Trace of Breath

1208.12.11-12 - 3rd Rest 11-12:1208
Prison Break (2,008 XP; total in game = 2858)

As promised, Polycarp decided to use his free day to visit Charlie Sampson in Watchpeak Prison. Having nothing more important to do at the moment, and perhaps with a lack of trust or merely some residual sense of duty to protect the Deva, Argoth accompanied him.

The approach to the prison was dead quiet, with no foot traffic in or out, save a lone Eladrin figure dressed in the fine robes of a magic user. The mage identified himself as Magnus, Arch-Wizard of the School of Magic in Anvar. He said that he had come here to visit someone, but found the place locked up tight with the draw-bridge raised. He would have investigated himself, but feared a field of anti-magic used for security purposes in the entryway that would render him helpless.

Recognizing the insignia of the Gatekeepers, Magnus was glad to see them, and asked if they would be willing to investigate the situation in exchange for 600 Gold a piece upon their return. They agreed and, with his help, were able to disable part of the draw-bridge and slip inside.

QUEST – Investigate the Prison

(reward 600 GP and 250 XP each)

Prison Level 1

Upon entering, Polycarp immediately noticed several traps set. They disabled most of them, realizing that the traps were not meant to prevent invasion, but keep people in. The first few rooms were empty of life, though some signs of blood could be found. The stairways were also trapped, and both heroes were splashed with a residue of water mixed with spice from the Amahlia plant. Polycarp’s knowledge of religious rites gave insight that such a spice is often used in religious rituals.

Both warriors grew nervous as they continued to explore. They heard metallic crashing echoing up the hole of a disabled dumbwaiter, but continued to explore the first floor and to rest and recover before investigating it further. Also on the first floor, they discovered the body of a guard with trap-making materials on him. Though he had many vicious bite wounds, his death was caused clearly caused by his own sword still thrust through his abdomen. They also climbed the stairs to the outer towers, and tried to rig their own trap with a basin of molten led prepared to pour into the entrance chamber below, but to no avail.

After a short rest, the two companions entered the room of the captain of the watch, whose pouch of 20 Gold still sat in a foot locker. An argument ensued as Argoth took the money, intending to keep it if the soldier could not be found, or was found to have died. Polycarp threatened to attack his comrade if he did not return it, but Argoth ignored him. After a pregnant silence, the tension passed and the two continued their investigation.

They passed through a heavily barred door into an enormous courtyard with overarching ramparts. Across the yard was a large iron double-door to a second complex and an oubliette for isolated prisoners. Barring their way, however, was the largest creature they had ever seen. A huge undead hulking monster came tromping toward them, but they retreated back inside, barring the door and blockading it with furniture.

Prison Level B1

The two adventurers descended a nearby stairwell, hoping to discover the source of the earlier clanging. They came across two zombies that were sitting casually at a card table while a third, half-devoured soldier lay on the floor. At the appearance of fresh meat, the monsters attacked, but were overcome by an increasingly strategic duo of Gatekeepers (their personal tension failing to translate to the field of battle). Searching the bodies, they identified one as Topper, an assistant to the resident wizard of the prison. The papers were authenticated by the name " Ysuran ".

Playing things more carefully, Polycarp scouted ahead with stealth and careful listening. This avoided potential combat with two more zombies before he was discovered by another group. As battle ensued, one zombie was able to release it’s allies, but Polycarp and Argoth fearlessly tore through them.

While looting the bodies, Argoth discovered that 40 gold pieces were missing from his supply. When asked, Polycarp freely admitted that he picked Argoth’s pocket because the gold did not belong to him, as it was found in the quarters of a guard captain whose whereabouts were still unknown. They argued, but a tense truce was agreed upon while undead roamed free.

Exploring further, the heroes came to the office of the warden, Sir Lexington. The warden was still there, seemingly unaware of the undead plague around him as he frantically sorted through papers on his desk. When he noticed the intruders, Lexington declared them agents of distraction and attacked them, revealing himself to be undead after all. While fighting off his uncanny attacks, he heroes recognized Sir Lexington as a hero of the Anima revolution. Polycarp recognized him as an unsettled spirit, doomed to remain undead while until a task was fulfilled. He also noticed Lexington’s preoccupation with the documents on his desk. Argoth managed to maneuver to the table and discover the papers to be prisoner release forms that required a signature. Using his skills in diplomacy, Argoth convinced Lexington of their desire to help. The warden offered his sword as reward for the release of he prisoners and signature of the resident wizard, Ysuran.

