Updated: Apr 11
It is noted at the start that the reported days from last session were not correct. Also, a slight amount of creative license was used in creating this report. You can catch the podcast version of this episode here.
The team returning from Dry Gulch arrive midday on the 18th day of the month. After the meeting with Joferth, the team drops off Diablo, the fearsome warhorse, with Jengifu San, the stablemaster for the Basilisk Knights and asks her to begin the rehabilitation of the creature. Blix is somewhat relieved to not have the, gigantic to him, horse trailing after him anymore. Price is not negotiated as the team realizes this task can only be handled by an expert such as her and is worth it.
The team also drops off their two wagons at the warehouse in town before gathering up the spare horses and the workers for the keep and head north. For some reason, the group gets a sense of calm as they cross the land and make excellent time back to be rejoined with their masters/employers. The group and workers learn that they have now arrived at Black Pit Keep. Since they made good enough time travelling from Liwil that there is enough daylight for the carpenters and masons to take a look around and make notes on what work needs to be done and the supplies they would need. The rest of the evening is spent conferring all information of their travels from both travelling groups.
The 19th day is met with the party (several names still being considered with a new suggestion, Sword Brethrn, being put forth along with Warriors/Company of Fortune) facing their first task in holding the keep and surround land by setting up patrols. A discussion of each of the main group members using a few of their mercenaries to create two squads of ten men is held, the composition to be determined. A suggestion of getting some additional mercs to create the squads is also considered. It is agreed that the repentant bandit twins would serve as leaders of these two squads for the near future, one for determine their worth and two for assurance of their loyalty and possibly morals. Cieran and Velsind enter into a side discussion regarding the employment of the twins with nothing finalized right then. The twins are asked about some of the magic items that were with the bandits and are informed that the shield help protect the wearer slightly more than average (+1 shield) and that the sword's enchantment is not entirely known but has been seen to glow and shed light over an area.
They are interrupted by the guards informing them of visitors. Greetings and permission to approach is given. The visitors are revealed to be Hewtim the mage and Anven of the Basilisk Knights with a few knights plus Joferth from Dry Gulch. The visitors are shown around and giving appreciative nods, Anven for how much has been done and Joferth as he counted up the potential sales he could make. The mage seems more interested in other items but is kept from them for a time due to Anven asking for a private conversation with the adventurers.
Not mincing words, Anven informs them that the Basilisk Knights are a monastic order and were never meant to be ruling over people. With the growth of Liwil, they have found themselves with the unwanted task of governing. The knights offer to turn over the rulership to the party, allowing them to return to their purpose of guarding against the incursions of Chaos. What they ask, if the party agrees and when they would be able, is possibly a stipend to allow them to regrow their order and, at the least, the opportunity to recruit for the Knights in the population of the areas surrounding their keeps. As this is a large and unexpected offer, she acknowledges that the adventurers need time to consider these things and come to a decision. As there is no time frame given, the group agrees to discuss things and give an answer to the Knights.
Attention is turned to Hewtim (much to his relief) and he is led to look at harvested parts of the slain green dragon. It is at this point he sees Ugla and they converse about the deal for the spell she wished to learn. A deal is stuck consisting of a spell for six ounces of dragon ichor. Velsind probes the mage to see if he is willing to buy more. Reluctantly the mage's purse turns down getting more but the interest is there. He has no use for the dragon hide and the group turns their attention to Joferth. Asked if there are any leatherworkers in Dry Gulch who could turn the hide into a suit of armor, he confirms that there are probably one or two. Joferth quickly asks if there is anything that they are in need of, a quick reply of clay, glass, and wood vessels to hold items, harvested monster parts, and sundry items.
Hewtim is called out to take a look at the small building to the left of Black Pit Keep. As he looks inside, a stick is tossed in. He informs the party that it is indeed a black pudding at the bottom of the pit. Once killed, a very strong acid could be gotten from it, however, the biggest value might be in having a place to dispose of garbage and other items. Velsind takes this time to speak to Joferth. They discuss going to the village of the Owlfolk and what timeframe is allowable. As long as Joferth can be back by the 24th of the month, he is willing to go. Velsind, some of the group retainers, and ten mercs will make the journey with Joferth. This group will return to Liwil tonight to make it easier to head out in the morning.
A quick meeting is held to decide on a few things. Two of the mages will be staying at Black Pit Keep to spend time learning new spells. They will be keeping watch over the keep and tabs on the patrols. It is then decided that a third group consisting of the other adventurers will be heading north to explore. Since they are aware of the threats to the west and the Knights are a buffer to the south, knowing what is in the other directions seems prudent. They also decide that the next major effort may be to put forth into opening up the road to the east that leads to Junction and the Scarlet Principality depending upon the finds to the north and northeast.
