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Heroes of Mystara - Chapter 24-199by Jesper Andersen
Important message from the DM
Notes by Jesper Andersen, Dungeon Master of the "Heroes of Mystara" campaign:
"It is almost two and a half year since this campaign began, and alas, I haven't got the time to write as many episodes as I would like. In fact, it almost takes me longer to write the episodes than to play them.
In episode 23, where we are now, the characters were level 3-4. Currently, in November 2004, they are level 9-10 and I am afraid that I might forget a lot if the episodes we are playing now will not be written until 2006 or 2007.
Therefore, I have decided to summarise the episodes from 24 until where the characters are now, hoping that eventually I will get them done in a more thorough manner. For now, the summary will have to do as I am more interested in chronicling their current epic adventures than what has happened before.
The summary will be of what went on in the campaign from the summer of 1000 AC until the summer of 1001 AC. Just 12 months of game world time but almost two years of playing time.
After I am done writing the summary, I will begin new episodes with the figure 200. I have no idea if 177 episodes will be enough to later flesh out the gap, but I hope so. I will begin the new episodes with complete listing of the characters' levels, stats and magical items so you may better get an understanding of how they have developed.
Campaign summary, episodes 24-199:
The party was given leather armours, bows and spears by the kind people of Punaauia and then went on their way back to Ierendi City. By the help of the little halfling rogue Myrmeen they managed to sneak back into the city unnoticed and were given sanctuary by the local thieves' guild that also had a score to settle with the Iron Ring.
Over the next few days the learned that all members of the Iron Ring had fled the city back to Karameikos. The party managed to find out that it was not the tribune who had double-crossed them. His servant had been charmed by magic to deliver the false note at the inn.
The party visited Signor Luigi who gave them money for equipment and fresh clothes. In secret, Ikaros managed to purchase a dark and somewhat evil spellbook from the leader of the thieves' guild in return for his pledge to serve her at some other time. He tried to pay for it with the broche given to him by Princess Clarissa (which the Iron Ring had somehow not confiscated) by the leader of the thieves' guild, a mage named Hanni, would not touch it. She told him that it was a gift from the leader of the Minrothad Guilds on his last state visit and that its disappearance would probably cause a minor international incident. Ikaros put it away.
The day finally came when Ikaros met Lady Gherynid again and she introduced him to Zajimarn. In return for Palando's staff Zajimarn demanded an Efreeti bottle which was in the possession of Yavi - the deranged high priest of the local Temple of the Eternal Truth. Stealing from him was not something the characters were eager to do, but they managed to come up with a plan. In return for filling a magical bag of holding with coins from the temple, the thieves' guild arranged for the People's Temple to have a festival on the night of one of Yavi's sermons. The plan was to provoke a mass fist-fight in the streets between the followers of the two temples, thus clearing out the interior of Yavi's temple during the break-in. It worked marvellously.
The characters stole lots of jewels and coin, a decanter of endless water, a flying carpet, a magical short sword, the Efreeti bottle and some diamonds. Immediately after the break-in they went to the thieves' guild, delivered the magical sack with coins and headed to the harbour. Wulfgar had gotten them a ride onboard the longship Valkyrie captained by Helgi Hard-Sailor, (from the Mystara NPC catalogue) who was going back to Ostland. The party decided that it was best to travel to the other end of the Known World to escape Yavi's wrath.
Before they sailed, however, Ikaros went to a park at midnight and gave Zajimarn the Efreeti bottle in return for Palando's staff.
They sailed at dawn and headed towards Specularum first. There, they dropped off Ikaros, who decided to go ashore to meet Palando's ghost and rid himself of further obligations (he hoped) and Whitemane who decided to return to Rockhome. They agreed that Ikaros would send word as soon as he could, so that they might perhaps meet up again later.
The rest of the party, Wulfgar, Petja, Eveil and Thaminor sailed on with Helgi; first to Thyatis city and then up the coast of Ylaruam towards Ostland. They came across an Alaysian war galley, which attacked them, but Eveil and Petja managed to set the galley ablaze with fireballs and a Minor Orb of Blasting and won the day.
