Embyr: The Fifth Age

The Voice at Eon's Edge: The Forbidden Archives of Tal Ziel Part 3
16th Day of Stormwell, 1126cr

Gohero skeleton 1

The party cautiously approaches from the rear while the undead remain fixated on the terrified man. Brother Amaar has already spent his Channel Divinity option for the day so his turn undead is not currently an option. Essoq, itching for another stand-up fight simply charges in before other options can be considered.

COMBAT ENSUES!

Magic flashes! Brittle-dry bones are shattered! Black ichors splash the walls and stony floor! In the end both Falco and Essoq are battered and bloodied but none-the-worse for wear.

The terrified man thanks the party for saving him, and when asked he says that his name is Bartal. But Falco gets a read on the guy and corners him with questions. As it turns out, this is none other than Thom Dranik, henchman to the mysterious Reoch Sinerette of Pyrwell!

Thom and a handful of men were hired to wait here at the magical Archives of Tal Ziel for the return of the bronze man, but too much time had passed and the allure of what riches might be waiting for them behind the other vaults got the better of them, and so they broke the seals and plundered the archives.

In the vault of Abjuration they found gold and simple magics enough that when they encountered the wall of dancing lights, they decided to count their blessings and to turn back and try their luck with the next vault. Had they known what terrors lay within… but they were driven by greed and ignorant of the dangers that loomed in the dark.

Within the new vault they found more scrolls and potions and small treasures and baubles enough to live fat, happy lives in Pyrwell. They returned to camp and crated up their plunder with every mind to leave with the dawn. But dawn would never come!

Thom awoke to a strange muttering and found his companion, Meechum hunkered over one of the plundered objects from the vault of necromancy; a wicked blade of bone and dark steel. When Thom approached him, he whirled and attacked as would a madman!

Suddenly undead began to pour out of the vault, cutting off the stairs! The men all retreated into the only exits available to them; the vaults of Abjuration and Conjuration. It was only blind luck that Thom retreated into a chamber that had a protective circle etched into the stone floor that magically kept the undead at bay. And there he remained trapped until the party found and freed him.

Further interrogation by way of Intimidation that included both empty and actual threats reveales:

  • Thom has worked for Reoch Sinerette for the better part of 4 years. He was there when the Bronze Man was first installed in The Township of Oakmaul market center.
  • Thom’s primary duty until a few days ago was to keep an eye on the Bronze Man and to note any unusual behavior from folks who drew too near or touched it.
  • Reoch Sinerette wants the The Star Dial above all else and has devoted years of his life and piles of gold to obtain it. Thom knows not why.
  • The portcullis that traps the party within the vault requires a key. Thom’s now crazed companion Meechum has one, but there may be another in the vault workshops.
  • Sinerette tried several times to create the Bronze Man himself but failed time and again, ultimately needing to bring in a hired mage at no small expense to make the final monster that adorned the Oakmaul market square. Somewhere within the vault of Conjuration wander Sinerette’s aborted attempts and experiments, and they are dangerious things to encounter!
  • The Archives of Tal Ziel are forbidden by law of Byrnaer! While watchmen from Pyrwell may be a problem as early as dawn and bring the threat of incarceration, The Azure Guard will almost certainly be there before sunset! Necromancy is a capitol offense, and it is highly possible that the party will face execution if they are apprehended here!

The party leaves Thom tied up within the protective circle and begins to search through the rest of the vault of Abjuration. After encountering a few more undead and a mirrored room that mesmerized Falco, Essoq and Baragon, a key is found in a room marked “Chamber of The Master.”

With their hard-won treasure and a few additional spoils the party makes their way back to where they left Thom. Long before they round the final corner however, Falco stops everyone in their tracks; he hears weeping and and eery, gravely voice singing taunts and laughing.

CLIFFHANGER!
Thom is more or less where they left him, only he has inched and squirmed his way back as far away from the edge of the circle as he can. Circling him like a tiger is an ashen-faced man with yellow eyes brandishing a wicked Dark Blade. And with him stand a shambling collection of dead men all wearing the livery of Guardsmen of Pyrwell!

