Wizards Circle

Session 9
Racing to stop the release of Gildarthe

Active Wizards

Having secured the invaluable treasures in the vault, the party turned their attention to the lone surviving cultist. Alexius released him from the stone prison and they explained to the trembling figure that the only way he might live to see the sun rise again was to tell them what was going on and how to stop it. After a brief display of bravado the wretch broke down sobbing and begged for his life; he told them about Thorde Skull’s plan to release his mistress and the crimes he had committed in order to realize his goals.

Having heard enough, Donny brought his mighty hammer down on the benighted souls head, crushing it into powder. Wasting no breath, the group set off, following the cultist’s directions to the Academy library.

Their prisoner had told them it had been sealed off by a cave-in, but the evil cult leader had been gifted a means of making “Servants of GIldarthe,” a fire-aspected form of undead that was capable of incredible feats of raw strength. The drawback to this was a limited effective lifespan before the corpse simply burned itself to ash.

Arriving at the outer chambers that lead into the library proper, the group held up and listened. No sooner had they come to a stop then several flaming bright figures lurched out of the labyrinth of twisting tunnels and blind corners and set upon them. These were the servants of Gildarthe, corpses forced into burning undeath to serve as the instrument of their loved ones demise. The cries of horror and fury from the native members of the group made it abundantly clear that these pitiable figures had once lived in the village below.

As fearsome and prodigiously strong as they were, they were no match for the wizards and their boon companions. All was darkness and silence before them, but a pall of misery weighed heavily on the chambers and soon a barely perceptible sobbing sound could be heard.

Following the sound, the group discovered a walled off pit in which several dozen villagers huddled in terror. While some of them set to freeing the traumatized victims, the rest finished exploring the area. They found a smaller chamber that had apparently been used as a barracks for the cult leader and his minions, a large area that had been used as a dumping ground for the rubble being cleared, and opposite this, a ragged tunnel leading up to an ornately carved portal, beyond which could be seen the dim outline of bookcases and ancient tapestries.

Not wishing to subject the villagers to any further hardship, some of the group volunteered to lead them out through the catacombs to safety. The rest plunged ahead into the library.

The two wizards wept at the sight of so much arcane knowledge treated so roughly, ancient scrolls and tomes had been tossed about and ripped apart by a madman looking for the means to free his goddess. In the center of the massive chamber stood a broken open vault, with a massive stone sentinel standing nearby.

Knowing the risks, but needing to see if anything of value still remained, Anima cautiously stepped into the vault. As soon as he did the guardian stature stirred to life and turned to confront him. Having anticipated this, Anima dodged back out of reach and shouted for his companions to check the vault while he distracted the guardian.

Unfortunately the guardian was more concerned with protecting its charge than pursuing any interlopers, and it seemed the group was at an impasse; the golem unable to reach them and unwilling to pursue, them unable to hurt the construct or draw it out of position.

This went on for some time and Alexius and Anime came together in a desperate huddle, as they knew there time was running short. As they frantically discussed options, a great tremor ran through the entire structure and the sentinel, seemingly invincible a moment before, melted before their very eyes.

As Alexius and Anima sprinted over the bubbling remains of the guardian and into the vault to gather up what they could, they remembered a partially exposed tunnel in the vault chamber that looked like it lead deeper into the volcano. Rushing back out into the catacombs, they prayed it was not too late.

As they re-entered the vault, they were relieved to see that the tremor had re-opened the tunnel, stinking hot air blasted out of it, but they threw themselves into it heedless of the danger. They emerged into a bright circular chamber with a black stone floor with the imprints of a giant hand cracked into it, above them was a circle of glaring bright sunlight; they were in the caldera, the heart of the volcano.

They saw that they were not alone, a dozen or more of the cultists and the foul undead abominations turned as one a rushed forward, putting themselves between the wizards and the man in the ragged grey robes. He held a staff of smoldering black wood above his head and read words of power from a massive leather-bound tome in front of him. High above them all the sky raged in a swirling vortex of thunder and lightning, but none of the rain could reach the burning stone beneath their feet.

With a wordless cry of rage, Donny leaped forward to the attack, the rest of the party close behind, and they met the cultist blade for blade, spell for spell. The battle was long and dangerous, Alexius was almost incinerated by a jet of dark flame from Thorde Skull and Donny was dragged to the brink of death by a dozen separate wounds.