Minor Quest: Free Ysuran’s Prisoners for Sir Lex: 50 XP; Level 6 Sword

At the name Ysuran, Polyrp was sent into a trance, where he saw the sun setting over the dunes of a desert he felt to be home. He ignored the shuffling of small feet he knew to be insignificant until he felt a prick of pain in his right calf. As his vision blurred, he looked down in surprise at the face of a mischievous gnome. Next, he saw a great yard surrounded with walls, and felt a great rage as he saw the faces of two men from across the clearing. As he began to charge, his trance ended.

While Polycarp and Argoth were still bandaging wounds and deciding how to proceed, another agent of the Gatekeepers, Camden Young II, arrives on the scene and explains that he was sent to investigate the prison and was told by Magnus outside that comrades had gone in ahead of him. They search Sir Lexington’s office and find a map of the grounds. With the only entrance to the cell blocks guarded by the hulking beast, Polycarp points out that they need to rest before they can take on that challenge. He suggests that the chapel, marked on the third floor, might be safe from undead intrusion.

With Camden’s help, the Gatekeepers fight there way to the chapel where they find Charlie Sampson (the “brother” Polycarp came to find) alone and unharmed, hiding under a pew. He says that the monster guard had always been there, a pet of the prison mage, Ysuran. Two days ago, however, the prisoners were let into the yard and the monster was released to attack them. Charlie scaled a vent shaft to get away, along with some others, but the rest were shot down by prison guards (all of whom appeared to be sick with some kind of infection). Charlie managed to hide in the ventilation system and make his way here, where the infected guards seem to have left him alone.

Charlie said he did commit a crime, having fallen in with bad company, and was rightfully serving his time, but that he was visited by a prison chaplain by the name of Denubis. Since then, he had been trying to turn his life around and dedicate himself to Bahamut. Camden asked more about Bahamut and the two brothers attempted to evangelize him. It became clear, however, that his mild curiosity didn’t amount to genuine interest.

The heroes spent the night safely in the chapel. With one mission complete (finding Charlie), their intent turned toward fulfilling Sir Lexington’s quest and defeating Ysuran, whom Polycarp revealed was on his list of murderers to bring to justice.

They decided that the best way past the undead hulk was to sneak past overhead on the ramparts and climb down in front of the door before it can reach them. Their plans were thwarted by skeletal guard dogs and automated crossbow turrets that threatened to push them down into the waiting arms of the vicious zombie giant. Camden blasted the dogs into splinters with his lightning magic, and they were able to use Argoth as bait to lure the monster under a portcullis that the other two sent crashing down. With the guardian defeated, the way seemed clear to reach the cell blocks… and Ysuran.

After disabling and evading a few more crossbow turrets, the heroes broke into the cell block area. Baited by an undead slinging filth, however they tripped a wire and succumbed to the gas it triggered. They awoke in cages where an undead gnome introduced himself as Ysuran and excitedly announced his plans to experiment on sturdy warriors such as them. His face was instantly recognizable to Polycarp, who had a flashback of a goliath named Keothi being murdered in the desert by the very same gnome. With that information, Polycarp also recognized the undead hulk as a mutated Keothi. While Camden attempted to escape through thievery and Argoth summoned his sword from another room, Polycarp went into a trance and drew the body of the undead hulk through several walls and down upon the surprised necromancer. Murderer and murdered disappeared together under a rain of falling debris, and Camden found a pulsing crystal locked in the gnome’s desk.

The companions recover their equipment from a storage room, and find other confiscated prisoner possessions as well, including a ring bearing the crest of the royal house of Barfield . They search for Charlie and find him panting at the entrance to a deep oubliette pit. He explains that he thought he heard someone down there, but was unable to get down very far because strong winds are making the ladder quite treacherous.

Thinking their quest (to rescue Charlie and defeat Ysuran) is complete, the heroes return to Sir Lexington for their reward, but he prepares to attack them when his frustration grows at remaining in this state of tortured undeath. Polycarp theorizes that he still exists either because his quest is unfinished (to free prisoners wrongfully reassigned by Ysuran) or because his creator is still alive.

