Argentum Fons

Interlude: The Indigo Galleon
Knowledge is the treasure of a wise man

Some time ago…


Stranded by a mighty, once-in-a-decade tempest, Dru, Aldara, Niskadora, and Arder spent the last week in the tiny village of Codcliffe, a hardscrabble fishing settlement perched atop a high cliff far from the reaches of Prince Jordanus and his tax-hungry Imperial Navy. The morning after the storm broke, the group was joined by Captain-Senator Balbus and his crew, castaways from the HMS Relentless, an indigo-sailed Imperial treasure galleon. The ship lay beached on a nearby tide flat shunned by the villagers; a place where the octopus folk gather to bellow at the comets.

Captain-Senator Balbus and his men come to demand the service due to to their beloved Empire. In the wreck, the Relentless lost a valuable cargo: the prisoner Mr. Hobart and his vicious crew of corsairs. Jordanus has commanded that Hobart’s marauders be presented to the Court in time for High Season, and the Captain-Senator will do whatever is necessary to fulfill his duty. He demands Codcliffe’s assistance.

The villagers are apprehensive. They loathe the Empire, are terrified of Hobart and his marauders, and have known for generations that it is unwise to trespass on the lands of the octopus folk…

The Village Square

Though Balbus and his men demanded assistance from the villagers of Codcliffe, none stepped forward. In a petulant fit, Balbus’s personal bodyguard, the sorceror Apothiko Vitula, polymorphed some villagers into chickens, promising to reverse the spell if Hobart is apprehended.

The group, unimpressed by Balbus and Vitula’s childish displays, decided to seek out Hobart on their own, separate from Balbus and his crew’s poorly organized search party. They made their way southward, past the wreck of the Relentless, run aground upon the silty tide flats. Her hull was unbreached, but her masts were cracked and fallen, and her rigging was in tatters. The deep indigo sails hung in rags from the yards.

Continuing further to the south, the group came upon a series of islets, almost entirely underwater in the high tide. In the center of these rose an enormous pillar of rock, three hundred feet in diameter and at least two hundred feet high. At its base, just above the high-tide line, a cave mouth offered entrance. In front of the cave mouth a tiny figure paced, agitated.

Aldara sensed that this place was a conduit of great magical power, and noticed that the magical energy of this islet extended far into the sky…

The Cave

The tiny, pacing figure was a young halfling by the name of Talley. Talley sought entrance to the caves, but was chased out by the octopus guards every time he tried to sneak in. He claimed over and over that he needed to get into the cave to join the Migration.

Arder, already in a foul mood thanks to the weather and a week of unceasing rain, and out of patience for cryptic puzzles, compelled Talley to divulge what fueled the flames of his desire. Talley revealed that he had been stung by the Decaturge, the ten-armed High Priest of the octopus folk, and that the Decaturge’s sting was what was compelling him to join the Migration. He agreed to help in any way he could if the group could aid him in his goals.

Quietly, they sneaked into the mouth of the cave, beyond which was a long, dimly-lit tunnel, damp with rain and seawater. Dru shapeshifted into a penguin and shot off down the tunnel, sliding on his belly, past the two octopus folk standing guard at the end of the tunnel.

At the end of the tunnel, the floor dropped off, and he tumbled onto the floor of a great, round chamber, fifty feet across and a hundred feet high. From ceiling to floor hung huge rubbery vines, and the floor of the chamber was covered with a hundred soft, slightly gelatinous orbs, the eggs of the octopus folk. In the vines overhead, females swung from vine to vine, weaving lattices and nets from which they hung clusters of eggs. In the center of the chamber rose a spiral staircase, leading from the floor all the way out the top of the islet.

The octopus guards were startled and confused by the tiny penguin, and one of them swung into the siring chamber to investigate. Arder, Aldara, Niskadora, and Talley crept up behind the other guard, and Aldara reached out, touching the octopus so she could cast a spell to mimic its appearance. Meanwhile, Arder tried to overpower its weak mind, but its intellect was too foreign and it merely became confused and afraid. It reached out its tentacle to grab Aldara, now in the form of another octopus.

