celestial calendar, at least for our newly formed troupe. Only another hour or two’s travel down the road we came upon some sort of spiders’ nest built up against the elevated roadway. We tried to skirt the far side of the road to avoid the creatures, but they must have been hungry. They were very large for spiders, the better part of the size of a man! Several made impressive, lunging jumps in to bite at us before jumping away. Others skittered in to try to bring us down. While our group still needs to learn how to fight better together, we were able to defeat the beasts despite their venomous bites. Monique Iron Raven fell again in this battle, but she clearly has a part yet to play as by the Queen’s grace (partly applied through my ministrations) she recovered.

- OOC Note: I’ll correct dates if I have them wrong here. I’m doing this from memory and can’t remember if there was another travel day or not but thought there was based on previous calculations on how long our trip should be -

18 Harvestide, 1117

We continued down the highway and began entering into more developed farmlands… The outskirts of Rejksburg’s territory.

We arrived at the city proper today, arriving to a gate in the walled section of the city. Across the river, in the unwalled reaches of the city built up for the last great crusades, I can see a truly massive structure. I have to wonder what it might be. Those thoughts quickly left my mind as we proceeded to the heart of the city.

On the great square at the center of the city we passed the massive block of a temple to Erathis, god of civilization. Along one edge of the square lie the walled grounds of a large estate or palace, presumably the Ducal residence. Most impressive though is the towering, ornate edifice of the Temple of the Black Star. I had heard tell that this temple was favored by our Lady, and once was a favorite of pilgrims, but stories could not prepare me for its size and intricacy. There were ravens perched everywhere. While my people are known for skill in architecture and design, we do not build structures with so many elements purely for decorative effect. It is a sight to behold.

We made our way inside and the interior was just as impressive. Multiple altars were inside, and we were met by an usher or docent before we reached the main altar. He led us to meet another brother, who seemed to serve as an aide or secretary to the Abbess. His name is Brother Seerick (? I do not know how he spells his name). He seemed surprised when she agreed to see us almost immediately.

The Abbess herself is an impressive figure, and was grateful that we were sent to answer her call for aid. While she would like our help investigating the Shadow Crossings, there is a more pressing issue she requested our help with.

It seems that recently deceased criminals were no longer lying still in one of the licheyards. We spoke with one of those who perform the burials and learn they recently discovered empty graves, and a group of corpses milling about the yard. They were attached when they approached, but were able to escape without loss of life.

We have agreed to go out to the site and try to lay these souls to rest, and hopefully find any source for the disturbance. We are heading there now…

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Hrafn's Journal -- 16 Harvestide, 1117
Game Session 1 - 5/6/2015

Harvestide 5, 1117

Keira Ghosttalker gifted me with a relic of the Temple, a suit of dark chainmail armor. She told me the Raven Queen wished me to have it for a time. This is quite a handsome gift, and foretells of fateful days ahead.

Harvestide 6, 1117

High Priestess Keira Ghosttalker gathered a small group of us together in the House of a Thousand Candles. Many of the faces are familiar, though some unexpected.

There is the human woman, Hali, child of famous psionically gifted heroes. She has always been an unusually bright flash of color around the temple when her parents were frequently off on some adventure. I cannot help but wonder if she is to join us to give her a chance to step from their shadows, or perhaps to keep her out of the hair of the elders, given her past reputation for mischief, or perhaps our Dark Lady has some unrevealed purpose.

Monique Iron Raven is another unexpected addition. I have not seen her around the temple for some years now, since the incident that evidently prompted her departure. Strange to thing that a death would cause someone to leave a temple to the goddess Death. Still, she seems to have been trained in more martial skills in her years away. Perhaps her fate lies with ours yet.

Deitrich Essenbach is a logical choice for a trip through dangerous lands. His sponsor/mentor clearly chose a capable travelling companion, though I wonder what his inner motivation to serving the church is.

Drelf the half-orc is another natural member of the party. His Order is known to sometimes serve as escorts to members of the faith on dangerous pilgrimage. His visage and demeanor alone may help to dissuade would be bandits.

Finally there’s the bard known now as Dirge. I do not know what his real name is, if he even has one, but I cannot be one to judge men by the names they may have once possessed. His knowledge of the arcane and skills with coordinating others could be powerful boons. What brings a bard into service of the Raven Queen is also interesting, though I sense something unusual about him, as if he has a more intimate knowledge of death than most living men do.

