The Ninth Kingdom: Campaign Timeline
A timeline of the events of the campaign so far...
And I swear that one day the light will go out
Our spears will strike true and the cub will bleed ice
Your hearts will freeze over, of that there's no doubt
The walls of your Kingdom are all built on lies.
- 'The Wolf's Promise', a popular song
On a cold Autumn evening in the Queen's Crown Inn in the bustling Southlands city of Hylhead, a beautiful red-headed bard sings about the Winter Rebellion to a mixed reaction from the rowdy patrons. A Morhum magus named Dave Stevelarry is harassed by a brash drunkard named Grieg, slinging racial slurs. The barbarian Baran Bitterblade, the bard Iulius Castus Vero and the gnome alchemist Zark the Volatile stand up for the magus and the four accept 'Adoan's Challenge', a form of trial by combat, from Grieg and his gang. The newly established party barely break a sweat as they display their prowess against the bigots, earning them a free round of drinks from Ruhl, the innkeeper, and the notice of a distraught farmer named Eli Barrowson. He asks the new friends for help, explaining in between sobs that his nearby farm has been overrun by the undead and that he fears for his wife's life. On overhearing this story the bard sings a song about a supposed elven curse of undeath, but Dave recognises the melody as belonging to a Morhum song about the trickster god Kit and embarrasses the bard. Despite the potential hazards, our heroes agree to help out of a combination of sympathy and promised financial reward.
The group are introduced to the 'ranger' Allison and the catfolk rogue Alt'Air, already hired by Eli for the job. They all make their way North towards Eli's farm, their progress slow over dirt roads. They are ambushed two bandits who are quickly dispatched and found to be members of the Whitefangs, a rebel group who believe Ulric was the true Emperor and seek to destabilise the current regime. Passing through the razed Greenwood farm and past a circle of elfen standing stones, the party reaches Barrowson farm around twilight and is thrust into combat with flaming skeletons, a floating screaming skull and a skeletal champion. After a fight that involves Zark shrinking into a fireplace and then climbing on the farmhouse roof and Baran slicing the champion in two with his shield, they sadly discover the body of Eli's wife. In distress, Eli searches the house and discovers the title deed to his farm is gone and immediately blames the local merchant Prince of nearby Llanwood, Farin Greatstag, for the death of his wife...
After a night at Barrowson farm and a somber funeral for his wife, Eli explains that Greatstag had been trying to strongarm the farmers into giving up their land in order to construct a road between Hylhead and Llanwood and he believes that Farin got tired of negotiating. The party rides to Llanwood to confront the Prince, stopping by at Hogsfoot farm, the last of the three farms. There they are set upon by mischievous pugwampi gremlins who cause Alt'air's rapier to snap in two and have carefully positioned a bucket of urine above a door to hilarious effect. After sending them on their way, the party discovers this farm's deed is also gone and find jewellery under a pile of gremlin excrement. Arriving in Llanwood - being stared down by some uncouth looking mercenaries on a wagon just leaving the town - Eli explains the longtime rivalry between the Greatstags and another local family the Duskravens. He arranges for the party to stay at the Duskraven owned Hunt's End inn and then proceeds to get very drunk. The group explore the town and meet a doomsayer of the cult of Jinwi's Scythes who claims that a great darkness threatens to swallow the world. Leaving him to his ramblings, they make their way to the town's temple district and save Lori, an Undine cleric of Lun from a beating at the hands of yet more racist thugs and she repays them by healing their wounds and agreeing to look after Zark who has drank something unusual and seemingly petrified himself on the road into town. Dave also stays at the temple of Lun as the others return to the inn for the night.
Eli awakes early the next morning, seeming much happier. The only other person staying at the inn is a seemingly mute bookseller who charges extortionate prices. At noon, Farin holds an open forum in the town square, where our party meets Gedrund, matriarch of the Duskraven family who arranges to meet with them that evening to discuss trade. Eli suddenly invokes Adoan's Challenge against Farin, depite the town not recognising Adoan as their god but Farin accepts and nominates his hulking half-orc enforcer Hurfruk in his place. Despite an attempted magical assist from Allison, Eli is decapitated by Hurfruk's greataxe and the town meeting is declared over. Disgusted by these events and disturbed by the events of the past few days, Iulius decides to leave the party and ride back to Hylhead and inform the Inquisition about their experiences with the undead.
Meanwhile, Zark awakes naked in a bath with no sign of Dave. Finding his clothes and recapping the previous night's events with Lori, he exits into the temple district where he meets a gun-toting Jinwi preacher named Shepherd and the sorcerer Koren Drell. Their meeting is suddenly interrupted by the unexpected arrival of two violently charging zombie stags. Zark again shrinks and hides behind a statue of Jinwi while Shepherd is able to take care of the animals, blowing one to pieces with a particularly violent shot and felling the other with a mere raise of his hand. They talk with the local Jinwi priest and discover that the doomsayer the rest of the party met the day before has been found dead with his heart removed...
Both groups separately follow the source of the zombie stags and convene at an old elfen church-tower on the outskirts of town where the find evidence of recent necromantic ritual and a human heart on the altar. Further exploration leads to the discovery of a secret door into the tower itself and battle with a whole lot of seemingly possessed ravens that fly out. At the top of the tower the group finds starcharts, a telescope and a myserious scroll written in a seemingly indecipherable language with elements of both Undercommon and Abyssal. The party split again with some going to talk to Gedrund and some trying to hatch a plan to lure Hurfruk into their clutches so the can gain information. The plan goes awry before it even starts and after Zark and Alt'Air nearly kill a perfectly innocent (if drunk) homeless guy in the ruins of a temple everyone meets up at Duskraven Manor.
Gedrund questions Baran on his armour which he liberated from the skeletal champion as it bears the Duskraven crest and it soon transpires that Gedrund has a son named Olnar with an interest in stargazing and a sentimental connection to the elfen tower. They undiplomatically broach Olnar's potential necromancy with his mother and are promptly ejected from the house, leading to Zark ineffectually climbing the outside of the building while everyone else investigates the family mausoleum.They promptly confront a bunch of zombies and another flaming floating skull before finding a secret room where they find a lot of incriminating evidence, including potions, poisons, a Greatstag spear and a letter written to Olnar discussing necromancy and the planned murder of his mother. Also there is a pile of scrolls, the title deeds to the farms and a map of the area near the farms...
After sleeping off the exhausting previous day, the party's attention is brought to the details of the map after it is inexplicably found moved into a book bought from the mute bookseller, who then vanishes. On the way out of town, they are ambushed by a tengu assassin who is summarily executed after a slumber/headshot combo, and is found to be carrying a list of the original party's names with Dave ominously crossed out. The group travel according to the map, stopping only to bury Eli next to his wife, and it leads them to the elfen standing stones which have ancient writing on them that seem to provide directions matching the map. Approaching the marked location, they discover the mercenaries who left town two days prior digging around another smaller stone. The ensuing battle sees an archer falling out of a tree, Allison diving behind cover while shooting like a true ranger and a truly ugly barbarian with a nice furry coat who rambles madly about the Cliffs of Madness after his defeat. Exploring the dig-site they discover a heavy stone dwarf door, unusual to be found beneath an elfen monolith...