Under the Red Moon

Return to Apple Lane. Part one.
Protecting the honour of the clan. Sea season 1618,

The heroes are dispatched to Apple Lane by their chief, Gordangar Kenstrelsson, they are to warn Gringle Goodsell of the plot to rob him. Apparently the king, Kangharl Kagrudsson has agreed to outlaw Gringle to please his Lunar advisors. This will break the oath of Gordangars father and dishonour the clan.

While enroute, the heroes encounter a mysterious band of Dragonewts carrying out one of their incomprehensible magical ceremonies and they spend the night at the stead of Asborn Thriceborn after accepting his hospitality.

The heroes meet with Gringle and after some discussion it is agreed that the Lunars seek to relieve him of the last magical treasures in his possession. They also meet a mysterious blacksmith, Piku Gastapakis.

While the players dither, Darsten Black Oak and Erianda the Red arrive in Apple Lane with ten thugs and trap the heroes inside Gringles pawnshop.

Erianda murders the thane of Apple Lane and commands ‘Kill them all and burn the place down.’

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Return to Apple Lane. Part two.
In which our heroes guide an old man to safety.

The thugs working for Darsten Black Oak and Erianda the Red launch an attack on the pawnshop while their employers hang back. Fin and Dara quickly cut down the first few attackers with assistance from Quackjohn and Eighty-Eyes. Esra and Angor ‘Red’ Rudsson keep the rear of the shop secure. Once their underlings break and run, Darsten and Erianda head back to Runegate to acquire some Lunar regular soldiers.

In the aftermath of the fight, it is decided that Gringle Goodsell will have to leave town and he employs our heroes to escort him to Quackford where he can take a riverboat south to the city of Nochet. He agrees to pay the heroes with one of his magical treasures. Piku Gastapakis the blacksmith asks the heroes if their clan would offer him and his family shelter in return for his services and they agree to ask the clan.

Everyone leaves the next day and the party travels south to Quackford, stopping at the stead of Asborn Thriceborn and then Old man village, home of the heroes. Piku stays at the heroes stead while they continue to escort Gringle. Polgo Hoarfoot, mayor of Quackford negotiates passage for Gringle and his associates south. Before leaving, Gringle offers the heroes a second of his magical treasures to take the Lead grimoire to his old friend, Minaryth Purple.

The heroes return home, stopping off at the clan village to argue that Piku should be welcomed in the clan. This was successful but Piku had to give up his beloved goats, a taboo animal to the Orlanthii.

A few days later, the heroes arrive in Jonstown to meet Minaryth, but before they can do so they are approached by Redbird, who tries to purchase the Lead Grimoire from them. After they refuse to sell it, an attempt is made to steal it later that night. The next day, they present the grimoire to Minaryth who is extremely impressed by it.

We leave our heroes in the city of Jonstown. They now possess two magical treasures, the Eye of the Halfbird and an Iron Cardinals egg. It is probable that one of these treasures was the reason for the original plot against Gringle.

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The Feast of Beasts.
An unusual proposal.

Before leaving Jonstown, the heroes are counselled by Minaryth Purple about the The Eye of the Halfbird and why Tatius the Bright would go to such lengths to acquire it. It seems that it could greatly help Lunar heroquesters when they travel to the Otherworld. The heroes must ensure that it does not fall into their hands.

During their journey back to the Orlmarth tula, the heroes meet an Elurae, a shapeshifting Fox woman who tells them her name is Too Clever. She seems to take a shine to Finn and after extorting food from the heroes tells them that “the big Greydog seeks to marry the sweet green girl”. This is an ill omen as the Greydog clan are ancestral enemies of the Orlmarth.

After updating their chief Gordangar Kenstrelsson and the clan elders on their adventures, the heroes return to the stead to catch up on all that farm work they’ve missed.

Two weeks later it is time for the festival celebrating the new vintage at the Clearwine Earth temple, usually known as the Feast of Beasts, as many Beastmen attend. Gordangar Kenstrelsson entrusts the heroes to ensure his son Ordo Gordangarsson does not get into any trouble.

