Knot of Thorns

ACT II: Taking the Horn
Book 2: Call Forth Darkness

Within a day of entering the Caer Bryr, the villains find themselves standing face to face with Jurak the Eldest, a huge treant. He told them that they had discovered the ancient Horn of Abaddon, which was the treant’s sacred charge. He told them they must turn back. The villains attacked and defeated the treant taking some of the treant’s remains as treasure.

They rested, and made their way into the caverns below. There they discovered some bullywugs (also called boggards, or frog-men). The environment in the covers was wet and swampy and the bullywugs fled deeper into the caves. The villains discovered a pit boiling mud, a pool of acid, and even a large pile of humanoid and animal bones. Finally they arrived in a primitive village surrounded by the bullywugs. One of them declared himself as “Kumanda Slays-Nine-Men”; he was quickly defeated by five men and an ogre (the villains and Grumblejack). Impressed by the villains strength, and persuaded by Captain Atticus Rockhopper, they became the villains minions, with one condition; Zikomo Hears-The-Father, the tribes shaman, was to be put in charge of he bullywugs. The villains agreed, and Zikomo revealed to them, a hidden cavern covered in blue fungus.

Alar Xiloscient misty-stepped into the cavern, which was only otherwise accessible through a tiny tunnel, and found a lime-covered skeleton clutching a large tome, and an emerald easily worth 15,000 gold pieces! Upon reading the tome and identifying the gem, they discovered that the tome was the Dirges of Apollyon and it revealed the ritual for bringing Vetra-Kali back to this plane. The emerald was the first of his three stolen eyes, the Eye of Withering.

With the knowledge of what needed to be done, the villains scryed throughout the Horn, and found everything from a golem in need of repairs, to a secret treasure vault guarded by wraiths, a petrified member of the Sons of the Pale Horseman, to a pair of daemons (Hexor and Vexor), and a lightning elemental. Even Grumblejack discovered his secret daemonic heritage, after drinking from the unholy water produced by the shrine of Vetra-Kali (and growing wings!).

Upon reaching the sanctum, they had gathered all of the Eyes and revived Halthus the Flayer (the petrified cultist) just long enough for him to be the first sacrifice. Upon his death the outside of the Horn burst into unholy green flames, burning away all the vegetation and sending a beacon skyward, revealing the location of the Horn to everyone in Farholde, and possibly farther.

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ACT I: Farholde
Book 2: Call Forth Darkness

The party begins the journey to Farhold on the river barge “Halstyn’s Folly” of which Tiadora is the undisputed mistress, taking the only cabin. For twelve days the barge slowly makes it’s way across Lake Tarik, stopping each night within sight of a village or keep.

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On the twelfth night, Tiadora approaches the party and tells them “The Master is here and commands you attend him.” Upon entering the cabin they see their master, Cardinal Adrastus Thorn. He greets them, praising them for a job well done. Due to their efforts the Fire-Axe and his horde has invaded and already three battles have been fought and won. The villages of Ambryl and Tarrington Fields lie sacked and the Fortress of Lorringsgate is in ruins.

Cardinal Thorn then gives them their next mission and that is to find the Horn of Abaddon, an ancient temple which once housed a death cult known as the The Sons of the Pale Horseman, themselves overthrown by Markadian I eighty years before.

The Sons of the Pale Horseman served a powerful daemon prince known as Vetra-Kali-Eats-The-Eyes who had made a masterpiece of plague that he was about to spread across the world known only as the Tears of Achlys. Before he was able to complete his mission Markadian I defeated and banished him from this world using a great seal of silver crafted and blessed by Mitran priests.

Cardinal Thorn commands the party to break the seal and summon Vetra-Kali back to the world and obtain the Tears of Achlys. Once they have obtained the Tears of Achlys they will give it to him and in turn he will give it to his agents to spread in the southern cities of the kingdom.

He tells the party that he had sent his fourth knot to find the Horn and according to his last report they had actually discerned the Horn’s location (less than a day’s ride from Farholde) but they have not been heard from for quite some time which leads the Cardinal to believe that they have been destroyed.

He also tells the party that he has commanded the seventh knot to journey to Farholde as well, the seventh knot will keep anyone from interfering with the party while they attempt to break the seal. He mentions that there is someone in Farholde that they will be introduced to by Tiadora, that being Baron Arkov Vandermir a very well connected nobleman in Farholde who may be able to assist them. He then dismisses them and leaves the barge.

They dock in Farholde the next morning and leave with Tiadora telling them that they will be attending dinner at the Baron’s home that night. Leaving, they barely explore Farholde at all.

That night the party meets Tiadora at the barge and walk to the home of Baron Vandermir where after surrendering their visible weapons are let in. After a few moments of fine wine and hors d’oeuvres, they are led into the dining room where they meet Baron Arkov Vandermir.

As soon as dinner is served and the servants are dismissed the Baron turns to the party and says. “You come to me as beggars, the last remnants of a forbidden faith. You will promise me much, of that I have no doubt. But all that I am likely to earn from helping you is the inquisitor’s pyre. Tell me, why should I help the likes of you?"

The party successfully convinces the Baron to assist them assuring him that all of their activities will be in total secret and totally untraceable to him. This suits the Baron at which point he agrees to help them by giving them access to a secret tunnel from his manor to a hovel in another part of town, allowing them to move unobserved.

After the meal Tiadora reminds the party of the clay tablet given to them by Cardinal Thorn, “Break it when you need to speak with the Master. Be sure not to waste his time. He can be most unforgiving about that. The Seventh Knot is already close at hand. They arrive tomorrow on a river barge named “The Lucky Lady”. You should probably meet them and come up with a plan for seeing our Master’s will done. It matters not to me of course, Not my problem. Goodbye dearest, and good luck." With which she teleports away.