Hoping to find surviving prisoners, the Gatekeepers return to the Oubliette, and Camden is able to perform a ritual with his storm magic to help them brave the elements. While Charlie operates the mechanical bridge mechanism, they explore the deepest cave and discover an unconscious prisoner. They do what they can to feed and bandage him, but while they are carrying his body back across the breach, they are blown into the chasm.

They survive the fall because of the uncanny updraft and find themselves in an underground cavern steaming with magma. In the center of the cavern, Ysuran is found to be still “alive” and conducting a ritual over an ancient sarcophagus. At his command, shapes begin to form in the magma and approach to attack.

While the Gatekeepers fend off aggressive magma monsters, Ysuran’s strange ritual seems to have an effect on the ruby Polycarp now carries. It sheds powerful light throughout the room, which awakens their rescued prisoner. This man, Calumnior, seems strangely revitalized somehow, though he appears to have lost all his memories. Calumnior joins the fight on the side of the Gatekeepers, using a catch of supplies hidden near the sarcophagus to fire vicious arrows into the enemy while healing his allies with warlord inspiration.

Polycarp boldly declares his oath to bring Ysuran to justice and interrupts the gnome’s necromantic ritual. Both his frost-hammer and radiant power seem changed, however, into a purple light, and Ysuran shrugs off many of his blows. The necromancer forces his will over Argoth driving him into a suicidal charge against his comrade, but Calumnior saves is able to heal him in time to escape the burning lava. With the help of his fellow warriors, Polycarp overcomes the murderer of Keothi, though he himself is almost overwhelmed by an insatiable battle-lust.

After the battle, Polycarp realizes that the pulsing ruby has been imbuing him with necrotic energy and affecting his mood as well. Disgusted, he throws it in the lava, but it remains unharmed and though it burns him, he retrieves his cursed burden.

Investigating the sarcophagus, they detect no magic, but they find the tomb empty and the bust on the lid matches Polycarp’s identically. The tomb is ancient, but the stone chair beside it appears older still.

Charlie throws down a rope and they search the prison for survivors, but find none. Returning to Sir Lex, he thanks them for allowing him to rest in peace, giving Argoth his enchanted sword. Bowing before Calimnior, he says “I am sorry, sir, that I could not shield you from this nightmare. If there be justice in this world, may you unseat those who have done this to you, and be restored.” With that, the warden falls to the ground and moves no more.

Upon leaving, they meet with Magnus who thanks them with a heavy heart, and a heavy purse. He had heard of Ysuran, a silver-tongued mage who he suspects had help from contacts in high places to secure his position in the prison. He had heard of Ravenhammer as well, but only in children’s stories. He promises to investigate the caverns below Watchpeak, and to turn every stone in search of Duke Cedric, whose ring they found.

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1208.12.10 - 3rd Rest 10:1208
Intrigue in Anvar (375 XP)

Leaving Raelle behind to watch over the wounded Torodrin, Argoth Stormblade, Polycarp and Jackabee “Jacks” Oaklong traveled for 3 days before arriving in the capital city of Anvar. On there way to completing the mission to bring Polycarp to the Gatekeepers headquarters, however, they pass through a marketplace and witness a Bakkan merchant named Kamal being accosted by two Bugbear ruffians while his 8-yr-old son, Qasim, watched helplessly.

Argoth tried to end the violence with peaceful words but was blown off by the confident and aggressive thugs. Meanwhile, Polycarp and Jacks moved secretly into striking position. Jacks struck one monster with an arrow, baiting him to give chase through the crowded market while Polycarp launched a similar surprise attack against the remaining Bugbear. The monster seemed to shrug off blows from the two warriors without concern, swatting the Deva to unconsciousness in one swing. While Argoth distracted the bugbear, however, young Qasim leapt to Polycarp’s rescue, pouring a potion of healing down his throat. Together, the revived Polycarp and Argoth were able to kill the bugbear and Jacks returned saying that he trussed up the other in an alleyway.

Kamal explained that the bugbears were members of the Dark Traders, a thieves guild that conducts a protection racket demanding regular payment from local merchants on threat of pain and loss of merchandise. He didn’t know any agents of the Dark Traders beyond these two, and had no leads for uncovering their chain of command.

