AAR (6H) - The Breach of Iron Head 2020-9-13 (23:00 GMT)

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Dougansf
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Re: AAR (6H) - The Breach of Iron Head 2020-9-13 (23:00 GMT)

Post by Dougansf » Wed Sep 16, 2020 5:16 pm

The Adventures of Sandrin
Chapter 15 - The Breach of Iron Head


I was in a foul mood, storming my way through the Grand Bazzar. The Sun Heralds informed me that I had to prove myself further to join them. As if Captaining the maiden voyage of the Arngeir wasn’t enough! They’re still telling (lesser versions of) the epic tale of how we reached the citadel in the sky surrounded by horrorspawn.

I ran into Icarus, almost literally. He was also in a rush to another appointment, having just left A’horangi with the news that he was unable to join her on her trip to the Cloister of Silence. I thought getting out of Throal might be good for my peace of mind, so I offered to take his place. A few minutes later, A’horangi, Elisen, LaShana, Lazulin, and I are all heading North along the trade road.

Stir Crazy
When we arrive a few days later, the guards are reluctant to face Zenghu in order to announce our arrival. Not out of propriety, but out of fear of her wrath.

Her husband Feug Strappa went missing 2 weeks ago. He was rambling and accused her of stealing what is his. She knows what this means, she doesn’t have false hopes. However, she convinced Bannick (a dwarf) to stay behind… by chaining him into a room.

Bannick has several geometric shapes scarred into his arms where he could reach. Talking to him proves counter-productive.

Zenghu shows us a closet full of clibming gear and maps. Feug was trying to burn one of the maps when they last fought. I look over the charred map and determine that Feug wound his path through the mountains, reaching each peak along the way. Apparently he loved climbing, perhaps he was seeking peace.

We stay the night. At dinner, some folks mocking our mission, and others lamenting the fate of Bannick. A’horangi politely informs them where they can put their opinions, and that we leave at dawn.

The next morning, Driggs and some of the militia are fully armored and ready to go. Driggs says they don’t put aside what certain members do for everyone else. They are referring to their leader, Bannick. They’d like to accompany us and ensure our safe arrival.

Rocky Progress
We follow the map for a few days. Seeing an opportunity to impress the Heralds back in Throal, I mingle with the militia along the way. If the worst should befall Driggs, I’ll be able to take over in his stead easily enough. I also discover that Lazulin is seeking patronage with the Sun Heralds as well.

We climb up onto a plateau. We hear the rumbling of something burrowing through the rock below, and a Rockworm pokes it’s head up and approaches us. A’horangi spots another one much closer in a small stream. 2 more (total of 4) emerge across the river.

Lazulin and A’horangi are nearly killed by the ambush. I’m briefly surrounded by three of them, dance out of the way, and I’m knocked out underneath one of their huge forms.

When I wake up, Eilsen and Lashanna have killed some and scared off the others. Apparently the militia shot arrows over the cliff to help with a distraction.

The troop’s morale shakes after seeing how close we came to death. We encourage them to stay with us for a while longer, thanking them for saving us. We spend a few days recovering and climbing farther up the cliffs.

Horror Valley
We come to a valley covered in snow. There’s a glacial lake, with a glacier standing about 20 feet above the surface. The blowing snow lightens for a moment, showing an opening of a shrine beyond the lake. We spot movement on the other side of the valley. Lashanna goes to scout it out, finding 4 people carrying a palanquin which is emitting a slight glow. “People” is a generous term, as they were made up of different Namegiver parts.

Without warning, crystal shards sprout from Driggs, incapacitating him. A large horde of Gnashers bursts forth from the shrine and drops down the cliff towards us.

The militia tries to grab Driggs and run. I coordinate with Lazulin to take command, and sets the militia against the Gnashers. LaShana flies closer to shoot inside the palanquin at a Crystal Entity within. Her Absorb Blow charm prevents Death Spikes from knocking her out of the sky. The militia moves to block the Gnashers. The amalgam creatures put down the palanquin, and rush the others. Eilsen and A’horengi charge to meet them.

LaShana informs us of a previous encounter with a Crystal Entity, it’s the source of the crystals burst out of people. With this information, I Inspire the party and Distract the Crystal Entity, specifically encouraging Eilsen to charge. Eilsen wastes no time charging the Entity delivering a mighty strike. LaShanna shoots the Entity to finish it off.

Meanwhile, the militia move across the valley to block the approach of the oncoming Gnashers. They form a shield wall instead of applying their bows again. Lazulin’s spear shines bright in the valley, inspiring all of us to stay the course.

