Dargona

Episode 7 - The Guide
What goes into the circle does not come out.

The elves that have taken the agents hostage are the Border Guard led by Galen Leafblade. They are loath to answer questions, but they will say that they are to perform a ritual prophesied by the Codex. Galen says he is to show the Trio the Guide, but he is clearly not too happy about it.

Galen asks for one of the agents to volunteer for the ritual, warning that a price will be extracted. Astrid immediately steps forward seeing this as merely an extension of her calling. After an uneasy truce is established with the Border Guard, the agents weapons are returned and they proceed to the place prepared for the ritual.

In a large clearing, the half dozen kithband of the Border Guard cohort took up defensive positions and Galen began to draw an arcane circle around Astrid. As the circle was sealed, giving off an eerie blue glow, the first of an attack force sprinted from the woods. The raving man ran straight for Oliver, tackling him and bearing the pair into the circle. In a flash of blue light, the two disappeared.

Angelique, intrigued by the development, herself stepped into the circle and disappeared.

Then the next wave consisted of several fanatics and beastmen. The Border Guards opened fire with their bows, showing no sign of surprise or stress. The only agent left in play for the skirmish, Remi, drew upon his newfound abilities and began unleashing bolts of arcane force upon the enemy. A pitched battle ensued, but as several of the beastmen and fanatics began to go down a final contingent entered the clearing. This beast man paused and recited an unclean incantation calling forth a large red daemon. The daemon wielding a huge sword began to cut a swath through the Border Guard defending the ritual. Remi offered up his best assaults, but could not faze the creature.

Suddenly, Angelique reappeared and immediately began dealing death with her blade. While she dispatched mutating fanatics and beastmen, the daemon was not even slowing. Astrid, desperate to help her friends, but unable to leave the circle, reached out as the daemon bore down on Remi. To her surprise as much as anyone else’s, a bolt of pure magic leapt from her hand and struck the daemon. She focused he will and was able to channel several more bolts to fell the daemon as Angelique mopped up the last beastmen.

Buying enough time to complete the ritual at the cost of nearly all the Guards’ lives, Galen completed the final runes of the circle and light enveloped the clearing. When the light receded, Astrid’s eyes glowed with an otherwordly blue light. Astrid, however, saw all the pages of the Codex…and many, too many, were assembled all in one place. A place that Astrid recognized as the site of Solvak’s resurrection.

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Monarch Challenge

Ollie 1-on-1 Adventure
The Archers Guild is holding a tournament this weekend. A new style they claim will wow spectator and participant alike. The rules for the monarch challenge are as follows:
1. A standard straw-filled target will be set at 20 paces.
2. On the bulls-eye, supported by two wooden pegs, sits a gold monarch.
3. The winner is the first archer to remove the coin from the target and take the coin as his prize.
4. If the winner hits the coin on the full, a second monarch will be added to the prize.
-Limited entries available.

The day of the tournament you find that 10 others have come to shoot for the monarch as well. The official declares that you will shoot for qualification.
The backlot of the Archers, Bowyers, and Fletchers Guildhall is an enormous target range. Where normally a dozen or so targets stand, a crowd has gathered to watch the action. Only a single target stands on the range. It has a red bulls-eye and 6 rings surrounding it.
The official instructs all archers to string their bows and make ready to fire. Accustomed to mass shots such as these, you ready the arrows you keep fletched with your family’s colors.

Ballistic Skill check passed with 32

You let your arrow loose on the signal and it lands solidly in the bulls-eye. One other shaft lies in the center with yours while others are scattered about the target and a few flew past the mark entirely.
The official inspects the target and removes each arrow, starting from the center, calling for its owner to accept his place in the tournament. Shooting first is a finely dressed man who is introduced as Claude Falden. You recognize the name as one of the Great Houses. Next in order is your arrow followed by a man wearing a tabard bearing the crest of the Fletcher Guild, a young woman dressed for woodland travel, and a rather grimy farmer. Each of you is to take one shot, then allow the next competitor to shoot.
The pegs are affixed to the target and the coin set in place. There is nothing holding the coin in place, save the pegs, but as the small coin is set directly over the center mark, it would take a near perfect shot to remove directly. A solid shot on the target itself, close to the coin looks like it might shake the coin from its perch.
Claude Falden’s shot is nearly that perfect. His arrow thuds into the bulls-eye below the coin, and coin visibly shakes then settles back into position.
Just like that you were nearly bested before you even had your shot.

