ATC - Politzania GL Great Swamp

In the Great Swamp

Ocea, paladin of Loki and some others began raiding towns all over the Great Swamp. They would go in, destroy any temples and shrines to Heimdall, Ardneh, and Thor, then leave again, killing only those who resisted. For a long time, they kept their identities secret, always arriving in the forms of different beings and using different methods. Eventually, they started leaving messages naming us, later naming themselves and demanding a showdown with us. Swampie elders resisted informing the party of this, thinking it was playing into the hands of the bad guys, whoever they were. Eventually, as the attacks continued, they let us know.

We decided to head to the Swamp openly, using the portal highway system as far as possible, then disappear and teleport to Gateway and enter the swamp from the other end. This end is nearer to Everett's home village, and was hopefully less expected. We set up everyone on tenser's disks and zipped straight to the town. We stopped outside of it, and Everett went in alone secretly to speak to the elder. He told us what he knew, but suggested we go to the annual gathering for the upcoming holy days of Thor and Sif. We spent a few more days zipping across the swamp, avoiding a large party of Easterners heading across the swamp, to the far southern side and set up a meeting between Everett and the Head Council of Elders. We learned that the Easterners were heading to Koin to escort the Archbishop back to Gateway to take part in an open debate on her views versus the traditional church's views. She couldn't refuse.

After a bit of discussion, together, we figured out that the Shadow Temple wants to frame us for her murder, thus eliminating her and uniting the two factions against the evil west. The temple raiders got us here, and they would then stage an assault on the Archbishop as she comes back across the swamp. No doubt many of the traditional (Shadow Hel) temple's people, among the escort, would insure that the Archbishop would not survive the attack.

The Gods Speak

The party decided to head north using the portal system. While illusioned as typical swampie humans and equipped with a pass from the elders to go anywhere, we popped north, then east. Near the Ardneh/Hel holy ruins, we were held up by low level guards who were delaying everyone for a classified purpose. While detained, Neville snuck out and visited the ruins a few miles away. Inside, on opposing walls, a message was written in Celestial and again in Abyssal, both talking about history but from opposite viewpoints. There was a bit of speculation, but we think Hel and Ardneh have joined together to get rid of the Shadow, and now is the time. Wow, big things are happening! The words say:

In Infernal Dark
We thought, because we had power, we had wisdom.
We thought the long train would run to the end of time.
Now the long train stands derailed and the bandits loot it.
Now the boar and asp have the power in our time.
Now the night tolls back on the west and the night is solid.
Our fathers and ourselves sowed the dragon's teeth.
Our children know and suffer the armed men.

The Hallway to our destiny leads to just one door.
To get there we strove together.
We the unfortunate…..Darkness spoke, shadows creeped
The shadows which none calleth forth to see.

Ablaze, when we came to the doom,
Ablaze went he… the master of shadows has risen!!!….
We fought to reach the destined doorway.But no! He was to quick.
Compelled to stop,we glared, and dared not move.
Then the wise one stepped forward.
We beheld the fire of sacrifice in his eyes.
I tried to stop him but no, no answer.
He with his courage stood and fought.
But he was weak, I saw it hidden in those eyes.
I could bear no longer, caught him by the arm, brought him back.

Now it was my turn and no one stopped me,
I drew my sword and stood before the master of shadows.
His vision showed the deep evil in him.
I fought, HOW? I knew not.
My strength shrank from me, and grew in him.

Then, the unthinkable, we fell amidst one another into the great pit of shadows.
We fell and he separated to another way and I was left alone.
Then, at last pain and fear both got a hold of me when my head touched the cold floor..
My eyes slowly dimmed, never to wink, shadows fell on me.
There I lay for times unknown, but it passed, and my race dimmed.
Now, I have risen again from my deep slumber,
my weary nights of non-existence and I am before you,
just to realize that he is stronger than before.

In Celestial Light
What message is hidden in the bodies of birds falling from the skies?
Can the unspeakable ever be voiced by bodies shivering in cool moonlight?
We are the fallen, the forgotten, the ones who seek meaning beneath mossy stones.
These are the days foretold, the moments when choice is made flesh and bone.
My spine is a rosary, fingers playing the vertebrae in prayer, in futile hope.
I would have chosen a quiet life, but my heart reaches out to the silent cries.
Winter seeks its servants, those who cower in dark corners, but who will seek the light?

You whom I could not save, Listen to me.
Try to understand this simple speech as I would be ashamed of another.
I swear, there is in me no wizardry of words.
I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree.What strengthened me, for you was lethal.
You mixed up farewell to an epoch with the beginning of a new one,
Inspiration of hatred with lyrical beauty,
Blind force with accomplished shape.Here is the valley of shallow swamp and rivers and an immense bridge
Going into white fog. Here is a broken city,
And the wind throws the screams of gulls on your grave
When I am talking with you.What good is a war which does not save nations or people?
A connivance with official lies,
A song of drunkards whose throats will be cut in a moment.Their search for power was known, but to what end was not known.
That I discovered late, its salutary aim, but in vain strived to end,
In this and only this I find salvation.They used to pour millet on graves or poppy seeds
To feed the dead who would come disguised as birds.
I put this book here for you, who once lived
So that you should visit us no more.