When they came to Ostland, they landed in Zeafort, where the Dragon, Wolf and Raven brigades of the Army of Ostland are posted. They were sheltered by a kinsman of Wulfgar, a fisherman named Strybjorn Eyjolfsson.
A string of murders were taking place in Zeafort at the time and a local hero named Røde Orm (Red Drake) was seen at the scene of one of the crimes. Wulfgar and his friends volunteered to help track Røde Orm and eventually found his hall, where his wife, children and servants had all been slain. They encountered Røde Orm at the farmstead but he fled and they followed him to a cave system.
Inside, they learned that they had not been fighting Røde Orm but an evil reflection created by a Mirror of Opposition. The reflection, and several others, was under the control of an evil godar of Loki named Snorri Smooth-Tongue (from the Mystara NPC Catalogue).
The party fought Snorri, killing his henchmen and acolytes, but Snorri managed to escape after a heroic battle in which a reflection of Wulfgar was produced by the mirror. The party smashed the mirror and Wulfgar took one of the shattered pieces that it may never be mended again. Wulfgar had killed the leader of Snorri's henchmen, a berserker named Hengist Hasteinsson, and took his magical battleaxe called Rage of the Storm.
They freed Røde Orm, who had been held captive, as well as a Shield Maiden named Gunnhild Siglindesdottir and an unlucky skjald named Hjalti Bluetooth. Following their triumph against Snorri they returned to Zeafort and were rewarded by the high godar of Odin.
In Zeafort the party was joined by a priest of Asterius named Alexander Ikbn (usually referred to as Alex) who had just arrived at the town by ship. On the 17th day of Ambyrmont they journeyed together towards the east coast of the island to Wulfgar's home village of Vinterdal ("Winter Dale").
On the way they met Leif the Long (from the Mystara NPC Catalogue) and he told them a cautionary tale of the Thyatian Odicius, who lived on the island of Sclara where he had a mansion and servants. Odicius went off to fight the wars of the Empire and did not return for seven years. He left behind many enemies on Sclara and thus, when the wars were over he returned to Sclara in disguise to avoid falling into an ambush. He soon found out that in his absence a man named Polifidon had taken over Odicius' household and family. Odicius carefully laid a plan and then killed Polifidon and all of his guards in a single night at won back his family and fortune.
Wulfgar immediately made a connection; he had not been home in four years and did not know what awaited him. In 996 he had been with his fellow clansmen on a raid in Ylaruam but when they were getting back onboard their ships they had been assaulted by Ylari cavalry on the beach. Wulfgar fought the desert men when one of his own had stabbed him in the back!
He had lost consciousness and later awoke in prison to the life of a slave. It took him two years to earn his freedom, after which he had spent another two years adventuring in the Known World. Now, he was finally returning - a changed man - not knowing what hidden foes awaited him or thought him long dead.
Wulfgar and the others decided to travel south to the farm of Leif, the middle one of his older brothers. On their way there they met Einer - Wulfgar's cousin - who had disturbing news...
Einer told Wulfgar and his friends the following:
His father had died of the Brown Plague in 997 AC, his little sister Ursula had been kidnapped by Soderfjord raiders and his brother Ogir had disappeared looking for her, his oldest brother Thorgal now lived on the Isle of Dawn with his family and his last brother, Leif, was now a bitter cripple living on a farm ten miles south of Winter Dale. As a result, Wulfgar's cousins and their father, his uncle Heindal, had taken over the great hall of Wulfgar's father and it was doubtful they would be pleased at his return...
Somewhat shocked, Wulfgar thanked Einer and proceeded to Leif's farm. Leif had been crippled during a raid in Heldann and was now a bitter alcoholic and a lousy farmer. Leif's wife and children were all but starving and winter was coming. He could hardly believe that Wulfgar was alive and became angry when Wulfgar attempted to help him. He did not need a younger brother's pity, he said. Instead, Wulfgar gave some money to Leif's wife Inger so that they could buy some animals and hire some help to survive the winter.
Leif informed Wulfgar that thanks to the godar of Odin insisting on substantial sacrifices to Odin - livestock and gold - be thrown in the bog north of Winter Dale to prevent more plague and hardship many people in Aland were now near starvation. And to make matters worse, Arni Vermundson, the hight godi of Odin, was beginning to talk of human sacrifices to please the Immortals...
