AFO4.03: Peak

The Fated Four for this session

Aelia, celestial pact of the tome warlock;
Angron, orc bear totem barbarian;
Tyche, elven rogue/thief;
Zephrus, human cleric/fate

The story so far

Princess Alexandra has been taken by Psysseria’s agents! Can the heroes learn of her whereabouts? Can they restore hope to her city, Illos?

Legendary centaur Atalande may know where dwells those oracles the Fates, but has sent the heroes to first bring her the head of the orc chief now raiding from Memnoss. Hacking their way through chief Khrasos’ minions has been easy so far but now the chief and his pets have joined the fray!

Khrasos falls

Khrasos thrusts out his massive, orichalcum-headed spear, which bursts into flame, and Angron is visibly shaken. Behind the orc chief, a glowing spear appears on the battlefield, but too far back to help. His henchwoman begins to close the range, but Tyche, aloft up the watch-tower, targets her as she ducks from cover to cover.

Zephrus and Aelia keep Angron in the fight with their healing powers, while Khrasos begins bleeding freely. Screechy, Zephrus’ spiritual owl-weapon, makes no impression on Khrasos. Khrasos’ last minion keeps thrusting his spear into Angron, until Zephrus closes up and first wounds him then puts him down.

“It is a good day to die,” Khrasos triumphs as one by one his followers fall. “Chthon! Hear me! Avenge me!”

The ground trembles as Angron stands bloodied but triumphant over the orc chief’s corpse.

“We are to bring back his head – I’ll attend to that.”

“And like I’ll see if those cells have anyone alive,” Aelia adds, heading towards where some guards had run from.

Meanwhile Zephrus keeps watch and Tyche resupplies her arrows from Hydrak, the faithful pack-donkey.

“I would very much like to see a hydra,” Zephrus says wistfully.

“Seeing and fighting are very different,” Aelia scolds, hooking a weedy hand into the cleric’s collar and dragging him in the direction of away.

Loot

Orichalcum spear-head, 5lb

A fresh quest

The prisoners are Clio, an acolyte of Lyria and sole survivor of a caravan; two villagers recently seized; and Ajak, a half-orc from the Gargaran ranges, but an enemy of Khrasos’ tribe.

“The people of Illos have treated me with respect, if I vouch for you you can make a new start there,” Angron advises Ajak. The half-orc nods and follows the party south, to the village near Atalande’s woods.

“You have brought me the head as I asked. I do not know where the Fates dwell. But,” Atalande adds before any of her visitors can explode, “I do know where dwells a mysterious being known as The Exile, who definitely does know.

“She is a sphinx, a female sphinx. She may demand that you answer a riddle before she gives you the information. Or you may need to overcome her physically. She dwells in a cave atop Mount Cyrinthus, the lone peak due north of the ruins of Memnoss.”

<Groan> “Is this what they call a bait and switch?” Zephrus grumbles.

Voting for peace (for now)

The idea that a genuine hydra is actually in residence in the ruins of Memnoss has been troubling the heroes. They must now come to a decision, go around the ruin, or tackle the hydra. Which, Atalande points out before leaving, is bound to have all the treasure the orcs looted.

“Did you hear that Tyche, the Hydra probably has a lot of treasure! Ooooo! Did she say Sphinx?” – Zephrus

“Sorry what…? i was thinking about the loot the hydra probably has” – Tyche

<Grumble mutter> “Why do important figures always have to be so fricking difficult” – Aelia

It comes down to a coin-flip and an augury.

“Should you prepare well in the city of Ithea, weal,” Fuzzy explains to Zephrus after he tosses the augury bones.

“I think we’re going to need a lot of protective magics to take that hydra on” – Angron

“Def” – Aelia

“And my coin says not to tackle the hydra this leg,” Tyche adds, “so we’ll just head due north.”

News of Ithea and pests in the air

The dry hills around Memnoss are bare of human life, as Khrasos’ gang has stripped all villages nearby. The only encounter of note is a patrol of Ithean hoplites. Their file-leader, Polyastes, passes on news of the city and hears their own news. Ithea is now troubled by sea-ogre raids just as more southerly shores are, and is eagerly awaiting news of the heroes’ quest.

“Say… if we worship the hydra, do you think the hydra will fight for us?” – Tyche

“TYCHE!!!” – everyone else

Mount Cyrinthes rises alone from the plain. As the heroes ascend, they find only a tiny gang of harpies to waylay them. A long shot from Tyche’s horn bow and a golden blast from Aelia’s hand scares them off. Tyche clambers up to the nest. It contains mainly bones and scrap cloth but a golden glint betrays real treasure.

Loot

Orichalcum chunk, 1lb

Schmoozing Ms Sphinx

Aelia has arranged that the others leave her to do the talking. They reach a cavern, marked by a pair of boulders. Tyche slips aside to hide with Hydrak, the other three walk over a glowing floor between incense-burning braziers, to a regal stone hall.

“After a walk through the cold mountains, this is very nice and warm!” – Zephrus

“It has been a long time since I have had guests,” says a deep female voice, purringly. Tawny eyes glint in the firelight and the face of a woman, her beauty accented by bold lines of blue and gold paint, appears out of the dim. Her long dark hair falls about the sleek body of a
great cat, larger than any lion. She stretches luxuriously, claws flexing as she spreads her
massive wings.

Aelia moves as close to the great creature as she dare, and after briefly styling her host as ‘mighty’ (which is the right tone to take) explains their reason.

“I believe in an exchange of information of equal value. Come, what information do you have to give me?”

Aelia heads back a short distance and goes into a tactical huddle with the other two. They suggest various bits and pieces. “…and there’s that affair you had with Hector, that’s juicy….”

<Ahem> “Yes mighty sphinx, I do have some things to trade, that you may not have heard.”

Aelia passes on news of Psysseria’s machinations, the spawning of sea-ogres, and the hydra dwelling in Memnoss. She spices it up with goss about skincare, haircare, body perfume, and her celestial fiance.

Prepare well, the next leg is going to be colder

“You have traded well, and I will grant you my knowledge. Know then that the Fates dwell in the north, in the mountains of Gargaros, in the chasm of a sundered black peak. You should bring a sacrificial ram as an offering to placate them.

“And if you do so, know that I wish for a rare item the Fates have, an Eye. Bring it here to me and I will reward you richly.”

“What kind of eye?”

“You will know it when you see it. But prepare well, the Gargaros mounts are cold and bleak, very different to these lands. The air is thin, and you may walk among ice and snow. Best go to the great city of Ithea, to prepare yourselves.”

“I hear you like riddles…” – Zephrus

“Shshshh!” – Aelia

“Say, that’s a good one Fuzzy, ya wanna hear it you guys?” – Zephrus

Angron sighs and sits on Zephrus until the cleric is subdued, then drags him out as Aelia thanks the Exile and leaves.

Ithea and aid

The heroes estimate their best direction to Ithea, and successfully navigate south-west. They reach the city after two days and a half-day.

How different is the occasion from when they first ventured from this great city? Now, their fame is known and people want to hear their plans, and want to help them.

A council has been called in the forum, and there the heroes are bid. The city elect listen to what they have to say, and agree that a ship will be prepared against the future, and that craftsmen and traders will supply the heroes for their next leg. Although it cannot be crafted immediately the orichalcum that has been gathered can be used to create either a sword or a great-axe blade.

But they want the heroes to do them a favor though… if they could just deal with that hydra, first? The heroes agree.

Tyche uses her old street-gang contacts and gains a vial of poison.

And as the heroes rise to LEVEL FIVE the session ends.

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