The Shattered Sea

All aboard!!

120128 s0The battle began in earnest as soon as we sat down. Fearing for the ebony fly, Ferris and Quill hurried toward the ship. Tiefling archers fired as they approached and the nuckalevee breathed its noxious fumes at them. The Waste herself cast a black-tinged flame strike at the approaching group. Quill fire-balled the deck to clear some space while Alaric’s elemental tried to sweep others into its funnel and failed. Greyshanks summoned a lemure and sent it scuttling down to the deck to join the fight.

The horse of ill omen’s breath destroyed the fly and the two hobbits found themselves in mid-air. Quill feather-falled Ferris and glided down himself. On the deck they were immediately attacked, and Quill was dropped by the sickening hooves of the nuckalevee. Keller cast an obscuring mist to cover the wounded and climbed on deck to heal them.

Two tieflings grabbed the chains that held the Hart and tried to keep it from attacking and using its transforming powers. Norrick dodged among the chaos striking where he could, and avoiding the stamping hooves of the reckless beast. Ferris and Quill (momentarily restored by Keller) finished off the Waste’s steed, and turned to join the rest of the battle. Alaric and Greyshanks were carried by the air elemental to the front of the ship, and the summoner cast a wall of fire and the enemies in the rear.

Keller had tossed a silenced dagger on the mist-shrouded deck, disrupting the enemy casters when the ship carried past the clouds. Alaric summoned a spiked pit below the Waste and her dwarven captain. He danced aside and she stood her ground in mid air. She stepped around the wall and walked out into space, turning back to cast slay living on Keller. He withstood the initial blast, but found himself surrounded by enemies.

The tieflings at the front found themselves unable to get through the lemure’s defenses, and gave up to charge the bard and the summoner. Alaric put up another Wall of Fire, but that provided only temporary cover. They were soon in hand-to-hand combat against two highly trained swordsmen.

The dwarven captain had charged the party, swinging his flail and sending our heroes reeling away from his shield slams. Norrick found himself dangling from the rigging off the ship and Keller stood on the edge of death. Fearing ultimate failure, Quill pulled out his staff of one-hundred hands and emptied its magic to summon a crushing hand against the Waste. She was caught fast, and her attempts to free herself were all for naught.

Meanwhile, the tiefling sorcerer had been swept from the deck by the elemental, and transformed into an elemental himself to escape. He returned to the deck and destroyed the lemure with a shocking grasp. Sadly, both the bard and the summoner fell to their enemies blows.

After a few rounds in its grasp, the Waste That Walks burst into a noxious cloud and vanished from view. Now outnumbered, the dwarven captain succumbed to our heroes, and the last of the crewmen fell. The elemental sorcerer fled the scene dropping to the jungle below.

Quill sent the hand to dispatch the last two tieflings cowering behind the Wall of Fire and gave them no quarter. Our heroes gathered the dead and wounded to consider their next course of action.

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Rise and Fall

Inside the ziggurat, Keller and Ayelin faced off against the tiefling fire mage. He reached out with his claws and ripped at Ayelin, dropping her to the ground. Keller cast Flame Stirke, but the wizard laughed off the fiery portion of the attack. Next he surrounded himself with a wreath of daggers cutting at Keller and shredding Ayelin’s fallen body. Disregarding the danger, Keller reached through the Wall of Fire, Fire Shield and the daggers to lay one hand on the wizard, causing mortal wounds with a touch.

Pzo9025 catacombs fightOutside the fight continued. Norrick and the Ismenni warrior charged a troll while Ferris and Greyshanks stayed aloft and fired missiles into the fray. The eidolon engaged a harpie while Quill and Alaric sent a flurry of fiery into the enemy ranks. One harpy broke from the group and went after Ferris, tearing at him repeatedly. A troll took out Glum the Ismenni and the gorilla Firstborn in one round, leaving Norrick alone against the beast. He tumbled away, leaving an unfortunately straight line between two trolls and a harpy. This was soon filled by a lightning bolt. The eidolon came to Ferris’ aid and soon that creature, too, fell.

Not long after, the last of the enemies fell, but all save one of the Firstborn had gone down as well.

