From the Ashes of The Great Convergence
9th of Allfather to the 35th of the Shining One
The 9th Day of Alfather,in the year 112 AC to the 35th of The Shining One in the year 112 AC…
Much has happened since the last time we coinvened to chronicle the ongoing mission of The Shrike’s Perch 2nd Great Expeditionary Force. Much weal and woe have both befallen these brave companions. The following is a brief summary of events as observed by the Arcanist Vryflaggan and the Oracle Amitri via the mystic sight they both possess.
The Bloody Shepards of the Scourge
After the events surrounding Croaker Cavern the Expedition set out to solve a mystery involving some missing Sheppard Boys while the council deliberated their strategy on how to deal with the monsters below. The investigation led to the high pastures where the team encountered and dispached a group of hideous zombie goats, and the hideously animated remains of two of the missing boys. No matter how many times the bloody bones of the hapless childfren were shattered, they always reformed. The Team bound their bloody bones in sacks and suspened them from an aged connifer before following the blood-trail to a small shack. There it was revealed that Terik Shrine, our own priest of the Divine Guardian SCOURGE, was conducting unholy rites and had contracted the aid of a powerful undead servant. The battle was fierce, and Khous the Water Oracle was struck down by the Skeletal warrior; but the Expedition prevailed in dispatching the rogue priest, and in sending his abyssal servant back from which he came. Crucius claimed the creature’s sword as his own, and one of the shepards was recovered intact. Khous was ressurected with the aid of Kurin Norad the Alchemist and Oracle Amitri’s powers; but was levied a debt of 5000 dragons to the foundry for the materials consumed.
The Cleansing of Croaker Cavern
As soon as they had recovered from their wounds, the Expedition returned to Croaker Cavern to gather more information on the threat; decending into the caverns beneath Weather Station AWE-III. They encountered an alien ecology that seemed founded on the spoor of the great Worms whose passage had created the caven system. They battled many horrors inclucing the shapeless mutant flesh of ancient Dvergar, Dragon Frogs, Carniverous fleshy growths, a youthful Worm, and a dip in an icy underground river! Though it took three sorties into the frigid dark to complete their investigation, the Expeditionary Force succeeded in literally flushing the threat from the tunnels by invoking the power of the Water Spirit Saekron, and granting her release to her home PLane of Water. This final action angered the Dvergar of the Council, as they felt that this was a waste of the Spirit’s power; though even thay had to admit that it was a small price to pay for the disposal of the threat… Before the waters completed their destructive work, the Expedition reported seeing a passage to the upper levels of the Mount Norad Vault. It was decided to seal off this passage with Terramancy and Explosives to prevent further contamination. Of great note was the discovery of a vein of Magnetic Iron that could be refined into Cold Iron to improve both the economy and the defense of Shrike’s Perch. It was decided that the Expeditionary Force would recieve a cut from the mine’s earnings!
The Giant Ants of the Quinoa Valley
Soon after this, the Expedition turned southward into the Quinoa Valley to investigate sightings of giant ants threatening the township. Over a year ago the 1st Great Expeditionary force led by Hamish the Polymath wiped out a nest of these beasts, and the matter was thought closed. The 2nd Great Expeditionary force, led by Author Penrose the Cavalier, explored the ressurected nest and battled the giant insects to a standstill before geing attacked by a mysterious Raven Tribe warrior mounted on a powerful Ankheg! He was bested in fierce combat, and beheaded by The Warlord before he could be questioned. Hector the Scoundrel was able to find a way to communicate with then surviving insects, and succeeded in making a rudementary alliance with them. The remains of the Raven’s home was found near an exit to the lower falls, revealing that the Ants had found a passage out of shrike’s perch that did not rely on the dangerous high passes! Thomas Ebers of the Order of the Shield was brought in to tame the great beasts, and by his skills several worker ants were trained as mounts for the Great Expeditionary force; that they might take advantage of this egress.