The next day the party is informed of the arrival of the Seventh Knot and is requested to me with them. Going to the Auld Briarhall in Auld’Irey. They meet with Elise, Trak, Dostan, and Trik.

Elise lays out her plan to the party “It is my intention in the next few months to have spies set up in every inn, tavern and anywhere else adventurers and explorers might congregate. When you do find the Horn of Abaddon, contact me. For those groups I can’t personally dispatch, I’ll send a messenger with any information I can gather”.

After the meeting the party departs into the Caer Bryr to search for the Horn.

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Act IV: Burning Balentyne
Book 1: Knot of Thorns

Leaving Grumblejack to watch the Frosthamar, our villains made there way to the town of Aldencross. There they entered the only inn available, the Lord’s Dalliance.

At the Lord’s Dalliance, Brom attempted to make some new friends among the soldiers drinking there, Harrison Butterscotch failed miserably to fit in among the dwarven engineers, and Atticus Rockhopper (disguised as a halfling) got himself a job serving drinks. Even with all of this excitement, the villains noticed an aasimar within the tavern. Brom was unable to sense anything celestial about this man; in fact he sensed quite the opposite. Upon further investigation, the man revealed himself to be Lucius Umbra, sent by Cardinal Adrastus Thorn. As proof, he showed the others that his name had appeared on their contract as well. The rest of the villains remain skeptical of this man’s abilities. They believe he must be some kind of thief.

With the group once again together they made a plan to poison the soldiers’ stew, remove the Dwarven engineers, and impersonate the dwarves for access to Balentyne.

Once inside, they destroyed the siege equipment and killed Mad Martin Rayard, believing him to be the rumored magister, and destroyed his rookery. They then enter the keep where they were surprised to find the real Tacitus of Morimun and his Ice Golem experiment.

After dealing with the magister and his golem, the villains made their way the the war room and fought Lord Thomas Havelyn and Counselor Donnagin. They defeated them both. As Brom touched Lord Havelyn’s armor it transformed from shining plate to a dark and baroque plate, covered in the iconography of Asmodeus.

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Act III: Fire-Axe
Book 1: Knot of Thorns

Our villains, now officially known as The Nessian Knot, set sail with Captain Kargeld Odenkirk to transport a shipment of armaments to Sakkarot Fireaxe, a fearsome bugbear warchief who will use them to band together the savage bugbears of the north and lead them to war with Talingarde.

On their trip, the Nessian Knot is stopped for inspection by The Blade of St. Martius. After tricking the inspectors, by impersonating Sir Balin and his squire Timeon, the Knot is attacked by a triton oracle who declares himself Nerianus. Upon his death the triton declares a prophecy of doom upon the villains.

The group meets the Yutak whale hunters, lead by Chief White Tusk, and his translator and medicine-man Joseph Calls-Fire-From-Water. They trade White Tusk for his valuable Narwhal horn, but Alar Xiloscient offends him by laughing when he dons the monocle they traded him.

After the trading, travel continued, bringing the party into icy waters. They fought a group of ice mephits, led by an unusually cunning mephit named Kiliketz, the Laughing Storm. Alar binds the creature as his familiar.

The group then finally made it to the Fireaxe’s encampment. Murdoc impresses the Fire-Axe by showing him the head of Sir Balin of Karfeld. The group then gathers back on the ship, the Frosthamar, and makes their way to the other side of Lake Tarik. They kill Captain Kargeld Odenkirk, and his crew as instructed.

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Act II: Into the Knot
Book 1: Knot of Thorns

Our villains are introduced to their mysterious benefactor Cardinal Adrastus Thorn, High Priest of Asmodeous in Talingarde. He congratulates them on their escape of Branderscar Prison and offers them the option to take up the fight to bring down Talingarde with him.

Signing an infernal contract in blood, our villains are tested. They are charged by Cardinal Thorn to bring him a pendent from his basement, one of silver inlaid with sapphire. They delve into the basement dungeons and learn the nine lessons Cardinal Thorn has set out before them, killing Sir Balin’s personal squire Timeon, before confronting Sir Balin of Karfeld themselves, slaying him. Our villains claim from him their prize, a holy symbol of Mitra cast in silver and inlaid with sapphire. Upon returning to Cardinal Thorn, he deems the villains worthy of his teachings, and sets out to train them.

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Act I: Prison Break!
Book 1: Knot of Thorns

Our villains are sent to Branderscar Prison, the most notorious prison in the land, to meet the headsman for their heinous crimes against Talingarde and it’s fair people. Within the cell, are five men: Alar Xiloscient, sent for Piracy; Brom for Murder, Captain Atticus Rockhopper sent for Piracy; Harrison Butterscotch for Graverobbing; and Murdoc for Consorting with Dark Powers. A dour situation, the villains receive aid from a mysterious woman on the behalf of an unknown benefactor. After giving them a Veil of Useful Items and departing, the villains free themselves from their bonds, gain the aid of Grumblejack the Ogre who has been kept in Branderscar awaiting his own execution.

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Our villains slaughter some of the guards, and make their way to the warden’s tower. They subdue the Warden Mathias Richter, and kill his pet owl, before recovering some of their equipment and Richter’s spellbook. They climb over the guardhouse, leaving Sergeant Tomas Blackerly alive with a few guards inside.

After escaping the prison, our villains made their way through the Moors where they were attacked by the giant constricter snake Lashtongue, which they swiftly defeated. They then arrived at the Manor on the Old Moor Road to meet their unseen benefactor.

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