The Wail of the Banshee

The Anvil; The Surprise From Below; Sir Cyrus arrives from Dublin; Aoife’s Tomb
Sessions 7-11 (?)

The party returned Nora to her family and, satisfied that Fintan Walsh probably had nothing to do with the abduction, returned to The Anvil to try to rescue little William.

Striking the door with Geeta Bonebreaker’s hammer, the  group gained entrance to the entryway, and discovered a small group of kobolds ordering slaves to collect shards of obsidian. The party engaged and quickly defeated the kobolds. There were two slaves:  a gnome who went by the name of Bob, and a dwarf that had been shaved and seemed quite deranged. The dwarf fled, but Bob agreed to help the party, warning them of the “ghost” within the “maze.” The hard part, Bob told them, wasn’t getting through the maze, it was avoiding the ghost.

The party went into the next chamber, which contained an open pool of what appeared to be magma. There was a large treasure chest, and, oh, wait, that’s not a chest, it’s a mimic. Ginnvar became stuck to the mimic, and someone used mage hand to throw a handful of lava onto the back of Cocidius’ neck.

The party entered the maze, and soon found the “ghost:” a floating set of armor with a glimmering sword. A portcullis dropped behind the group, trapping them in a single-file line. Cadoc rushed forward to engage and got a surprise, being engulfed by a gelatinous cube. The party managed to defeat the cube and recovered a mithril shirt and an enchanted blade that sheds light.

Traveling further, the group found the sleeping chambers, infested with stirges. Cocidius set off a trap, and shard of obsidian shot across the room.

The stirges having been defeated, the party entered the next chamber, a domed chamber containing a huge obelisk which had been altered to replace references to Moradin with some obscure deity of toil. The chamber was trapped, and the central spire was magnetized – when the trap was triggered, another door in the chamber was yanked open, releasing two vargouilles. These hideous beasts rushed to attack, one infecting Arthur with the vile disease that spawns them. Gunnvar crushed the first; when the second was killed Cocidius was covered in vargouille goo.

The party traveled deeper into the monastery, and found the chambers of the abbot. A large anvil was placed in the center of the room, with a huge hammer above it. On the anvil were the skeletal remains of a dwarf, fragments of whose shattered skull littered the room. The party located the journal of the abbot and discovered that this was his body. The group learned that the dwarves dug too deep, as usual, and this time they located a bell. One of the brothers rang the bell; those who heard the peal either converted to the worship of Droskar (an evil deity of toil and labor) or were turned to stone.

Traveling into a natural cavern that appeared to be the excavation site, the party triggered a number of traps, and found a room that contained a large bell, surrounded by a number of what appeared to be statues of dwarves. A ritual seemed to be underway in the next room, and the party came under fire from the kobolds protecting their chief and shaman. Dispatching the kobolds, the party freed young William from the cage he was in. Recalling the story of Sigurd becoming impenetrable after bathing in dragon blood, Arthur quickly bathed himself in the blood of the “dragon king,’ and his natural armor increased. Arthur also searched the room and discovered a secret compartment in the floor. In this area, a shield was hidden. The shield was painted white, and bore a red cross that looked like it might have been smeared blood. The shield sounded remarkably like the shield of King Evelach.

The threat finally abated, the party examined the bell and determined that the bell could be destroyed by getting it wet. Arthur created water, and the bell was destroyed. The monks present were restored to flesh. The senior brother noted that while the faith of Droskar required “purification,’ and that those who had fallen under his spell felt that they had failed to purify themselves (leading to their own destruction), it was the party who had purified the Anvil. Brother Snorri dubbed the party “The Nine Hammers who Purified the Anvil.” Snorri and the surviving brothers feasted the group, healed them, and removed all curses.

The party returned home to Carrickmines and headed to the inn. A loud commotion quickly got their attention. The castle was under attack, from within the walls. The party arrived to see Sir Brendan had fallen, and just as they cleared the castle gate, Rahim fell. The attackers were fully covered, head to toe, in black leather. The party engaged and defeated the attackers (noticing that many of them had been defeated by Brendan and Rahim). The last of the attackers, to prevent capture, committed suicide, and upon his death, a green pulse could be seen about the head and neck of each of the 20 or so fallen bodies, making sure there were no survivors. Rushing to heal Rahim, it was discovered that he was actually a woman in disguise. She revealed that she and Brendan had fallen in love in the Holy Land, but that since their love was forbidden, she had been living and traveling under disguise. She swore the group to secrecy. Turing their attention to the bodies of the fallen, the party learned that they had been attacked by drow.

