Ghost Wolves

Briarstone Keep

I found in Copperpot’s diary a mention of the village of Greenbriar: he surmised that there may be a connection to the Briarstone Keep as the town shares the name. We decide to follow the Greenwash Creek to find the village and see what we may see.

We spent a day in Greenbriar. I found a stableboy at the Tavern who told me the whole town knew of the Briarstone Keep as their reve, a man named Thorsen, had travelled there in his youth. Reve Thorsen told me his tale when we went to visit him. 20 years ago his lady wife, Brynn, had been kidnapped in her youth by a group of goblins. Thorsen, then a young man, set off with a group of townspeople to save her. They tracked the goblins to the Briarstone Keep, wiped them out and rescued Brynn from her captors! Thorsen had not since heard any news from the Keep, but told us the way, very kindly.

We spent a night in Greensbriar to stock up on rations, then journeyed on. The Keep was about a day and half ride (after returning to the inn to leave the wagon despite many a grumble from Sarge) from the town. Midmorning on the second day, I sniffed out some woodsmoke and espied a ruined castle or manse off in the distance. Zadok and I scouted closer and I saw a movement in the second floor: a guard for sure. Thorsen said the keep would be 8-9 leagues SE into the forest, and that’s just about where we were. This had to be the place. We had no choice but to go on.

I walked up, bold as can be, though perhaps I should have shown more caution. Three tough men jumped out at my arrival, accompanied by a tall, pale, strange-looking fellow. Perhaps a bit Elvish in the ears? I announced my presence, and the rest of my company. He introduced himself as Fergus and seemed to receive us well, then invited us inside for a drink and a bite. I felt wary, but Sparrow seemed to trust him so we followed him in.

As we sat around in the common area looking around us at the ruined walls of the Keep, Ben asked to inspect the Keep a little more. Fergus offered to show him the tower and they went off. Zadok in the meantime seemed preoccupied with his mule train and went off to bring his precious animals into the Keep; one of Fergus’s friends offered to join him. We waited, drinking the delightful ale, and we were at the ready when Zadok’s message reached Sarge that these Bandits were betrayers. The fight began quickly as Sparrow dropped her mug on the floor and began hacking at the closest man to her.

We cut through them then ran through the rooms searching for the tower where Ben had been taken, and encountered a huge creature, a cleric, and a terrified Bandit that ran away as soon as he got the chance. Fergus was there as well and tried everything he could to keep us away from Ben, but when one of our own is threatened, there is no way to stop the Broken Sword. We destroyed them all and found Ben tied up in one of the tower rooms.

We ravaged the keep and found the Bandits had left quite a bit of loot, and even found some riches that must have been there for 300 years. Downstairs we found a basement and a locked door. As this is the home of the Bandit King for sure, I can only imagine what treasures and terrors lie within…

—Bran Harvish

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Excerpt from Ambrose's Journal
A Harrow-ing experience

Light! Fresh air! FREEDOM!!!

I swear to never complain about how sunny a day is or how there are too many people about.
We finally escaped that tomb. Ahhhh, it just feels good to be out. As happy as I was to be off, we had to deal with Cabbagehead. Zadok wanted to bring him with us back to Colm, and civilize him along the way. I didn’t have the heart to say that he himself is hardly housebroken…

After CH explained that he preferred living among the threes and hills, Zadok let him be. It took him a day or two to recovery. Poor guy, he’s a real softie deep down.

Mostly uneventful trip back home, I don’t think Kilja realizes yet that it was me who moved her armor during the night. We all had a good laugh about that one. But nothing quite compares to the merriment of the midsummer festival!

I knew we had to take care of business, but I wanted nothing more than to set up a stall and divine peoples’ futures. Unfortunately we had a bit of sad business to attend to first.

Her name was Rosie Copperpot, and I wish it could have been any other news. She took it well, I guess when you’ve been an explorer long enough, your family comes to think of the worst possible scenario. At least she was happy to know we were respectful, despite Bran uncharacteritically tripping over his silver tongue. I think we have a wedding to attend soon…

As per her request we retrieved the body of Cheswick, and we agreed to steward her house. We’re destitute (as much as gear swollen adventures ever get), but we have a home.

