Thursday, March 09, 2006

Gathering Between Life and Death (part1)

Sarted on October 11, 2004

Bischen, Blu, Jezabell, Mandingo, Nuwah Kawah and William were natives Ogrebound, not far from the High Waters, wrapped around the banks of the Altalus river flowing within the Arkhanian Vale.

Ogrebound has two main particularities for the region: the first is a graveyard. Due to the proximity to Manifest, a city south to Ogrebound along the Altalus that is supposed to have been built above the very gates to the Underworld, the settlements of the Arkhanian Vale (and well beyond) no longer use any graveyards. Instead, they form pilgrimages to Manifest to meet with the Ghosts of the departed and accomplish whatever deeds were left unfinished by the dead.

The tombs of Ogrebound date back to the legendary Battle of Amaranth between the Lost Kingdom and the Great Host some centuries ago. Other cities and villages on the Seven Spires still have graveyards and use them, but Ogrebound is the only one in the Arkhanian Vale, beside Manifest itself of course. The second particularity of Ogrebound is the Chalice of Life and Death, a relic that has been found in the graveyard generations ago and is used today as a symbol for rituals and ceremonies performed for the ancestors within the graveyard. Nobody dares to go there: the living have to respect the eternal slumber of the dead, it is said among the hamlet’s inhabitants.

Ogrebound is a peaceful hamlet. It is under the command of veteran adventurers Maeve and Malvolo d’Osterande. Maeve was a mercenary who survived numerous campaigns fueled mainly by the rivalries of the different fiefs of the Seven Spires. She came to Ogrebound a few years ago. At this time, Ogrebound was under siege. The Mabluk goblins living not far form the hamlet believed the Chalice to be an artefact of great power. They wanted it for themselves. This is when Ogrebound hired the services of the Withered Blades, Maeve’s company. After weeks of taunting skirmishes, the goblins managed to sneak within Ogrebound. They shattered the Chalice of Life and Death and took its obsidian part (it has two parts respectively carved from pure obsidian and emerald jewels) before being found by the Blades and chased through the Spirit Wood. Today, the goblins are still in possession of the obsidian half of the Chalice, and Maeve is in command at Ogrebound. She is helped in her duty by her personal bodyguard, a violent and paranoid giant going by the name of Li-Caraon. The Withered Blades, now under the command of the sibbecai Thendren Aranradh, still stick around, though not within the hamlet itself.


This particular day of spring was special: first, this was the day of the celebration of the Oath between the people of Ogrebound and the souls of the Departed within the Graveyard. Second, two faen coming from Laelith via teleportation, Armanil and Naella, asked for the Chalice to use it in a ritual to save the Holy City of their God-King.

Laelith was built on a gigantic subterranean complex accurately named “The Maze”. There, beings whose natures are unknown to the faen are roaming free. A few weeks before the celebration in Ogrebound, an Emerald Death started to spread within the walls of the Holy City. The Emerald Death is a sickness of the Green that propagates because of an unbalance of the forces of nature to the profit of the Dark. The virus present perhaps for years in unaware victims of prior infestation then succumb to the incubation of the microorganism, a sort of greenish mold, which covers the body entirely. After the death, the mold takes control of the nervous system of the host, thus using it as its own body. The development of the Emerald Death in Laelith thus has to do with the Dark strengthening within the city.

Spellhold, the school of magic where the faen come from, is built on the Seal holding the Maze shut. The Council of Spellhold thinks that the Seal is slowly shattering, and they need the Chalice to balance the energies around the Seal so that it remains intact.

Thus in Ogrebound, after the Celebration of Life and Death, it was agreed by Maeve to lend the Chalice to Armanil and Naella. Bischen, Blu, Jezabell, Mandingo, Nuwah-Kawah, William and most of the village’s inhabitants are witnesses of the agreement on a place of Ogrebound just beside Maeve’s house. While she goes inside to take the Chalice, the adventures of our heroes begin.

The Altalus nearby comes to life, literally, and spawns a water elemental. The mercenaries of the Withered Blades stand guard at each street corner. The adventurers decide to take matters in their own hands, with the (somewhat useless) help of Thendren Aranradh. The elemental leaves the river and races toward Armanil. Naella, scared, flees from her brother’s side. Most of the adventurers help Armanil while Jezabell races inside Maeve’s house. Mandingo hears some noise in the house’s backyard, and finds a goblin fleeing from the house. It is too late to stop the goblin, but it leaves no doubt as to what happened: the Chalice of Life and Death has been stolen!

Looks like the DM has all the fuel needed for the afternoon...


After discussing with Maeve and her giant body guard, Li-Caraon, who wants nothing short of beating up Armanil to get some information from him, the adventurers learn that a goblin clan, the Mabluk, live in an old tower nearby. They also learn that a scout of Ogrebound name Ivor Hogfist disappeared some weeks ago while striding near the Mabluk’s encampment. This should have been a warning sign, perhaps. Furthermore, Maeve reveals that the Chalice of Life and Death was in fact not whole: its obsidian part was stolen years ago during one of the many attacks of the Mabluk on Ogrebound. The very battle in which Maeve was proposed leadership over Ogrebound by its inhabitants, she tells them.

The most obvious option is to go after the Mabluk clan. But did they really steal the emerald part of the Chalice? That remained to be found out.

The adventurers go to the old tower with Thendren. There, they realize the Mabluk are brawling, arguing between them. Diplomacy seemed to be the best option, and the adventurers approach the encampment. It was necessary to threaten the Mabluk with a possible attack of “their waiting army under the forest’s cover” against the Tower if the adventurers didn’t come back alive, but in the end, the Mabluk proved to be cooperative, albeit in their own violent ways. The Mabluk tell the adventurers that they had harbored a goblin sneak going by the name of Garsh with a human friend of his. They also reveal that Garsh vanished recently… with the obsidian part of the Chalice. It seems like both Ogrebound and the Old Tower have the same enemy this time around. The adventurers strike a deal with the Mabluk: they will lead the adventurers to their scouts following the thieves, and help them retrieve the emerald half of the Chalice at least, since they seem to be far more interested in vengeance than getting their obsidian half back.

Negotiations with the Mabluk clan at the Old Tower.

The adventurers thus follow the trail of Garsh and his human friend, or rather their stalkers, during a few hours through the Spirit Wood. Strangely, the road was known: they were in fact coming backwards, to the village!

Following the trail closely around the village, the adventurers discovered that the thieves should be hiding within the village’s cemetery. They sneak inside themselves: they do not want the village’s watch to spot the Mabluk goblins with them. The cemetery is a quite morbid place. It seems obvious something is going wrong with it. As they try to enter the massive mausoleum, its black marble doors become liquid, arms trying to grab them from within. When they are inside, they notice just a sarcophagus in front of the door. Nothing else remains in the mausoleum. Not even dirt, which cannot be a good sign. They investigate the place, and finally find a trapped mechanism beneath the sarcophagus.

Legend of Ogrebound's Map
1- Area where the Chalice ceremony takes place. The cemetery is just to the North East of this location.
2- Maeve's house
3- The Altalus River. Where the water elemental is spawned.
4- The Drunken Puss - the local tavern
5- Ruined, half submerged clock tower
6- Mill
7- The Altalus river is a bit larger in this spot. This isn't a lake.
A- Gate towards Hornsdeep and Skullcape
B- Gate towards Manifest
C- The cairns. Direction to the Old Tower.


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