The group was able to determine that the attack had come through the oubliette, and down they went. They soon found themselves in a very large cave, partially lit by bioluminescent fungus. It must have been hundreds of feet across. Searching, the team found a small group of tents and engaged another group of drow. In the ensuing battle, one of the drow blew a horn, and an umber hulk joined the fray. They managed to charm one of these attackers, and learned that this group had been searching the castle because word had spread of the object of the King of Shadows’ search. They did not seem to know exactly what they were looking for, but had been willing to die to find it.

The group decided to do a quick reconnoiter to try to determine where the drow had come from, and the noticed a group of grey dwarves with a pair of ox-drawn wagons traveling through the cavern. Closer inspection showed that the wagons were carrying humanoids in cages. The party engaged the slavers in conversation. Since two of the duergar were speaking to one another in an unknown language, Cadoc tried to use magic to understand them. They took the casting as an act of aggression, and combat ensued, with the entire party taking a fireball to the face. The group managed to bring down most of the duergar, but seeing that they were about to be destroyed, four of the duergar used a scroll to teleport away (with a fairly large chest of loot). As the duergar poofed out, they promised to see the group “at their castle.”

The group freed the slaves:
A married pair of human butchers named Skella and Atha (who suggested butchering the oxen);
A human boy of around 16 named Matias, who seemed to be in shock;
A human woman named Margaret;
A dwarf named Ingun, who is a jeweler by trade;
A pair of non-evil drow, followers of Eilistraee. A female (Cytheria, who is a weaver) and a male named Eleathar.

The next morning, word arrived from Dublin. Sir Cyrus Greenshield, known to Sir Brendan, arrived with a dozen soldiers to reinforce the Castle. Cyrus said that Trim Castle hadn’t given its orders yet, but as it stood, Sir Brendan was in command. Cyrus had orders for the group. They were to OBTAIN A BOAT and SAIL DOWNRIVER. A group of Norse longboats had sailed up the Dargle, right past Dublin, and disappeared into the Wyldewode. The group was to go in the other way and see if they could determine what these Norsemen were up to. Naturally, the group decided to go by horseback. So as they traveled down the south bank of the river, they saw the boats ashore on the north bank. A trio of Norns stood on a rise, watching. There was a heavy fog in the area, and it was unnaturally quiet. The air seemed almost to devour sound. Grimple pointed out the body of an enormous, naked, fallen Norse warrior – possibly a berserker with giant blood (and other giant things).

The party managed to cross the river without killing themselves, and found four empty longboats next to a pair of ancient standing stones carved in Oghma script. The path ahead led to the tomb of Aoife Strongbow, and an ancient pact guaranteed that the path was stable. The group headed down the oath, and soon found the tomb. They went inside and found it was empty. It seemed that something had tried to open the door from the outside, but the door had been blown open from within.

Puzzled, the group set out to return. But as they stepped into the mist again, they noticed that they could taste copper. The mist was gaining a reddish tint, as if filled with blood. And ancient, withered and blacked fey creature stepped up on top of the tomb and began to whirl a bullroar around. Several Norse bodies suddenly stood up, but the flesh sloughed off the bones. The skeletons attacked.

When the party defeated the fey creature, a strange thing happened. There was a shock wave that knocked everyone prone, and the ancient energy that was released seemed to awaken something within each member of the party. It was the moment of ascension, when the party members gained their first Mythic Tier.

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The Spit Roast, the Drunken Giant, and the Dragon King
Sessions 4-6

Escaping the River Dargle. The session began with Arthur, Cadoch, Gunnvor, Kayleigh, and Cocidius in the River. The group began to swim to shore and found that was easier said than done. Gunnvor and Kayleigh went under water. Kayleigh saw something terrible under there, but that vision was not confirmed by anyone else. Arthur summoned a celestial porpoise to assist, and the party finally made it to shore. Gunnvor heard a voice in his head, but he resisted its command. He didn’t mention this to anyone, though.