Anime looked and saw the stone seal beneath them beginning to crack and bubble, as if a great heat lay underneath, he knew they only had one last chance and he shouted for his compatriots to take down Thorde Skull at all costs. All looked hopeless as the cultists doggedly held the line, but at the last moment Thorfe bulled his way through the cultists and seized the cult leader in his massive fists. He lifted the man that had killed his entire family as easily as a child lifts a doll and, bellowing in inchoate rage, crushed his skull.

Seeing the demise of their leader, the cultists threw themselves down on the ground wailing, meanwhile the magic animating the servants began to unravel. The cool rain from above washed the blood and ash from them as they stood in silence.

Session 8
Seeking the ancient knowledge of the Kaldhammar Academy

Active Wizards

Alexius had spent a great deal of his life since his apprenticeship searching for any clues regarding the ancient Kaldhammar Academy, but has been unable to divine its exact location, until now.

Idly flipping through several travelogues the fiend Octavious had in his expansive library, Alexius is dumbstruck when he finds the missing piece of information he needed. The academy lies far to the north and east, in the Baldesmere swamp at the foot of a volcano called Hvitr’s Horn.

Not wishing to wait for the entire circle to be present, Alexius collects up a handful of followers and heads out, aiming to take ship at Gorlis for the long journey north. On the way out he stops and discusses his intent with one of the only other wizards still present, Anima Emissary.

Hearing the tales of the fabled academy, and knowing that the northern wilderness is an excellent place to find rare and powerful materials, he agrees to accompany him north.

After a long and arduous sea voyage, and an even more draining trek across the hostile geatish wilderness, the pair of wizards and their entourage finally come within view of the Baldesmere. While the two wizards sit puzzling out a way to cross the mighty lake, Donny and Alvera move down the coast looking for anything useful. They come across a rude hut on stilts at the edge of the water and they go to investigate. Unable to elicit a response from within, Donny clambers up the ladder to check the interior. As his eyes adjust to the gloom of the interior, he is startled by the sudden movement of a great form and falls backwards into the muck. The hut, none too sturdy at its best, collapses from the sudden movement and the figure is revealed to be a huge and unkempt man with a great black beard covering almost his entire front.

It soon becomes apparent that he is unable or unwilling to speak, but seems intent on following the two, particularly Alvera.

By the time they return to the rest of the party, Anima has fashioned several small rafts from the trunks of local trees. The party sets off across the water, with one of the boats sitting dangerously low in the water due to the giant local.

Alexius summons a cadre of water spirits to propel the boats across the water. The crossing itself is uneventful except for when a strange calls echoes out from across the water and the giant bellows out an answer. Alexius urges his spirits to greater speed as a large sailboat emerges from the mist, its crew calling intently to the expedition. Not knowing their intentions, Alexius and Anima steer clear and continue to the far shore.

When they finally make landfall, they find themselves near within sight of a small fishing village, the local man leaps out of the boat and charges off bellowing something in his native tongue. Donny chases after him while the rest of the party takes time to gather themselves before approaching.

Once the enter the village, they quickly realize that something is very wrong. A pall of fear and misery hangs over everyone remaining. Speaking to one of the few villagers willing and able to talk to them, they discover that someone or something is coming in the night and taking them from their homes. They have begged one of their local gods for protection, but despite the mass of votive offerings covering his shrine, no relief can be found.

Soon, Anima and Alexius find themselves talking with a wizened old women named Berthe, who tells them a story about the old academy. She says that generations ago, the wizards of Kaldhammar delved deep into the heart of Hvitr’s mountain and discovered something, a gateway to incredible power. Being great in knowledge, but lacking in wisdom, the wizards tossed aside all concerns save the reckless pursuit of this power. Their folly awakened the fire of the mountain and only the might of the Storm of Justice himself kept it from burning up the whole world.

After the eruption the rains kept up for a generation; there were some who were born afterwards that were married with children of their own before the sun again showed itself through the clouds. Since that day the people of the Baldesmere were cursed and sought only to make amends for the sins of those long-dead wizards. They also spoke about Hvitr and learned the core tenets that he demanded from his followers; Justice, Wisdom, and Patience.

