"Welcome to our House-Hole!"
In which our party mingled with the Willow Men

Molly returned from her scouting and reunited with the party. The narrow passageway leads into the mine, with only room for a single person at a time. The Iron Guard established a sentry at the entrance of the mine, as Daerik led the party into its depths. After traversing for single file into the path for a ways, Frank saw something in the distance and alerted the party. Molly crowdsurfed to the front of the line in order to sneak on the mysterious figure. “There’s someone here!” Molly stage-whispered back. Walker snuffed his torch and snuck up ahead to the figure. Frank conjured up the sound of a frog’s croak to cover Walker’s sneaking toward him. A little boy poked his head out, looking for the frog. He spied Walker and froze. Walker silently grappled this boy, covering his mouth to prevent him from screaming. Walker calmed the boy, named Kit, and conversed with him in hushed tones. Kit shared with them about life in their little house-hole. The party convinced Kit to lead them deeper into the cave. The cave opened into a large cavern, bustling with families cooking over fires and running in and out of wooden shacks. Kit led Raena, Frank, Daerik, and Tabitha to his family’s shack, while Molly broke off to scout and Fergus and Walker left to search for some sort of bar to nurse their hangovers.

Molly listened in as a couple argued. The man expressed his desire to work his way up into Ronny’s inner circle, so that he can better provide for his family and move them back out of the cave. Molly initiated a conversation with the couple, asking for directions to Ronny the Bear. The man told her about how high taxes and droughts had forced him from his farm and into the care of the Willow Men. He told her about some mysterious lights from deeper in the cave.

Raena, Frank, Daerik, and Tabitha briefly talk to Kit’s mother before determining they needed to go deeper into the mine.

Fergus and Walker found a make-shift bar in the center of the camp. Two old, long-bearded men offer to play a game of Oye with Fergus and Walker. Rather than test the fate with dice, the two walked in and grabbed a drink at the bar.

The party regrouped outside the bar and shared what they had learned before determining to go deeper. Uniformed and confident, they planned to bluff their way deeper into the mine. Tabitha pulled out her ledger to look the part. As they attempt to bluff their way in, one of the guards noticed the Iron Guard sigil on the ledger. He stared at it for a long time, but decided to let them continue anyway. They continued into the darkness.

The pathway split into a T, and the party took the right path. The pathway opened into a cavern with a deep pool of water in the center. A bridge had once crossed the pool, but had rotten away. Raena cast some magic lights into the pool’s center, illuminating something large and slithery within. The party took a quick U-turn to return to the left path.

They entered a cavern room with three wooden doors. A large padlock held one close. Molly dashed toward a second door, and immediately underneath her, triggered a switch in the tile floor. Molly froze, keeping the tile depressed. Walker noticed that across the way, the other door had a slew of arrows pointing at where Molly stood, ready to spring. Daerik noticed similar trap tiles in front of each of the other doors. The party turtled behind shields as Molly ducked and rolled off the trap tile and into the doorway. The party followed Molly into the left door. As they ascended deeper, the masonry became more intricate and Fergus identified it as dwarven work – a throne room of an ancient dwarf noble. Fergus walked into the center of the room, and gets caught by a noose on the group that pulls him up into the air. A door burst open, and seven Willow Men ran out, led by a dwarf. Fergus rained sacred flame down on the dwarf, knocking him unconscious. Daerik clocked out a Willow Man with the broadside of his sword, while Frank knocked one out with his quarterstaff. Fergus dropped another Willow Man while still suspended from the ceiling. Molly killed one with an ill-placed arrow and Tabitha dropped the last Willow Man.