Make a BS test for your shot.

Succeeding at the test means you have hit the 4th ring. For each 10 points you succeed or fail by you hit successively larger or smaller ring. In order to hit the coin solid you must roll less than 10. If you hit the target, some of the force of your shot will be transferred to the coin and may unseat it.

Ballistic Skill check passed with a 40 against a 53.

Your arrow flies true, but lands in the 5th ring, barely jarring the coin at all. Next up, the fletcher calmly aims, loosing his arrow with a nearly imperceptible movement. His shaft finds its mark in the 6th ring causing the coin to dance back and forth on the pegs. Following him, the young woman glares defiantly at the coin before raising her bow. When she does take aim, she releases the string almost immediately and is rewarded with her arrow flying wide to the left.
Lastly, the farmer takes position and quickly takes aim. As he sights his shot, he appears to be speaking quietly to himself. A few more tense moments and he lets the arrow fly. You see it almost in slow motion as the arrow streaks toward the bulls-eye. It buries itself halfway down the shaft into the red circle just beside the coin. The gold disc flies off the pegs and lands on one of the flag stones spinning.
The crowd cheers wildly. So much so that the official has trouble making the presentation of the prize into as much of a production as he would like. The farmer grins widely as he accepts the coin, it will feed his family well for a week.
The official reminds everyone that there will be more tournaments in the future and that all the host guilds are available for the equipment and expertise necessary to compete.

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Episode 6 - Siege
This is what goes bump in the night.

Once again, the camp was attacked during the night. Another of the fierce beastmen along with two ragged humans attacked from the road. The agents’ foresight paid, off, though as one of the men caught his leg in Oliver’s snare. He and his comrades fought fiercely, but Oliver’s arrows and Angelique’s sword made short work of them. Astrid matched her ball and chain with the beastman’s spear, but was found lacking. She was critically injured during the fight. A second team of attackers approached from behind the camp and managed to sneak all the way to the ruined guardhouse undetected. The trip wire set by the agents, though, thwarted the attackers’ stealthy approach. Although surprised by the second attack, the agents were able to use the disarray created by the tripwire to their advantage and make short work of this beastman and his soldiers.

The next morning, the agents had to make a pallet to carry Astrid on as she was still unconscious from her wounds. They didn’t feel safe continuing to stay in the old outpost, so they decided to trek further towards the mountains like Astrid had suggested hoping that they would find clues or an ally. Oliver found a suspiciously faint trail for them to follow and they walked for several hours before losing the light.

They took shelter for the night under a large tree near a clearing. They were awakened in the dead of night to find three beastmen with spears leveled at each of their throats. After what seemed like an eternity there were rushes of wind, a series of thunks, and all three beastmen fell with arrows and throwing knives buried in their backs. The relief was short-lived, though as the elves that appeared from the trees nocked new arrows in their bows and aimed them at the agents.

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Episode 5 - A Quiet House in the Woods
No one lives out here... I swear.

Librarian Kyle Malshara discovers in his research of the Codex that a ritual exists that will allow the agents to locate the missing pages. The bad news is that the ritual itself is on one of the missing pages. The good news is that Kyle also unearthed an old report from a Salvalian border outpost mentioning a scroll that resembles the one the agents recovered from Saltstone Cove. The border outpost is long abandoned and the report is 115 years old, but since the lands in the shadow of the Worlds Edge Mountains are nearly uninhabited there’s a good chance the page is still in the area.