The Clearwine festival is a hugely important festival with thousands of people from all the clans of the Colymar tribe attending. The rituals and prayers from so many worshippers cause the temple grounds to merge with the Gods world and great Ernalda, Flamal, father of plants and many lesser deities walk amongst the mortals.

Amidst the festivities our heroes find themselves seated near members of the Greydog tribe, led by Branduan Hodirson,Polgo Hoarfoot, mayor of Quackford and Ernalsulva Entariosdottir. As the festivities continue, Esra, meets the goddess Kev again. Kev grants Esra a vision of the future that will come to pass if Branduan marries Ernalsulva, a future that will involve the destruction of the Orlmarth clan.

Ordo Gordangarsson consumes far too much of the new clearwine and becomes infatuated with Ernalsulva and it is clear that Branduan Hodirson is also besotted with her. To stop Ordo getting himself in trouble, Daranestra initiates a traditional challenge to Ernalsulva and is surrounded by the hero-light. Orlanth obviously approves and Ernalsulva, although taken aback, responds by issuing Ernaldas challenge, traditionally three impossible tasks. As a member of the cult of Vinga, Daranestra is considered male for ceremonial purposes and can accept the challenge.

Branduan Hodirson is incensed by this, he feels Ernalsulva was promised to him and he prepares to attack. Skillful peacemaking by Esra averts catastrophe and when everyone is calm, Ernalsulva issues her first challenge, to return to her the hands of her father, King Hofstaring Treeleaper.

After the festival winds down, the heroes return to Orlmarth lands, but not before being summoned before their king, Kangharl Kagrudsson. The king is impressed by the poetry of Daranestra and pledges modest support to the heroes. It is fortunate indeed that the King does not realise that it was our heroes that stymied the plan to loot the pawnshop of Gringle Goodsell

The heroes now await the Orlmarth clan moot, to petition the clan for its support in their quest. All clues suggest they will find the hands in Boldhome, the capital city of Sartar and seat of the Lunar provincial government.

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The Duel at the House of Death.
In the home of the bold.

The heroes wait for the next clan moot where they plan to ask for support in the quest for the Red Hands. Before the moot Esra is struck by a wave of nausea that eventually leads her and Daranestra to some infant, chaotic broo. The broo attack and are quickly dispatched by Daranestra. This is an ill omen as broo have not been seen on the clan lands for many years.

At the moot, the heroes manage to win support for their quest, despite the urgings of a rival bloodline and set off, via Jonstown to Boldhome, the capital city of Sartar. While passing through Jonstown, they confer with Minaryth Purple about the The Eye of the Halfbird, but find little extra information.

After leaving Jonstown, the heroes meet up with the caravan of Joh Mith and travel onto Boldhome with him. Joh helps them avoid any gate tax when they enter the city.

All members of the Colymar tribe are welcomed at the Black spear manor and the thane of the manor, Farnan Ernaldor tells the heroes that they should seek out Old Andrin for more information about the Red Hands.

While travelling around the city, searching for Old Andrin, the heroes catch sight of their enemy from Apple Lane, Erianda the Red travelling to the palace with some Lunar sorcerers. (On their way to Jonstown, the heroes saw that Apple Lane had been burnt to the ground since they had seen it last.)

Eventually, the heroes find their way to Geo’s pocket carved into one of the cliff faces that surround the city. At Geo’s inn, they find Old Andrin and he recounts the tale of Starbrows rebellion and how Lunar treachery took Hofstaring Treeleaper’s hands. Apparently, Prince Temertain now has the hands and displays them every year at a banquet to celebrate the defeat of the rebellion.

While the heroes listen to the end of the story, Branduan Hodirson and his fellow Greydog clan members enter the inn and challenge Daranestra to a duel. She accepts the challenge and the duel is set for Lawstaff day, one week hence at the temple of The Household of Death.

While waiting for Lawstaff day to come around, Finn finds an abandoned Storm Bull temple high on a cliff. Upon investigation, his shield-man, Orel, is possessed by a spirit that calls itself Orgwaha. They beat a hasty retreat.