In the days we were waiting for a gentle repose scroll to be drafted we stayed at the inn, where Kilja drank a surly ex guard under the table. I also got to set up shop and use those cards we found, an expert harrow deck, the likes of which I’ve never seen.

I made a few coins, and also learned a disturbing fact: the doomsayers who was warning of our eminent end, was found permanently silenced in the river. Either he was just making the wrong person upset about the future, or there’s something in his warning that is a little too true. I had better dowse for more information when I get the chance.

Now we stock up and head to the lair of the bandit king to avenge Laurelith… And pick up a magic triangle while we’re at it…

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Home


Upon our return to Colm the sounds of merriment filled the air and as we approached we could see that the midsummer festival was in full swing (I may never be used to the strange urge towards drunkenness these people feel). We pressed through the festival to meet with the duke and ascertain the whereabouts of the heir(s) to Copperpot’s estate. Our enthusiasm for the prospect of Cheswick’s home coming onto the market was greeted with some (not unexpected) suspicion, and we were directed to one of the duke’s own scribes.


The scribe, Rosie, was rather distraught, though not surprised, to hear of her fathers demise on one of his explorations. Her distress seemed to be at least mildly alleviated by Bran’s obvious and immediate affection for her, which came across mostly as tripping over his own words(a rare sight indeed), and by our assurances that we would depart to retrieve the body of her father in two days time.



With our responsibilities in town taken care of it was time to explore the festival. As the bulk of the party departed to the “inn” at which we were staying, I sought and found contests of martial prowess in which Laurelyth and I engaged, finding few who could stand toe to toe with us but nonetheless learning the local fighting styles and customs with gusto. Upon my return to the inn I was regaled with tales of Kilja showing the dwarven resistance to inebriation to a hapless individual who had decided, that despite her possession of a drinking horn roughly the size of my torso, he could best her in a competition of drink.


Upon our return to Rosie with the remains of her father she agreed to rent us his former abode for the year for an up front payment to which we gladly agreed, giving me something I have not had since my 18th year and my exile. In the library of this new abode Bran found reference to the Briarstone Keep and its location. We leave tomorrow with the promise of the forgotten fortune of a bandit king and retribution for Laurelyth.



—Beneki

P.S. “Home”… after my exile from my homeland, nothing has ever seemed so unattainable as this simple concept, and yet as I sit in the attic after a long day of training and sparring with Sparrow I cannot help but feeling that perhaps I am again able to say “this is home” and mean it.

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Death, damsels, and drinking contests
We returned to Colm with high spirits, having left another adventure with quite a bit of plunder. I am carrying a new crossbow that we found among the rags of the Darkfolk. Ben tells me the arrows shot from this bow will incur fire damage; a useful token for a small archaeologist!

The Midsummer Festival had begun as we returned to Colm, but before we could enjoy the festivities, we had the hard task of alerting an authority about the death of Cheswyck Copperpot. We found an heir, his daughter, working in the Duke's library. Rosie is her name, and I'm afraid I stammered quite a bit when I was faced with the task of telling her about her father's death. She is quite beautiful, and a lady after my own heart working as a scribe and librarian--a career I may have sought myself, were I not such so captured by wanderlust. Rosie was devastated to learn of her father's death, but not surprised. After all, he led a most dangerous life.

As per Rosie's request, we returned to the ruins and reclaimed her father's remains, in order that she might honor his body as was proper. As a sign of her gratitude, she has been so kind as to rent her father's house to our traveling group. I had hoped to make her forgive my awkward and bumbling manner when I first met her with a gift, or other kind gesture. I was given the chance when Zadok presented me with a beautiful red scarf he had purchased in the market, but my first impression must have lasted, as Rosie seemed slightly put off my present. She is the first I have met who refuses to be charmed by me...which makes me think after her all the more...