The party scurried around to the gate of the northern section of the castle. The wooden gate had been completely smashed for some time. Inside the castle, the party could see Aeronna and Fisk tied to a spit above a large bonfire. They were being turned by two goblins. The party moved in to attack the goblins and quickly learned that there were more than two of them in the castle. The leader was very large and very tough. For some reason, Gunnvor thought it would be a great idea to kick a flaming log at the leader, but that log actually hit Fisk in the face. Arthur dealt the killing blow with his amazing, awesome sword. One goblin was left alive (unconscious due to Cocidius’ Color Spray). The party interrogate the goblin and learned that a seer in the Wyldewode had learned that there was something in the castle that the King of Shadows wanted; the goblin said they didn’t know what it was and were hoping they’d know when they saw it. Völva identified the Shadow King as Oberon, Lord of the Seelie Court. The goblin finally escaped and was killed – one of Kayleigh's arrows between the shoulder blades.

In the lull after the battle, a troop of elves could be seen passing near the edge of the forest. Gentle lights could be seen and ethereal music was heard. They passed slowly and stately.

Meanwhile, for some reason, Gunnvor became convinced that there was a shiny sword just sitting there unattended in the river, so of course, he decided to go get it. He was struck by a tentacle. Everything seemed fine for a few moments, until he began to have difficulty breathing, and his skin began to change to a slimy, transparent mass. Unsure how to cure Gunnvor, Kayleigh rode out to ask the elves for help. Generally, they seemed uninterested, but one rode forward and offered to help if she paid a price: her ability to see the color red. Kayleigh reluctantly agreed. The elf rode quickly to the castle, the hooves of his horse seeming to hover above the surface of the earth. He cured Gunnvor, and then reached up to touch Kayleigh’s eyes with his thumbs. Seeming puzzled, he hesitated, and it was clear that something was preventing him – whether it was his own knowledge, or some outside force was not clear. He rode away without explanation.

The party rested for the night, Cadoch sleeping outside the castle. When he woke, a hideous little beast that looked like a bald, mangy, upright opossum was sleeping next to him. The gremlin, Grimple, fetched some young scamels from the rock for his new friend.

The group set out for the Anvil the next morning. The “road” skirted the edge of the forest. Suddenly the group noticed a loud crash and heavy footsteps coming toward them. A hill giant staggered out of the wood and accused them of stealing his wedding ring. Wisely choosing diplomacy rather than combat, the group learned that the giant, Grunk, had been drinking, that the ring was lost, and that Grunk was going to be in big trouble with his wife is he returned home without it. The group agreed to leave the road and venture into the enchanted wood to help the giant and avoid a fight. They reached a cave where the giant had been drinking, and noticed a harpy asleep in a nearby tree, wearing a crown. Fisk used mage hand to lift the crown and return it to Grunk – the crown, of course, was the wedding ring. When the harpy woke, she attacked Grunk, and the two smashed off into the forest together. While the party looked around the cave to see whether they could locate any shiny clues, Arthur and Aeronna decided to venture off into the Wyldewode, and were promptly lost.

Grimple offered to go look for the two lost party members, but after an hour, he returned alone. Cadoch noticed that the cave had altered, so he threw a rock into the cave. The rock landed in a group of shriekers, which began to howl, awakening and enraging an owlbear sleeping inside the cave. The owlbear burst forth and attacked Granuaille. The party began to scatter, and were on the verge of getting separated in the forest, when Cadoch stepped forward and cast Sanctuary on himself. The owlbear attampted to attack Cadoch, and seemed very puzzled by his inability to follow through. Cadoch invoked the names of the saints to strike fear into the Owlbear’s heart, and the beast fled back into the cave.

Völva knelt down and began to commune with the forest. Suddenly, she stood up and pulled back the fronds of a nearby wide-leafed bush to reveal Aeronna and Arthur, who looked as though they’d been gone for days. Arthur’s beard had grown considerably, and Aeronna’s armor had moss growing out of it.

The party set off for the Anvil again but didn’t make it before nightfall. On watch, Kayleigh heard a sound of struggle, and stepped out of the light to investigate. She found the body of a decaying Norseman, killed by a blow to the head. The struggle was coming from within a nearby sack. Upon opening the sack, Kayleigh was attacked by an animated cup. She called out and the others rushed to help. Aeronna managed to grab the cup and they returned it to the bag.