The agents make the uneventful 5 day journey to the eastern extremes of the Shisa Vale along with a couple of road wardens heading out on their regular patrols. Arriving at the ruins of the old outpost, someone has already made camp there. Fate smiles on the agents, though, as the traveler is Astrid Dupuis. She seemed disconcerted and was unable to recall exactly where she had been for the past two weeks, but she was glad for the familiar companionship.

During the night, one of the road wardens on watch raises the alarm, and the agents awake to find the outpost intruded upon by a pair of ragged looking men. When the warden challenges the men, they charge in on the attack and their companion charges out of the darkness, a seven foot tall man with the head and legs of a giant goat.

The first of the two men scores a solid strike with his club to the face of the road warden, but is swiftly dispatched by the agents. The beastman engages with Angelique, but her swift blade wards off his attacks and he is also overwhelmed by the party. Oliver scores with one of his arrow on the last man, but he screams an incantation in the same vile language used by Alain Rose. After a blinding red flash, he has grown a 3rd eye and rushes to avenge his comrades. He too falls to the massed swords, leaving the agents to ponder an attack by hideous monsters against an abandoned outpost.

The next day, the road wardens hurriedly went on their way. The agents went about investigating their situation. Angelique and Astrid tended the fire and searched the grounds of the old outpost. Inside an ancient chest, they discovered the logbook of the outpost. However, it was written in Old Salvalian so Remi set to interpreting it. Oliver spent the day locating a stream and fishing in it. Before sundown, the agents set several traps to aid them in case another attack came in the night.

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Episode 4 - Payday
Other stuff glitters, but gold is better.

Waking from their first good night’s sleep in days, the three agents ate breakfast in the Hand’s headquarters, then met with Jonathan Withrington. Along with offering what little information he seemed to have about the problems in Saltstone Cove he delivered their pay. The agents were to have liberty until the scroll could be translated. Using the secret tunnel into the city, the three went their separate ways.

Oliver visited Faldarin Market and haggled for some new armor and then stocked up on arrows at the Archers, Bowyers, and Fletchers Guild with an eye toward the archery range and maybe the next contest.

Angelique went scumming for rumors at the Cub’s Den near the city wall. She heard some odd talk about Lucien searching for something in a storeroom, but it was the apparent disappearance of a man in a black cloak in one of the shadowed corners of the pub that caught her attention. Her search turned up nothing and the barman offered only hints that she should mind her own business.

Remi went looking for answers about the odd dealings in the Cove. He visited Scott Lunasol’s herb shop, The Twisted Staff. It also houses a small library known for dealing with the occult. Scott took an odd interest in Remi, and cheerfully offered his library for a nominal fee. Inside, when Remi attempted to reproduce one of the glyphs from the saltstones, Scott grabbed Remi’s hand to prevent the final stroke. Implying Remi had been about to do something dangerous, he instead opened a large book with seemingly blank pages. When Remi looked closely, he suddenly saw glowing runes. Scott seemed pleased and gave him a letter with a not-so-subtle hint it should be delivered to the Hand.

Back at headquarters, Kyle Malshara the Librarian for the Hand had finished translating the scroll more quickly than expected. It contained a prophecy that the Queen and Jonathan claimed centered on the three agents, calling them the Sword, the Hunter, and the Steward. Understandably skeptical, the agents’ questions forced Jonathan to take them to Carin Darklight for “education.”

Carin openly admitted to being a sorceress and told them the true story of the Shisa Vale’s origin. She claimed the three gods of Anorak, Solvak, and Talmag were in fact three ancient dragons who ruled the planet 4,000 years ago. Each of the three ruled differently, but Solvak’s harsh rule lead to rebellion that Anorak’s subjects also took up. The men used the magic taught them by the dragons to craft weapons with which they slew Anorak and Solvak. When the dragons died, the pure magical energy contained in their bodies exploded, laying waste to their kingdoms. But Talmag had warned Anorak of the plot and together they raised the Worlds Edge Mountains to protect the Vale from the cataclysm. The Royal Hand is part of a conspiracy to protect the Vale from the wastes beyond and from itself by keeping the truth of the outside world a carefully guarded secret.