The party makes it to the Stonehold Mines

As they party approached the Willow Men’s tollbooth, Molly and a group of the Iron Guard broke off from the group to scout the woods ahead. The rest of the party, plus Tabitha and two Iron Guard, continued on to the tollbooth. Two women and a lady dwarf sat around a table. Behind them, a giant redwood blocked the road. The path continued through a tunnel bore into the massive trunk, and deer antlers and intricate carvings adorned the tree’s ancient bark. Two Willow Men, armed with crossbows, stood to either side of the tree, while a hulking figure with a double handed battle axe blocked the way into the tree. From the redwood’s branches, a Halfling trained his crossbow down on the party. The Halfling extolled the virtues of the Willow Men band held for the common man, and Frank, bonding over his farming background, managed to talk his way into free passage past the toll. The rest of the party, however, needed more convincing. Raena challenged Oya, the lady dwarf, to the game of dice they were playing: gambling a conjured block of chocolate against free passage for the rest of the party. After winning best four out of nine, Raena earned passage for the party.

Continuing down the path, the party made it to the opening of the mine. Six Willow Men guarded the entrance to the mine, and as the party discussed the best way to sneak up on them, a sentry noted their presence. Running up the hill after them, he alerted the other Willow Men. Frank cast entangle on the group, ensnaring three of them. With the three entangled, the party made short work of the Willow Men. Walker shot two through the eye. Raena incinerated another with fire. Daerik stabbed one in the stomach. Soon, only a severely intoxicated man and a half-orc remained, both entangled in the vines. Frank stared into the eyes of the entangled half-orc and shared a moment – one that connected him to his orcish heritage, one that awoke deep memories from his childhood, and one that came to an abrupt halt as Daerik sprinted down the hill and lobbed off the half-orc’s head. A distraught Frank deducted five friendship points from Daerik as Fergus began to interrogate the remaining Willow Man. Through his slurred speech, the party gained a bit more information on Ronny, Billy, and the twenty or so Willow Men up to mysterious activity in the mine. Satisfied with his interrogation, Fergus knocked him unconscious.

They emptied the Willow Men’s inventories and donned their willow-branch capes before entering the mine. After a short walk into the darkness of the mine, they encountered a deep pit into the earth, with faint torchlight flickering from the bottom.

On the Road to Brekton, Part 2
In which our party earns all the friendship points

The party continued following the road to Brekton over several days, as gulch gave way to plains and finally thick coniferous woods. Frank continued to discuss his quest to discover his family, dutifully noting Walker’s suggestion that his parentage could have involved a three-fourths and a one-fourth orc pairing. By this point, Frank’s constant prattling about his family has nearly worn Fergus’s last nerve – but before the dwarf could smite the half-orc, a single woman on a horseback galloped up the road to reach them. Tabitha, of the Iron Guard, introduced herself with an exchange of the Iron Guard handshake with Daerik. She led them down a path off the main world to meet up with Lord Brekton.

As they walked down the path, the horses became skittish, and Raena met up with the party on the trail. As she eyed up the motley party before her, an arrow whizzed past, clipping Tabitha’s armor. Suddenly, a band of Willow Men emerged from the woods. A second arrow embedded itself deep into Raena’s thigh, dropping her to the ground in pain. She launched a firebolt back, setting some nearby evergreens ablaze. Frank cast thornwhip on one, wrapping a thorny vine around his neck and dragging him into the clearing. As he pulled him past Molly, she swung her sword and cleaved the Willow Man’s head. Walker sliced a second man across the chest, and Daerik clocked a third in the head with the broadside of his sword, crumpling his body to the ground; from across the clearing, Fergus incinerated his body with holy flame. Molly used his fists to knock the last Willow Man unconscious. Frank attempted to put out the flaming trees, only to have Fergus stymie that attempt (losing Fergus one-half of a friendship point). Daerik smothered the flames with his shield (gaining him one-half of a friendship point).

Tabitha tied the surviving Willow Man to a tree and splashed water in his face to wake him up. The orc, Morc Morcmanson, explained that before he joined the Willow Man to help the little guys, he led the life of a simple farmer. In a round of good cop/bad cop interrogations, Daerik and Frank extracted from Morc the location of Ronny the Bear’s hideout in the mines, and the paths to get there. Frank then chattered away with Morc in broken orcish to learn more about his heritage. Morc explained to Frank that he most likely descended from the Gray Orcs. After the interrogation, the party argued over whether to kill Morc or let him live. During the ensuing debate, Morc snuck off and sprinted away down the path.