The High Priestess has set us the task of travelling to the Temple of the Black Star, in Rejksburg. I have heard this temple is most favored by the Raven Queen, but I have not previously been able to visit. The Abbess Jenaya Reni has reported that an unusual number of shadow crossings, weak points between our work and the Shadowfell, have been forming nearby. We are tasked to assist in investigating the reasons for such. I believe we shall depart this very afternoon.

Harvestide 10, 1117

We are passing through Donnistun and beyond the boundaries of what passes for civilization in these troubled days.

Harvestide 14, 1117

We are staying at one of the few walled way posts kept by the outriders who send quick mounted messengers throughout the lands. A warm meal behind sturdy walls is welcome, and they seem to welcome new faces and Dirge’s talent in entertaining.

Harvestide 16, 1117

We must be getting nearer to our destination. We came across a group of bandits on the Imperial road. They were rather clumsily pretending to be in distress with a wagon run partly off the raised roadway. I tried to warn them off, but it must have been the day of their ultimate fate for most of them.

I thought way may lose one or more of our own number as well. The fight was swift and brutal, but we were victorious. Deitrich Essenbach even claimed a war prize of their fallen leader’s enchanted blade. A couple of them fled and the rest of them are now beyond the worries of this world.

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All Journeys Begin Somewhere...
Recollections of The Iron Raven

It was nice to arrive back at the House of 1,000 Candles just 4 short nights since my Time Under the Stars… I guess I cut quite the striking figure in my new leathers and fine blades; Alexi almost didn’t recognize me.

Being back was a short lived feeling though. No sooner had I arrived than I received a summons from none other than Keira Ghosttalker. It seemed that though I was fresh back from my training, I am already to be given my first assignment! Truly, I expected some amount of time before being called upon. I must confess that truth be told I was looking forward to some moments of quiet amongst the 1,000 candles, after what I’ve seen and done…and the dreams return when I’m gone from these walls.

When I arrived at the summons I met the rest of the group her eminence had assembled. It is quite the disparate group. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all nice people and make good traveling companions; but it’s quite the eclectic mix she has called upon. I forget my place; her eminence knows what she is doing and is much more knowledgeable than I…and hey at least I won’t be leaving everyone I know behind at the temple! As a group we are to report to Abbess Jenaya Reni at the Temple of the Black Star in Rejksburg to help investigate the frequent occurrence of “shadow crossings” in the region around the city, whatever those are. I’m guessing that’s what some of the others of our group are for, I know it’s not what I’m useful for.

After the briefing, Brother Hrafn decided there was no sense waising time and we made ready to head out that afternoon. So my “hellos” would also have to serve as “good byes”…at least THIS time I got to say “good bye”.

It was an uneventful few nights to Donistun, but then we had a comfortable bed to rest in. Four nights after that we came across a walled way stop consisting of a single inn and stable, apparently run by and for the Fast Horse service. Dirge was able to barter lodging for us for in exchange for several of his tales. A win-win for me, as I hadn’t gotten to hear his stories in some four years of more.

Several more nights out on the road later we came across some vagabonds posing as travelers in distress…“their wagon was hanging off the road”. After a few short words with Hrafn it was clear they were not who they claimed and they lashed out at us. Fates collided…

“I must not hesitate”

My training coursed through my head and I reacted quickly and without hesitation, going straight for who appeared to be the leader. I delivered a devastating blow, exactly as I aught; then I faltered… It all happened so fast: her blood sprayed everywhere, swords rang, people swirled around every which way. I was pierced heavily through at the shoulder. Then there were the incantations from behind, spells from those that I traveled with. Hrafn bestowed a blessing from the Raven Queen upon me and my shoulder felt much better. I was pierced through a second time then again. The chaos was complete…or at least more than I was prepared for. Training is one thing, but can only prepare you so much. I was overwhelmed; my vision began to dim, then the world went black….

…when I came to…my secondwind lifting me from darkness, the battle still raged. Though it had moved slightly down the road and to the side. I shook my head and got my wits about me, “remember your training”. I quickly got to my feet, finished off the warrior I had first engaged, then rushed to Deitrich Essenbach’s aid. He was battling two of the brigands and more where coming back in. They had apparently been knocked from the road. I rushed past him and quickly dispatched one at his back. It was mop up work after that.

I think we learned a lot from our first test as a group. Most importantly, I think, we learned we haven’t worked together and for my part at least…we don’t function like those we’ve trained with.

Majestic Queen guide me…guide my vision, guide my arm, guide my purpose…

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