A few days later the party journeyed to Winter Dale. Wulfgar had paid close attention to the tale of Leif the Long about Odicius and put on a disguise. They came to his father's longhouse and found Wulfgar's uncle, Heindal, and his three sons Remthar, Erik and Jorhal and some of Erik's berserker friends having a party inside.
They introduced themselves as friends of Wulfgar, one of the sons of Bjorn, the master of the hall, and after many angry looks of suspicion and a challenge to a fistfight they were allowed to sit at the table and eat and drink. Heindal and his sons were very interested in the rumour that Wulfgar might be alive and the party told various stories about having met him in Ierendi and Ylaruam.
The next day Wulfgar left the village, took off the disguise and returned as himself. This caused quite a commotion as everyone who had thought he was dead were quite surprised to see him alive. The situation at the great hall was quite tense, as Heindal and his sons were very anxious to find out if Wulfgar would claim his birthright or not. To begin with, Wulfgar played disinterested and told Heindal that it would be better if he continued to rule the hall - for now - until Wulfgar felt more at home and had visited old friends, talked to his mother etc. And so, the situation at Bjorn's hall remained tense and uneasy but no violent.
Wulfgar soon found out that in order to protect his youngest brother Njal, his mother had taken Heindal to bed several times, a fact that caused him to rage and it took all of his friends to stop him from challenging Heindal, his cousins and his cousins' friends all at once. When he calmed down, he also found out that Heindal had sold off his father's shipyard and either squandered away the money or hid them somewhere. The family fortune, for all apparent, was lost.
One longship, the North Wind, remained but was reduced to rotten timbers and would required a lot of care before it would ever set sail again. Wulfgar decided to repair it while he waited for Heindal and the cousins to make a move that would reveal the traitorous nature and his friends helped. On a daily basis they were all witnesses to the berserkers abusing thralls, even raping some of them, and drinking and partying for what was rightly Wulfgar's inheritance. And still, he held his rage back and waited.
Wulfgar went to see what friends remained in the village and found three old comrades: Arendal, Norleif and Aslak. Against them were his uncle Heindal and Wulgar's three cousins Remthar, Erik and Jorhal. Erik commanded a band of thugs which included the vain warrior Narmrun, the berserker Thor, the brothers Merleif and Leif, the clanless outlaw Holger - a quiet desperado - and the wannabe fighter Sven. A motley crew but a dangerous one. On top of all that Remthar was second-in-command to Arni Vermundson, the high godi of the local cult of Odin and Wulfgar's other cousin, Sven, Einer's older brother, was so beguiled by Remthar that he followed his orders without question. Wulfgar would have to proceed with caution if he was to avoid a slaughter in his own mother's house in which he killed nearly half of his living relatives...
Wulfgar also went to see Mara, a girl whom he had had affections for before he went to Ylaruam four years before. Mara's parents, Nim and Berta, and her siblings Draken, Asbjorn and Yrsa, had always loved Wulfgar as a member of their own family. Now, however, the situation had changed. Draken had gone to the Isle of Dawn with Wulfgar's older brother Thorgal four years before. Nim had fallen into debt with Heindal and when he could no repay him, had been forced to promise Mara's hand in marriage to Heindal's son Jorhal - Wulfgar's cousin.
Asbjorn was afraid Wulfgar's return would jeopardise that future marriage and warned Wulfgar not to come calling on Mara. If he did, swords would be drawn. At another occasion, Petja learned that Wulfgar's brutish cousin Erik - the leader of the thuggish berserkers - had taken a liking to Mara's little sister Yrsa, who was still only 14 years old. The Traladaran rogue decided that most of the berserkers deserved nothing better than a rapier in the gut.
Days became weeks while Wulfgar and his friends awaited timber to repair the North Wind and cautiously tried to coax the uncle and cousins into making a bad move. Nothing happened even though insults became more frequent. At one point Thor challenged Alex to a Holmgang and though he nearly died, Alex managed to slay Thor - much to the dismay of Heindal and his sons. Petja took up intensive weapons training with a gorgeous local shield maiden named Brynhild Austadottir and fell a little in love with her.