The day of the duel comes around and sacrifices are made at the temple. Only Branduan and Daranestra will fight and many spectators from the Colymar and Lismelder tribes attend. After the priests of Humakt complete their rituals, the temple grounds begin to shift into the Otherworld and both the Gods Orlanth and Humakt can be sensed to be watching.

Daranestra wins the duel, but does not deliver a killing blow to Branduan. While the spectators separate the duellists, a cohort of Lunar soldiers arrive to arrest anyone violating the Princes edict banning duels.

Escorted to the palace by heavily armed soldiers, the heroes are dragged before Fazzur Wideread, Prince Temertain and Estal Donge. Asked to explain their actions and why they violated the princes edict, Esra succeeds in mollifying Temertain and Farnan Ernaldor helps diplomatically. Suitably flattered and impressed, Temertain insists that the heroes remain as his guests in the palace. There will have to be a petition in court tomorrow, but that should just be a formality. Fazzurs low regard for Temertain can be easily discerned and Estal seems rather interested in Finn.

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The Banquet of Victory.
A night to remember.

That evening Finn is summoned to the chambers of Estal Donge who has chosen him to be her latest lover. Presumably she is not disappointed in his performance, as she speaks up for the heroes at the law court of the the Prince the next day. Gordius Silverus argues that a crucifixion would make a good example of these lawbreakers, but is overruled.

While the heroes are arguing their case, the proceedings are disrupted by Ordo Gordangarsson who has come to Boldhome to make his own attempt to the steal the Red Hands of Hofstaring. He is accompanied by Zara and Kronin, who were dispatched by Ordos father Gordangar Kenstrelsson to keep him out of trouble. Ordo did not have permission to come to Boldhome and has taken The Iron Cardinals Egg without permission, planning to present it to Prince Temertain as a gift. Esra manages to use the power of Ernalda to sway the minds of men and prevents Ordo from giving away a magical treasure for little return. The business of the court is concluded with the heroes being forgiven by Prince Temertain and are allowed to stay in the palace until the banquet of Victory, when the Red Hands will be out in public.

Having five days before the banquet, the heroes endeavour to locate the Red Hands somewhere in the palace. Having learnt that they are kept in the vaults and that the key is kept by the Dish thane of the palace, a woman called Berra Stone. Kronin manages to get the key off Berra by groping her “accidentally”.

Deep in the palace vaults, the heroes locate a huge stone and iron chest, probably of Dwarven manufacture. The lock is made of iron and seems almost impossible to pick, Esra tries to summon a Talosi, an earth elemental to swallow the chest but the solid rock and Dwarf magic that built the palace defeat her. The heroes realise they will need a different plan.

While Finn carries on his illicit affair with Estal over the next few days, the heroes make their plans for the night of the banquet. While the others attend the banquet, Esra and Kronin will lie in wait in the vault. Come the night of the banquet, everyone present is required to take an oath of hospitality. Daranestra and Zara manage to give a non-binding oath and Finn produces an astonishing amount of legal gibberish that no mortal could possibly decipher.

Esra and Kronin see the the hands removed from the vault by palace servants and two of Temertains Telmori bodyguards, they await their return later in the evening. Meanwhile, the other heroes find themselves seated at the same table as Redbird who they last met in Jonstown. He seems disappointed that Esra is not at the table and he mentions the The Eye of the Halfbird.

Slowly the banquet winds to a close and the heroes in the vault await the return of the hands. But they are not brought back! Quickly regrouping, it is decided that the hands have probably been taken to the apartments of the Prince. Luckily, Finn has a good idea where these are.

Everyone except Esra sneaks through the palace and after quickly subduing the only guard the heroes break into the Princes apartments. Kronin sneaks around like his god Yinkin, finds the key for the Princes strongbox and removes the hands. Everyone manages to exit the palace without raising any alarms.

The next day the Lunar authorities do not seem to be making a big effort to recover the hands once the theft is discovered and the heroes manage to leave Boldhome without incident. On the road back to Orlmarth lands, they meet Branduan Hodirson. He offers friendship to the heroes and proposes they share their resources, including the Red Hands. He is rebuffed and leaves in a foul mood.