Hearing this tale, the two wizards decided to trek up the mountain to the Forsaken Fell, the site of the old academy and the town that had grown up and burned around it. Both for the knowledge buried there, but also to determine what was hounding the poor villagers and stop it.

That night the party took up residence in one of the many abandoned huts, setting a strong watch in case the night stalkers targeted them. Their caution was rewarded as they were awoken in the darkness of the night by a stifled scream and the sounds of a brief struggle somewhere nearby.

Following the sound as quickly as they could, they found one of the occupied huts empty, one wall broken in by a rushing body. All of the other villagers remained cowering indoors, but the wizards led their companions out into the night, following the strong trail of bodies being dragged against their will.

Unfortunately the weather and terrain worked against them and they lost the trail in the darkness. They returned to the village and resolved to set out again in the morning.

Once the first light of dawn peaked over the eastern horizon, the party had already began their ascent. They found some evidence of their targets from the previous night, all indicating that they were heading for the ruins of Kaldhammar.

By mid-morning, the group crested a rise and saw what was left of the ancient academy, a broad plateau covered in rough volcanic rock, with a maze of half-melted stone walls and pillars peaking up at irregular intervals. The party quickly split up and began searching the ruins for any evidence of their quarry.

They searched for several hours with nothing to show for it except for a few old trinkets, until Alvera stumbled on a small subterranean chamber with a vertical shaft cut into that led into a system of catacombs. Seeing that their had clearly been recent activity here, the party set ropes and descended into the dank and frigid cave system.

Aside from knowing they needed to head in a general eastern direction, they had no real idea where to proceed and spent several hours wandering the caves, finding that many of the chambers had been used as burial places for the residents of the academy over the years.

Finally, their searching was rewarded as they stumbled upon a large, expertly carved vault. Along the right side of the chamber were three portals, each blocked by a massive stone slab. Each slab had a small viewing slit at eye level, and a Hvitric rune carved into the outer facing. The first bore the rune of Patience, and within the chamber was a strange glass object, partially filled with water. The next bore the rune of Wisdom and within sat a fine gray woolen cloak. The final chamber bore the rune of Justice and contained a massive stone hammer.

The party was allowed no time to contemplate this situation, as they were ambushed by a group of ragged figures. The battle was brief, but intense as it seems that each of the attackers had some small mastery of magic. While his companions battled the mysterious wizards, Donny stood at the doorway to the final chamber. He contemplated the simple elegance of the rune and thought on its meaning, and back over his life of inequity. His faced burned with shame as he remembered all of the things he had stolen, the people he had cheated and lied to. He pressed his head against the stone block and wept for his wasted life. Desperate to vent his frustration, he raised his hand and hammered the stone with his bare fist.

It exploded outward in an earth shattering thunderclap, he was thrown violently backwards and those few remaining enemies were put to flight by the sudden cacophony. One was close to the door and might have escaped except that Alvera calmly brought her crossbow to her cheek and, with barely an instant to aim, loosed a shoot that struck the fleeing figure exactly between the shoulder blades and he slumped down in death.

The party turned to see Donny emerging from the far chamber, brandishing the massive stone weapon. All of them regarded him, but he only had eyes for the hammer; Jafnir. He wasn’t sure how he knew, but he knew that was its name, and he knew that it meant that he was being given a chance to redeem himself.

Seeing that it was possible to breach these vaults, the rest of the group set about trying. Alexius posted himself in front of the vault of Patience and resolved to show that he was as calm and still as the stone around him.

Alvera decided that the rune of wisdom indicated that the solution lay in clever thinking. She unraveled a length of rope and tied it to the end of a bolt. It took several tries but eventually she was able to hook the fine cloak within on the edge of the head of the bolt. She had scarcely began to real in her catch when the stone block began to descend with a groan. At first she thought it was opening before her, in reward for her unorthodox thinking, but it stopped while the doorway was still completely blocked. Then it began to rotate to reveal a massive stone figure of a mighty warrior bearing a two handed hammer, similar to the one in Donny’s possession. The eyes of the statute pulsed alive with yellow fire and it lifted its hammer and strode purposefully towards her. Unsure of exactly what might be happening, she threw herself to the ground to beg for forgiveness for her transgressions. Unfortunately for her the golem was uninterested in her protestations of innocence and proceeded to smash her into an unrecognizable pulp. The rest of the group looked on in shock. No one heard Donny whisper under his breath.