One day Wulfgar and his friends went to the woods on the yearly hunt organised by Erica the Crow, who ruled Aland in her husband's absence. During the hunt Eveil, Wulfgar and Petja were ambushed by a dire boar - a creature not native to those parts. After a mighty battle the party killed it and Wulfgar claimed its tusks. That night they talked around the fire about where such a hellish creature might have come from but neither talk nor sleep provided them with answers.
Days and weeks went by and the day finally came when the party went to the woodcutter's cabin to collect the wood to repair the North Wind. On the way they encountered the woodcutter's daughter, who wore a crown of beautiful flowers. When Eveil asked where she had got the flowers from, the girl revealed that she collected them from the top of the steep cliff north of the swamp. It used to be her secret place, she said, but for the past months a man had started visiting the cliffs as well. She didn't know who he was but she had seen him collect flowers and plants that her mother had warned her not to touch - because of their poisonous nature!
The party agreed that whoever was collecting for poisons could not be on the side of good and decided to lay an ambush near the cliff.
When they returned to the village, they were told that the high godi of Odin had ordered the sacrifice of a thrall to see the village safely though the winter and that Remthar, Wulfgar's cousin, had offered up one of Wulfgar's thralls!!
The party managed to intervene and quite calmly told the high godi and Remthar that Odin would receive another human sacrifice if they ever tried to steal Wulfgar's property again! This did not exactly ease the tension in Wulfgar's household.
A few nights later, while Wulfgar and Eveil were on a stakeout at the cliff, a man appeared. In the moonless night they recognised him as Jorhal - the youngest cousin of Wulfgar. They concluded that it was Jorhal who was steadily poisoning Grandfather Njal, making it look like old age had gotten the better of him.
They confronted Jorhal, who drew a magical knife and wounded Eveil. She was life-drained by the horrible blade and reacted by casting a spell of fear that drove the terrified Jorhal to hurl himself from the cliff.
The searched the body below and confiscated the evil looking knife. Then they left Jorhal dead at the foot of the cliff and returned to the village.
The next day everybody was talking about Jorhal going missing. Wulfgar and his friends kept quiet although one of Erik's berserkers accused them of being involved. Alex mentioned overhearing that Jorhal had been seen by the cliff and that he might be found there.
When a search party came back from the cliffs the next day with Jorhal's body tensions rose even higher and during a banquet in Jorhal's honour Petja tricked everyone into believing that he was very drunk. He taunted the berserkers and when Narmrum took the bait Petja quickly rose to his feet, drew his rapier, parried the berserker's blow and struck him through the neck!
In the next days and weeks Wulfgar repaired the North Wind. Grandfather Njal recovered from having been poisoned by Jorhal and with Njal restored to sanity Wulfgar decided to reclaim his father's hall. He quite plainly told Heindal to hand over the remains of the profit from the sale of his father's shipyard and move back into his own cottage with his sons and cronies.
Heindal scowled but knew that Wulfgar had the law on his side so he obeyed. He handed over some 8.000 pieces of silver and although Wulfgar knew there aught to be more he did not press the matter. Killing more relatives did not appeal to him. He was more concerned with raising a fleet and rescuing his brother and sister from the Oberbeck clan of Soderfjord.
Thus it was that in the late autumn of 1000 AC he travelled to Zeaburg with his friends to petition King Hord for ships to help him raid the Oberbecks in the spring. On the way to Zeaburg they once again met the skjald Leif the Long, who once again told them a story.
This time Leif told them of a warrior named Berim, who lived in Ostland at a time when two jarls competed for the throne. Walking through the woods, Berim was ambushed and captured by a band of berserkers. They demanded to know to which lord Berim held allegiance and he could not tell, which jarl they served. Thus, he answered: "I am the King's man!" The dumb berserkers took that as meaning that he served their lord and released him. Thus Berim escaped with his life.
A few days later Wulfgar and his friends reached Zeaburg. They visited the winter hall of the Varmgaard clan and managed to arrange a brief visit to the royal hall a few days later in the company of the clan representative at court.
When they finally visited the court they were benched at the far end next to the latrines, a place reserved for lowly visitors and those out-of-favour with the king. They quickly learned that the king liked to promote rivalry between his own Personal Guard, the berserkers of Thor called the Raven Guard and the elite warriors known as the King's Brothers.