Qasim idolized the Gatekeepers, claiming that he would be a hero like them someday. When they encouraged him to carry on his family business, he called his father a coward for fleeing their home in Bakka because of the war. When they tried to tell him the Anima Revolution had ended and there was no war, he shrugged and said, “here, maybe.”

After bidding farewell to Kamal and Qasim, the heroes continued on to the Gatekeepers guildhall, a large building with many dormitories surrounding a training gymnasium. There, they met with Truquan Gladerunner, the guild master. He explained that they were commissioned by the Temple of Bahamut to return Polycarp to Anvar, where he would serve the sentence of community service as a member of the Gatekeepers. When pressed, he revealed a letter to that effect signed by Denubis with the official seal of the High Priest, Petros.

His final mission as an initiate completed, Argoth was now allowed to take the test to become a full member of the Gatekeepers, granting permanent residence in the guildhall, a steady stream of paid assignments and whatever resources the guild has to offer in restoring his family’s honor. Polycarp and Jacks were also allowed to take the test, per Polycarp’s sentence and Jack’s previous experience as a freelance agent.

The heroes performed admirably in a test of their skills in fighting, athletic skill, creativity, knowledge, teamwork and loyalty. Truquan explained to Argoth that he might have a lead on his father, but that it would take another day to flush out the information. He suggested they report back the morning after next, until then taking care of any personal business as they had need.

In the meantime, Argoth requested that an agent be sent to Harken Village, to check on the status of his love, Raelle, and report any movements of the goblin raiders.

Polycarp Finds his Father

Given his freedom for the moment, Polycarp went in search of his “father,” Charles Sampson. He was directed to the noble quarter, where he saw a parade welcoming Duke Horace into Anvar.

Polycarp was greeted warmly by Sampson in his lavish guest home. The Deva reported everything that had happened to him since they parted, including the appearance of Duke Horace which brought a look of tension on his father’s face. Sampson explained that Duke Cedric had imprisoned his brother, Horace, during the Anima Revolution, but that Cedric has since disappeared.

Sampson has no insight into the goblins’ strange behavior in Harken Village, but questions Polycarp’s decision to leave while the village might still be in danger. The Deva stated simply that he had a mission from Bahamut to exact vengeance on the murderer’s of his souls, but his father posited the thought that vengeance is not Bahamut’s way and that Polycarp may have misinterpreted his purpose.

Finally, Sampson asked if Polycarp could go to the prison and ask for the release of his son, Charlie, who was a “good kid that simply got in over his head.”

Argoth Minds his Mum

Since his family fell from grace in the wealthy House of Stormblade, and his father, Rogoth, and elder sister Isabella, disappeared, Argoth has been anxiously concerned for the well-being of his mother, Leta. She had to move out of her quarters in the wealthy district and find accommodations among the lower middle-class. She took up employment for a local cleric, named Denubis in order to sustain herself, but Argoth feels guilty and wants to provide for her as well.

Upon visiting her at home, however, Argoth is surprised to see a smile on her face. Given the shame and pain of her husband’s disappearance, he is doubly shocked to hear her speak of “new friends” that are “perhaps more than friends.” She even casually referred to a letter she received from Isabella, stating that she was on the trail of her father away at sea.

Argoth decided to pay a visit to the Temple of Bahamut, where Denubis should be found. By the time he reached the Temple, however, the hour had grown late and he was informed by the priest Petros that he had gone to bed.

Petros knew of the Stormblade family, and their predicament. He sympathized with Argoth and promised to offer prayers for the restoration of their honor and the location of Rogoth. He asked to be informed if Argoth found success, so that the Temple might praise Bahamut with them.

Petros also knew of Denubis, who was under his authority, and of Leta’s assistance. He said they were both honorable and faithful people who had performed admirably. Nonetheless, as a precaution he offered to keep an eye on both of them and, as Argoth requested, “encourage mother to remember her husband.”

Rooftop Ambush

Polycarp and Argoth met again on their way back to the guildhall. By this time it had grown dark out, and bitter winter winds cut through the narrow, deserted streets. The hoot of an owl was all that alerted them, as they were narrowly missed by crossbow bolts that bounced off nearby walls. The two heroes dashed into action, scaling ladders to confront two goblin assassins. The goblins tried to outmaneuver the warriors by riding a celestial owl to distant rooftops, but Argoth and Polycarp leaped across the buildings in hot pursuit. When one of the goblins was killed and his avian mount freed, the remaining goblin disappeared down the winding streets. Little could be found to identify the dead goblin or its employers beyond a single playing card, the 3 of spades.