Once Alvera was well and truly dead, the stone giant turned about and clambered back into its niche. Once properly ensconced, the stone pillar returned to its previous position. Looking within they could see the woolen cloak, sitting as it had been on the simple dais within.

Anima spoke briefly with Donny and came up with a theory based on his account of opening the first vault. He went to the vault of Patience and poured a small measure of water from his skin onto the slab. Almost immediately it began to collapse as the stone morphed into a pile of wet sand. Walking gingerly into the chamber, Anima picked up the strange object, looking like nothing so much as an ornate water clock.

Seeing this, Alexius rushed over to the final vault and blew gently on it. The stone slab that should have been able to resist any force the party could have brought to bear fell inwards and shattered into a thousand pieces. Stepping over the rubble Alexius picked up the cloak and threw it around his shoulders.

Session 7
Beginning to explore the interior of the Royal Cairn

Active Wizards

Upon returning to the tower, Cyrus and Yeer discussed the intriguing possibilities represented by the unusual undead creatures encountered at the Royal Cairn. They both agreed that to leave the interior of the site unexplored would be criminal and resolved to return immediately with a larger and better supplied party.

To that end they set out immediately, leading a fully-laden wagon and a large contingent of followers. They took a slightly more direct route than before and, aside from some suspicious activity at night, and strange pillars of smoke in the distance, they saw no evidence that the area was even remotely settled.

When the cairn came into sight, the two necromancers set to work immediately. While their staff set about arranging a camp site and organizing their supplies, they ascended to the summit with their closest companions to ensure that no evidence of tampering could be found.

Unfortunately it was evident that someone had been there since their last visit. The hole they had dug into the interior had been partially filled in and there were many tracks around it, suggesting a large party had been there.

Fearing that their prize might have been disturbed, they led a party in to begin exploring the tomb. In the initial chamber, they found little except the plinths where the undead guardians had rested for so long. The only obvious exit from the chamber had been a large stone ramp leading deeper into the grave mound.

Moving forward, they discovered evidence of some very sophisticated defensive mechanisms, which they deftly avoided. Descending down to the next level they found themselves in darkness so dense it was almost palpable. They lit additional lanterns and forged ahead into the first main chamber. They were caught by surprise when they found several dozen people scattered about the room, locals by the look of them, and roughly handled at that.

While they paused to digest this odd new wrinkle, a squad of animated corpses rose to their feet and attacked. Caught by surprise, the party still managed to establish a strong defensive formation and began to slowly push into the room. They eventually managed to spot the creature that was directing the wights; an ornately robed, skeletal figure stood in the corner of the room behind a stone dias that held an orb that could only be perceived as an absence of color and substance.

The battle raged on, while the circle retainers fought the wights and cryptguards, the two living wizards dueled the powerful undead sorcerer. This stalemate might have continued until mere human frailty did in the explorers, but a shot from Sylena’s crossbow, whether stray or intentional, struck the orb and caused it to fracture. The magics holding the undead together began to unravel and the lich-thing showed the first signs of fear.

After a desperate binding ritual failed, the orb finally shattered and formed a powerful singularity on the edge of the chamber that almost managed to drag the entire party into it.

Barely escaping with their lives, the wizards and their companions lay panting on the bare earth of the mound, and decided to be more cautious the next time they entered.

Session 6
Journey to and Initial Survey of the Royal Cairn Site

Active Wizards

After having a brief council, the circle determined that they would strive to limit their interactions with the former subjects of the foul necromancer Octavious. A delegation was sent down to establish that the new occupants of the tower would exercise a lighter hand when levying taxes and requisitioning supplies from the locals. This news was greeted with guarded optimism by the locals and soon a steady supplies of food and other sundries were being carted up to the small keep.

Meanwhile, the wizards of the circle began to settle in to their new quarters, exploring the grounds and cataloging the library and laboratory, which they found to be adequate, but not exceptional. Ultimately, Archibald determined to perform some acts of divination to survey any and all sites of magical significance in the immediate vicinity. After gleaning some intriguing hints from Octavious’ journal, his scrying found that there were three interesting sites with easy marching distance. Bringing this information to his colleagues, the circle voted to send an expedition to the closest of these sites, despite (or because of) the fact that one of the others was undoubtedly more powerful and also accompanied by a rather vivid and disturbing vision.