Now that we had some free time in town we were free to pursue our own interests. Our first night back we stayed at a strange place called the Northgate Wheel House. Their ale made up for a lack of common comforts and with Sparrow and Kilja, the company is always good! An old acquaintance found us as we drank: Anders, the fierce guard who gave us trouble last time we came to Colm. He had brought 4 or 5 tough-looking friends in attempt to intimidate us. Lucky for him we weren't in a fighting mood, so we challenged him to a drinking contest--and you know what they say, "you can fight a giant in a battle of strength, you can trick a halfling in a battle of wits, but never go against a dwarf in a battle of drink!"

Good fortune abounds! Crumple has sold our wares dutifully and we have made quite a pile of money from our loot. Copperpot's house is comfortable and seems to have a place for us all. We have also decided as a group to formally accept Ambrose into our fellowship-The Broken Sword as I must call us now. Ghost Wolves is a title I have to leave behind. Now that we are settled, replenished, and furnished with new clothes, weapons, and potions, we are ready for a new adventure! Copperpot's library is well-stocked and I have found a few mentions of both Briar's Keep (where the Bandit King's hideout is rumored to be) and a strange "Seeing Stone" that seems to have some properties of the magic triangle (as we have taken to calling it). More discoveries, dungeons, and danger await!

--Bran Harvish
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Brykolakas

Death has always seemed an abstract thing to me, granted, it has taken the lives of friends, and many have fallen into its arms with laurelyths bite, but it has never seemed as though it would happen to me. That changed with the hand of the Brykolakas wrapped around my ankle pulling me towards the icy depths of that bitter cold underground lake. I shake with the fever that hell creature has given me and greet each sensation anew as though it might be the last time.

We were exiting the caverns we have been in for the past few days and their accursed darkness, an exit was found, and I leapt in the water to swim to the exit and secure a line that my friends might make good our escape when my ankle was grasped by a creature looking long since dead (a Brykolakas) and I was pulled under the water. Sure that I was dead I gave all of my efforts to kicking free from his grasp and touching him with the electricity of the ancients in the hopes it would stun him long enough for me to make good my escape.

Were it not for my compatriots even this would not have been enough, the rope they threw to me and the healing energies given to me are the only reason I am still writing this log, and walking this ground. More is to follow in future log entries, I am still very shaken, but feel as though the deeds of my squad mates cannot go unrecognized.

Beneki

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Excerpt From Abrose's Journal
Boys and Ghouls

I feel like I can’t even remember life with light… that is light that didn’t need to be tended to EVERY TEN MINUTES! Just when I start getting into something my light goes out and I have to cast it again. I can’t concentrate on anything like this. I keep hoping my eyes will adjust to this, but then Keep thinking of the horrible eyeless fish in that pond and think to myself, there are worse alternatives.

Cabbage Head is absolutely useless. He can’t see in the dark, he’s not good conversation, and he can’t hit the broad side of a Tarrasque.

Oh, that’s not fair. I’m just so frustrated about being stuck and living in survival mode for so long. Cabbage Head was a prisoner that we freed. He’s not an adventurer. His needs and abilities are different than ours. I must be more patient.

We managed to take care of the rest fo the Darkfolk, I’m almost certain, but it appears they were trapped in here as well. We’re bigger, stronger, and more determined to get out of here so maybe we can move this pile of rocks, boulders, and rubble to free ourselves…

Well Cabbage head did prove to be very useful. He moved more rock than all of us combined probably. We made short work of that blockage and good thing too. I was not keen on staying there much longer than I needed to.

We follow the newly opened passage to an underground lake, but above the lake is our freedom. Sabaka climbed up to a ledge and reported a way out. All we have to do now is get a line up there and try our best to not fall in the lake below.

Disaster! Ben jumped into the lake to take on this horrible fiend that laid in wait for anything unlucky enough to meet it’s grasp! A Brykolakas! It grabbed and clawed at him until we managed to get him some backup and out of there. I’m quite glad I had the foresight to prepare an Air spell because we used it to send Kilja in after the horrible thing. After many injuries we managed to dispatch the foul thing and make our way out.