After a quick search of the bodies in the temple, Keller told everyone to bring the injured up to him, He recovered a cloak of displacement, a ring of protection (+2) and a lesser ring of spell storing off the fire mage. The warrior had an amulet of natural armor +2; rapier +2 (speed); unholy rapier of puncturing (vile); belt of giant strength +4; studded leather +2 (allows wearer to cast blur 1/day). The dragon creature carried nothing, but tried to lure Keller to connect with it, and he drew away.

Bringing the injured and fallen up to the temple, Keller healed them. The toucan Firstborn (the standing survivor, although the alligator, the turtle and some kind of otter should recover) told them that the Hart was just a deer and was in a ruined temple over the ridge, and that he had not seen the Waste or an airship. Anything more, he said, would have to be asked of the Keeper.

Pzo1116 preview monster15Gathering everyone, they touched the Keeper and allowed him to connect with them. They felt a surge and were transported to the peak of the temple, but in a time when all the ziggurats were standing and the land was lush. The Keeper told them that she had failed, and that it would be up to man to protect the land from now on. He explained that the Hart was not intelligent per se, but carried a tremendous amount of natural power within it.

She guessed that the Waste would use the Hart as a sacrifice to reopen the gate to the realm of the Baorn. She added that the Hart could be used to reconnect the Shattered Sea to the old world as well. They asked where this sacrifice would take place and she said that it would end where it began, which they took to mean the Deepwater Creche. This was where the Whisperer was first to appear nearly three years ago.

She noted also that Keller and Ayelin had been marked by the Celestine. She added her power to his, and the stars of the constellations became small scarabs which have the power to channel divination magic for their bearers. She also gave them the gift of True Sight before returning them to the present. She said the would heal, but it would take longer than our heroes have to wait, and so she wished them good luck.

Returned to the temple, they searched for the fleeing Waste. With the aid of the spyglass, the True Sight (and an action point) Quill spotted a shimmering object in the sky to the east, more than two miles away. The reviewed their resources for ways to intercept the vessel, and we called it a night.

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End Of The Line

Keller cast Airwalk on Ayelin and she rocketed toward the lit creature in the canopy. It thrashed at her with vines, but could not gain purchase on the elf. She struck repeatedly at it, while Alaric harried its flanks with several small air elementals. The others braced for the charge that did not come, and even the shadows in the brush remained quiet. Ferris pulled adamantine bolts from his stores and fired around the fray. After several brutal exchanges, the creature hung slack from the canopy, and the vines drooped without malice to guide them.

Keller healed the group, and they lashed the small boats together to allow him to tend those that the creeper had fed upon. By morning most had recovered their lost strength and pressed on. Glum the Ismenni demanded proper treatment for his cousin, who was decaying rapidly on the canoe, and they placed him with the other Klaengrin’s on the funerary canoes.

Preview2The morning continued misty and dark as they made their way deeper inland. By the middle of the afternoon (although it remained dark as twilight in the jungle), the funeral boats pushed out from under the canopy to a wider opening. Following quickly, our heroes came upon a spring-fed lake centered on a gigantic banyan tree with several dozen trunks rising up from the water. Beyond the massive tree, a series of ruined and partially ruined ziggurats dotted the hilly countryside.

Sharp-eyed party members watched as the funeral boats moved into the banyan’s shadow and a swarm of small insects blanketed the boats, consuming boat and passengers in a frenzied pace. They rowed clear of the current pulling them toward the tree and noted a crowd on the second tier of a nearby nearly-intact ziggurat.

Pulling out their spyglass, they noted armored trolls fighting alongside tie flings against a group of animals. Harpies struggled against huge birds in the air above. After a brief discussion they decided to join the fray as quickly as possible. Greyshanks and Ferris took the fly, Alaric and the Eidolon flew under their own power, and once they got closer Quill teleported the rest onto the tier above the fray.

Tiefling fireOnce they arrived, Ayelin noted smoke rising from the top of the ziggurat and rushed off toward an open door. Keller cried, “Bitch!”, and followed. They came to a terrace surrounding an open pit into the ziggurat. It was ringed in flame, and a tall tiefling was inside over two prone figures. Ayelin charged and was struck by a Fire Shield around the wizard. He fired magic missiles at her and stepped back, only to have her close the gap instantly. Keller ran in and reached through the wall to Slay Living, but the enemy avoided the brunt of the attack and continued to stand. Ayelin stuck as well but the reeling wizard continued to stand. Looking closer, they noted the bloody bodies on the ground were a tiefling warrior.

