The Hunt is on...

Episode 106: "High"mage Ichabod's Error

Campaign Date: Helitas 9 32KR

The champions of Absalom’s Hunting Grounds, those who purged the corrupt Bath House Brothel and, in days long passed, vanquished the horrific undead, Alphonse Von Strahd, began their climb of the dying Shieldwall Mountains as the sun began it’s own ascent into the dismal heavens above. The journey was long – monotonous – a steady march unbroken by any forms of life whatsoever. This was not surprising given the terrible looming shadow of certain death only miles from the great frosted peaks…

At last, with the help of Highmage Ichabod as their guide, the lot came to a great clearing of snow and stone. The valley, tucked deep in the ominous mountains, was the very site where the Sage Council’s own Councilman, the Oni Loremaster, was defeated and bound by the ancient Lykos demigods. Magic could be felt pumping through the gnarled and twisted trees circling the white expanse. It was Eden. Here, life seemed to go on – unwary of Death looming beyond it’s very gates. An impressive herd of rare and friendly mountain-Tapir had gathered around the ruins of a once impossibly beautiful shrine said to house the Oni’s spirit.

Ichabod began the ritual immedeately. He went about casting and chanting as a mad-man, but not before dipping into his near endless supply of Essence. During this alchemically induced performance – the Tapir, as well as the Hunters, were attacked by abominations…
These creatures were as horrendous as they were awesome. The quadrupeds stood almost 15 feet tall at the shoulder and appeared as a mix between man, yeti, and basilisk. The latter’s magical qualities existed within the beast – a gaze steeped so potently in ancient magic that a single glance could render any or all who looked on useless. The paralyses affected most of the Tapir – who were engulfed by the gnashing maws of the monstrosities young. These welps attacked intelligently – flanking the clearing after their huge mother had frightened most into fleeing towards them from the other side.

The group, unhesitant in the slightest, took action immedeately. Servo, with the help of his own supply of Essence, enchanted all three beasts into an impossibly deep sleep. Not even the goring and slashing of their own flesh woke the creatures – who succamb to a barrage of attacks from the Thief, Wynndel, the Elf, Eva, and the Black Fox, Emrys. They were just about slaughtered before something terrible occured… Ichabod’s spell had gone awry – undoubtedly the result of his saturation in Essence. An overdose! Instead of summoning the Oni from Hell to the valley, the essence-crazed wizard flung those in the clearing into Hell…

Suddenly, the clearing itself began to warp and explode. Elements of all sorts, from geisers of frigid water to explostions of flame, erupted around the living. Great rifts in the earth opened to reveal a horrible chaos of elements below. The will of the heroes was stretched to their limit as they were thrown through realities – their souls bending as their bodies were bombarded with feelings and pressures near impossible to describe. They ripped through a great ocean of elements until finally emerging from the ‘bottom’ as though the sky itself were a vast sea of churning raw energies. Most were driven unconscious at this point – but those strong of will retained their senses long enough to see that they were plummeting towards a great arid plane that appeared utterly deserted. They rocketed towards this new earth. Just before impact, those unblinded by the violent transition, caught a glimpse of a great tower wreathed in flame. The ocean of elements above whirlpooled fire around the structure. Upon impact – all went black. A single after-image burned out as an ember in the darkness of their slipping minds: massive swaying shapes crawled about in the distance. They stooped and lurched, taller even than the tower. They were searching…

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Episode 105: A Whiff of Rabit's Trail

Campaign Date: Scintas 7 – Dastas 8 32KR

There was chaos in the Merchant Quarter come morning of this day. A stunt was pulled by the cunning, Wynndel Wolfram. The many ropes and nets laden with tons of Trade goods were torn from their ceiling-like fixtures after tying a portion to the back of a Double-snakebush-Rhino and having it pull forward through the throng of shoppers and shops.

The company of hunters took advantage of the wreckage: Weapons and armor, as well as some goods, were swiped from the great network of fallen nets. Fights almost broke out but were quickly quelled thanks to Rant’s affiliation and authority with Prince Elric’s Hired Swords

Supplies were gathered as day became night. The lot was welcomed and attended to in House Hearth Heart – a once formidable blacksmithing guild founded in ancient dwarven customs. The workers here employed a rare politeness with their ‘questionable’ customers. It seems a sense of brotherhood has emerged among those few who remain loyal to both Absalom’s former glory and the almost abandoned desire to live.

After meeting up with Highmage Ichabod, Rant, Eva, Abalard, Wynndel, and Servo set out northward for the Shieldwall Mountains – Death’s frontier. They reached the frigid mountain steppes, they rested at an abandoned mining thorp that Ichabod called Mulbery End after traveling for 2 days on horseback across fields and rivers and under skies choked with life. The group was attacked in the night – and would have been killed hadn’t they remained vigilant in their ‘watch’ shifts. A great mountain beast – one twisted in the likeness of a demonic feline – was their assailant. The creature’s might was unatural and terrifying – could this be the result of it’s proximity to the Great Shadow?