With more experience in the art of delving, I’m hoping that next time we won’t be so close to death. Then again, what else is adventuring about if not coming within inches of death on a regular basis?

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Escape!
Here in the caverns things always seem to go from bad to worst. Though we escaped from the Dark Folk, it was not easy. Fights with them seem to drain away our strength, and they find us more quickly than we can recover. As we left the scene of the dark battle once more, we found what must have been their living quarters. The floors are strewn with their foul-smelling robes and the walls are scrawled with crude drawings that appear to have been done in blood. I can't make out their primitive writing, but on one wall I see what looks like one of the Dark Folk. The figure wears long robes and seems large and spooky. I don't see any others like it.

We go on, and eventually find ourselves around a large pool, like an underground lake. The waterfall that we have been following empties into it. It is so dark I can't see the far end, nor can I judge how deep the waters are. Above, and about 40 feet away, Kilja saw a large outcropping of rock; Sabaka climbed to the ridge and reported a passage leading off. I breathed in deeply, and swore I could almost sense fresh air among the stench of the brackish water and the staleness of the caverns. I shouted to my companions that the passage must be the way out, but we would have to find a way across the water. Like the brave warrior he is, Ben jumped into the water, our only means of escaping, and suddenly things went from bad to worse.

A creature in the water grabbed Ben and pulled him down. I was afraid we had seen the last of him, but we must have wrestled free. As he scrambled ashore I caught a glimpse of the enemy: a dreaded Brykolakas. I cautioned my friends, this creature could not be destroyed by magic or force, though their skins could be pierced by silver. Luckily Sarge had his silver knife on him, and Zadok took our his coin purse and placed a Silver between each finger. The beast did not last long once we began our attack.

Once again I proved why halflings generally dislike the water. While attempting to scale the rock to reach the passage I slipped and fell into the dark water. Were it not for Sarge's magical squid he had summoned to fight the Brykolakas, this party could have been short one archaeologist...

We are shaken. We are bruised. I fear Ben may fall victim to the dread disease the Brykolakas passed onto him. But even so, the Ghost Wolves rise once again, and blinking, step into the sun.

--Bran Harvish
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Sparrow's Two Coppers
The Darkness!

I was absolutely terrified when we plummeted into a pool of water that I could not touch the bottom of. I thought I would nearly drown with the weight of my armour (I’m not such a great swimmer), luckily, I was able to make it to the “beach” fine.

This place creeps me the fuck out. Bran and the rest seem to be in absolute awe of this place and all it’s history, but I would rather be back with the Ghost Wolves marching to battle. Crawling through caves and lost cities makes me feel closed in. This feeling is validated as we encounter some sort of dark creepy creepertons. They cast some sort of magical darkness that the light I have cast on my shield barely penetrates. I am able to find my way out of the darkness with Ben’s help in advising us which way to go, and sink Landeater into one of the little bastards. Just as I deal a blow to the little shit, he moves past me and stabs me in the side, some sort of poison courses through me and I feel the strength sapped right out of me. Not a good feeling. We are finally able to kill one of these dark midgets and much to everyone’s surprise, they EXPLODE in a bright light. Bran is blinded, this is not going so well. I hear Zadok yelling in the background about a “light horse”, who knows what that ridiculous ex-monk is ranting on about now?

More of the dark little shits are entering the cavern. This situation becomes FUBAR pretty quickly as Bran, blind as Ambrose’s bat, tries to flare one of the Darks and in the process, blinds Zadok. Good Gods. The darkness continues to descend on us, and although I want to Landeat the shit outta the ass in front of me, I cast light onto Kilja’s axe so she is not fumbling blindly in the dark. I can’t see what else is going on around me, but I hear Bran casting a spell. I’m hoping he can see by now! The fighting continues. There are at least 6 or 7 of these midgets. Ambrose has webbed two of them and they are, at least for now, out of the equation. As I tear through another, it dies, releasing a loud noise that wounds! Fighting enemies in the dark and underground, as I said earlier, is not my cup of tea. We are finally able to eliminate the rest of the creepers, the last one, dying in a web that I lit on fire. Ha!

