Szulofold

Veligrad
"We once were mighty..."

Your short day’s journey north brings you into town at dusk. You find the city to be fairly expansive and nestled on the Morava River like a child clinging to a string. It is all over it and is making the river dirty with the constant interactions. The city looks old. It has buildings which are obviously in disrepair, but it still has a glimmer of the former majesty of the fallen Great Moravian Principality. The so often trod road leads you all into the heart of the city, an island flanked by the river which is home to a majestic cathedral. The smell of incense and the dance of song and lights emanate from lofty building. A passing monk chants the prayers of the hour. A cleric is robed and praying over the sick in a hospice on the corner. St George’s Island is holy ground.
You sense the majesty of what once was. The faded colors of the roofs, the nearly white-washed walls of the town center. The smell of spices from merchants. This place once was the center of the greatest kingdom of an age. The pulse of the city still is heard to the north in the Ironmongers District. The smell of the Cattle Market permeates the stench as you approach the river. Merchants from all walks of life and all races blend into the background noise of a once great city that doesn’t realize the world has passed it by.
You find an Inn – The Three-Legged Goat – and arrange lodging there. It is simple, affordable and slightly seedy. Once inside and settled, you begin to really take stock of the sights and sounds around you. The barmaid smiles and answers a few questions about the town and smiles woefully at one point to add, “We once were mighty…”
Suddenly, a dwarf runs up and starts vehemently whispering and muttering to Werner. He keeps looking over his shoulder and taking stock of who is watching. Werner is progressively turning shades of purple over his ruddy beard. He is obviously inflamed by whatever the news might be. By now, everyone in the inn is watching and he escorts Werner out of the room. Everyone slowly turns back from watching the door through which Werner had left.
About an half hour later, Werner returns, but back in his travelling garb. “My colleagues, I must depart. My sister… Her betrothed… He…” Werner chokes back tears and slams his mighty mug on the table, covering everyone with a heavy drizzle of beer. He bellows in Dwarven for a minute and storms out, followed closely by the other dwarf.
Khorin waits slightly longer than politeness requires, staring down into his own mug and whispers to the remaining members of the group: “He said, ‘Her stolen maidenhood and blood-letting will be avenged upon the heads of the House Babenbergen.’”
Everyone returns to staring into their mugs as Gresh laments, “We once were also mighty,” as he lifts his mug in salute. The mug is lifted, drained, and returned to the table from which it came and a slow smile crossed the beastly visage of the half-orc. “…but at least we don’t run out crying.”
Khorin mumbles to himself, “There’ll be more than tears shed before he’s done. An ugly business.”

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Veligrad - Na Dedine
A Trail of Miscues

Gresh is sitting with his companions and speaking with Khorin about the next step in their pursuit of the agents of King Henrich, when a hooded and cloaked figure approaches and asks if they are the ones who narrowly escaped from the clutches of the Assassins back down the river.

Gresh eyes the gleaming points under the hood and sneers “Who wants to know?”

The robed one replies that the word of their nominal success had preceded them, but he wants to know if they might want to be of help rooting out some splinter cells of Henrich’s in the town. “I know of 3 and their leaders are supposed to be meeting tonight. I can help us interfere with them. I am a …hired hand of the true Lord of Szulofold, Geza,” says Galstaff.

He stares brazenly at the shoulder of the Gresh and smirks eyeing the pet dragon. Gresh perks up when he realizes that their new ally is a Dragonborn Disciple. “HEY! You two are kin!”

“As much as you may think that, there are two facts you must contend with: One, I’m not a full dragon and, two, I’m not your pet,” Galstaff says as his eyes lock with the Gresh’s guffawing maw. “Are we clear?”

The Gresh begins to retort when Khorin interupts and calms everyone down. “This is neither the time, nor the place.”

Eventually the company meanders out of the Inn and stocks up. An overly exuberant Enchantress in one shop tries to detain both Ibn Al-Khwilboh and Kelvin Nu~Melvin Hu’Elvin with evidence of her wares which were, admittedly only decent and not the masterwork she undoubtedly thinks they are.