Talley recognized this gesture as a form of communication. He jumped forward and took hold of the octopus’s tentacles and communicated to it, in a series of nuanced twitches and grasps, that he and his friends were safe and meant no harm. The octopus calmed down and stood aside, allowing Arder and Aldara to enter the siring den.

Aldara, in the form of an octopus, had no difficulty swinging from vine to vine, but Arder’s clumsy claws were unable to grasp the rubbery vines well enough to make her way across the room. Instead, she managed to swing over to a narrow catwalk along the side of the chamber, but in doing so she attracted the attention of the guard who had gone looking for Dru, as well as two more guards from an entrance on the opposite side of the chamber. The first guard bore down on Arder and sprayed her with thick black ink, marking her for a target.

Dru, nestled among the eggs at the bottom of the chamber, was able to meditate on the nature of these strange octopus folk enough to be able to shapeshift into one. He called out to them, in a series of whistles and grunts, to apprehend the intruders—his party mates. Arder was beset now by not only the guards, but the females high among the vines as well. Conjuring a flaming blade, she slashed the nearest one in half, and it exploded in a burst of goo and ink.

The Vault

Aldara and Dru, taking advantage of the confusion, made their way across the chamber to the other cave mouth, which opened into another similarly-sized vault, this one with smooth walls painted in golden alien heiroglyphs and black-ink frescoes. Down on the floor, in the center of the room, Mr. Hobart and half a dozen of his men were tied to a piece of mast from Relentless. The Decaturge and a handful of warriors were circled around them, painting strange sigils on the prisoners’ skin with black ink.

Dru called out to the Decaturge that there were intruders in the siring den. The Decaturge sent his warriors into the den to try to apprehend Arder. Seizing an opportunity, Dru called upon the elemental spirit of earth to shake the ground, and a huge portion of the wall and floor crumbled away, opening a gaping hole out to the sea. The floor beneath them gave way and began to slope out toward the waves, and Hobart and his men, tied to the heavy mast, began to slide away from Dru and Aldara.

Aldara, seeking some magical explanation for the octopus folk’s migration, attuned her senses once more to detect any magic present in the space. She discovered that the golden hieroglyphics were indeed quite potent magic, focusing to a swirling point at the center of the vault ceiling. The resonance of her spell, combined with the elemental power called upon by Dru, rent the fabric of reality and the walls of the vault began to melt and slide away. The Decaturge latched onto one of the massive pillars still clinging to the ceiling and tried to climb his way up toward the point of the vault.

Dru and Aldara decided to take this opportunity to attempt an escape.

Run Away!

Realizing that their safest means of egress was back through the siring den, Dru and Aldara, both now transforming back to their humanoid forms, leapt forward and swung across the chamber to the other side. Meanwhile, the octopus folk relinquished their attack on Arder, shifting their attention to saving as many eggs as possible from the falling rubble and melting walls.

Arder, still rattled from the onslaught, attempted to swing to safety but fell, tumbling down to the floor, her fall broken only somewhat by the eggs beneath her. Niskadora quickly cut down a length of the rubbery vine and swung it down to Arder, who climbed up and out to the relative safety of the tunnel, clutching a wobbly egg.

Seeing his opportunity to join the Migration slipping from view, Talley dived into the siring chamber just as a huge chunk of wall and vine came tumbling down, blocking off the tunnel.

Hobart and his men, to this day, were never recovered.

The Brothers of the Sun
Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

Where’s Dru?

After a good night’s sleep, the adventurers awoke at Penelope’s estate, still glowing a brilliant, vivid purple. Realizing that they still had no idea where Dru was, Niskadora sent Judo into the city to track him down. In the meantime, the team devised a plan to head into town to entreat the Brothers of the Sun for information about the Whispering Deck, and help reverting themselves to a non-purple state. If they happened to find some additional cards, well… who would miss them, anyway, right?

Mordecai offered resistance, initially upset at Erroll’s thievery and now even more unnerved by the prospect of stealing more cards from the Temple. Erroll appealed to Mordecai’s sense of justice by lying telling him of Niskadora’s brother, Bob, who had been kidnapped by the Brothers and was in need of a daring rescue.