Meanwhile, Norrick climbed down the wall and joined in the fray. Quill followed and sent a fire snake through the group, wreaking havoc among the tieflings. Ferris and Greyshanks circle around firing at the fliers while the eidolon launched himself at one of the harpies. Quill followed up with a selective fireball, leaving more bodies scattered around the ziggurat.

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Snatch and Grab

With metallic birds tracking their every movement, our heroes continued their progress up the river. The land in the interior was rolling and marshy and the river moved slower with many more branches. As the afternoon faded to night they noticed that mold had over-run their food stores. Even worse, some of their wooden equipment had begun to warp and grow buds. They tried to stash as much as they could salvage in bags of holding, and Keller cast Mending to keep the canoes secure while they continued on.

Several party members also noticed rustling in the underbrush that lined the river. Alaric sent the Eidolon to investigate, and it was surprised by a blur or beige fur and flashing claws. Instantly, the poor outsider was ripped apart and sent back to his own plane. The others decided to take that as warning, and stayed in the boat.

As night was falling, the funeral boats they had been following took different passages up-river. After some debate, they chose to follow the boat to the right, as to avoid the sinister path. It seemed as if the stalking shadows on the shore followed that path as well.

Screen shot 2013 04 09 at 9.28.04 amThey continued well into the night. A few hours before dawn, as the group navigated a narrow vine-choked channel, several strands slipped down from above and grabbed at our heroes. A few were flung up into the air while Ayelin, Alaric and Glum the Ismenni tried to slash at the tough fibers. The vines were resilient but could be severed, and the captives were cut free. Others immediately dropped to replace them, and soon all were awake and slashing and the grabbing vegetation. Greyshanks cast dancing lights to aid them in seeing, which cast eerie shadows in the dense jungle.

Runolf the Ismenni was lifted into the canopy, and Quill shot magic missiles to free him. Unfortunately he was flung to the shoreline, and set upon by a great cat that was lurking in the shadows. As his cousin leaped from the boat to reach him, he was torn to pieces. Quill was yanked from the boat and pulled upward, but fired scorching rays into the canopy to free himself.

Realizing that something must be guiding the vines, they shouted to Greyshanks to send the lights upward into the canopy. Once he did so, Ayelin spotted a huge fibrous ball lurking among the branches. It tried to escape further into the darkened canopy, but Ayelin struck it with a lighted arrow. Ferris followed with a flurry of bolts.

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Going With The Flow

Our heroes managed to bar the doors of House Klaengrin and get a night’s rest after defeating the ‘fake’ Oleander. The Ismenni told them that no living member of their people has seen the Hart of Anu, but that their dead travel to it on ritually carved boats. They decided to follow the boats to the Hart (having recently been responsible for making several fresh Klaengrin corpses).

Most of them holed up in the house the next day while Ayelin and a couple others went into the village to buy supplies fro the journey. Magdana spent the day placing a Mark of the Firstborn on each of the party members. When night fell, they packed up three boats (along with two young Klaengrin volunteers) and followed the Klaengrin funeral barges up the river.

Fantasy art crocodiles rivers 2700x1800 wallpaper www.animalhi.com 98Very late the first night, Keller noted underwater shapes paralleling his boat. He tried to swiftly wake the others. While he was doing that, a huge alligator shape lunged up and tried to topple the small craft. He kept the boat steady, and the others tried to gather closer. Then the river erupted as several more toothy shapes burst up to attack. Quill took to the air while everyone tried to fight off the gigantic, yet perfectly formed, alligators that thrashed about them.

Ferris braved several bites while firing at creatures directly before him. Keller maneuvered his canoe closer and tried to get warriors into flanking position. Our heroes fought bravely and soon the river flowed with blood. Even so, the creatures would continue to thrash and bite long after the light had left their eyes.

Quill sent a fire snake through their ranks and Alaric brought the Eidolon back to join in the fight. Soon the tide had turned and gators’ bodies slumped back below the surface. The party awaited some kind of retribution, but so far it was not directed at them.