Gandalf says, "So do all who see such times. It is not ours to choose our time but to choose what to do with the time we are given."

Everett voices his thoughts. "Hel seems to be repenting of her pride and arrogance and acknowledging that her Empire of the Asp has ended in disaster. I don't see any other message there, though, about what she intends to do or any suggestions on what we should do. Ardneh's verses are cryptic. Is the beginning relating to long ago, when the East rules and people suffered? It seems to finish talking about an immanent battle between good and evil. The shadow is gathering for war, but who will fight for what is right? Again, though, nothing specific to guide us. Oh, and if the Asp is the shadow, who is the boar? Vecna and his explorers?"

After getting released by the guards, we took the portals to the NE lake, birdformed and headed to the NW area of the Great Swamp, using Endo's Discern Location to track Ocea. Three spells put her up there, in varying specificity, but just as we finally learned where "The Crossroads" is and arrived, the spell put her back on the main road. We're guessing that Ocea is talking to the caravan heading across, getting final instructions, and will return up north to await the return of the caravan with the ABoH, at which time she will attack and try to assassinate her. We decided to find her hideout up here, kill anyone still here, and then wait for Ocea

The Stakeout for Ocea

The group stake out at Ocea's camp in the swamp, next to the out of phase Ardneh temple. Minions and baddies fly in on griffons by ones and twos. The griffon master and Ocea's mage sidekick argue over orders. With help of Rastik's "bug", we learn that Ocea's two kids have been captured by minions of Vecna to force her into his plan and the prophecy. Ocea's mage thinks group should act without Ocea or get higher instructions since she seems to be not working for Loki. Wants the kids killed to "free" Ocea to be able to follow Loki.

One of the Vecna minions, seemingly human but not to senses of our pet griffon, arrives. Tells party the drow cleric is "out there", waving in direction of temple. Party decides to act and attack before Ocea's group takes flight, attacking 10 griffons and 10 riders. Haste makes waste was the motto of the day, in this case wasting the baddies as spell casters did double casts of fireballs and lightning bolts. 4 rounds later, battle over and only Rastik took slight damage. No baddies escaped and captured three griffons.

Party speculates some more on the "Poems of the Gods", and decide to convince ABoH priestess to come out and attempt to pull her sister back into current time. Also, find out that the disfigured male drow working for the shadow paladins, is brother to these female clerics and he was the one who cast the Ardneh drow cleric in the time shift. ABoH priestess did not know we knew of him and we knew where he was at. Group lets ABoH question him, then she kills him so not to tell the shadow paladins( i think?!?!).
ABoH then agrees to try to follow the poems and is successful in bringing out her sister into correct time/phase. Group teleports back to Koin. Only to find out, ABoH has message from Ocea, "she knows where her sister is and wants to talk to help". Thus ending the session.

Demise of Ocea

With knowledge that Ocea is on her way, party teleports out to the swamp and attempts try and catch up to ambush Ocea. Yuri casts spells to detect if Ocea and Griffon are in area. We find an encampment, turns out to be a smaller stop-over, with an animal handler that happened to be the daughter of main handler party killed. She told us Ocea left earlier after calling in her warmount, some type of flying drake/dragon. We attempt for 3 days to track/catch Ocea with no luck. Finally, decide to wait for her to show in Koin.

After setting up a watch/patrol of the area, ABoH calls for Raven to chat. She wants to make a deal, in return for not warning Ocea, the group would join her to ambush the Shadow-Hel group. Raven very conflicted and would not commit, feels a setup going to happen. Gives ABoH an out, he would talk it over with the group. She decides to not push it. She then relays that Ocea told ABoH to be ready at a minute's notice when Ocea arrived. Party decides to pull in and set up watch in temple area. Raven would challenge Ocea.

Ocea shows up at midnite and Raven challenges her, letting the party determine what thier participation would be. Ocea and her warmount meet Raven on the field outside of town. Ocea's warmount gets init and charges Raven and misses. Ocea tries to cast a net to entangle Raven but his spell Freedom of Movement foils that ploy. Raven's turn and he slices up Ocea's warmount. Most of party spreads out to keep the crowd back. Boss Smash and Rastik rush in. Rastik thinks Ocea is cheating with warmount, Boss wants a piece of the action. Ocea heals the warmount and it turns on Rastik. Raven and Ocea engage in combat with Boss trying to flank Ocea. Rastik grabs the beasty drake by the throat and with 2 rounds of acid touch, melts it freaking neck off. Raven gets in a flurry of hits, including 3 criticals over 2 rounds and Ocea drops dead. Neville charges in and goes "Lewt"!