Upon hearing that Niskadora’s brother Bob had been kidnapped, Cecil sprung immediately into action, vowing to aid Niskadora in rescuing her brother, no matter the cost.

The Temple

Now joined by Dru once again, the group made their way into town, across the busy central plaza, to the temple of the High Order of the Brothers of the Sun. Inside, they were greeted by Friend Survel, a new initiate of the Order.

Cecil returned Survel’s greeting with vicious threats and demanded to know where Bob was being held.

Eventually, the situation was defused and Survel agreed to take the group to see Matchless Friend Mi’ikanti, the high healer. After Arder committed herself to learning more about the High Order, Mi’ikanti was able to reverse the magic resonance causing the purple glow, restoring everyone except Mordecai to their original, non-glowing selves.

Survel returned and ushered the group to the guest barracks to rest and make themselves comfortable before evening prayers. Once there, Cecil and Erroll snuck away to find where the Brothers were keeping the cards Bob.

The Heist
Property is organized robbery

The Skull

With Niskadora waiting outside, Erroll snuck into the Little Pixie, hoping to make it out with the box containing the cards from the Whispering Deck. Having watched the shopkeeper put the box away earlier, Erroll deftly made his way behind the counter, grabbed the box, and…

“Psst! Hey, hey you! Thief!”

“Eh? Who’s there?”

Erroll saw two brilliant white points of light, glimmering in the darkness of the shop, behind the counter just feet from where he was standing.

“Come here! Help me! You have to get me out of here!”

Investigating closer, Erroll discovered that the voice was coming from what appeared to be a human skull inside a bottle. Not one to pass up an opportunity to make money help someone out of a tight spot, Erroll agreed to assist the talking, glowing-eyed skull in his escape. The skull told Erroll that the shop was warded with a magical alarm that would sound inside the shopkeeper’s home, but that they should have plenty of time to get out before anyone arrived to investigate the break-in.

Erroll, along with the box containing the cards, and a talking skull in a bottle, walked out the door of the shop with a confident swagger.

The Alleyway

Meanwhile, Cecil and Aldara made their way back to the rendezvous point, noting the signal of glowing embers indicating that Arder and Astrafel were in danger. As they approached, they saw the Bard and the Immolator trapped, boxed into an alley with City Guardsmen closing in from either end.

Astrafel leapt into action, weaving a magnificent mandolin solo into a distracting spell. At the end of the alley nearest the central plaza, one of the Guardsmen began dancing violently, injuring and startling his brothers. From the other end of the alley, right as Cecil and Aldara were running in to help, Arder took control of the flame of a nearby torch to create a barrier, a wall separating them from the Guards. Her magic backfired and the flame instead cut across the mouth of the alley, driving the Guards closer in and cutting off Aldara and Cecil’s approach. Aldara was able to redirect the magical energy, absorbing it and releasing the flame as a massive fireball, taking out the guards nearest them. With the treat from the City Guards dispatched, Arder, Astrafel, Cecil, and Aldara were able to reach the rendezvous to meet up with Erroll and Niskadora.

The Druid

After zipping into the air as a housefly, Dru transformed into a giant grizzly bear, falling upon the Guards attempting to subdue him. The Guards stood no chance against a bear three times their size, and were swiftly incapacitated.

Dru, unable for the time being to transform back to his natural Elven state, wandered off into the city, frightening citizens and eliciting calls for help from every window and door he passed…

The Burning Temple
And everything burned in blue

Following their meeting with the City Prophets, our party decided to devise a scheme to obtain the cards held by the shopkeeper at the Little Pixie. But first, some errands…

The Trade

Knowing the Little Pixie was in possession of at least one and possibly more cards, it would first be necessary to scout the shop and determine the exact location of the cards, and the nature of any traps or protections that might endanger a heist. The party made their way to the shop in the early afternoon to trade an item for one of the cards. Astrafel offered the sacrificial knife she had taken from the Shaman during the Winter Solstice ceremony in the Ice Wastes. The shopkeeper, though not as impressed as he might have been, agreed that the knife would be an acceptable trade and offered a single card in return. Astrafel chose The Diplomat, a card whose influence is said to cause others nearby to treat the bearer like a trusted ally. Erroll, watching the shopkeeper closely, observed the locked wooden box in which the cards were kept, and the location of the box squarely behind the counter. After the transaction, the shopkeeper returned the box to its home and smiled politely at his guests.