A’horangi is surrounded by three of the creatures, and knocked down briefly. This doesn’t prevent her from counterattacking them when they try to capitalize on her position. I move to assist, giving her the breathing room to get back on her feet, and end up killing a monster in the process.

We then rush over to encourage and reinforce the militia for several minutes, grinding the Gnashers against the glacier. The silence after combat is interrupted by a rumbling from the mountainside. This encourages us to leave quickly. Driggs regain consciousness, and is barely well enough to walk. We smash the Entity to bits and inspect the amalgam bodies. We find parts of several Namegivers, including some of Feug. We head back to the Cloister of Silence.

Five Days later we return to the Cloister. Bannik is feeling much better. Zenghu smiles when she sees us, though A’horangi informes her of Feug’s demise.

Much to my surprise, Bannik is a member of the Sun Heralds, and offers to induct Lazulin and myself into their order after our performance with the militia.

Serendipity is my favorite of the muses.

sigfriedmcwild
Posts: 270
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2019 6:59 am

Re: AAR (6H) - The Breach of Iron Head 2020-9-13 (23:00 GMT)

Post by sigfriedmcwild » Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:12 pm

From the memoirs of Elisen of clan Adorjan, Haressa-tis and Lore Keeper

Deep in my Troubadour training, I received a very nice note from A'horangi (t'skrang Monk) asking for assistance. They have been in touch with the last practitioner of a discipline called Bodyguard, and they have finally received what looks like a challenge to prove themselves worthy of training.

Also joining A'horangi were:
- Lazulin, a troll Raider
- Sandrin, an elven Air Sailor and Troubadour
- LaShana Tumblesprout, a windling Thief

A'horangi's prospective master is Ironhead Zhang of the Cloister of Silence, so we proceeded to that location with all due haste. I have been wanting to visit the cloister for a while as it has been the centre of many heroics in the last three years, but this was my first chance. Once we arrived, the gate guards inquired to our purpose and then seemed really uncomfortable with the idea of going to talk to the Ironhead. We were spared the embarrassment of waiting for them to draw lots or something by the arrival of a dwarf who introduced themselves as Driggs and they took us to see the Ironhead.

Ironhead Zhang turned out to also be a dwarf, of brusque manner and middle age. They were clearly in distress as they explained that their husband (Feug Strappa) had started acting erratically and accused them of attempting to steal something before fleeing the cloister. They also informed us that their brother in law (Banik Strappa) was similarly affected but still present. Well if one can consider "chained down to a bed while ranting maniacally" to be "present".

I tried to reach out to Banik, but they did not react to me at all and continued with the mumbling and scratching geometric patterns in their skin. More talking with the Ironhead revealed that their husband was a scout and had been mapping the nearby peaks. Part of the final confrontation before their departure had included an attempt to burn one of the maps.

Sandrin examined the map and was confident they could lead us to the location that was being hidden, so we made plans to leave first thing in the morning. During dinner, we overheard some of the other inhabitants of the Cloister making fun of our endeavour and dismissing the Ironhead's pain.

In the morning I decided to leave Isidoros and Teh in the Cloister's stables since mountain climbing is not one of Isidoros' strengths and I did not want it to be lonely. In the meantime Driggs and about twenty soldiers showed up, determined to assist us, which was rather touching. A'hornagi extracted a promise that they would stay behind if we deemed the danger to them too great and then we set out.

Once again I was tasked with assisting with food and supplies, this time together with Lazulin, while LaShana and A'hornagi played spotters and Sandrin led us. The first few days went by uneventfully until we encountered a sheer cliff. LaShana and I assisted the tallfolk by securing ropes to the top so that their climb would be easier.

Mere moments after we had reached the top, rockworms ambushed us, before I could really tell what was happening A'horangi was down and Sandrin and Lazulin were bleeding. The following fight was messy and a very close call, I swear one of the hits should have killed Lazulin but he managed to get back up. Driggs followed up the ropes and called for bow fire from the troops, which together with the mounting injuries convinced the worms to seek easier prey elsewhere.

After the fight Sandrin was still out, so I checked on them and poured one of my booster potions in their throat (I have learnt that tallfolk drink those instead of just pouring them over their head). The next couple of days were spent recuperating and setting up the next stage of the climb, thankfully with little interference from weather or beasts.