“Thom… Thom, my dear! It is wondrous and glorious, I promise you! Let her sing to you and lift you up! You only have to die! That’s not so bad, is it?”

Game Session Ends

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The Voice at Eon's Edge: The Forbidden Archives of Tal Ziel Part 2
THUNDER'S EVE: 14th day of Stormwell, 1126cr

Archives tz

With Falco’s return the party makes ready for their next step.

By now, both Sheriff Grahm Aerlim and His Honor, the Alderman Gylan Vaughey have taken statements from everyone. Aerlim seems satisfied and thanks the adventurers for their heroic efforts but Vaughey is up in arms. He storms away and announces that all able-bodied free men of Oakmaul should gather at the grange at sunset.

The Great Moon is full and it is a night of festival within The Embyrian Calendar; Thunder’s Eve where everyone stays up all night and banishes evil spirits with drums, bells, chimes and songs. This is normally a happy occasion but the sad loss of six good men has turned it into a grim event. Only the men are out tonight, and they mean business.

The party joins the townsfolk and makes a big show while Falco (who Under-Sheriff Fulcrum Stonewarden has yet to meet) breaks into the corner apartment at The Horse and Toad. In the wardrobe he finds a mad array of documents, scrolls, drawings and maps pinned to the walls and spilling to the floor. He grabs what he can and slips out the window.

It is now morning on the 15th day of Stormwell, and the party has gathered again at their table in the common room of The Horse and Toad. While Falco gets some much needed rest, Melamber and Amaar pour over the stolen scrolls and papers and find repeated references to something called ‘The Three Wardens’ as well as many ancient language translation examples, some on old and crumbling, yellowed velum and others freshly penned on new sheets of parchment.

And there are maps of areas within the Gloomhallows of Byrnwood Forest, dark places where even the elves will not tread!

Brother Amaar collects the documents for later study and once Falco rejoins the group they set out for the ring of stones which they have learned has a name; The Archives of Tal Ziel. It lays within a few hours march of the tiny gnome settlement of Dyfeld, and is surrounded by warning banners and marked ‘unsafe and forbidden.’

They find the bronze man where Falco left it. Brother Amaar remembers the golden star dial and suggests that the group try to turn the giant over and retrieve it. Baragon, Essoq DeMaqir and Falco lever the monster onto it’s back and the dial is collected. Melamber can get no reading of magic from the thing. Aside from being made of gold and it’s artistry, The Star Dial appears mundane.

The party makes their way to the stones in a vanguard formation with Falco at the point, Baragon and Essoq at his rear flanks, and Melamber and Amaar at the rear edges. The stones that make up the ring are huge, each standing well over twenty feet high. The closer the group gets to the edge they notice that natural sounds become lessened, replaced by a low, eerie howl like wind through a cave.

The great stones surround a mound of sorts. At the zenith there is an opening and a spiral stare that circles downward along the edge into a large, circular pit lined with stone vaults. There are eight vaults in total. Five of them are sealed while the other three stand open. On the floor can be seen an encampment as well as all manner of excavation gear, winches, wooden scaffolding and crates. The fire pit is now cold, but clearly only a handful of days ago someone had been using it.

Shadows grow long as the sun fast slips behind the peaks of the Thunderspines to the west. The party elects to make a fireless camp on top of the mound for the night and a watch is set.

Just into the fifth hour, Melamber hears the sound of a man screaming! It emanates from one of the open vaults below! Everyone springs into position and readies for an attack from below, but nothing comes. It is decided that despite protests from Essoq the party should wait until sunup before they investigate further.

The sun rises and the adventurers make for the bottom of the mound. Melamber recognizes the symbols on the vaults immediately; each bares the glyph of a respective school of the arcane. Five remain sealed, but the three open vaults are marked Abjuration, Conjuration and Necromancy respectively.

In the center of the sunken area is an ancient stone table as old as anything in or around the mound. It is covered in strange markings. There is also a crude forge and bellows, a huge mold and several bronze ingots- clearly the Bronze Man was created here!

