The Long Marches

A Mind Used Up

Atari catches up to the band just as they finish dispatching a Drow warband. The adventurers are confronted with an insane illusionist, shackled and muzzled for their protection, and the dilemma that they need information that only he has. A mixture of Twenty Questions and interrogation ensues, along with a very public discussion about Dmitri and how to handle him. A decision is made to release the iron muzzle after a number of ambiguous yes/no answers.

Dmitri immediately starts to take advantage of the situation by weaving in a ritual with his answers, masking them from all but Eden. Noone is surprised that he is having fun at their expense, but everyone is surprised when Petrified Spiders descend from the Hollow Forest. A brutal combat ensues, for a few rounds, until the party realizes that Dmitri is in control of this, and strikes a bargain — to release him in exchange for a cessation of hostilities and more answers. Dmitri pouts and agrees.

It is identified that the key to the Dead rising is a Ward deep below the Bolt has been knocked out of alignment. This Ward is from an ancient Age where the Elven Queen adjusted the Long Marches to exhaust human marines marching on her from the east.

The adventurers discover Rikkit is preparing for the Deaders’ return with the New Moon. He quickly rigs a rope to help the party down to the Ward, and fortifies it into a proper elevator while they sort through the challenge of getting a Drow terrified of the dark into a dungeon.

The problem is identified, and the party returns to anchor the barbican against the increasingly organized Legions of dead humans. The battle ends with the dead returning to the moors for the last time. The Kobolds erect a series of very visual traps explaining “No Touch” and form a sort of Kobold tourist attraction.

The party returns, victorious, to the Barrows, and have to explain to Andrik why the hell they left the Ward of the Long Marches in the claws of Kobolds..

Side Story -- The Professor and the Cavalier

Atari has spend these few days among the Kobolds, studying their intuitive grasp of advanced mechanical principles and how they can turn simple timber and rivets into frighteningly sadistic traps for the undead. In exchange, the Kobolds have been studying /him/, a walking trap, and an ideal for a race craving even footing against the Biggers.

The Kobolds have faced increasingly organized sieges every new moon by the Dead. These sieges dissipate each morning. Rikkit has organized a series of mazes, deadfalls, pit traps and baffles to slow their advance and give the Kobold slingers time to work.

Atari also notices that Rikkit bears an ancient human shield with the device of a famous general, and suspects that it may have something to do with his distinctly un-Kobold leadership skills.

Hell Hath No Fury Like an Apprentice Scorned!

Our adventurers spend their first night in the Whispering Tree Inn. Eden seduces an entire sellsword band at one table while Abraxas charms a local merchant, both seeking information about Mad Dmitri. Dmitri is notorious as an illusionist in the Elven Queen’s court and teacher, driven into exile as his madness worsened. Ursus spots the local druid, Pavel, nursing a beer in the corner, and strikes up a conversation. Pavel knows Dmitri, and says he is usually found in the Hollow Woods, a petrified forest near the Spider Wood.

In the Hollow Woods, the players catch up to a band of Unseelie dark elves dragging what appears to be Dmitri, heavily manacled and muzzles with black iron. Shyla attempts to sweet talk the Drow into giving up their captive for interrogation, and negotations go typically sour – combat ensues.

Irina, the matron of the band, is quickly burned down by a blast acid by Bunwing, but not before her dark magic twists Ursus into attacking the unsuspecting Abraxas – nearly killing him, too. The battle is quickly brought into hand as the disorganized males are defeated by the adventurers who are quickly coming into their own.

The players are left with an insane illusionist and his iron hardware.

Kobold Diplomacy

Investigating the zombies, Shyla determines that there was no divine magic involved in their creation. They seem to be linked to the Long Marches themselves. The adventurers follow a ridgeline and discover the survivors of a caravan struggling with heavy packs of valuables stagging towards the village.

The merchants and sellswords tell the players about a strange pit trap further up the road, with their mangled wagon at the bottom. They salvaged what they could and struck out for the village on foot. Continuing onwards, the players discover that a band of Kobolds appear to be scavenging the remaining timber and bulk goods from the wagon, led by Rikkit, a “cavalier among Kobolds.”