At daybreak, the group set out and finally reached the Anvil. The monastery was dug into the side of the small mountain, a foothill of a larger mountain range. The large double doors of hammered metal were joined together by a golden metal circle inscribed with dwarvish. Cadoch read the passage, which said that the doors could be opened if one proved their worth by striking with the hammer of a dwarvish master smith. The group noticed smallish lizard footprints, which matched the description Grimple gave of the creatures he’d seen coming in and out. The group guessed that it might be kobolds and decided to set an ambush.

They didn’t have to wait too long. Three kobolds, two of which struggled under a heavy burden, soon approached. As they stepped into the clearing before the doors, they saw a prone figure next to a heavy iron cup. As they stepped forward and spoke, the cup attacked one of the kobolds. In the ensuing combat, one of the kobolds was captured, and the bundle was revealed to be little Nora Walsh, the five-year-old daughter of the douche landlord, Fintan Walsh. The party was skeptical about his motivation at first, but determined that he probably didn’t have anything to do with the abduction – in fact, another child, William, had also been abducted the night before. The group learned from the captured kobold that they children had been taken to be sacrificed to the “Dragon King.”

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The Work Begins
Session 3

Gunnvar began supervising the work on the privies. Michael and Padraig, the two young Walsh boys, were supervising the work (which basically means standing around with no shirts on, posing). Gunnvar took an immediate dislike to them, but when a flask of whisky was produced, he began to change his mind.

Rosie, a nondescript young woman who works at the Plough and Stars, delivered food to the sick.

Cocidius found a masterwork dagger hidden in one of the cots in the barracks. Cadóc found a ring between the floorboards. The cots were flea-infested, so they burned the mattresses. [The remainder of the outbuildings have not been searched.]

Determining that repairing the wall would require stonemasons, the group set out to inquire of the smith, Geeta Bonebreaker, if she knew of any dwarves who might be interested in taking on the work. Along the way, they met two fishermen, Aki and Olvir, who expressed dismay over seeing a strange creature in the water the night before. Aki and Olvir are two decidedly unwarlike Norse men, aged around mid-30s and mid-40s, respectively. Olvir wears an eyepatch. Cadóc mended their nets by magical means, and urged them not to unleash any harpoons on the creature.

The group passed by the Walsh house, where they met Maiara Walsh, Fintan’s young, beautiful wife, and their young daughter, Nora. Cadóc cast light on Gunnvar’s head and got a laugh from the little girl.

Geeta explained that there is a Dwarven monastery to the North, called the Anvil of Moradin (or simply, The Anvil). She told the party that the monks used to trade with the village, but there had been no contact with them for months, and it was thought that they had been killed or fallen under the sway of some dark god.

The anguished cry of some animal caught the party’s attention. A small troll had killed a sheep and was carrying it back to the Wyldwoode. The troll turned toward the party and appeared hostile, roaring and beating its chest. Gunnvar stood on his horse’s back and roared back. The troll was so terrified that it left the sheep behind and fled. Cadóc recalled that the Wyldwode was said to be teeming with fey creatures, and that most people who went into the wood never returned. Kayleigh urged the group not to pursue the trolls, because there were likely to be more of them. Gunnvar took the sheep to the Plough and Stars to be cooked. Old Jack, the town drunk, challenged Gunnvar to gamble.

The group decided to cross the river and see if they could locate Arthur or any of the others. They carefully tied themselves together before crossing the bridge. As they made it to the deepest part of the river, Cocidius and Kayleigh both slipped. Gunnvar strained to catch them. Cadóc attempted to assist, but ended up throwing himself off balance, and the entire group fell to the river below.

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Meeting the locals
Session 2

[There was a bit of action in this session that not everyone knows about. I tried to recap everything that I think is common knowledge.]

Finally able to catch their breath after the Battle of Bloody Bank, the party turned their attention to the bodies on the field. There were a few survivors, who were brought into the castle. Then the party turned their attention to burning the bodies of the fallen to prevent more ghouls from popping up.