The prophecy the agents recovered is a page from the Codex. A book written in Solvak’s blood, on parchment made from Solvak’s hide, by a wizard driven mad by the poisonous magic that flooded the planet as the dragon’s died. Carin believes that whoever sent Alain for the scroll is trying to reassemble the Codex in order to resurrect Solvak. Fortunately, the Syndicate is safeguarding the bulk of the Codex, but many pages remain lost. The agents are now in a race for the pages so that they can prevent Solvak from returning and taking his revenge.

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Episode 3 - Bump In the Night
Under Siege

With several of the agents heavily wounded from the encounter with red-eyed man and his wolves, little else could be done the next day but tend to their wounds. Ever suspicious, Angelique poked around the Trustee’s manor looking for evidence that Walter was responsible for the strange happenings. Oliver and Remi went into the forest to help Lara, the head servant, collect wound-healing purpleroot. The trek was successful and Lara reduced the leaves to a potent healing paste. When Angelique interviewed Lara, it was revealed that the paranoia of the Trustee had forced all quarters upstairs.

Refreshed by the healing herbs, the agents attempted to organize a defense and patrol but few were willing to participate. The group convinced the manor servants to keep watch from their quarters hoping to have an alarm raised if the red-eyed man returned.

And return he did. During the third watch on of the servants raised an alarm. Oliver awoke his compatriots just in time for an arcane blast to tear open the door. The red-eyed man and 4 wolves burst in, but the man did not engage the agents. While several wolves ran at the trio he and the remaining wolf took to the stairs. With all the servants awake with the alarm chaos erupted.

Eager to catch the red-eyed man the trio’s defensive formation quickly broke apart. Remi and Angelique managed to work together to slay several of the beasts, but their quarry found cover on the second floor. As they dispatched the wolf set upon Oliver gunshot rang out from the balcony where Walter had finally found his courage. As Lara joined the fray with a broken table leg as her weapon, they did away the final wolf. The agents arrived at the study, the red-eyed man’s apparent goal, to find Walter in a standoff with him. Walter seemed to know him, but the Trustee’s nerve broke and he accidentally fired. Both his shot and the return from the red-eyed man missed their marks, but the opening allowed Oliver to engage the man.

With each blow struck at the man, he began to change. Growing into a hideous mockery of a wolf, he fought with renewed ferocity. Remi managed to glean from the once again panicked Trustee that the now beast-man was the woodcutter’s son, Alain Rose. He pleaded to let the young man live, and Oliver wrestled the beast to the ground so that he could be restrained.

The agents interrogated him, but he seemed like there were two people inside his mind. Only one was willing to be of any help. Alain was agitated and constantly glanced at the floor where the agents discovered a loose tile hiding an ancient stone box. Against the pleadings of the pitiful Alain, they opened it to find a scroll written in an unknown language. Walter was flabbergasted at the discovery.

After hauling the corpses out of the house, the agents decided they had more than worn out their welcome at the Trustee’s and decided to make for Elaron’s Bluff with their prisoner and the scroll before sunrise. Jonathan Withrington met them outside the city and led them to a secret entrance. They were led to an underground hall apparently cut into the Bluff itself. Jonathan dealt with Alain, took the scroll to the Hand’s library, and showed them to their quarters.

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Episode 2 - Unexpected Guests
Some things are what they seem...really f***ing weird.

The second day of the assignment began in a frenzy. Angelique awoke to find Astrid missing. A search began, but no trace of Astrid or her passage could be found. The agents intended to interrogate their prisoner, but they found him crazed and screaming gibberish. In a lucid moment, he pleaded for death, but the confused agents could do nothing before the man’s grotesque fate overcame him. Accompanied by the sound of crunching bones and tortured screams, the man’s legs twisted into those of a giant goat. Remi, reacting more from surprise than training, quickly ended the beast’s life.