The Hauflin of Swan Valley or Battle of the Gazepedes
Using their new mounts, and flying a new Banner, the Expeditionary force travelled down the river gorge below the second falls to the Swan valley. Lake Swan, the largest body of water in the region, dominates the valley, and is a great source of food and means of travel for the nomadic tribes that live there. The Hauflin, Wolf, Raven, and Fish Tribes all call this region home; and marauding bands of Hobgoblins have been sighted near the Western Shoreline.
The Expedition ran afoul of a Hauflin hunting party, but hostilities were avoided by swift diplomacy. They returned with the hunting party to the Hauflin encampment led by Chieftain Alloysius Sorjourn, and his wife, the spiritual leader of the Hauflin Saerun Sorjourn. (A Priestess of the Lord Beastmaster) The Hauflin of this tribe referred to themselves as the Hauflin Wolf-Brothers, and indeed each hauflin was bonded to a Giant Wolf nearly from birth. The Wolf Pack and the Hauflin shared a symbiotic relationship using the Hauflin’s natural intlegence and skill as riders matched to the Wolves Size, and Strength. Alloysius also made it known that they were full allies of the Wolf Beastman tribe, and considered them Brothers. Their enemies were the Fish Tribe, and the Hobgoblins; and they (like all of the other tribes) had a non-aggresion pact with the Raven Tribe. They had not expected to see anyone from Shrike’s Perch until the next Moot at the High Pass on the 15th of Alfmother. During their time among the Hauflin, the 2nd Great Expeditionay Force learned the Tribal Customs that kept the peace between the Nomadic Tribes of Swan Valley
The Hauflin had recently lost their Huntmaster Vorlen Cache in a battle against great beasts that could turn a foe to stone with a glance. After much deliberation the Expedition chose to lead a rescue mission against these creatures, which were dubbed Gazepedes for their deadly gaze and many legs. The team was joined by the young Summoner Kari Caldon and her Tri-Headed White Wolf Trion, as well as a team of Hauflin Hunter Calvary. During a string of fierce battles, it was determined that the blood of the gazepede that petrified you could be used to cure the condition. The mighty Beasts were finally cornered in their lair, and dispatched. A few viable eggs were found in the aftermath, one of which was entrusted to the Alchemist Rune for further study.
The Fish Tribe and the Absolutes
After a few skirmishes with Fish Tribe Warriors, one of their number was captured by the Expedition and interregated by the suprisingly Linguistically Gifted Hector the Scoundrel and Khous the Water Oracle. The Fishman, who identified himself as Gus, was suprisingly friendly and wanted nothing more than to introduce his ‘New Friends’ to his people and his Gods: The Absolutes. After gathering air tanks, dive masks, skin-warming wet suits, and weights; the team entered Lake Swan following their guides. They fought, and defeated a vicious Snow Shark, and Gus proved himself by standing beside the Expedition in battle, and by rescuing a drowning Aeron Vortix!
Gus then guided them to a small Thorp called Outsmouth, where he performed the traditional “NEW FRIENDS!!!” dance and greeting to announce the arrival of the expedition. A strange group of Fish Tribesmen, and female Alfar, Hauflin, and Hobgoblins presented themselves. It was revealed that the Fish Tribe had no females, and relied on the Females of other races for reproduction… The Expedition also learned that the Absolutes were regarded as Gods, and had the power of life and death over the people who resided under Lake Swan. The Fish Tribe threw a feast to welcome their New Friends, and agreed to introduce them to the Absolutes in the morning. They were also given a potion called The Blessing of the Absolutes, which allowed them to breath underwater and withstand the icy cold of Lake Swan without their equipment!
Never the ones to lose diplomatic initiative, the Expedition sneaked out in the middle of the night to meet up with the absolutes ahead of schedule. They followed a strange pressure in their mind, and a welcoming warmth that guided them to a nearby Absolute. After a brief encounter with a pair of spined Cephalopods, the foudn their way to the Aboslute. The Absolute welcomed them, and asked for their unconditional surrender, promising them a life free of pain, anguish, and doubt… The Expedition declined, and found out that the absolutes had two categories for sentient life: Slaves, or Food! Having fallen into the latter category, the Expedition found itself in a battle for life and limb against the Absolute’s Fish Tribe guards, and it’s terrible powers of Compulsion and Illusion! They forced the battle to a Draw and fled, but not before being subjected to the Absolute’s Toxins. Barely making landfall, they were recovered by the Hauflin Wolf-Brothers, and treated for their injuries by Saerun Sorjourn and her Shamans. It was decided to report to the council that an alliance with the Fish Tribe was now… Doubtful.