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1208.12.07 - 3rd Rest 7:1208
Goblin Raid at Harken Village (XP 475)

Just 20 days after the end of the Anima Revolution, Argoth Stormblade led his companions from the capital city of Anvar to the distant and unimportant village of Harken on a mission to retrieve the captive murderer, Polycarp (a Deva of Bahamut) who is said to have killed an old druid woman named Agathat Mistwater. After meeting the strange Avenger, and leading him from his cell, they are set upon by giant rats—that frighten poor Old Kellar the dwarven town elder into a feint.

Dispatching the vermin with ease, they place Old Kellar in Polycarp’s cell along with the keys in order to keep him safe. They also leave the pouch of gold they find, unsure of its rightful owner, and follow the sounds of battle into the Town Hall’s main dining room, where goblins have made a mess and set an ambush.
Polycarp dashes into the fray leaving his protective Swordmage behind and is almost overcome, but the two manage to win the battle, with the final goblin slinking away before they can stop him. Though the battle sounds to be continuing outside, the heroes retreat to the inner chamber to rest and find Old Kellar recovering enough to talk.

After a few words with Kellar, they discover he is weak-hearted and frail, in no condition to aid in battle. Hearing continued sounds of battle outside and fearing for his comrades, Argoth leads the charge from the Dining Hall. There, they are stunned to see bodies of goblins and town guards between them and the Western Gate. More goblins stream in through the open doors, lighting buildings on fire and assaulting Argoth’s friends, Raelle and Torodrin. Torodrin has fallen to his wounds, but managed to cast a circle of protecting flames around himself and Raelle, who stands over him with her last strength.

Using the flames to his advantage, Polycarp dances among the goblins unleashing the wrath of Bahamut. At Argoth’s word, Raelle accepts the former-prisoner as comrade and heals his quickly mounting wounds. Meanwhile, Argoth is able to teleport close to the goblin shaman ringleader in an attempt to dissipate his effective vexing cloud. Just when it seems, however, that the goblins numbers are starting to tell, the shaman takes a look at Polycarp and pulls back to the woods, reporting to an unseen commander that, “our mission is accomplished.” Polycarp tries to pursue, but is held at bay by snipers in the trees. Clearly, the goblins were not driven away by force.

The heroes are left to lick their wounds, but the fire has now spread to several buildings and is burning fast. Emerging from hiding, Old Kellar begs the heroes to help save the village of Harken.

Polycarp and Argoth leap to action, fighting valiantly against the growing flames. Suddenly, a Half-Orc hunter bursts on the scene. Dashing into a burning building, he emerges almost unconscious with a 7-year-old girl. Polycarp is able to minister her back to health while Argoth coordinates the villagers into the effort needed to extinguish the blaze.

When the threat was abated, the Half-Orc identified himself as Jacks, a hunter who works freelance for the Gatekeepers from time to time. He was asked by Truquan to keep an eye on the initiates (Argoth’s party) and make sure they came home okay from their first independent mission. Argoth was not happy about being babysat, but welcomed Jacks into his party nonetheless.

Raelle, told them that Torodrin was in bad shape. She said she’d take him to the Inn and stay with him until he was fit to travel.

Old Kellar, the town elder of Harken Village, begged the heroes to stay and exterminate the goblins so they don’t come back and destroy the village. Ellen, the girl they saved, asked them “are the monsters going to come back?” In spite of these pleas, Argoth felt duty-bound to fulfill his mission first, to bring Polycarp safely to Truquan in Anvar.

Before they leave, they decide to ask around town to find out all they can about the Goblins, in order to avoid a potential ambush on their trip. They are directed to the local blacksmith, Karl, who is said to be the bravest man in the area. Upon meeting him, they discover that it was his daughter, Ellen, that they saved from the fire. Because of this, he is open with them all, offering his wares and answering their questions. Karl believes the Goblins are after the rumored treasure hidden in the Mythos Barrow, an ancient and nearly forgotten tomb said to have significance that predates even the gods. He says that the tomb lies unprotected now that Agathat Mistwater is dead.

Karl marked the Mythos Barrow on their map and, seeing that the tomb was not between them and home, they set out for Anvar immediately.

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