“Uh, thanks—thanks for the trade. What time do you close?” asked Astrafel.
The shopkeeper replied, “We are open for business until one hour past sundown.”
“Oh, okay, great,” said Astrafel, “Uh, we might be back later. To make another trade. Yeah.”

The Vision

During the transaction, Dru spent some time in meditation on the nature of the spirits of the City. During his meditation, he saw a brilliantly vivid—and terrifying—vision of events to come:

The great Temple of the Prophets burning to the ground. Azloria under siege from a host of bronze-armored warriors, their swords and shields glistening red and yellow in the sun and flames. Thick black smoke hanging heavy in the air. The unbearable screams of the dying.

What terrible development could result in such gruesome consequences?

The Order

Following the reconnaissance mission to the Little Pixie, the party thought it prudent to pay a visit to the High Order of the Brothers of the Sun. The Reverent Key seemed to have some rivalry with them; it was time to figure out why.

Arder and Aldara decided to enter the temple located on the Azloria’s Central Plaza, overshadowed by the huge and imposing Temple of the Prophets in the very middle of the square. As they entered through the front door of the temple, they were immediately enveloped in the light of hundreds of blazing torches lining the walls, with an enormous hearth-fire burning in the center of the room. Along the edges of the great hall, yellow-robed monks were milling about, replacing expended torches and feeding the great fire.

“Ah, greetings, visitors!” came a jovial voice from a nearby monk. “What questions can I answer for you this glorious day?”

“We’re here to find out more about your…organization,” said Arder. “We have heard much about the Brothers of the Sun in our travels, but we wanted to find out about you for ourselves.”

“Oh, of course! I would be happy to tell you about our bright and glorious order. Please, follow me.” He led the pair across the great hall to an enormous stone door, inlaid with the golden double-sun sigil of the order. Through the doorway was a long corridor, bright as day and warm with the heat of a hundred more brilliant torches, interspersed with gleaming polished silver shields bearing the same golden suns. At the end of the corridor the temple opened up to a huge congregation hall, its walls lined with more shields and torches. More monks were puttering here and there, polishing shields, replacing torches, and making evening preparations before supper.

“As you can see, we greatly value the life-giving light bestowed on us by our God the Sun,” said the monk.

Arder’s eyes flickered from within, a salamander’s response to the heat and light within the temple. “What fuels the flames of your desire, monk?” she hissed.

Without pause, the yellow-robed missionary responded, “To see world burning with the Glory of the Sun, and to see all her people wearing the yellow robes of the High Order of the Brothers of the Sun.” He blinked a few moments, looking as if he was trying hard to remember something, then shook his head and smiled vacantly.

Aldara and Arder exchanged a look, recalling Dru’s vision. Remembering the purpose of their visit, Aldara quickly asked a final question: “We heard in our travels that the Brothers of the Sun may have sent some men to Greybark, perhaps in search of some cards? Do you know anything about that?”

The monk looked thoughtful for a moment, then replied “I cannot speak to the validity of your claim, but I can tell you that the Brothers of the Sun do not take kindly to tools of divination. It is our belief that such obvious blasphemy is a distraction from the true glory of our God the Sun. We make it a point to destroy any such artifacts we encounter.”

The Heist

Now well past sundown, the group reconvened in the Plaza to discuss the details of their plan. Erroll alone would sneak into the shop and steal the box holding the cards, with Niskadora and Judo standing watch nearby. Meanwhile, Arder and Astrafel, Aldara and Cecil, and Dru would each create diversions a few blocks away. Like last time, Arder linked herself to the embers in three tobacco pipes, and would flare the embers in the event of any misfortune.