Continued reconnissance revealed the location of the Hostile Hobgoblin Tribe. Educe the Brown, the team’s resident expert on the Hobgoblins, reccomneded that they did not approach at that time.
Starting a War between the Fish and the Hobgoblins and The Desparate Third Cannon Shot!
Seeing that there were two powerful, hostile cultures afoot; Hector the Scoundrel proposed that the Expedition attempt to start a war between them. Author quickly agreed, and a plan was drawn up to raid the Hobgoblin frontier in Fishman outfits. Upon exit into the Ravine below the second falls, a serindipitous skirmish erupted between the Expedition and a Fish Tribe patrol that was surveying a path up the river Shrike. The Fishmen were subjugated, and convinced that the Expedition was acting on behalf of the Absolutes. The Fish Men bought it, and joined the expedition on their journey. Half way to Hobgoblin Territory, the Expedition was attacked by Wolf Tribe Skirmishers, who thought that Rune had been captured by the fish! They used their superior Wolf Calvary to extract Rune, and wounded Sonya on the way out…
Rune quickly explained the truth of the operation to his Tribesmen, and they threw him back in disgust. (There is a reason that they sent Rune as an emmisary to Shrike’s Perch last year, and it’s not because they thought him the best Wolf for the job…) The Wolves agreed to Shadow the Expedition, and transfer intellegence back to the hauflin and to Shrike’s Perch.
The Team made it to the Waterfall where the Iron River approached Lake Swan, the edge of Hobgoblin Territory! They set their Ants to creating a Earthen Ramp to allow the Fish Tribe easier access to the high ground, and sent two of their Fish Tribe inductees to let the Absolutes know that a breach had been made in the hobgoblin defenses. As the Fish left, the hobgoblins attackeds in force: A half-dozen Goblin Shortbowmen, A pair of Hobgoblin Longbowmen, and a Cybernetic Bugbear with an arm-mounted 6-pound cannon! The battle was waged vertically with the Hobgoblins on the high ground. Use of the Giant Ant Mounts allowed the Expedition to quickly join battle on the cliff-face, and the fight went Fish Tribe warriors were on their way! It was time to bug out, and so they did, taking the smoldering body of the Bugbear with them…
As the Battle Lines were drawn, the Expedition set to creating a camolaged fighting position for their newly aquired 6-Pound Cannon, and observed their enemies. For almost an hour the two armies jockeyed for position: 3 Battalions of Goblinoids, and two of fishmen; in the waters of the lake the inky clouds of two absolutes could be seen beneath the lapping waves. Two great siege catapults, moved by internal mechanisms, moved up and took position to bombard the valley below the falls; with the launch of their Napalm-like payload of fiery death, the battle began in earnest! Flames appeared to consume the Fish Tribe Host, and then the Fishmen were seen to dance among the flames… The whole Fish army was nothing more than an Illusion created by the power of the absolutes! The real army appeared jeering on the Hobgoblins’ left flank; and the mighty goblinoid war machine turned to face their foe… just as the REAL Fish Tribe Army struck their siege engines! The Expedition waited until the enemies swarmed over the Hobgoblin siege catapults, and then fired a magically-enhanced accurate shot into the Catapult’s ammunition hopper. The resultant explosion killed many on both sides, and in the confusion they dropped a second round atop one of the Absolutes! Whether they wounded the Fish-God or not is unknown, but the response was immediate: Goblin Skirmishers and Fish Tribe Climbers moved in on their position! They fired a third desparate cannon-shot that caused one of the Absolutes to retreat from the field before disaster struck. Explosive Ballistae Bolts fell among them, along with hand grenades from the goblin skirmishers! The resulting explosions resulted in the re-death of Khous the Water Oracle; and with his body reduced to bloody gobbets he was unrecoverable… (Though those of us in the know realize that Rune has his Skull-Cap; and the Skull of an Oracle is a powerful talisman indeed!) Beating a hasty retreat, the Expedition was extracted by the Wolf Tribe to safer regions with their mission an apparent success!