At the Corner of the Befuddled Stoat Tavern and the Serpent’s Fang Inn

The rag-tag portion of the party that Galstaff leads out into the night are Gresh, Khorin, Ibn Al-Khwilboh and Kelvin Nu~Melvin Hu’Elvin. While looking around the area and trying to find hiding places, Galstaff whispered the words of ancient foreign magic and, as thought it were a trick of the light, Ibn Al-Khwilboh swiftly faded to invisibility. Kelvin nodded with a smirk and asks if the same could be done for the stench of Ibn, too. Gresh climbs up onto a roof and plants his feet into some rafters, Khorin takes a place in a room above the tavern, Kelvin hides in an alcove about a block away and Galstaff collapses down into a ball of rags and pretends to be a beggar. Ibn, not knowing what to do with himself, just loafs about in the middle of the road trying not to bump into passers-by.

Just as the moon hangs low over the once mighty city, the three members of the separate splinter cells sneak down the river and try to get to a disheveled looking house. One, presumably the scout, leaps up onto the roof of the Inn. It hisses and the other two bolt for the house. The scout drops down and vanishes. Chaos erupts as Ibn tries to run in after them and he manages to get in just before they slam the door closed. He watches as they slam shut a hatch on the floor in the back.

The rest of the company files in and Ibn explains the situation. Gresh looks down and frowns. “I hate holes in the ground. What we really could use is that big ugly bear-fella.”

Kelvin Nu~Melvin Hu’Elvin reminds him that they left him back at the Inn with the little goblin helper that they had picked up to carry their various gear.

“Do you have any idea where this might lead?” Khorin asks. But Galstaff simply shakes an unsteady no as he pulls back his hood.

We Have Always Been Down, Down

Gresh grumbles his way down the stairs as they descend into the murky hallway underground. Galstaff briefly casts a cantrip which manifests as glowing orbs to give them an idea of what’s going on. They find a door and Galstaff mutters a few words and a ghostly visage of his hand creeps forward, mimicking the motions he actuates with his carnal hand. Click, whir and the door creeps open. The arrow on the floor was covered with an iridescent green ooze.

Upon opening the door, a black shroud of magical darkness kept the room enveloped in an impenetrable void. Even the dancing lights of Galstaff could not illuminate the room.

A Death Knight stood awaiting the party.
To Be Continued…

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Veligrad - Na Dedine - Three Rooms
Below the Surface, Below the Belt

At the door, Kelvin, Gresh, Ibn and Khorin stared into the room at the abomination before them. Galstaff races his hands into pouches as he grabs bits of components. “Time! Give me just a second…” he mutters as he sees Ibn walk in and swipe at the Death Knight. The melee begins as Kelvin prepares to flash his arrows into the scene.

Khorin lifts high his emblem of The Maker. “You, vile torturer of Abyss, are hereby banished. Flee from the one who brings Order from the chaos, Mastery from the void and Hope to those in darkness.” In the sight of the symbol, the evil knight begins to try to strain and struggle for mastery, but the light emanating from the holy sign drives him back and into a corner where his wailing begins to cause a ruckus that threatened to bring the ceiling down.

But, with rising power and pitch, a laughter, as of crackling embers, blew open a wall and revealed a Fire Devil. The foul pit spawn gnashes his mandibles and screeches at the company. Gresh says again, “Where is our bear?” as he prepares for another round of fighting.

The battle continues for what seems like an eternity as the team works to destroy their foes. Each trying to do his part to aid the whole. Galstaff casts minor illusions to fool the devil and distract it. Khorin does his best to keep the party together and the Death Knight at bay. Arrows fly, wounds are given and taken, until suddenly a bellowing down the hallway sounds of rumbling feet…

Vladislav thunders into the chamber wielding his Ice Cleaver. With a roar of primal fury, he takes down the Fire Devil. Then a rumble of another form comes as another wall is busted through and a Frost Giant thunders into the chamber. Kelvin’s new fire arrows help to dispatch the new threat and as the company clears the room. As the dust settles, they send the Beorning, Vladislav, into the next room.