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Episode 104: Forbidden Dreams

Campaign Date: Lumanas 6 32KR

The dreadful violence of the place slowed only Captain Mcksnippit and the unconscious Emrys Blackfox – who had suffered grievous wounds upon encountering a massive brothel frequenter. Rant spent his time guarding Emrys and tending to his comrade’s injuries.

Elsewhere, Eva, Wynndel, Abalard, and Servo tracked down the eldritch key needed to open the door to the lair’s “main baths”. They did so only after enchanting and butchering a room of agitated Essence users and throttling a few jittery Goblinoids in the key’s chamber. Several Trap’s were avoided – one such obstacle was a magical ward placed on the key. A sleeping Essence-crazed priest was woken and tricked into activating the lethal sorcery.

The great metal door to the main baths opened into the top of an old mechanical lift. The mechanism was guarded by a lift-operating and greatsword wielding abomination. The construct was promptly paralyzed by Abalard – at which point the group entered the main bath below.

The hunters discovered Highmage Ichabod of Absalom and his company: two Eladrin women. Twins. There were not one, but two White Rabbit‘s. Or so it seemed. The creatures disappeared into the great steam of Ichabod’s essence-vapor. It stuffed the room so thickly that upon breathing one would consume an almost lethal amount. The density of the cloud lasted only seconds but it was enough to burst forcefully into the Thief and whip willingly into Servo.

Two Wynndels emerged from the steam as well as two Abalards. Insanity clawed up the throat’s of the combatants trapped within the mage’s vicious trip. The party struggled with the shape-shifters but managed to slay the priestly impostor. Upon being hacked at by the wizard and the elf, the creature’s true form poked through the chamber’s Arcane veil. Reality began to reveal itself through the impossibilities within the warped space.

The powerful magic was dispelled as Ichabod’s forbidden-fetish trip came to a crescendo. Collectively, the group quelled the eldritch energies about the chamber and shed the Essence induced existence. They had actually been standing knee deep in the bath for the past hour alongside Ichabod and his ‘torsos’. After a two nights of constant essence use – the exhausted mage has a change of heart.

After witnessing the party’s prowess in The Hunting Grounds and incredible resolve within his Den, the Highmage agrees to assist them in their effort to find the war criminal White Rabbit. Ichabod suggests locating White Rabbit‘s demon-sensei, Vulgrim. The creature has been mentioned to the Sage Council on a couple occasions – during contact with another similar being – one who serves the council when called upon. The advisor knows well of Vulgrim and certainly knows of it’s whereabouts. Vulgrim will assuredly accompany his pupil – wherever that may be…

A dark ritual must be completed in order to summon the Demon Advisor of the Sage Council. It is to be cast at a specific place – a site beyond Absalom‘s walls. A shrine perched in the great Shieldwall mountains – Death’s frontier. The ancient creature is known to few of this world but many of the next as the Oni Loremaster, the all-knowing Demon of Limbo…

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Episode 103: Bloodbath in the Brothels

Campaign Date: Gromnas 5 32KR

The champions of Absalom have made their way through the mad city and into the Puddles. The slums were as frightening as they were tragic. They tricked and fought their way through a horde of essence addicted dogs and crows – creatures who had fed on the dead of the slums. These dead had all been killed as a result of the alchemical concoction. It was from this drug-laden flesh that the dependency was born within the beasts and birds. Over 4 dozen hounds had gathered about a ruined bathhouse – once the district’s and the city’s jewels. The dogs could smell Essence – a very large amount of it. The players plunged into the ruins below where they encountered a twisted brothel and drug den. Goblins climbed about the great fat and sore-ridden body of a woman who had been chained there to serve as an object of pleasure for the entirety of her life. The merciful cleric, Abalard, as well as the Black Fox, Emrys, gave her a swift and clean death after the party decimated the drug and sex crazed goblins. Their bodies were cleaved by the enchanted glaive wielding elf, Eva. Thankfully Wynndel was present to warn the group of traps and hazards – only Captain Mcksnippit sustained minor injuries from a pit.
After narrowly escaping the clutches of an insanely ‘excited’ Ogre and his ‘maidens’ the players have come to safety within a small, silo-like, metal chamber. They proceeded to breath consciousness back into the fallen Emrys – who had been whipped across the Ogre’s bath chamber.
A ladder climbs into darkness above…

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Episode 102: Just another day in Absalom

Campaign Date: Gromnas 5 32KR

The party split at dawn. Rant, Emrys, Abalard, and Servo travelled north towards Azlanti Keep. Along the way, the good cleric had the party stop at a majestic abandoned cathedral – the center of the Ascendant Court. He was praised by a lonely friar named Timote when he channeled what little divine energy remained at the religious site through him and mended the Black Fox’s crippled arm. At Azlanti Keep, Rant underwent the Prince’s initiation ceremony. He was given the deed to the old Captain’s Quarters in Fort Tempest after receiving a vicious beating from Prince Elric himself. The lot proceeded to make their way through town until they met up with their companions along the fine streets of Absalom’s artistic and musical center, the Ivy District.