Once we were up the next cliff we spend another day walking before arriving to a small valley, almost a box canyon filled with snow and ice. In the distance we spotted an opening in the mountainside with a couple of statues flanking it and some kind of palanquin carried by four humanoids.

LaShana approached to gather more information, but before they could get a good look, Driggs collapsed, looking like crystal spikes had just grown from inside their body. LaShana also screamed in pain, but did not lose control of their flight. She shouted something about "crystal entities" and "horrors" as the four misshapen humanoids dropped the palanquin and charged us.

I know little of horrors, but charging I do know and so I skewered the closest one, while Sandrin and Lazulin took control of the troops before they could break. At the same time some kind of beasts started pouring out of the cave to the south rushing towards us. The troops were directed to intercept the beasts, while I charged whatever was inside the palanquin. It turned out to be a rock. A killer rock that tried to grow crystals inside me too. LaShana and I made sure to smash it to bits before turning to deal with the Brutes and the beasts. The fight was short and brutal, but we prevailed.

Just as we were starting to take out bearings a great rumbling came from the cave and we decided that it was high time to get out. We made our way back to the Cloister with no incident, where Dvarim informed the Ironhead of their husband fate (we saw their face on one of the brutes). The Ironhead took the news as well as it could be hoped and offered to train A'horangi. Banik also seemed to be doing much better and offered to induct Sandrin and Lazulin in the Sun Herald path.

bronzemountain
Posts: 516
Joined: Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:02 pm

Field Notes of A'horangi Ha'hana Syrtis, Vol. 2

Post by bronzemountain » Wed Sep 23, 2020 3:02 pm

Entry 4.

Iron Head Zheng finally replies to repeated requests for meeting. Preserved by Cloister of Silence, one of the only known Adepts of ancient Bodyguard Discipline. Unique instructor.

Send invitations to friends to join, as Zheng indicates need for allies. Some answer, some send proxies. In all: LaShana, Lazulin, Sandrin, Elisen.

Zheng has suffered tragedy. Husband Feug is missing. Husband's brother, Banik, deeply affected by trauma. Compelled to carve glyphs into own skin. Chained for his own protection.

Feug and Banik were on patrol with militia. Banik only survivor. No knowledge of what they encountered, but path and likely location known.

Driggs, militia officer, and twenty brave souls request to join us. Pain of loss clear, as is need for redemption. They do not know they have nothing to redeem. They are brave and true. Rashomon would be pleased if he were in a state to be pleased.

In the mountains, ambushed by Rockworms. Extremely stealthy due to burrowing, only revealed by faint vibrations. I notice one flanking us, shout warning, am attacked. No time to enact plan to get into water. Am reminded that preparation trumps planning.

Pain is intense and swift. Peace follows.
On waking, am informed battle was fierce and deadly, but militia intervened. Party is victorious, but barely. Victory together, defeat alone. That is the lesson.

Continue on to glacial lake surrounded by scree, high in Throal mountains. Snow. Ice. Beautiful and serene.
If not for Horror corruption.

Some structure on far side of lack, perhaps old kaer or shrine. Disgorges Gnashers at alarming rate.
Four mismatched and unevenly constructed beings bear palanquin. Entity in palanquin causes crystals to grow out from joints, piercing skin.
Exquisite pain. Driggs is afflicted and falls unconscious. LaShana similarly afflicted but has prepared Absorb Blow charm. Again, preparation trumps planning. Also amused - fight crystal with crystal.

Now, we fight as one. Lazulin and Sandrin unleash their spirit, and troops - and we Adepts - are inspired to great feats. LaShana, as befits her Discipline, fights alone. Finds the secret paths we cannot see. Exploits advantage. Elisen knows the field is theirs to cross. No corner safe from Cavalryman. I contribute as best I can. Demonstrate that being knocked down is no impediment when fighting the untrained.

Troops hold off endless stream of Gnashers until we can join them.
Silence falls on frozen waters.

One brute wears the face of Feug.

Deliver news to Iron Head Zheng with kindness but without dissembling. She is iron, she can bear it. Lies do not protect, even if they seem to soften. She understands.

Banik is recovered. With him, another lost Pattern of ancient magic - the Path of the Sun Herald.

Three of us remain to study: Lazulin, Sandrin study with Banik and I study with Zheng. Magic of the Bodyguard is familiar, easy to learn, but also primitive. Unadorned. Once, they gave their lives to protect others. The truth is the greatest protector. I am a student of truth. It is a good fit.

Strange corrupted structure remains unexplored.
Will not plan. But will prepare.

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