The Water Spirit Amphitrite at Station AWE-III
The Township of Shrike’s perch faces a devestating foe: The Lake-Dwelling masters of illusion and enchantment known as ‘The Absolutes’. With their mastery of the waterways, and of the arcane arts these foul abominations are poised to enslave the flickering remains of civilization and reign in an empire forged in their fetid image.
2. In order to defend against these abominations, the Council of Nine has opted to send their Expeditionary force, led by the Rogue Cavalier Author Penrose, to secure the water spirit known as Amphitrite. With her power added to that of the Council, it is thought that a potent defense can be forged.
3. The Expeditionary force gathers in the council chamber to recieve their marching orders, and the blesssing of their Oracle: Amitri HalfAlfar…
4. With the fall of Khous, the team needed a new healer and seer; and the young Nisse Witch, and adopted cousin of Author, Misha Penrose joined their ranks. Shr brought with her her Familiar, the Aurucana Rooster Kakuro!
The Expedition Made the Week-Long Journey accross the mountainside, shadowed by their Warden: Singham Ramstalker. They did battle with Moas, Snow Sharks, and the elements to get to the ice-encrusted ruins of Dvergar Weather Station AWE-III. Prior to their entry into the station, white dragons were seen flying above a mountain to the North-East, prompting a rememberance of Oracle Khous, and the fact that he was exiled from his lost home by such beasts… Siangam stayed outside to tend to their Ants. Once inside, they encountered a being from the icy reaches of the Plane of water called a Hydrax, who agreed to help them in return for fresh Ice from the outside. They encounterd a layout familiar from their adventures in Croaker Cavern, and despite some minor technical difficulties wer able to find their way to the lower levels. After brief encounter with some kind of abberent Crab Beast, the made their way down and were immediately accosted by maddened water elementals. The battle nearly killed Misha, but for the quick thinking and self sacrifice of Rune! Misha learned a valuable lesson about looking to her own health as well as that of her allies…
The team found that Amphitrite was much less friendly and cooroprative than Saekron had been; and were nearly killed by her antics: Driving Electrified Jellyfish and Mischivious Water Imps against them, and then trying to drown Sonya in a whirlpool fed by an elemental gate! Amphitrite wanted, like Saekron before her, to go home and be done with the Prime Material Plane; but the party tricked her into allowing them to bind her into a specially preparred Olla (Water Jar), to retuen her to Shrike’s Perch! As they prepared to exit the Station, they were met by Siangham, and a Giagantic Dvergar Alchemist with neon-orange hair calling himself Berzerker Bill! These Two quickly treated the Expedition’s wounds, and guarded them while they rested for the journey home.
Angered by her Imprisonment, the Water Spirit called out to the Water Dragon King for succour, and her prayer was answered in the form of a Pair of Young White Dragons and their attendent half-Dragon/half-Snow Leopard Clan Warriors and Adepts! Bill and Singham occupied the dragons, as the rest of the Expedition desparately fought agains the Half-Dragon spawn of Oracle Khous’ lost village! One of the dragons nearly made off with Rune the Alchemist and the Olla, when a desparate shot from Hector the Scoundrel disrupted it’s flight long enough for Berzerker Bill to rescue the hapless Wolftribesman! Author the Cavalier declared their victory a sign of the Water Dragon King’s Favor, and declared that he would sponsor the veneration of the Elemental Dragon during the Festival of Alfmother! Upon their return to Shrike’s Perch, the Olla was ensconced in a special casket that allowed the Dvergar to bind amphitrite and control her power; giving the Township and edge against the Absolutes of Lake Swan. The harsh treatment of Amphitrite, and her binding visibly bothered the freedom-loving and compassionate Sonya Vortex, further reinforceing her distrust of the Dvergar…