Dru, seeking to create the biggest distraction, shapeshifted into a yeti and smashed the exterior walls of several nearby establishments. Moments later, she shapeshifted back into his Elven form, naked and screaming, as three armed city guards seized upon him from all sides. Shapeshifting again into a fly, he zipped away above the fracas and, transforming now into a grizzly bear, fell upon the hapless guards…

Meanwhile, Aldara and Cecil made their way to the edge of the commerce district to a street lined with a series of taverns. Without warning, Aldara cast a spell to turn Cecil invisible to every pair of eyes, including his own. Cecil, confused and afraid, began to flail madly about, jumping and stomping as if to try to shake himself back into existence. Tavern-goers rushed into the street to find the source of the commotion, only to be bowled off their feet by an invisible arm or leg.

“Aldara! Aaahh! Aldara, I don’t like this! What’s going on? Aldara! Ahh!”

A few blocks away, nearer the central plaza, Astrafel and Arder set up a small busking performance (prohibited, of course, by city ordinances) under the guise of sanctioned prophesy:

Come join the Brothers of the Sun
Come join us, we’re extra fun
If you do not join our group,
The Sun will turn you into glooooop!

Immediately, Astrafel’s utterly competent but uninspiring performance drew the attention of a nearby guard. “Oi. No street performance. ’Sagainst the lawr. Move along.”

“Absolutely, officer. No problem,” said Astrafel, as she picked up her mandolin case. They moved a few yards away, closer to the central plaza, and picked the performance back up where it had left off.

“Oi! I thought I told you to—” At once, the guard’s cape flared up, caught by an errant ember from a nearby streetlamp. Arder’s eyes flickered and sparked. A few more nearby guards, alerted by the short-lived blaze, were drawn to the scuffle. As the first guard rolled on the ground to extinguish his cape, the other guards surrounded Astrafel and Arder. Arder signaled the others with a flare of the pipe tobacco. She and Astrafel attempted to run, but the clumsily narrow streets were choked with onlookers, and the pair were captured by city guards…

The Deck
Trust everybody, but cut the cards.

In Greybark…

While carousing in The Owl’s Feather Inn, a drunk former adventurer stumbles over to the table where our inebriated intrepid party is seated. Too impaired to join the conversation in any meaningful way, he passes out across the table; just as the bouncer comes to remove the old drunkard from the Inn, Erroll notices and swiftly pockets three tattered slips of card from the man’s threadbare coat pocket.

Shortly after, a pair of thugs from parts unknown make their way through the front door of the inn. After a brief exchange with the bouncer, the thugs beeline for the table. Noticing something is amiss, Momma Gyrda slyly informs the party of the thugs’ presence and apparent intent, as well as of the existence of a back door, emptying into a seldom-used access alley.

While the majority of the party exits the Inn as swiftly and unobtrusively as possible, Cecil and Dru move to the center of the Inn, Dru shapeshifting into a wild boar. Their intimidation tactic was successful and the thugs fled the tavern, terrified of the crazed monster before them, as well as the wild boar. Dru and Cecil rejoined the others in the attic behind the Owl’s Feather, where Gyrda was offering assistance to the party.

“Those cards you picked up, halfling, are of great interest to some folk around town. People are whispering. I’d advise you to be very careful about who you choose to talk to about them. Those two men in the Inn were after those cards. My son Audun is a Man-at-Arms for the Duke’s men down at the barracks on the south end of town. He can help you get out of Greybark.”

Trusting the renowned Mother of Swords, the party followed Gyrda to the barracks and met with Audun, who offered a small wagon and pair of horses to get the adventurers to where they needed to go. Ultimately, it was decided that the group should travel to Azloria, the City of Prophets, to meet up with Aldara’s friend Penelope and try to find more information about the cards waiting in Erroll’s pocket.

En route to Azloria, the team was beset by a Hill Giant when they stopped to make camp. Aldara cast an illusion to distract the Hill Giant with two leaping, magically-sparkling goats. Thankfully, Hill Giants don’t think clearly when they’re hungry, and he bounded off into the night, slavering and grunting, “mmm, goats!”