Then, Lord Brekton and his retinue of Iron Guard arrived. Ever the consummate politician, Lord Brekton flattered the party, and recruited them to rid his city of Ronny the Bear and his bandits. The Lord brought them back to Brekton, where he provided for them with only the highest-class of lodgings. Bessie feasted on lemon-grass timothy hay and cucumber water in a posh stable, while the rest of the party proceeded to get drunk in a pompous cocktail lounge. Fergus, already several mugs of whiskey in, began to project his racism on others, while Walker drunkenly hit on Lily, the Halfling barmaid (“Say, what’s a Halfling like you doing in a bar like this?”). The party’s slurred revelry offended the sensibilities of the pretentious patrons, all drinking classy martinis of blue snuff on their way through a city-wide juice cleanse. By the end of the night, only the party and Lily remained. Frank awarded all present three friendship points before they created a pillow fort and passed out on the lounge floor for the night.

The next day, the party gathered and made their way down the path toward the mines and Ronny’s bandits. Molly led at the fore while Fergus and Walker, nursing hangovers, fell to the rear. In the distance, they could spy a wooden toll bridge, manned by several of the Willow Men.

On the Road to Brekton, Part 1
In which our heroes get into tent shenanigans and kill a wolf

In the carnival of Tent City, Molly found herself entered into an archery contest – and Daerik and Frank found themselves betting heavily on her to win that contest.

Meanwhile, Walker caught up with the suspicious man and discovered a fellow traveler in the realm of the culinary arts. Raoulfoph, however, lacked Walker’s skills in the kitchen, and had displeased his master. Walker resolved to assist him, teaching him the art of creating the perfect fried potato.

Determined to swing the archery contest in Molly’s favor, Frank slyly lit the arrow of Jeremy Hoodrobin, the favored archer, on fire with a well-timed cantrip. Despite this, Hoodrobin managed to recover on his next two shots for the victory, and an angry Frank lit his hat aflame. The judges, however, impressed with Molly’s archery acumen, declared her an honorary second. Molly, not content with an honorary second, challenged Hoodrobin to a face-off to determine the true winner.

Agreeing to this challenge, Hoodrobin suffered through both the attempts of Frank and Fergus to get into his head through distracting cantrips, and Molly landed a clear bull’s eye for the win. Daerik and Frank collected their winnings and shared their newfound wealth with Molly – Daerik gifting her fifty gold pieces and Frank gifting fifty gold pieces and one copper piece. Frank’s obvious one-upmanship caught him the stinkeye from Daerik, which in turn caused Frank to subtract one-half a friendship point from his secret chart of friendship.

All the while, Walker and Raoulfoph had been cooking up a storm in the food tent. Walker had just put the finishing touches on a beautiful ham bouquet and shared it with the rest of the party to celebrate Molly’s victory over Hoodrobin. The party then spend the night in tent city.

The next day, they continued on the road to Brekton, following it into the narrow gulch of a dry riverbed. Hearing a noise ahead, Fergus warned the party and they readied themselves for trouble. A Bugbear, still bearing the open wounds of a recent battled, trudged past them headed in the opposite direction, warning them they did not want to continue down the path. Nevertheless, the party continued onward until the came to another portal, completely blocking their progress.

After a few false-starts, Daerik attempted to toss a roped javelin through the portal – only to have a direwolf emerge from the portal and intercept the javelin in the shoulder. The party battled the angered beast. Daerik and Walker dashed to the fore to take it out with sword and shield. Molly climbed to the top of the cart to sling arrows from the high ground, while Frank used thorn whips and slings to assault the direwolf from a distance. Fergus called down the blessing of his god on the party, boosting their attacks.