The stone that sealed the Conjuration vault was removed by someone with care and planning and remains suspended by a rope and wooden scaffolding. The other two stones seemed to have been shattered inward with rough tools and haste.

After thoroughly searching the sunken area the group finds a lockbox hidden under a tarp and crates. Inside they find trinkets of gold, some wands and a number of scrolls and potions!

No one likes the idea of exploring the Vault of Necromancy just yet, and venturing into the Vault of Conjuration with a still intact stone that might trap everyone also sounds risky, so the party proceeds into the Vault of Abjuration.

After exploring a few labs and recovering a few more scrolls they find traces of blood and shattered bones. A few rooms and a swarm of harmless lights latter they become trapped by a falling portcullis! To make matters worse, animated skeletons descend upon them! But no matter, for Brother Amaar reduces the monsters to dust with a holy word before the fight can even start!

Despite their best efforts, the group cannot unlock the portcullis from the floor, so they proceed deeper into the vault in the hopes of finding a key, clue or trigger.

After a time there is a light seen ahead surrounded by dancing shadows. As the group gets closer we see…

CLIFFHANGER!
The light emanates from a brass brazier hanging from chains in the center of the chamber. Below it there can be seen a lone man sitting on the stone floor who is clearly terrified, and small wonder for he is surrounded by a score of animated skeleton warriors and more than a few, bloodied corpses who moan and shamble about. Behold the walking dead! Why they do not simply kill the man is not clear, but he spies the party and pleads for his life!

“Please! Save me! I’m sorry, I’ll do anything! Please!”

Game Session Ends

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The Voice at Eon's Edge: The Forbidden Archives of Tal Ziel Part 1
13th day of Stormwell, 1126cr

Horse and toad

Prologue:

Within Central Aurodei just north-west of the Shailian Penincula and a mere day’s march from the darkest shadows of the ancient and terrifying Byrnwood Forrest there lies the township of Oakmaul.

The man’s name was Staphan, and he approached each character sometime earlier in the week.

“I can see you are a kindred spirit, my friend,” he said. “Like myself, you are destined for great fame, and even greater rewards! Here,” he said, and dressed palm with a cloth purse that held 10 silver coins. “This is for you. Spend it as you like or keep it. But come to me for a meeting at the Horse and Toad this Freeday before sunset to hear a proposal and I will give you 10 more! Afterward you can do as you wish, and either way you may keep the coin.”

There were others there that Freeday afternoon waiting for Staphan, other ‘kindred spirits’ paid in silver. Introductions were made and explanations for attendance given; curiosity being the most common allure, the greed for more free silver a not-too-distant second draw.

The gathered included Falco Darkshroud, Baragon Hulaar, Brother Amaar, Melamber Harkenstone, and Essoq DeMaqir.

A short time later the man called Staphan arrived, and on the table he piled a small stack of gold coins that drew both hushed words of alarm and eyes-wide exclamations from the surrounding patrons.

“Gold, my friends,” he said. “Easier to carry than the fist full of silver I promised each of you. And there is a trove of it waiting for us! You each have a skill or talent to lend in its discovery! What say you?”

Questions were asked, but no details given.

“All will be made clear once we are away from this cloud of ears, but only if you agree to accompany me. Otherwise, keep this gold as payment for your time and I will be on my way.”

GAME STARTS

After being stymied by Saphan about further details or useful information regarding his proposal, the party sends him to the bar so that they might discuss amongst themselves how and if they will proceed.

Falco Darkshroud gets a read on Staphan and shares his assessment with the rest; that despite his warm and eager demeanor the man has a cold and deadly air about him.

In the end it is decided that they will join Staphan but keep a very close eye on him and they call him back to the table.

“Splendid!” he says, “I will go and wake our guide straight away! He is right outside!”

The party follows Staphan outside to the town’s fountain where stands a crude, eight foot tall bronze statue of a bearded man. Staphan removes a leather case and from it produces an intricate golden dial.

“What is the hour?” he asks. Melamber Harkenstone tells him the time and he sets and consults the dial. With a smile on his face he steps into the water, places his bare palm on the statue’s chest and utters a strange word. Not even Brother Amaar recognizes the language.