The other half of the party – Phil, Eva, and Wynndel made good progress in their search for the notorious war criminal known as White Rabbit. They bargained with a plump herb smoking merchant with a fondness for all things animalistic named Sebastian. They tricked some competitors – the Boon Brothers and ruined their stock in exchange for information from Sebastian. The group discovered that White Rabbit had tampered with black magic – the same field of study of which Absalom‘s very own Sage Council happen to be experts. They tracked down a nameless courtier of the council and followed him to a bar in the Ivy District called Rhapsodies Inn where the man drank heavily. He was one of Highmage Ichabod’s courtiers and told foolishly told the inquisitive bunch of his master’s whereabouts. The drug addicted wizard had been missing since last night and is believed to be hiding among one of the shanty brothels or drug den’s tucked in The Puddles.

There was chaos after the dialogue. Phil shoved the courtier to the ground where people gathered in awe at his shrieks. The thief took the opportunity to try and swipe some Essence from a dealer who was in the midst of selling his wares to some musicians. The swift dealer caught on, however, and a fight broke out. The group – conveniently united at this exact moment – quickly surrounded and attacked the dealer, who seemed bewildered and appalled by the group’s actions. He was formidable but was conquered by a slip of the blade through the ribs at the hand of Emrys and a considerable amount of fear and intimidation by the newly appointed Captain of the Hired Swords, Rant Mcksnippet. The captain’s presence stirred the agitated crowd – who insulted him – claiming the shoes he filled were those of a good captain. They noticed his helm – which was worn by the late Captain Darius The Kind. The helm had been marked by the prince’s blood. It was as a symbol – Absalom’s previous compassionate ways had been twisted by fear and bloodshed… The dealer was quick to leave with his life only after relieving himself of almost a pound of Essence.

Night has fallen. It is cold and snowing despite it being mid-summer. Our heroes, standing tall with new-found power, title, and friends, march united through the bustling city south towards the slums known as The Puddles where they intend to find the insane Highmage Ichabod and become one step closer to White Rabbit

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Episode 101: The Prince's Pleasure

Campaign Date: Kilas 4 32 KR

The feeble Prince Elric puts on a bloodbath at the Hunting Grounds, Absalom’s gladiatorial arena. The heroes, some slaves forced to fight for their freedom, some simply contenders for glory, do battle against a grotesque, fleshy creature with seven legs. None too soon, a nameless wizard calls upon his patron in a display of power like nothing seen in Absalom before, rending the heavens and bringing swift and ultimate death to the beast. Prince Elric is pleased and offers the champions of the combat a place in his personal guard.

Notes: Of the champions, a talented mercenary by the name of Phil is counted, and a cutpurse named Rant. Phil, much to the surprise of all, gives Eva the elf one hundred gold pieces to free an elven slave girl. The ex-minstrel Emrys comes out of the battle with little more than his freedom, one of his arms completely destroyed. With only some of the heroes swearing fealty to the corrupt prince, it is uncertain in which direction the party will move forward.

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Hide Nor Hair of White Rabbit

The tiefling slumps down in the rickety wooden chair of his room at the Fat Rat Inn. Various scattered parchments and wells of ink adorn a small writing table, along with a few rare and precious plants in clay pots. Reaching over, Sacrifice opens the window shutters.

“There, a little light for you. It’s only the moon, but her shine is better than nothing.”

He unfurls a discarded scroll and weights both ends before unstopping a bottle of ink and dipping his quill.

These past weeks have been fruitless — my search for the one called White Rabbit is in vain. Everyone seems to know of her, yet none can say where she is or what she is doing. I have run out of leads. I will start looking for other work, perhaps offer my knowledge in enhancing the city gardens. It might prove a relaxing reprieve while I struggle to find a path to White Rabbit. At this point, I am more curious about the mystery surrounding her than in finding and killing her.

Sacrifice reaches up to run his gnarled fingers along the broken ridge of his left horn, as he often does when agitated.

Perhaps she knows of the Children of Light. Time will tell. I pray our meeting will come soon.

He discards his tattered brown cloak and kicks off his soft leather boots, the heels completely worn down on them. Sighing, the tiefling lies back on the small cot and listens to the night sounds of the dockside that the breeze carries through his window. As he watches the stars, he gets the feeling that they are winking at him, knowingly, as if they desperately wish to reveal some great secret — perhaps the nature of the universe — but are bidden only to tease and hint. And just as he begins to comprehend the Great Truth, and the nature of everything unfolds in his mind, he drifts off to sleep, and the stars titter with childish laughter at the simple mortal…

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Arriving In Absalom
A tiefling druid stops for a rest...

“After traveling for some weeks, I have stumbled upon a bustling port city known as Absalom. I think I’ll take a bit of rest at an inn down by the docks. It doesn’t seem too high end; hopefully it won’t be busy. What’s this?”

The tiefling spots a poster pinned to the siding of the old tavern with a dagger.

WANTED: White Rabbit. Large reward.

“Hm, I could use some more coin in these merciless cities. It seems to be the only way to accomplish anything. Now, to find out if she’s actually done anything worth dying for.”

Sacrifice, tiefling druid.

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