Deal with Pet ABoH
game date(Sept 5th,2009)

With Ocea eliminated as a threat/challenge to the group, Pet-tricia, our "tame" ABoH made an offer for group to help Pet remove the Shadow Hel priestess. Raven and ER state formally, "they" can not accept the offer because of political considerations. Later Neville, goes in and offers to Pet to take the mission with a group (which happens to include Raven and ER). Pet agrees and gives Neville a gate portal rod, stating the Shadow priestess is currently stuck at a castle on another plane. The rod was stolen from Shadow priestess by a loyal drow warrior. Party beefs up, gets altered/illusioned as orc/drow and goes thru the gate portal and end up in this iron fortress and kill a guardian hound. As the party explores, Yuri in bear form, scent smells drow behind a double door. At the same time, Everette at another door, a pack of demon/hel hounds come out, while a group of phase spiders attack as well. Zaldiston acid fogs the hounds and Everette is able to hack them down at they approach. Phase spiders are picked off by Lea, ER, Benelux. Eventually, Zal fireballs(?) and Everette cleaves the last few spiders ganging up on him.

Rastik, Raven, Neville(invisible, spider climb) charge the door with the drow scent. Neville gets past 4 ninjas and the inplace Forbiddance spell. Rastik gets by spell but is ambushed by the 4 ninjas. Raven misses his save, 1st clue of how high level this priestess is since Raven has to roll and is blocked from entering room. Then a flame strike from the baddies hits the group in front of the doorway, dealing some serious. Max helps Rastik deal with ninjas casting some Lightning Bolts. ER dispells the Forbidance. The baddies(evil priestess) calls up two major earth elementals. Rastik, Yuri, Raven, Lea embroiled in a slug fest with two remaining ninjas and earth ellys, with Max and Benelux providing spell help. Neville tosses a force bead at Shadow priestess from his wall perch(spider climb) and it globes one of her guards.
ER decides to concentrate on Shadow priestess with a Dimensional Anchor and Chain Lightning. Shadow Priestess puts up a horizontal blade barrier and runs farther back in hallway. The earth ellys and ninjas are finally dropped. Most of party via teleports, dimension doors, fly get past the blade barrier and see the Shadow priestess by a door partially open and looking very healthy again(heal spell). ER puts Mordikanens sword spell on her and another Lightning Bolt. Shadow Priest puts up a vertical Blade Barrier, Raven runs thru it, taking 67hp, to attack and wham, hits Anti-life Shield spell preventing him for melee combat. Max puts up Wall of Ice to block the door on the outside. Shadow priest puts up an acid fog. Lea does a cone of cold as a dragon on Shadow priestess. ER drops in meteor storm, catching Raven in the spell range. Others try to dispell magic the acid fog and blade barrier, with no luck. ER then drops in a delayed blast fireball, fails to penetrate SR of priestess but burns thru Max's Wall of Ice and creates a fog, hiding the priestess from site. Everette and Zaldistan run thru the opening to be on door steps. The Iron Fortress has been starting to "rev/hum" to a higher pitch the last few rounds and poof the whole fortress plane shifts, leaving Everette and Zaldiston behind……with Shadow Priestess(dimensional anchor).

Shadow Priestess calls up two more earth ellys to pound Everette and Zaldiston, put Zaldistion teleports them both out. Meanwhile, on the Iron Fortress, Neville used the gate portal rod to get us back to our plane and we eventually hook back up with the others. We debate a few rounds whether to teleport to where Shadow priestess is but decide we are too low on spells and she had probably healed and called in help.

The Iron Fortress
We decide to use gate portal rod to back to the iron fortress and check it out. We collect loot and kill the last guard captured in the bead of force field. Neville holding the rod, finds out the fortress can speak with him. Key points:

it believes in its purpose
its purpose is to help the "masters" conquer worlds
it can plane shift at will
it is very aware and seems somewhat intelligent
ER/Raven really want to get it destroyed

Report to Pet
Neville relays the bad news of only 95% success, we wasted her minions but Shadow Priestess got away. Pet is very upset and quizzes whether Shadow Priestess can figure out who we were. Hopefully our disguises confused her and with Raven's run thru the blade barrier, thinks its a group of fanatics from her enemies that attacked her.

Pet nexts tries to seduce/bribe Neville for information on our group. She wants to know if:
- is any of our group working for Vecna
- is Raven/ER really believing the Prophecy
- is Raven/ER using the prophecy to remove Pet….. permanently
- i thought there was something else ?????????????????

Neville debates for a second figuring this information does not harm ER and names his price in gold, 50K, to divulge the information. Pet is very annoyed by Neville's loyalty price and says the meeting is over. She later sends a note to Rastik to meet her.
(end of session)

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