The direwolf landed a mighty blow on Daerik, falling upon his shield and viciously slashing the half-elf, who fell to the ground. Determined to save her compatriot, Molly landed an impressive shot, embedding an arrow into the direwolf’s left eye. As the creature reared back in pain, Walker took advantage and drove a sword through it’s throat, ending the beast’s life. Behind where the direwolf fell, Fergus noticed an odd orange rock, which he picked up and added to his pack. Tending to their wounds, the party rested for the night, determined to continue their journey to Brekton in the morning.

In Search of Bessie
In which three heroes search for a missing cow

As part of Captain Archibald Tramley‘s personal retinue, Daerik patrolled the grounds of Warwick’s Manor when the bellows of a distraught half-orc brought him to the stables.

A panicked Frans “Frank” Boer, Jr. could not find his beloved bovine Bessie. While Frank frantically searched the courtyard, Daerik met with his captain to secure leave from his evening rounds and assist the half-orc in his search for the missing cow. Walker Texas, who had entered the courtyard to wash his cookware at an outdoor spigot, joined the two. The party of three exited the manor’s grounds, following a curious trail of cow prints, mysterious tracks, and scorched earth.

Frank called down a flock of birds to aid in his quest to find Bessie. After exchanging some twitters and whistles, a blue jay waddled forward, carrying in his arms a fire-scorched baby robin. Frank healed the bird as best he could, and learned from him that something big, something black, and something the robin had never seen before had taken Bessie out of the stables.

Frank tucked the robin, now named Lil Frank, safely into his kit before dashing after the tracks, with Daerik and Walker reluctantly in tow. He stopped at a farm, where they interrogated a man and his two cows (named Porkchop 1, or Buttermilk, and Porkchop 2). The farmer told the party that something in the woods had spooked the cows in an unusual manner, and with that information, Frank rushed down the path into the forest.

As the trail went deeper into the forest, the foliage nearly enclosed the sky overhead. Suddenly, a goblin, maimed and bleeding, dropped down from trees and onto the trail. Daerik, fluent in the speech of goblins, tended to his wounds as the goblin told him of a terrible creature who had attacked him and his brothers. He pointed the party deeper in the woods before he fled in the opposite direction.

The dense brush opened up into a clearing, where the party saw three goblins locked in battle with a hideous aberration of a beast. Black, tentacled, clawed, with a gelatinous body and cruel spikes poking off its back, the aberration already bore the wounds of the goblins’ arrows. Behind the beast, Bessie sat, chewing her cud. Behind Bessie, a shimmering purple-black portal the led, apparently, to another dimension.

The heroes lobbed slings, arrows, and javelins at the aberration, as the goblins continued to strike with their own weapons. Wounded, the beast wrapped a tentacle around Bessie and began to retreat toward the portal. Daerik and Frank dashed up to the beast and grappled with its tentacle as Walker slew arrows from a distance. Daerik lobbed off the tentacle with his sword, as Frank wrestled the beast’s lifeless body to the ground.

The goblins retreated into the safety of the trees as the heroes surveyed the carnage. Daerik tossed a rock into the portal, which quickly closed around it and vanished. They would certainly have to tell Warwick of the mysterious aberration and the disappearing portal it guarded. Loading the severed tentacle onto Bessie’s back as evidence for the Archmage, the three heroes slowly made the trek back to the safety of Warwick’s Manor.

Through the Windows of Warwick's Manor
In which our diverse heroes form a party

Stunned by the bright flashes of light, the sudden appearance of a Fergus, and the propulsion of the belligerent beggar to the roof of the Illumian Manor house, our heroes converged in the courtyard. Warwick, alerted by the kerfuffle, made his way through the window and into the courtyard, followed by his apprentice Quincy Pavlov. He recognized the belligerent beggar as Toothless Joe, and tended to his wounds, with the assistance of Molly. Meanwhile, taking advantage of all the commotion, Keye sneaked through a window and deeper into the manor.

Keye used her feat of Realistic Likeness to morph into the likeness of Warwick. Traveling down a hallway, Keye encountered a set a stairs guarded by two animated suits of armor. Keye bluffed, and successfully convinced “Righty” that she was indeed the master Warwick. “Lefty”, however, remained skeptical. Keye commanded Righty to protect her, and the two armored suites engaged in battle as Keye sneaked down the stairs and into the cave below the manor.