Things continued quietly through the night and most of the next day. Late in the afternoon the Eidolon reported the stench of death on the wind. Eventually they sent him up to get a high-altitude view. He spotted a circle of dead vegetation off to the east of the river ahead. While they drew closer on the river, they sent him over for a closer look. When he descended into the circle to see the remains of a camp, he found himself surrounded by metallic plumed birds. More and more appeared and swarmed over him. He tried to flee but was overtaken by the swarm and he was being viciously slashed by their steely beaks. Alaric dismissed him back to his plane, and the birds flew to the shore to peer down at the group.

They kept quiet and rowed as quickly as the could away from the spot. Soon the birds dispersed and our heroes once again found themselves alone in the jungle— a lush, disturbingly green place that seems as if it has never seen the touch of living man.

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Jumping to Conclusions

Magdana was torn between saving the children around her and concern for the others trapped in the other room. The party decided to try to rescue the others while keeping this group out of combat. They closed them with the rescued warrior and the real Oleander and set out down the corridor.

Norrick examined the door and determined it was barred from the other side. Quill used ‘knock’ to drop the bar and Ayelin kicked in the door. She was met by a barrage of throwing axes and one angry troll inside the large chamber. The axe throwers had bound children as cover.

295 realsizeAyelin tumbled through the group to get behind the troll, Quill cast Fire Snake and stuck all four enemies without harming the children. The rest of our heroes rushed in to assist. Norrick struck the troll repeatedly with sneak attacks while Ferris peppered the warriors with bolts. The warriors closed and combat was short and brutal. Alaric used an acid splash to keep the troll down and soon the party had dispatched the enemies.

Ferris was untying one of the bound children when he noticed that he looked familiar. In fact, he was an exact duplicate of one of the children in the other room. Keller ran to check and was shot by an arrow from within. He found Magdana and several of the children had gone. Alaric summoned a xill and quickly dropped the wounded warrior. They demanded to know what happened from the ‘real’ Oleander, and he pointed toward the chamber.

Ayelin looked in and could see the signs of recent climbing. She followed up the shaft, followed by Ferris and Norrick. The others gathered the children and try to follow up the stairs.

Reaching the top, Ayelin easily followed the sooty footprints out the front door. When she got to the landing she was struck by a spell from a fleeing figure down the gangway. She shook off the magic and charged. The enemy – now revealed as a tiefling – grabbed the clan mother and leaped from the railing. The evil creature had grown wings and was flying away with the clan mother.

Ayelin wasted no time on thought and jumped out into the void and grabbed them. Ferris had now arrived on the scene and began tying rope to a bolt to reel them in. The three grappled in mid-air, but no one could get free of the others. Norrick arrived thereafter and also jumped into the fray from above.

With three people hanging on, the tiefling was losing altitude. Alaric and Greyshanks made it to the porch and the summoner brought in dire bats to aid their escape. Greyshanks shouted to the tiefling. ‘suggesting’ that he return to the safety of the deck. The fleeing enemy turned and tried to do just that, but could not gain height with all the baggage. Ayelin brought out the ebony fly, and she and Norrick untangled themselves from the grapple.

The winged tiefling brought Magdana to the rail near Greyshanks, and he quickly cast confusion on the foe. He lashed out futilely and Ayelin and Norrick returned to the deck on opposing sides of the foe. They both slashed out repeatedly, and Ferris added a few missiles to the mix, and the bard dropped to the floor.

Dragging him inside and rebarring the door, our heroes gathered up the bodies, the surviving Ismenni and holed up for the night.

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Don't go into the basement

Our heroes quickly interrogated the real Oleander and the warrior they captured. They explained that the lower level only contained the water supply, fish salting chamber and the chambers of the single members of the clan. Neither had been down since the imposter had taken over and had no idea if there traps laid.

Norrick led the troop down the stairs and was greeted by a flurry of arrow fire when he peaked around the landing. A group of fighters hid in a dimly lit chamber behind a barricade. Alaric summoned an earth elemental who reared up from the stone floor and slammed at the foes. Using it as cover, the others charged down the stairs.

Ayelin spotted the leader from the balcony among these fighters, as he leaped across the barricade to strike at the elemental. Unfortunately, this opened him to other attacks and he fell along with his comrades. After a quick round of healing they continued out of the room.