Fisk stole a goat from one of the locals. Surely there will bo no consequences from that. He then went into the Keep to try to find a place to sleep, and crept into the basement. Unfortunately, there were a couple of giant cockroaches in there who took the opportunity to try to eat Fisk. Gonnvar and Fisk drank most of the last pony keg of ale in the castle's larder.

Arthur investigated the barracks and armory and discovered an abandoned, gleaming sword. After picking it up, he learned that it was left behind because it was cursed. [Note; not all of these buildings have been investigated, much less thoroughly searched (I should not have said that).]

Early in the morning, those in the courtyard noticed that a group of local civilians were approaching the South Gate. Led by Fintan Walsh, the de facto mayor, this group wished to learn the intentions of the new denizens of the castle. Walsh assured the party that while the locals had financial relationships with the O'Byrnes, they in no way supported their war efforts against the new occupants. Walsh agreed to provide 10 laborers to assist in the restoration of the castle, in exchange for 500 g.p. from Arthur. The other members of the welcoming committee included Geeta Bonebreaker (a Dwarven Smith) and Leonor Bracegirdle (the owner of the Plough and Stars, an inn near the castle gate. After consultation with Sir Brendan, the party asked Geeta to take a look at the castle portcullis. Leonor agreed to provide some food for the injured soldiers.

During the night, two of the survivors died. One of the other was brought back to full health and was sent to Diublinn with a message.

Some of the group decided to cross the river and explore the smaller section on the other half of the River Dargle. Arthur decided to go across the bridge. The session ended with a large splash, as he fell into the river below.

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The Battle of Bloody Bank
Session 1

The call went out in the vicinity of Diublinn. The Lord Mayor, Sir John Drake, had word that Clan O'Byrne was planning to attack the city. Drake has a reputation of fairness and generosity toward all of the people of the city, so when Drake spread word that he was assembling a force to meet the O'Byrne Clan, many responded. The O'Byrnes and their allies were met at Dusk, near Castle Carrickmines, and a large battle ensued. The Irish force was routed, and began to flee. The majority of the English force pursued them. 

Drake's brother, Sir Brendan, ordered those within earshot (the party) to follow him into the castle. As the group began to catch their breath and tend to their various wounds, each member of the group felt an irresistible urge to gather in the bailey. They were met there by a rare and shocking sight.

The clouds above them parted, and as the moon broke through the clouds, the party realized that a newcomer had appeared amongst them. The figure was striking, but there was something else – a feeling of destiny, of connecting with something eternal and yet final – that made the hair stand up on the back of their necks. She stood around nine feet tall and appeared extremely delicate and slender, yet there was an enormous power beyond her apparent frailty. She wore a long, rough, brown, fur-lined leather robe, with a large pair of mithral shears tucked in the belt. Her long black hair fell below her waist. She pulled a number of threads from a skein at her side and began to weave them together. With a piercing gaze, she gazed into the souls of each person present, and uttered the following words:

Whether you have come by choice or chase,

You are bound together and to this place.

Whether you choose to stay or fly

If this castle falls, that day shall you die.

But worse than this you may live to see.

Across the water shall come three,

Given by father at legacy’s cost

To take revenge for three that were lost.

A mother wept at three sons’ taking,

And now she seeks three ways of unmaking.

The time of her return is nigh

When a streak of fire touches sky.

Once she finished speaking, she slowly faded away. One of the group, a Norse witch, spoke up. “This creature was a Norn,” she said, “a powerful fey creature. They are born at the leveling of a great curse.”

Just then, the priest Arthur heard screams of pain beyond the castle walls. Several of the group rushed up onto the ramparts, and saw several humanoid figures moving among the fallen on the field. Closer observation revealed ghouls feeding on the dead and near-dead.

The two warriors ran into combat with reckless abandon and were quickly surrounded by the ghouls. The fey-blooded Duskblade, Cocidius, was paralyzed by a ghoul’s bite and fell in battle. Arthur rushed to assist and was also paralyzed. Völve, the witch, wove a tapestry of blessings and curses to aid her allies. Fisk used his bardic magic to create a patch of slick soil beneath some of the ghouls, who fell prone. Granuile fired several magic missiles at one of the more powerful ghouls. Eventually, the warrior Gunnvor destroyed the last of the undead creatures.

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