That night in Liwil, Velsind makes a point to go and visit the Knight and Stone tavern. He is looking for the troupe that were on the wrong end of a supposed dragon that is northwest of Liwil. He finds the five members nursing their wounds with cheap ale. In conversation, Velsind learns how the group encountered the tremendous beast and were easily beaten away. The large three horned beast with a crest shielding its neck was taller than two men high and maybe fifty feet long. The hide turned away all blows and arrows from past encounters still lodge in places. Velsind questions the feasibility to take on a creature with only five members. This enrages the leader who repeats the rumor of the green dragon being taken out by the adventurer's small army. Velsind is quick to correct that, saying the small army slew the manticore from a distance with arrows but the group's knight, Sir Keyan, faced the beast single handedly and slew it, with one arrow from the rest of the group actually causing injury. The offended leader spits on the floor in disgust and growls further words of disgust as Velsind points out the folly of not preparing enough and possibly taking on too much.
As Velsind turns away to take his leave, further words are thrown his way. He turns and assesses the group and realizes that they are not as seasoned as his current companions. A prickling on the back of his neck lets him know his patron doesn't want to let this go. With a rush of magical energy, Velsind pushes his natural charisma out and lets it wash over the offended man. His demeanor changes and becomes more pleasant towards Velsind. At this point, the warlock offers to the man and his group that they should think about coming alongside (the name to still be determined) group he is with and allow them to learn from how they adventure and prepare. Velsind also points out that not all are meant to be slaying monsters and such and the challenges of farming and running a business with success are also noble and needed. The man relents and agrees that his group might need that. Velsind extends an offer of assistance to the group if they ever find themselves in need, all they have to do is head north to Black Pit Keep. As he walks away, the warlock hears the discouraged party members question why the leader changed his mind and attitude towards the rude interloper. A response of that their party 'does kinda suck' from the leader leaves a smile on Velsind's face.
The dawn of the 20th day sees the northbound explorers leave on a nice spring morning. It is decided that morning that they would camp in the wilderness instead of returning to the keep each night. Just under two miles to the north, they round a bend and come upon a small colony of giant wasps that have made their home on a cliffside (subhex 05.07). The spy seven of the creatures either flying or crawling slowly about. They decide to mark this spot and come back with greater firepower to deal with the wasps later on and head away to not disturb them.
About midafternoon, the group spies a peculiar object (subhex 03.06). Upon closer inspection, it seems to be a very large, almost six foot long, damselfly slowly moving its wings but this is completely made out of metals and gears. As the group gets a bit closer, the creature slowly flies up into the air and lazily moves towards the group. It zeroes in on Vygr, stops in the air a short distance away, speaks about delivering a message, and has a small hatch open on the underside which spits out a scroll. They read a cryptic message that speaks about having gathered components and meeting again and that is signed by one 'Lean'. They attempt to interact with the metallic creature more but it ignores them after landing. The party creates a message and loads it into the hatch on the creature but this does not cause it to leave. They observe it for a bit more then decide to leave it alone for now and possibly come back to take it for some value.
Maybe less than an hour later, as they move west, a structure is seen atop a far hill (subhex 02.06). What is interesting is that it looks like at least two walls are missing as they can see through it. They approach to inspect the building. It is a large, seven sided gazebo made of stone that has open walls on the south, northwest, and northeast sides. The insides of the gazebo are free from dirt, dust, and debris. A statue in the center of the gazebo is the only thing within. It is rather abstract but the party can tell it is humanoid with three faces, three arms and three legs. The faces look towards the open walls. On further inspection, the south and northwest faces have a stain where the lips would normally go, the northeast one does not.
Nerghui decides to test things out by licking a finger, running it across the southern 'lips', then tasting his finger. He is rewarded with a sweet taste. Doing the same action to the northwest face gives a slight vinegar or wine taste, it is hard to say. Trying the same thing on the northeast face where the lips should be results in a minty taste. The party quickly moves outside and searches for a bit and is rewarded with finding a few sprigs of natural mint plants. Back inside the gazebo, they put some honey on the south face, wine on the northwest face, and the crushed plants on the northeast face. As Nerghui puts the plants in place, a strange energy overcomes him. He finds himself receiving the blessing of the tripartite god [next time any die is rolled and a 3 or 7 shows up, the die is rolled again].