In Azloria…

There is a tale among the bards / Don’t let an asshole get the cards…

Upon arrival in Azloria, the party began to seek out information. An appointment was made to meet with the Prophets, sanctioned by the city government and serving travelers and pilgrims from across the land. While waiting for the appointment, Penelope revealed to Aldara and the rest of the party that she had heard rumors that The Reverent Key had sent men to Greybark looking for some incredibly powerful artifact. It was decided that the party should split up and seek answers around the city, making use of its unique position as a major travel hub as a source of information.

Arder devised a signaling system whereby each member of the party would smoke a pipe. By linking herself to the burning embers of the pipes, Arder could be alerted should any tragedy befall her partymates.

Dru and Astrafel

In the Laughing Snail Tavern, Isembart the innkeeper let slip that the widely reviled Prince Jordanus has the Prophets in his pocket. “They’ll give you information, sure,” said Isembart, “but it won’t be anything the Prince won’t want you to know…”

Aldara and Erroll

A trip to the Little Pixie, a shop famed for its incredible collection of magical artifacts, revealed more information about the cards Erroll claimed. Not only are the cards part of a Whispering Deck, but they are in fact likely to be cards from the Whispering Deck, the archetypal deck of cards that every fortune teller’s cartomantic props are copied from.

The deck itself is immensely powerful, and it’s said that the cards of the true Whispering Deck will find a way to come together. They exert their influence on their bearers, and if collected and ritualized could bring about immeasurable upheaval.

The shopkeep also happened to have a few members of the deck’s rank, and he would make them available for trade, for a fair price…

Cecil and Niskadora

The Temple of the Reverent Key, the religious cult Penelope mentioned, has a branch temple in the vast streets of Azloria. Cecil and Niskadora paid a visit and spoke with one of the Ordinates of the temple, who suggested that perhaps if Niskadora or her friends had one or more of the cards, that they should be brought to the Temple immediately, and that they should not let slip to anyone else that they may have come to hold the cards. Members of a rival faction, the High Order of the Brothers of the Sun, would be onto them if they found out about the cards.

“In fact,” he said, “that was why we sent two of our Ordinacy to Greybark! Yes, of course! We had heard that the Brothers of the Sun were there and that they were trying to track down these cards! We had to stop them! It’s such a good thing that you’re here in Azloria now…”

The next day…

Deciding it would be prudent to honor their appointment with the City Prophets, the party reconvened the next afternoon and made their way to the massive structure that served as the Prophets’ center of operations. The meeting was brief, but insightful:

“Of course, the existence of a real Whispering Deck is just a fairy tale, a story told by fortune tellers who want to get one over on the common people. Such a thing can not possibly exist. If it did, of course, it would be unimaginably powerful, as I’m sure you can imagine. But it doesn’t. Of course, if there were such a thing, its owners would have to be very careful. But there’s no such thing. Of course."

The Story So Far
Within me there lay an invincible summer.

Our adventurers, each for reasons all their own, banded together in the town of Greybark on the eve of the Winter Solstice. The townsfolk had reported missing children, and suspicions ran deep that evil occult forces were at work.

After using Arder’s fire abilities to tunnel through the Great Ice Wall to the north, our party found themselves in the Northern Ice Wastes, stalked by Ice Wolves and soaked to the bone from the flooding their tunnel induced. Ahead in a grove of ancient evergreens, the party noticed the glow of a fire—and, carried on the brisk, biting wind, the sounds of a gathering. Erroll sneaked through the grove to a clearing and found the source of the fire and noise. Snippets and fragments of words in a tongue familiar yet unknown drifted to his ears, and he saw the glint of an ornate bejeweled dagger, hot-orange in the firelight. A shaman! Even better—treasure! These creatures were strange, though, and unlike anything he’d ever seen before. Taller than he, a halfling, yet shorter than most elves or men he knew… how curious…

Reporting back to the party, Erroll related what he had seen and heard (leaving out some choice details about the estimated street value of such a finely-crafted northern-made ceremonial dagger) and convinced the team to send in a ranging party.