Meanwhile, Warwick, through testing the waters, discovered that a portal must have formed, transporting Fergus all the way from Jürenbjörn to Bradleburg. Explaining more about his research on the portals, Warwick invited Molly, Frank, Walker, and Fergus inside the window to have some food and drink. Warwick dispatched Quincy to board Bessie in the manor’s stables for the night.

Keye, in the cave under the manor, noticed a chest locked behind an iron gate – but with the key still in the padlock. She unlocked the cage and opened the chest – only to have flames shoot at her. She dodged beneath the flames with only minor burns.

Upstairs, the party began to share how they managed to converge on this manor. Walker explained some of his previous work for Warwick, and his exploration of the mysterious portals popping up all over Westfall.

Having survived the flames, Keye managed to steal a few gold pieces from the chest. She continued to look for some object of value to complete her quest for the Crooked Few, but failed picking a second lock. Facing an existential crisis, Keye decided to abandon her life of crime, and climbed back up the stairs. She unsuccessfully tried to convince Righty to join her in her new life, as she jumped out a window and into another enclosed courtyard.

The rest of the party spied Keye through the window. Keye transformed back into her natural Kitsune form, and waved at them. Crawling into a new window, Keye joined the party in the dining room. Then, Quincy brought all the party to Warwick’s study at the top of his tower. Amidst all the assembled members, Warwick explained more about the portals and about a curious situation in a mine outside of Brekton. The Lord Brekton had ongoing difficulties with that mine, as the brigand Robert “Ronny” the Bear had been able to take it over and make it an outpost for his gang of ne’er-do-wells. Warwick suspected, however, that the success of Ronny the Bear had something to do with the mysterious portals. He asked the party to go on a quest to investigate further, and they agree. The members of the party departed for bed, but Frank lingered on to ask Warwick about some of his strange abilities. Warwick expressed interest in Frank’s seemingly innate magical powers, and promised to investigate further.

Converging in Bradleburg
In which our heroes start their intrepid adventure

After encountering a scroll written in ancient, mostly indecipherable Dwarvish writing, Fergus Bonehammer becomes convinced he shall finally master the arcane magic needed to raise the dead. Retreating to his secret cave beneath Jürenbjörn, Fergus attempted to practice the ritual depicted in the scroll on a deceased dire rat. But something went wrong, and Fergus found himself engulfed in a flash of blinding light.

Keye Kamora, ready to serve her god The Crooked Warden by entering into The Crooked Few thieves guild, traveled to Bradleburg for her final test. The guild instructed her to steal the most valuable object she could find from a large manor house (with no information about the owner – no questions asked). Spying a maid and an open window, Keye utilized her feat of Realistic Likeness to disguise herself as the maid Marian. But her clumsy infiltration attracted the attention of Walker Texas, a ranger in the employ of Warwick Illumian, and a guest of the manor. A ridiculously awkward meet cute occurred. While utterly convinced by Keye’s disguise, Walker sensed some shiftiness about the maid Marian…

Meanwhile, Molly Waldring left the tavern for the night, after imbibing in a few drinks. She traveled to Bradleburg for her brother’s upcoming initiation into the Ironguard. On her way out of the tavern she encountered a belligerent beggar, who accosted her with a shiv. Molly dashed away from the beggar, leapt over the fence of the nearby manor, and tumbled into safety.

At the same moment, Frans Boer, Jr. finally reached the city of Bradleburg. He came to start an investigation into the truth behind his birth parents. He also encountered the belligerent beggar, who attacked him and his cow Bessie. Defending his beloved bovine, Frank swiped at the beggar, knocking him unconscious. Suddenly, a flash of blinding white light illuminated the path, and launched the body of the beggar to the top of the manor’s roof. On the ground in his place laid Fergus, who arose, dusted himself off, and promptly announced “Don’t play with matches!”


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