He looks around the corner, only to see the necromancer, Juliana, standing chuckling at these warriors. Her demeanor is, as always, mocking and as she vanishes, she summons in her stead a Metal Monstrosity.

A tremendous fight ensues, but in the end, merely a heap of gears and springs are all that remain of the Iron Golem.

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Na Dedine - Loose ends?
"Ok, now what?"

The Gresh stands up as the group crawls out of the lair and eyes their new acquaintance. “Yeah, so. Ok, now what?” He says through gritted teeth. The group looks askance at Galstaff who just shrugs and looks into the distance as he rolls his left hand about in a circular motion. He tosses it up and down, twitches it this way and that… then suddenly looks down at it. In his hand, he holds out a small stone which is covered in blood with a glowing green glyph carved deeply into one face.

Everyone realizes that Galstaff had used his arcane arts to search the room in which they stood. He scowls at the symbol. “We were right in coming here. They may have known we’d try to crash their little party. In fact, this token is an symbol that they will be summoning the dread evil tonight. I suppose we stumbled into that.”

Kelvin rolls his eyes and blurts, “You think so, eh?” He shifts his weight and continues, “See, what we need to do is get an actual reliable source. Our new ‘friend’ here brought us, frankly, nothing. Nothing except a few new scars. I can’t keep putting tattoos over these things. I’ll run out of room.” He lifts an arm to show a tattoo he had gotten back in Esztergom.

Galstaff looks down at Kelvin’s arm and clicks his teeth. “Wow. How much did you pay for that? Did you know it says ’I’m a dyslexic Polar Bear’ on it?”

Kelvin mumbles something about asking for it to say “Speedy Vengeance.” Then he snorts and looks out the window.

Galstaff laughs, “I’m only joking. It says ‘Swift Vengeance.’ Swift is a more complex character and looks better, I suppose.” Kelvin bows up to take a swing, but Khorin steps in the way to keep the two apart. “Seriously, though, we need to…” He perks his head to the right and looks distractedly out the window down onto the river quay.

The cool autumnal wind bears with it the howl of fell voices. The far off pattering of paws on packed earth ushers with it the threat of lycanthropic fury. Lights spring to life in the windows nearby. Everyone knows what the howl means. Everyone knows the threat of the pack.

The Gresh looks down at his feet then up at the underside of the thatched roof. “If they’re coming, that can mean one of a few things: 1) She’s not left the city, most likely, and 2) meat is about to get cheaper.”

Vladislav fights to control a guffaw.

Ibn, who stood silently with his helm off, spoke softly and said, “I know someone who might be able to help us. He knows of her and of them. He’s bound to her fate, it was foretold. Quickly, before the pack arrives…”

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Veligrad - The Search
Wither shall we go?

Dragomir answers the door to find his old acquaintance, Ibn Al-Khwilboh, standing on the stoop. The drow eyes the stragglers behind him with a baleful eye. Only nominally gingerly, the half-orc prods the group into the small one room hovel. Howie spends no time jumping into the difficult qustions, “So… Why is she after you? How long have you lived here…” He interrogates Dragomir for about 20 minutes only to realize that Dragomir has merely lived the life of a vagabond, constantly on the move trying to stay one step ahead of Juliana, the High Priestess of his people. Her prophecy has made him an outlaw and the scorn of his whole people. Dragomir goes on to explain how he is tied to her on a psychological & almost telepathic plane. He also explains that he believes these wolves are after him. Again.

After a few more minutes of talking, The Gresh gets restless. He hefts his scimitars, stares at Galstaff and growls, “You gonna make yourself useful? Let’s get him,” as he thrusts his thumb over his shoulder indicating the drow, “OUTTA HERE.” The two of them decide that they could try to use The Gresh’s wily ways of the forest to sneak away. Dragomir begrudgingly accedes to their idea and explains where to try and find Juliana.

“There is a building on Saint George’s Island that has her aura all over it. When she’s in town, that is her… stop-over. She’ll be there if she’s here.”

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