Following an awkward breakfast, the three agents attempted to investigate the village. First speaking to Willam Laconn, a saltreaper, they heard of the strange behavior of the town drunk. Willam attributed the strange happenings to an unseen force lurking in the drunken stonecutter’s cave. Willam also mentioned the recent disappearance of the woodcutter’s son.

With no evidence on the Saltstone themselves, the trio then interviewed Mr. Rose the woodcutter. A down to earth and pragmatic man, Mr. Rose attributed his son’s absence to wanderlust and youthful folly. As for the strange marks and attacks, he simply said the town was dying, and Nature wanted the cove back.

On the short walk to the stonecutter’s house, events took an ominous turn. As a couple were tending the afternoon tide’s catch in their trap, the whole catch exploded. The only damage was to the trap itself and the fish, but the agents proceeded with trepidation.

The stonecutter Horace Flint proved to be just as much of a drunk as was promised. The addled old man told tall tales of being attacked, and of a red-eyed monster that ransacked his home. In the cave where Horace worked his trade the agents found a small recess with time weathered markings around it, but no explanation was forthcoming.

Out of daylight, the agents set discreet watches in their rooms. On Oliver’s watch an ominous growling, identical to that of the monster described by Horace, came from the woods and passed by the Trustee’s manor. Oliver heard strange footsteps from above and woke the others. In order to convince Walter to let them outside they had to agree they would not be let back in. A mistake that would become evident quickly.

Outside in the torchlight by the Trustee’s door the agents came under attack from an archer deep in the darkness. The agents struggled to come up with a plan of action and after several near misses they found themselves ambushed by a pack of extremely large wolves. During the battle, Remi nearly fell to one of the wolves, but the still injured Angelique slew one while Oliver valiantly fought off the other two.

Victory, however, was not to be grasped by the trio this night. While the wolves engaged the agents, the archer stopped firing. The agents found out why several minutes later when a nearly blinding green light revealed a human silhouette atop the old saltstone. As he opened his arms wide, his eyes glowed a fiery red and a truly blinding flash consumed the scene. The figure disappeared into the darkness, and shortly thereafter a whistle cut through the night signalling a retreat to the last remaining wolf. It was clear the dark figure had achieved his ends.

Now broken and battered, the three remaining agents face an unknown foe with the new moon rising the very next night.

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Episode 1 - The Rabbit Hole
All journeys begin with a huge mistake.

Swordmistress Angeligue Bleu Fouchet, Journeyman Remi Seltaire, Fieldmaiden Astrid Dupuis, and Forestwalker Oliver Hunter each received a mysterious invitation to an audience with the Queen. Each arrived, Oliver under duress, to be informed that their respective guild masters had offered their service to the Queen as part of an ancient pact. Made members of the Royal Hand, the Queen immediately ordered them to travel to Saltstone Cove where strange occurrences were disrupting the flow of salt to Elaron’s Bluff.

With a late start, the agents hurriedly rode for Saltstone Cove, but were waylaid by a band of brigands. A pitched battle ensued as the agents attempted to pass the roadblock. At first the tide favored the bandits, but the unquenchable bloodthirst of Astrid slew two of the men and won the battle for the agents. A third was felled by Oliver’s blade, and his arrows hobbled the last. While the rest of the group bound the injured man to deliver him to the Trustee of Saltstone Cove, Oliver discovered a track into the forest it appeared the bandits were using to set their roadblocks.

Arriving in Saltstone Cove as the sun set, the agents found the villagers locked tight in their homes. Even Trustee Walter Seille who was expecting their village appeared reticent to open his door for them. When the group was finally admitted, the Trustee stammered tales of monsters and midnight attacks. He claims the heavy oaken door of Horace Flint’s house was ripped from it’s hinges and shattered. Spouting a lot of superstition about witches and black magic, the Trustee clearly believes that these ill omens will come to a head at the new moon two days hence.

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