The wizards Cyrus and Maron were chosen to lead the initial survey of site 1, and after selecting a cadre of traveling companions and arranging some supplies, they sent out.

The four day journey proved relatively uneventful with the notable exception of a roadside ambush by local ruffians. As the party entered into a narrow defile they were sent upon by a small party of savage local raiders. The wizards, with the aid of their more mundane compatriots, were able to send the raiders packing with minimal loss to themselves.

On the morning of the fourth day, the great bulk of their destination hove into view out of the mist. It was clear that the grass covered hill in front of them was no natural formation, its shape and proportions were far too regular, and smooth gray stones were arranged around the site in formations that clearly marked pathways and even stairs. Atop the bare hill were several massive stone slabs, laid out in a deliberate but inscrutable pattern.

Wasting no time, the expedition began to methodically survey the base of the hill to look for some means of entering the ancient subterranean complex. A small patch of stone on the eastern face of the hill, near the base, was discovered but the wizards deemed it a trap and subsequently ignored it.

The team that had ascended to the summit of the hill began examining the standing stones in depth. Between the ancient runic inscriptions and the general layout of the stone circle, it appeared that it was arranged with some kind of astrological significance. Each of the three main menhirs each seemed to correspond to the orientation of a constellation on the night of the Autumnal Equinox.

After puzzling over this for a time, and being unable to find any other obvious means of egress, the two wizards set their companions to simply digging into the cairn from the center of the henge.

This took some time, but underneath a few feet of hard-packed dirt and clay, a series of ancient and weathered logs were found supporting a portion of the cairns roof. These were hacked apart by axe-wielding henchmen and finally, the interior of the Royal Cairn lay open to them.

One of the henchmen was lowered down to explore the first chamber and was almost immediately attacked by several creatures. He managed to clamber back out with only minor wounds but it was clear that there was still danger as Sylena Blane laid down to fire her crossbow and one of the shadowy figures lept up and tore her entire forearm off.

After this the expedition was able to organize a concerted resistance and eventually force the defenders to attack them in the open. It was discovered that they were some unusual former of wight, mummified undead warriors with ferociously enhanced strength and dexterity. However there were only four of them and, powerful as they were, they were no match for the combined strength of the entire expedition.

After this, the expedition took stock and decided that, since they had only enough supplies to last a few days and that they had a severely wounded member, they would return to the tower to allow Maron to properly care for their injuries. They vowed to send a follow-up expedition as quickly as possible though. Cyrus especially realized the potential treasure trove of necromantic knowledge hidden in the massive tomb.

Session 5
Dealing with the zealots and storming Octavius' Tower

Active Wizards

Having no way to avoid the encounter, the circle unleashed all of their arcane might upon the party of zealots. Despite the best efforts of a group of Nehemiate warrior-priests, the circle was able to prevail. In the shattered wreckage of the camp, they stopped for the remainder of the day to repair their boats (theirs because the actual owners had fled or been killed in the fighting), scour the camp for anything of value, and “recruit” additional laborers.

After several more days of travel down the river, they finally reached the eastward bend that signaled they were nearing their destination. They debarked all of their personnel and equipment and set the barges to drift back down the river to confuse any possible pursuers.

Now traveling overland, an advance party of the circle spied a sizable village at the base of a hill, with a small castle overlooking it from the summit. After some routine investigation, it became clear that there was something unusual about the lord of this place. Randy determined to confront the innkeeper and attempt to coax some additional information out of him, despite the advice of the rest of his companions. Once at the inn, they succeeded only in terrifying the poor man, who begged them to leave them alone, lest they draw the attention of their lord.

This they did, although they soon realized it was too late, as a bailiff from the castle came down and made to kidnap the innkeepers daughter. Rieko was incensed, transforming himself into a great boar of the forest, he charged after the mounted man and his prize, chasing him all the way up the hill to the gates of the castle. The rest of the circle joined him in time to confront the master, a powerful and merciless necromancer and his apprentices and retainers. Through both skill and a seriesof unlikely but fortuitous coincidences, the two young wizards and their boon companions managed to defeat the necromancer and evict his mundane servants.