The bronze man comes to life! Staphan turns his back to it and addresses the party. “For almost five years I have waited for this moment! Tonight we shall…”

Staphan never finishes his thought. The bronze giant kills him and takes the dial from his broken body.

COMBAT INSUES! The fight is very one-sided even though members of the watch answer the call to arms. Six good fighting men are killed, and Baragon Hulaar is gravely wounded before Falco recognizes that the giant is 1) fighting defensively and ignoring non-threatening people and 2) is making it’s way north-easterly.

The group agrees to stop fighting and sure enough, the bronze giant makes for the edge of town. Falco steals a horse to follow it while the rest of the group remains behind to aid the grievously injured Baragon and to try to find answers.

The remaining party members are heralded as heroes for driving the monster away. When the party asks around about the history of the bronze man, folks remember the former alderman talking it up a few weeks before it was delivered but otherwise by and large folks were unimpressed by it. A drunkard however recalls seeing Staphan bowing low to the statue with a strange flourish the day he first arrived into town.

“I’m thinkin’ he’s soft in the head, I am. ‘Good to finally make your acquaintance,’ he says.! When he sees me looking, he jus’ smiles and gives me a silver!”

Another man recalls a gray and weedy looking man by the name of Thom Dranik having a strange fixation with the bronze man; Thom would always be looking at it and would seem uneasy if anyone got too close to it or touched it. Also, Thom had a henchman named Meechum who was a bad sort who frequently brawled and drank to excess.

Neither Thom nor Meechum is anywhere to be found this evening, but it is discovered that their comings and goings were in fact the will of their employer, another man by the name of Reoch Sinarette who has for the last five or so years lived in the corner room of The Horse and Toad; a corner room that in fact overlooks the market square and the now broken fountain that so recently displayed the bronze man.

Sinarette is away in Pyrwell, and while he is gone the landlord of The Horse and Toad will not allow anyone into his room. Fulcrum Stonewarden, the dwarf Under-Sheriff of Oakmaul, agrees that there is no direct evidence that links this night’s terrible events to the absent man aside from spotty testimony about the behavior of one of his alleged henchmen. He warns everyone that, heroes or no, anyone who tries to break into the empty apartment will be clapped into irons.

After Stonewarden leaves, everyone agrees that Lawful Good sucks and that Falco should try to break into the apartment through the window when he returns.

Falco is back just before sunset the following day. He followed the bronze man as it bled molten lead all through the night until it collapsed just before sunrise, and just within sight of a strange ring of stones.

Game Session Ends

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The Township of Oakmaul

Oakmaul

Oakmaul lays about 8 leagues northeast of the River Cynderun at the fringes of some of the very eldest marches of the Byrnwood Forrest. Though it is a mere two days journey from the city of Pyrwell, Oakmaul enjoys a small measure of isolation and independence from that governing coastal city to the east.

While Oakmaul produces a modest apple yield and a small amount of fabricated goods, the township’s primary accession in worth stems from its placement on the trade roads to the dwarf kingdoms within The Thunderspines to the northwest. The ford in the town’s center that crosses the stream known as Elk’s Leap is the only one that can be negotiated by caravan within 60 miles.

Oakmaul has a steady population of just under 250 individuals residing within and around the the town center as well as another 25 odd folks in the surrounding farmlands (mostly to the southeast).

The head man of Oakmaul is hardly a common politician. He is a tanned and sinewed man of over six feet by the name of Alderman Gylan Vaughey. Once the township’s foremost carpenter, Vaughey took up the the position of chief man of Oakmaul during the Iron Host raids when the previouse alderman deserted the township at the first sight of enemy torchlight. Vaughey has since been officially sanction by both the people under his charge and the courts of Pyrwell. Most would say that Oakmaul has been enriched by his guidance and leadership.

The chief lawman of Oakmaul is a tall and trim Ard named Sheriff Grahm Aerlim. Vaughey appointed him protector of Oakmaul two summers ago after his predecessor was found dead under mysterious circumstances.

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