The forward party, consisting of Erroll, Arder, Astrafel, and Aldara, swiftly developed a cunning plan whereby the Shaman and his congregants were distracted by the return of the Goblin Ice Queen (who was actually just Astrafel, strumming her father’s mandolin and glowing brightly with Aldara’s magical light) while Arder’s fire-manipulating magic maid their ceremonial fire flash and blaze rapidly, melting all the snow in the clearing. In the ensuing confusion and distraction, Erroll placed a single, precisely-thrown dagger in the back of the Shaman, killing him instantly the moment after he handed Astrafel his Ceremonial Athame.

Niskadora, having initially stayed back with Dru and Cecil, began to grow anxious waiting for the advance party. She decided to range ahead to the evergreen grove and check on the progression of events. Meanwhile, Cecil and Dru were attacked by an Ice Wolf, on its way back to its master, bearing a small child frightened but unharmed in its massive jaws. Cecil steeled his resolve and attacked the Ice Wolf, but his lunging swing missed and the Wolf, dropping the child, tore at Cecil’s shoulder. Dru responded by shapeshifting into an enormous white tiger and tearing the Ice Wolf to pieces with tooth and claw. Cecil pursued the frightened boy as he fled southward, back toward Greybark.

Niskadora, Dru, and Cecil eventually decided to regroup with the advance party in the grove. They arrived just in time to see the celebrants, aghast at the murder of their shaman, attack Astrafel with hammers, screwdrivers, and other shop tools pulled from inside their ceremonial robes. Arder took control of the bonfire and sent it spreading out in a straight line across the clearing, cutting half the attackers off from the rest of the group. Between the blowback from Arder’s unnatural fire and sword, arrow, and spear from the party, the creatures were quickly and handily dispatched.

By the dying firelight, Erroll searched the bodies of the fallen, finding nothing of consequence but an old worn map in the pocket of the Shaman’s robes. The party, needing time to recuperate and heal their wounds, and needing more information about the missing children, returned to Greybark.

That evening in Greybark, the group interviewed the boy’s father, Finbar the baker, as well as Mayor Arlon, to determine the nature of the disappearances. By all accounts, the missing children were often poorly-behaved and just as likely to die by misadventure anyway, so it was no sense getting all worked up about it. Mayor Arlon, however, pragmatically decided that it would cause irreparable damage to the city’s reputation if children continued to go missing, no matter how devious or ill-behaved they were.

It became clear that the children were being taken from their beds at night, every so many years, in the nights leading up to the Winter Solstice. Armed with this knowledge and the peculiar map Erroll liberated from the dead Shaman’s body, the group decided to set back out in the morning to find the destination of the missing children.

Ultimately, their search led them north, past a great magical river twinkling with iridescent light, to a great Ice Palace belonging to Lord Kringle. After a confrontation with more Ice Wolves outside the castle walls, and dodging arrows from the Ice Elves along the parapets, the party dashed inside the castle to a huge anteroom lined with torches.

Through a set of double doors ahead of them lay an enormous workshop, staffed by hundreds upon hundreds of the same creatures they had slaughtered in the evergreen grove the night before. Stalking the aisles of tables with razor-tipped shoes and cracking whip was Kanker, the shop’s foreman.

Shapeshifting into an arctic fox, Dru distracted Kanker and lured him out into the anteroom, where Aldara charmed him to view her (and her companions) as trusted friends. Kanker led the group through the workshop to a long table upon a high dais, at which sat Lord Kringle.

While feasting with Kringle, the group learned that he had been overthrown in all but name as ruler of this place by Kringle’s son, Krampus. Destined to toil for an eternity under the cruel leadership of this monstrosity, Kringle was no longer the jolly, happy bringer of joy he used to be. Leveraging Kanker’s overwhelming desire to please his friend Aldara, the group found Krampus in the stable, sleeping near Kringle’s sleigh.

After a vicious battle, Krampus was slain by a mighty and decisive blow from Cecil’s enormous two-handed broadsword. Kringle, though distraught at the loss of his son, was relieved to be out from under his manipulative control and vowed that no more children would be taken from their homes.

The party returned to Greybark, loot in hand, to carouse and regale the patrons of The Owl’s Feather Inn with tales—only slightly exaggerated—of their exploits and victory over the mighty and terrifying Krampus.


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