Once they have reported back to their clan elders and chief, the heroes travel to Clearwine to see King Kangharl Kagrudsson. Although he seems angry and informs them that they are now outlawed in Boldhome, skilful negotiation and flattery mollify him into supporting the heroes against the Greydogs. He even offers to lend a few of his huscarls if “strong action” is called for.

Finally, the heroes travel to Greenstone temple to present Ernalsulva Entariosdottir with the stolen hands of her dead father. She is impressed that the heroes accomplished this without causing any deaths. She then issues her second impossible task.

“In the Upland Marsh is a great heirloom that once belonged to my ancestors. It was taken by a turbulent hero who lost it to the Taker and Waster, the Emperor of the Marsh. So here is my second challenge: bring me my ancestors sword. Bring me Wrath, the sword of Indrodar Greydog. It was lost at the Howling Tower. You must bring it back to me”.

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The Howling Tower.
Into the Upland Marsh.

Before the heroes can attempt the second impossible challenge, there is a harvest to be brought in and other events to deal with.

  • The Greydogs launch a cattle raid against the Orlmarth herds and drive off many cattle and sheep.
  • Finn is challenged to a duel by Alehelm the Quick. Both equally skilled, Finn is only just defeated by Alehelm, but Alehelm spares his life.
  • News comes from the south of war in Heortland between King Broyan of Whitewall and a foreign adventurer, Rikard.
  • The Dundealos tribe rises in revolt against the Lunars. They have killed all Imperials on their lands and retreated to their hill fort.
  • The harvest is good. There are many celebrations and Esra is kept busy with her duties as a priestess of Ernalda.
  • Overovash the slaver comes to collect the annual tribute to the Red Emperor. One hundred cows or their equivalent, this is far more than last year. However, he offers two ways to reduce the tribute, another Duck Hunt has been announced and a bounty is being offered for magical gems. Gordangar Kenstrelsson looks closely at Esra during this announcement. How much is the The Eye of the Halfbird worth?
  • Esra gets a visit from the trollkin servant of Redbird. He wants her to return the Halfbirds eye to its original owner and he claims to know where he is.

Finally, Earth season comes to an end and as Dark season begins to cover Dragon Pass in snow, the heroes can continue their quest. Their research leads them to the conclusion that a successful expedition to the Upland Marsh needs to have Duck guides and so they set off for the town of Duck point.

Upon arrival there, it is clear that the town is in a turmoil following the news of the Duck Hunt. At the local Geo’s Inn, the heroes find Polgo Hoarfoot holding court and trying to organise the evacuation of his people. He remembers the heroes from their previous meeting at the Feast of Beasts and he agrees to help them on their quest if they will help guide his folk to Yellowflower Isle, where they’ll be safer from the hunt.

The evacuation goes well, partly thanks to the keen senses of Zara and the skills of Kronin disrupting an ambush by bandits hoping to claim the bounty on ducks.

Once the refugee ducks are safely settled on Yellowflower Isle. Polgo arranges for some of his nephews and his bodyguard, Nicholas Wisemustard, to help him take the heroes to the Howling Tower, the last known location of Indrodar Greydog and the sword Wrath. The journey across the marsh in the small reed boats is fraught with dangers and it is clear that without the ducks, the heroes would have little chance of success.

Finally, the Howling Tower is heard before it is seen and everyone must find a way to fight against it’s unearthly screaming. Everyone manages to withstand the dreadful noise and finally they stand in front of the tower, dark , foreboding and not of human construction.

While the ducks stay with the boats, the heroes enter the tower. The entry level has many statues and preserved corpses dressed in armour. In the bottom level they find a seemingly bottomless pit, Esra uses the The Eye of the Halfbird and thinks that this pit might lead to the Underworld. It is when they climb to the higher level they find the goal of their quest.