During the banquet a messenger arrived with disastrous news from the colonies. Apparently, all contact had been lost with Ytre Ytresbo, the outermost village, and reports of giants and undead were numerous. The king called out to the assembled warriors what to do and several members of the Raven Guard laughed and mentioned that it was typical that the Varmgaard clan could not fight for themselves.
At that Wulfgar rose from his seat at spoke. He announced that he, Wulfgar Bjornson of the Varmgaard clan, would travel to the colonies and stop this menace and that any member of the Raven Guard or King's Brothers who were just as brave could prove so right away by announcing that they would join him!
For a few seconds everyone was dead quiet in the king's hall...
For a moment, the Raven Guard was stunned. Then several members drew swords and axes, intent on cleaving this upstart that had dared question their personal bravery. The harsh laughter of the king stopped them dead in their tracks. King Hord rose from his throne and announced that Wulfgar would indeed go to the colonies aboard one of his ships and that he was eager to see who were brave enough to join the lad.
A few of the King's Brothers and three Raven Guard members as well as four jarls' sons volunteered. The king ordered a detachment of his personal guard to go along as well but deliberately failed to specify who was in command.
A few days later the ship set sail for the colonies on the Isle of Dawn...
When they reached the shores they sailed upriver as far as the longship would take them and then continued on foot. Not two days later the troop was ambushed at night by terrible zombies and five two-headed giants! The fight was brutal and chaotic. It turned out that everyone wounded by a zombie turned into a zombie himself in a matter of minutes. Thus, after ten minutes all of the zombies and giants were dead thanks to the party's magic and battle prowess but so were most of the troops. A jarl's son was dead as were several of the Raven Guard members and King's Brothers.
It was decided that the only unwounded Raven Guard, a great and fearsome warrior named Finnbogi, should accompany the party to Ytre Ytresbo while the rest returned to the ship and waited.
After a few days march they reached what was left of the village. From a handful of survivors they learned that not only was the village beset by giants and zombies whose ranks were made up of former villagers. A dragon also terrorised them day and night. It had a sonic breath that made houses and barns explode violently without fire or lightning.
The party quickly learned that the beast was blind and used a power similar to a bat's to navigate. Apparently, it was attracted to noise and so they devised a plan involving Eveil's Ghost Sound spell and a lot of spikes that the beast could impale itself on when it tried to snatch its noisy prey.
Unfortunately, the plan did not quite go as planned. The dragon killed Finnbogi when he challenged it to single combat. Then it snatched Wulfgar, who continued to hack at its belly with his magical axe and took off with him. Petja and Ikaros took up pursuit on the magical flying carpet that Petja had stolen from Yavi in Ierendi several months before.
Eventually Wulfgar had wounded the dragon so badly it decided to drop him and fortunately, through some crazy manoeuvring, Petja and Ikaros managed to catch him in mid-air before he fell to his death and land the carpet before they crashed. It was only intended for two persons.
Then Petja and Ikaros took up pursuit again and closed in on the escaping wounded dragon. A few well-aimed blasts from Ikaros' Wand of Lightning sent it smoking to the ground. The two adventurers landed and cut off the mysterious horn on the dragon's forehead - the source of its sonic breath weapon. Then they returned to Ytre Ytresbo.
At Ytre Ytresbo everything was chaos. The latest assault by the dragon had caused much structural damage but everyone was happy that it was now finally dead. The next day a watchman spotted a large group of zombies approaching from the east and raised the alarm. The party, now fully healed and rested, took flight via spells and the carpet and then smote the zombies in the fields.
Eveil managed to track them back towards the mountains and there the party discovered a cave with three Alphatian sorcerers in it. Apparently, they had been behind the attacks. The party slew two of them before the third teleported away. Off one of them Ikaros took an unholy medallion in the likeness of Thanatos. Although the item promised much power he dared not use it. The two dead sorcerers also had a Cloak of Protection from Lightning which befell Eveil and a Ring of Acid Resistance, which Ikaros also claimed for himself. With nothing left to investigate the party returned to the village and from there via the ship to Zeaburg.