Pzo9032 trollThey next went to the clan house’s water supply, which was a stream that run through the basement. They assured themselves that it was empty and moved on. They came to a deep channel across the next hall from the stream. Sending the elemental forward, it was jumped by an invisible troll hidden on the far side.

The two joined in battle, and Alaric cast Enlarge on Ayelin. She charged while Ferris and Quill supported with missile fire. The troll soon fell, and the enlarged Ayelin set the board in place to allow the others to cross the stream.

Coming to a T in the hall, Quill spotted salty footprints moving between the two doorways. They believed that the captives were being held in the warriors’ chambers to the left, but went to the salting chamber on the right to be safe. There they found a group of children and young women clambering up the coal chute. They pulled them down and questioned them.

One of them was the clan mother Magdana, who seemed to be addled by some kind of magic. She believed that Oleander had brought them here to ‘escape’ death by the party, but could not recall where he went. When faced by the real Oleander, she began to see through some of the implanted memories and recalled giving the Mark to a tall, pale woman and three others. Since then several of her clan children have sickened and died.

She agreed to give the Mark to our heroes, if they could stop her. They were discussing where to take Magdana and the children, and when to get the Marks when we decided to call it for the night.

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Wake-Up Call

RavenswarmPicking up in mid-battle, Ayelin struck the archer from across the table they were hiding behind. Keller tried to gather the group for a healing, while Alaric sent a couple warriors into a spike pit and Quill dropped a fireball on a few more. The Ismenni proved more resilient than expected and kept coming. Norrick dropped the remaining warrior in the room and Quill breathed dragon fire and the three that charged him. Keller, blinded and surrounded by ravens, could merely hover and heal the group. Ayelin and the Eidolon hacked there way on the other side of the room, and one of the trio dropped through a trap door and escaped.

Ferris finished off the ravens with his trusty crossbow, and the last of Quill’s scorched enemies tried to flee— directly into the path of the invisible Greyshanks. Soon the remaining warriors were dispatched by our heroes. When Keller gathered the group for another healing, a flurry of arrows shot out from a darkened doorway. Ayelin charged and knocked over the improvised barrier the archers were behind. The party went into a defensive posture, and Greyshanks tried to Enthrall the young warriors in their nightshirts. One tried to flee, and Ayelin caught him before he could get out the door.

This broke the bard’s spell, and the attack began anew. However, a handful of young warriors without armor were no match for the party’s concerted effort.

Returning to the pit, they broke the spirit of the Ismenni trapped below. Returning him to the surface, he told them that Oleander had convinced them that strangers would come and try to destroy their clan and their lives— and that they must be stopped at all costs. He also said that the clan mother had taken ill, and that Oleander had brought her and the children to the old warriors’ quarters on the lower level. Meanwhile, Ferris and Norrick (who had been keeping watch on the rear hallway and staircase) discovered a hidden doorway in a niche.

When all had gathered, Norrick opened the lock door and found an older Ismenni collapsed in a narrow cell. Detecting magic revealed a stone tied around his wrist that Quill believed was similar to an Ioun stone. They used mage hands to gather it up in the Haversack and the man seemed to recover his wits somewhat. He was the true Oleander, who had no memory off the past week.

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Home Invasion

Our heroes made their way toward the House of Klaengrin to determine the best means of access. From the street gate, a series of gangways led up the side of the cliff to a house set in a break of the rock wall. They decided on a largely aerial approach, with Alaric summoning a troop of giant bats to carry them up, while Keller and Greyshanks (although invisible) made a more direct approach.

SeaterThe pair climbed up the first three approaches while the others circled with their bats. When they got to the fourth, three big wasp-like figures climbed out from under the decking and attacked them. The first struck Keller with its stinger and he could feel foul poison try to take hold of him. He shook it off, and Alaric cast a wall of fire on the other two and commanded the bats to intercept. Keller followed with Flame Strike and the landing erupted into flames. The two from behind leaped forward on Keller and the third flew to Greyshanks, who had been trying to tumble away invisible. Quill fired scorching rays on the beasts while the others raced toward the landing.