Much confusion follows, as the players try to stop the Kobolds, the Kobolds try to buy time for their engineers to escape, and Rikkit alternately bashed, electrocuted and healed by the adventurers in the confusion. A parley follows, with the players interrogating the bewildered Rikkit.

It is discovered the the Kobolds have been waylaying wagons to scavenge timber and iron to fortify the Bolt, a decrepit old Keep. The Kobolds have had problems with the undead as well, and feel increasingly threatened.

A pact is struct, with the Kobolds escorting wagons through the Moors in exchange for timber and steel. The adventurers return to the village to investigate why Zombies are rising from the moors.

Back the the village, the adventurers are greeted by Sybele and an incredulous Andrik. Sybele seems to know something of the history of the Long Marches, and recommends the players seek out Mad Dmitri, an Elven hermit.

Zombie Night
The Bunwing Speaks

So there I was with Shyla in the middle of the night, the moon shining brightly above us and the wind howling over the barren landscape, when I heard a sound off in the distance. Now mind you, I was only volunteering for this watch because Shyla looked like she needed someone tough to give her a little backbone AND I was only cuddling huddling close for warmth because it was cold and my ears were a little itchy, I was only using her for warmth and ear scratches you understand.

Anyway, at a sound off in the distance, I squeezed out of her arms and stretched my bat wings out to the night, scooping the frigid air underneath them and flapping a couple of times to take off. I didn’t really explain what I was doing to Shyla so she started making these frightened squeaking noises. It was irritating. After gaining a bit of height, the wind was even more fierce and I had to fight against it while it combed furiously through my blue fir sending shivers down my spine. I decided to go into Cheshire mode, disappearing into the night sky in case I was spotted as a silhouette against the moon. A handy skill that fell into my paws due to a reckless magic experiment. As I navigated my way closer to the source of the sound, my senses began to pick up various worrisome tidbits of information. My floppy ears picked up groans and shuffling sounds, my pink button nose smelled the stench of rotting flesh, my black shiny dark eyes recorded the jerky movements of human shaped objects, and my fluffy cotton tail . . . well, it was waggling mainly because I was cold, it wasn’t really much help . . . .All of this told me that Zombies were on their way towards my unsuspecting companions.

I flew back post haste to awaken the crew, Shyla was already there, presumably because she was too scared to stand out in the dark by herself. She was trying to both wake-up and burry herself underneath Eden (to hide?). I sounded the general alarm and my companions and my lazy ass beer loving familiar Abraxas finally roused themselves from slumber. To their credit they were ready very quickly and we dispatched the Zombies without much trouble. I have to say, for an archer, Ursus did rather poorly, perhaps he should have let his invisible friend Smokey take a stab at it (snicker). Eden was badass, she really gave one of the Zombies a good blast and Shyla dispatched a couple of them right off the bat, I think her fear exploded with deadly force. There was also a valiant save/self-sacrifice attempted by Commodore A Tari, who also managed to give the Zombies a good womp or two. Yours truly of course did brilliantly, I wasn’t appointed as an agent of The Three for my dashing good looks. To give Ursus a little credit he did cut one of the Zombies down with his broadsword, but only after the rest of us had pretty much killed him already. I don’t really see why Abraxas is so fond of him. All in all, it was a rather exciting evening.

A Long Marches Welcome
Now Go Home

Our intrepid adventurers arrive at the Barrows, a tavern on the Long Marches and meet Andrik, tavern keep and retired headhunter. Discovering that all the local adventurers are committed, and a mostly empty tavern, the company is sent after bandits who have seized three shipments of Sybele’s hops. In exchange, they have been offered the Barrows Pact, an implicit understanding of integrity and disrepute. (And one night of all the beer Abraxas can drink.)

Commodore reaches out to the local merchants and discovers more about how the bandits operate, using pit traps to capture their wagons in deep pits and letting the impossibility of retriving the goods and transporting them divest merchants of their goods. No bandits have been sighted, leaving their identity a mystery.

Halfway to the last known ambush, the company has set up camp for the night and discovered that the Long Marches has a zombie problem.


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