Amidst the rotting remnants of a banquet long past, there is the iron-clad lich of a powerful warrior seated on a raised dais. On the steps before him is the great sword, Wrath. He is attended by three Dancers of Darkness, the thanes of Delecti the Necromancer. Immediately the Dancers attack, focusing on Finn, Esra and Kronin. Their seduction of Unlife is repelled by the heroes, with the one attacking Finn completely dispelled. At this, the lich animates and leaps to attack. With its iron chain mail and inhuman strength it is almost impossible to fight until Zara picks up Wrath. Forged by Dwarves, the sword evens the odds and the lich is defeated as are the remaining Dancers.

The heroes quickly depart the tower, taking just enough time to grab the sword and armour of the lich and a large sack of gold and silver goods from the banquet table. Later examination reveals Greydog insignia on the armour, the lich was the corpse of Indrodar Greydog himself.

A fraught escape is made possible by the ducks and some hours later they make it to the lands of the Marshedge clan where the chief, Alfgar the Grim treats them as honoured guests after he hears of their deeds fighting the Undead. The return of Wrath is greeted with great applause. Much celebration and quaffing of ale ensues.

In the cold light of morning though, it is discovered that the ducks have fled in the night and that Wrath is missing. The conclusion seems obvious and is confirmed later when the heroes return to Orlmarth lands. Polgo Hoarfoot has presented Wrath to Branduan Hodirson and Branduan intends to give the sword to Ernalsulva Entariosdottir at the Feast of Beasts, next year.

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Death on the Starfire Ridge.
The final task is given.

In late Storm season, Dara challenges Branduan Hodirson to a duel for the sword Wrath. Eager to avenge his last defeat at her hands, Branduan accepts.

The location for the duel will be high on the Starfire Ridges on the border between the Orlmarth and Greydog lands. Knowing that Branduan will be armed with Wrath and that he is already an accomplished duellist, the heroes enact the Arming of Orlanth heroquest to earn Daranestra the favour of the Gods. The ritual is a moderate success and Dara feels that she is blessed by Orlanth and Vinga.

On the day of the duel, the weather is cold and the winds whip across the moors atop the Ridges. The duel commences and it is clear that Branduan is the most skilled of the combatants. Dara is forced to dig deep to hold her own in the duel, but then fortune turns its face away from Branduan. Twice he is cursed by terrible luck, perhaps Orlanth himself is displeased with him. When Branduan slips on some ice, Dara seizes her chance and drives her sword though his breast. Branduan is dead.

Aghast, the Greydogs retrieve the body of Branduan and leave the Ridge, muttering about revenge. The heroes are able to retrieve Wrath and return to their stead.

A few days later, they travel to the Greenstone Earth temple to present the sword to Ernalsulva Entariosdottir and so complete the second task. When she learns that Branduan was killed for the sword she seems displeased and there is a noticeable coolness to her manner.

The next morning Ernalsulva presents the heroes with their third and final task. She reminds them of the fate of her father Hofstaring Treeleaper and how he languishs in a Lunar hell.

“Without his hands, he is unable to free himself. So here is my third and final challenge: free my father from hell”

She then presents three gifts to the heroes to aid them. First, the great sword Wrath is given to Zara, it is only fitting that a sword sacred to Humakt should be wielded by an initiate of that dread God. Secondly, Esra is presented with the Hawthorn Bough, it is always in flower and is a bond to the land of the living. Lastly, Kronin agrees to be the one that carries the Red Hands of Hofstaring into the Underworld.

Upon their return to Orlmarth lands, the heroes must decide how they will travel to the Underworld and how much support they will ask their clan for. Weighing their options they decide that they will travel Ernalda’s path to the land of the dead. This must be done during the Sacred time which is approaching soon and they will be led by Esra, an initiate of Ernalda.

Late one evening, as they ponder the task before them, the heroes are disturbed by a visitor to their stead. He is Dunorl Ring-Guarder a well known and influential member of the Ernaldor clan. After checking that the heroes have trust in each other, he informs Daranestra and Zara about the truth of their heritage and their mysterious tattoos.

They are both distant members of the Royal House of Sartar! Zara is descended from the last members of the Household of Death, who all died when Boldhome fell in 1602. Daranestra can trace her lineage back to Dorasar, the founder of the city of New Pavis, far to the East. Dunorl urges them to fight for the Freedom of Sartar.

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