The two spider eaters (Quill determined that this is what the magical beasts were called) lashed out at Keller and Greyshanks, who fought back as well as they could. Alaric’s bat nearly crashed him into the decking and he found himself hanging from boardwalk’s supports. Ayelin leaped from hers and took a stand beside her friends. Ferris was dropped on the deck and managed to drop a beast with crossbow bolt. Soon they found themselves on a scorched deck below the doorway with three dead smoking insects before them.

Feeling the element of surprise was lost, Keller cast an obscuring mist and carried Ferris and Norrick up for a better view. The saw that the door was flanked by arrow slits and that the 100’ long building was set to fill the cleft in the rock, with a green valley behind. An open tower marked by several dark wings overlooked both sides of the House. The rejoined the group at the door just as the mist was being blown off by the wind. Quill cast knock and the heavy bar dropped from behind the door. Arrows shot out from the flanks as the party quickly shuttled into the hall.

Ayelin strode in the fire-lit chamber while Keller took the halflings up to the rafters. There he was instantly surrounded by a swarm of ravens, who scratched and pecked at their eyes, blinding the priest. He lowered down and dropped the halflings to the floor. Ayelin spotted a stair to the balcony and ran toward it, just as arrows launched out from the far side of the room.

Quill crept in and found an open door in the corner that probable met up with the hidden archers. Norrick discovered a matching door on the other side, and tumbled through to surprise the enemy. Ferris sought cover by an open staircase and tried to keep watch on the entire chamber.

On the balcony, Ayelin charged a trio of archers. One dropped his bow and met her charge. Alaric’s eidolon followed in flight and was looming over the concealed archers waiting to attack. We called it a night.

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CSI: Carnage Scene Investigators

384 ca barbarianBack at the log slide, Quill immediately threw a fireball at two of the oncoming warriors. They were charred but continued to advance, as the fire spread around the clearing. The other pair came toward Norrick hiding in the brush, but one was felled by missile fire before he could reach the halfling. Arrow fire from the treeline came at our heroes, and Ferris was struck by at least two well-placed shafts.

Norrick stepped up and missed wildly. Quill traded fireballs for more-targeted Scorching Rays while Ayelin took on the two flame-scarred warriors. The airborne Keller and Ferris spotted a few of the hidden archers and turned their attention to them. Slowly, the tide of battle turned and our heroes dispatched the enemies. This left one trapped in the pit that Alaric had summoned. Greyshanks cast enthrall to pacify him and the group surrounded him while the pit slowly filled.

Unwilling to die for a cause (and the party unwilling to give him a ‘fair’ fight to the death), he surrendered. He told them that Ingvar the Lame had roused them to attack, claiming the land needed to be purged of their outland taint. When pressed on where Ingvar was, he could not answer, and was confused not to see him among the fallen.

A quick search in the trees revealed the corpse of Ingvar, stabbed from behind with a poisoned blade. Keller roused the corpse for conversation, and it told them that he was stabbed by a local warrior named Sigurd, but that he was shocked that he would have been surprised by the slow-witted man. He also said the idea to ‘purge’ the land of the party had come from Oleander of clan Klaengrin— but that it seemed like a really good idea to him.

Assisted by the boys they saved from the log slide, the party built rafts and poled the bodies (and prisoner) back to Timberholm. They were met by some men, who summoned bards to determine the ‘proper’ fate of the dead. It was decided that they would be returned to their families for disposal. Rudderkin, who was one of the bards summoned, joined the group and told them that Oleander was a shady character known to spend a lot of time on the mainland. They asked him to dig up what he could on clan Klaenrgin and left him to his carousing.

Vbfa 2007 09 0056 tga 00001They also came upon Sigurd at the Green Man, who was celebrating a fat purse. With Ayelin on his lap, he explained he had worked two shifts hauling salt fish today, as the Klaengrin’s did not open their market stall today, leaving more custom for his employers.

Then they went to house Krvistrin to talk with Ingrid. She accepted her brother’s death, and thanked them for returning the body. She added that the Klaengrin’s had not opened their stall for two days and that Oleander is the only clan member that has been seen about. Theirs is a fishing family, and the men are often at sea, but this was a little strange.

The party decided to waste no more time, and set out to find the truth inside the house of Kleangrin that night.

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