Session 4
Fleeing the slaver army and taking passage north

Active Wizards

Having managed to defeat the small patrol of the mysterious slavers. However, after retreating back to the hilltop encampment it became clear that the group had been tracked and a small army of the creatures emerged from the woods, intent on slaughter. Thinking quickly, the group decided to pack up the camp and attempt to flee to the south. A small rearguard was formed to draw attention and slow the pursuers. With the aid of powerful infernal and elemental allies, the rearguard was able to delay the enemy long enough for the group to escape, and then break contact with only minor injuries. After the circle regrouped at the crossroads, they made plans to travel north into the Barrows via the Aveline river. A small advanced party was organized to travel to the town of Heskell to purchase wagons and provisions, as well as charter passage north on a small flotilla of riverboats. Things proceeded smoothly and good progress was made, until the dawn of the 5th day of a seven day journey. A small armed camp was spotted in the distance and it became clear that it was some kind of armed checkpoint. The boat crew grew uneasy as they recognized the inhabitants of the camp; Nehemiites. Religious fanatics that wished to impose a harsh dogmatic law on the whole world. Thinking that the zealots were unlikely to let them pass unmolested, the circle made brief preparations and attacked preemptively.

Session 3
First Conclave and encountering the masked slavers

Active Wizards

The current members of the nascent circle convened an informal conclave to discuss their goals and intentions. It was decided that the group wished to establish a center of magical power somewhere in the world to give the members a source of energy, as well as a safe place to conduct research and possibly educate apprentices. The group did not determine where this was to be but decided that the environment around Benowyc was probably too unstable to support a permanent presence. They decided to make one final foray into the ruins for anything of value and then begin preparations to move on. The following morning the expedition moved north to investigate a different gate. As they approached they began to see signs of activity coming from the ruins of a small village abutting the western city wall. They moved forward to investigate and saw a large group of about thirty laborers building a makeshift barricade to block off access to the city from that direction. The workers were overseen by a small contingent of armored overseers wearing fully enclosed metal helmets. The group was discovered by additional sentry’s posted on the remnants of the city walls and a small skirmish ensued. The party was able to defeat the patrol of interlopers, taking one captive and killing or driving off the rest. Before they decided to withdraw back to their hilltop encampment to the south they spied an intimidating armored figure on the wall that was able to obliterate a skull-spirit with a powerful magical energy bolt. They also managed to spot a small earthen mound that had been raised near the entrance that held some kind of magical significance.

Treasury Breakdown
450lbs of assorted coinage at ~$1,000/lbs ($400,000 – $500,000)
270lbs of raw luxury items (gems, precious metal ingots, etc.) at ~$400/lbs ($50,000-$100,000)
135lbs of finished luxury items (art, jewelry, etc) at ~$3,000/lbs ($450,000 – $550,000)

Session 2
Neutralizing gate-guardian and exploring the counting house

Founding members of the (still informal) circle have all traveled to the ruins of the city of Benowyc, about 30 miles NW of a minor crossroad. You have spent some time examining the area around the city and have determined that the area is in a state of constant magical flux and is not safe for habitation. You’ve established an encampment with your various retainers on a small hill about 5 miles south of the city. Various members of the circle have ventured into the city twice now, the first time they only gathered information, but the second time the group returned with 9 large cases recovered from an old counting house. It is clear that these chests contain a fair amount of valuable treasure. At present your residence consists of an array of mismatched tents pitched on the crest of a small round hill with a small ditch dug around it. It has a latrine pit and open cook fires. You have no steady source of income, food, or resources; but between your small contingent of hunters and the efforts of your food wizard you aren’t in immediate danger of starving. Aside from the Wizards themselves and their companions, you have about 15 servants and warriors with you all told, for a total of about 30 people. Please post below any ideas you might have for your wizard to do. If you don’t post you won’t be considered as an active wizard but you might be able to negotiate with someone else to aid their adventure.

Session 1
Initial survey of Benowyc

Having decided to begin their search for a base of operations in the ruins of the ancient city of Benowyc. They arrived and set up an initial encampment on a small hilltop a few miles south of the city proper. Once that was complete, a small scouting party approached the ruins directly. They found that the planar barriers around the city were worn dangerously thin, whole sections of the city had been replaced with alien landscape.


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