As we continue through this foul place, we come upon some idiotic monstrosity tied to a wall. Bran and I interrogate this beast to see what is going on here. We can only assume that these dark shits are keeping him for some purpose. He is obviously not on their side or else they wouldn’t have him tied up. As we are trying to extract information, more creepers come into the room. Darkness falls again. I am trying to break the Beast’s bonds. More creepers show up. All I can do is hope that this Beast will be friendly once I get him free. Fingers crossed!

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Excerpt From Abrose's Journal
I attack the darkness!

Thank the Ancestors that we made it through that tunnel. I had no idea where we were going or even how fast. In hindsight that seemed very foolish, but at least we’re alive.
The caverns of this place are as magnificent as the ruins we came from. I don’t think this stone has ever seen daylight. The fish are pallid and practically eyeless in this pool.
It seems we have a few ways to chose from in here, and it would also seem that Zadok is choosing anything over remaining soaked… I agree with him on that one.

Zounds! There are people down here! well, not so much people as they are people-like. They do not seem keen on the idea of us being here either. Unfortunately, they have mastery over light itself… or at least the lack thereof. They move through the darkness with ease, but fortunately so does Kai.

We managed to overcome these… dark folk, with some trouble, but we live. I was hoping to find out more about them, but they explode into a burst of light when killed. A most intriguing effect.

After sleeping in the unforgiving ebon of this tomb, we decided to explore further. It seems we have no other choice. I never realized how much I took ubiquitous light for granted until I couldn’t tell night from day. I definitely need to find a way to make sure we don’t ever end up like this again.

Although I can’t see it, we are in an enormous cavern. It must be a sight to see. I can hear the water falling around us and Kai has an almost uncontrollable urge to fly. Our sunrods and torches lead us most of the way until we find a horrible misshapen thing chained to the cave wall. Before I have a chance to warn Bran away he’s approaching the beast.

As much as Bran is small his heart is big. Where I thought this cabbage-headed man-thing was going to take his head off, he seemed to almost want to pet him. Zadok gave up some of his food to help feed this thing, showing off his true virtue. I think all he ever needed was someone who had less than him, because he’d gladly give anything to someone who needed it.

The dark folk come! They do not seem pleased that we have made nice with “Cabbage Head”, so we had better steel ourselves for another fight, or to flee.

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Down down down

Down we go into the dark. Always moving farther and farther down. Creatures of the darkness have taken over this place. Some Dark Folk catch us unawares and surround us with a charm of magical darkness. Light spells barely pierce their cursed dark, and when they are defeated they explode in a burst of dazzling light, which blinds me when I watch them die.

We rested after the fight. We didn’t know if it was still day, if night had passed, or a new day had begun, but we are weak after this long day of fighting our way through caverns and enemy laden tunnels. I admit it was hard to close my eyes—I was afraid of what might be there when I opened them.

When we awoke it was more of the same. Down through more twisty caverns, sometimes following the stream, sometimes following the tunnels. Soon we found a natural chamber and chained to the wall, a very large human type figure with a strangely misshapen head that resembled…well a cabbage. I approached him with Sparrow and Zadok at my side. He could have been dangerous but we tamed him with some soft words and rations. His name, appropriately enough, is Cabbage Head. He has been trapped here by the Dark Folk.

Will this new friend be a boon or a burden? His size means he may be a benefit to fighting the more dangerous creatures we will likely meet in the future. But then again, our rations will not last long when feeding such a big fellow. As we work to free him from his chains, we find ourselves once more cast into unnatural darkness, our light charms barely lighting our own hands. The Dark Folk have discovered us freeing their prisoner. Perhaps we can reason with them also? Somehow I don’t think so…


—Bran Harvish

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