Averlae College of Adventure

Chapter 1
The Final Exam Part 1

Storyteller Intro

The heroes, along with the rest of the 3rd year students were summoned to Colini Hall via a posting in the College barracks. Once assembled, Dean Amardadous addressed the students and laid out the groundwork for their ‘final exam.’

It was to be a two part affair. Success in the first part – an excursion to Red Lake to recover some unknown property – would result in a time bonus for the 2nd part, a testing ground in the arena.

The only rules – no magic to travel, no recovering someone else’s item, and no climbing the walls in the arena. With a “the test starts on the ’marrow.” there wasn’t much to go on. Other teachers moved among the students and provided the pre-formed groups with a sigil that would identify the item they were to recover.

The party made some plans to leave right at midnight by paying a riverboat owner, one Johra, a princely sum to sail up the river in the dark. Rowers were brought aboard to push the boat quickly against the current and Johra stayed at the till throughout the long night and following days. Jessyca also paid the man additional funds on top of that, looking for the best journey possible. They arrived at the easternmost junction of the Vinewater, where they were to depart the boat.

They traveled with borrowed horses and used those to disembark and travel quickly along an ill-defined animal trail spotted by the druid.

An assassin vine was spotted during the journey but wisely avoided for fear of 1) it’s unknown abilities and 2) the potential cost in time.

Making it to Red Lake, the party scouted out various sigils until they found their own, while avoiding signs of other people. There they faced the guardians – 2 Fell Drakes, nasty little carrion eating reptiles with limited intelligence. Successful, despite Jessyca taking a nasty bite, the party recovered the bag they were to fetch. To try to gain even more time, they set forth even through the darkness, reaching the river the next morning. Some rest and a bit of luck saw Johra on his return trip who was kind enough to offer them an additional ride on his return home.

Returning to Averlae saw them return the horses and make there way to the Adventurers Guild as quickly as possible to find that they were the first group to return (by a decent margin), thus giving them first access to the Arena portion of the final exam.

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Chapter II
The Final Exam Part II

Storyteller Intro

The heroes, having successfully arrived back in Averlae before any of the other groups, received the benefit of entering the arena for the final test before any other group. A 10 minute advantage over the next group to start – the so-call Donner party, who had taken the party name: The Black Lions (an odd play on Averlae’s Lion heraldry).

The party did some preliminary work to get an idea of what types of things might be in the arena – learning that vast amounts of dirt had been dug up and that some sort of special creature had been secured. Also, some of their practice dummies had been animated by the Wizards Guild to provide opponents.

Dean Amardadous reminded the contestants of some rules and added another: no climbing over the walls that actually separated areas, no directly attacking another student. Getting through the exit first would result in passing. First to do so would get the prize: 1 year paid membership into the Adventurer’s Guild and a 1 year contract with the city.

‘Derrick’ Donner and his cronies cast evil eyes upon the heroes as they entered first.

The first room consisted of a wall, painted to look like primal Chaos that slowly closed in on the players with a Torch lighting one end and darkness at the other. They found a plethora of statues – gods, heroes, monsters, and eventually realized – despite not paying attention in Religion classes – that the solution was in placing the statues of the first 18 children of Smolnar and Bloatha in slots build into the floor in front of the wall. With this puzzle ‘solved’, they moved on to the next room, but before they did the bell rang, letting them know that the Black Lions had entered the arena.

One room after another was solved or conquered – making friendly with the Lynx and avoiding their sleeping kittens, lighting a candelabra as seen in a mirror, finding keys and disarming traps, opening locks, fighting animated training dummies, finding safe trails. They had a slight hiccup when it came to crossing a 10 foot chasm – Jessyca nearly falling to her likely death before quick responses and a lucky toss of a rope to the druid using her hawkwing power allowed the freefall to be slowed. Meanwhile, skeletons on the far end attacked a divided party – with poor results. The Fox (does it have a name!?) killed the last skeleton, setting a theme.

The second to last test involved a creature unfamiliar to the party – and they were quite shocked when Hex’s magics failed. The creature had absorbed his power, eating away at the magical energies. But a quick flurry of blows wounded the creature dearly, allowing the Fox to lunge in and slay it.

Finally, the party ascended a hill and found that they were on the far end of the arena from the exit. A mining cart big enough for six sat upon rails. It was obvious what had to happen. They piled in (without unfortunately checking all the wheels for safety), and pushed off.

The cart slowly gained speed and as it came to the first bend they saw animated training dummies. The dummies attacked the wheels and almost forced the cart off – they couldn’t let them get free attacks in again. More, behind them the Black Lions were getting to the other visible cart on the left side of the arena.

A mixture of frantic combats, ‘riding’ and balancing feats let the companions stay on track and ahead of the Donner party/Black Lions who had taken to firing arrows at the cart in an attempt to dislodge the wheels (or so they would claim later). They came to some swinging blade traps and quick work by the party broke two of them before they passed and a shove of the staff put the other off just enough to squeak through. From there, over a bump, and through the exit, even as the wheels came off the cart and it sparked it’s way towards what was almost a fiery crash.

Finished in first; a year contract with the city was accepted. The way was paved to future glory!.

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Chapter III
The House of Astabari

Storyteller Intro

After winning the contest, the party agreed to sign paperwork so that they would be employed by the city of Averlae for a period of one year. Room, board, membership in the Adventurer’s Guild, and freedom from taxes were included in the deal.

The heroes took the time to wander into the Adventurer’s Guild and, after adding Petruchi Rudess to their ranks to replace Walster, perused the job board there. They were looking for something that would fit their skill level and abilities.

They choose to look for a missing cat. The cat, a black beast by the name of “Smokey” had belonged to the being of one Cecilia Betanali – a human approximately 6 years of age. She, upon meeting the party and hearing of their intentions to capture Smokey and return her to her home, was quiet ready in her praise for their daring. Too, she lured them with gold rewards and a picnic basket filled with tidbits.

However, a quick search of the nearby area revealed little in the way of wayward cats and naught for clues. This task was, perhaps, beyond them.

Too, they encountered and broke up a crime which occurred in broad daylight just outside of the Nobles Market. A dash across the market was followed by flashing swords and flying daggers. And one vicious fox. The main thief, a masked man, took off, seizing something from his victim. He was chased by Brumal, but, after the exchange of a few words, he escaped. They would later realize they’d had an encounter with the Rhymster. The victim, one Melisia Bolocia, indicated that the Rhymster had stolen her family bracelet – a very valuable piece of jewelry made of gold and sapphires.

Upon making the appropriate reports with the constables, they returned to the Guild. Here they awaited the owner of a secondary mission they had seen: one Rivana. However, instead of appearing at the Adventurers Guild as she had indicated on her posting, she sent a runner instead, changing the meeting location to Green Ale on the Sea. They traveled to Lowtown and met with her there. Her request was simple – help her investigate a house in Uptown owed by the wizard Astabari. Her sources had indicated to her that something horrible was happening there, although she was not sure what that was exactly. In return, whatever they came across would serve as their payment. It was an agreeable proposition, and easier then finding a missing cat so they were off.

They found a house with the grounds most overgrown and the neighbors wary. They wondered not how the people of Averlae hadn’t noticed the house and its decaying state, for Jessyca herself was unable to perceive the house.

Inside they found much magical rampant. Solving the puzzle of the house and what had occurred therein occupied as much attention as the battles themselves. In brief, they found several headless skeletons – later realized to be associates of Astabari, perhaps aiding him with an experiment that had gone horribly awry. Foes, as mentioned, began to be a focus – an assortment of homeless animals and demon kind – lemures and even an imp, that seemed to have taken up residence. How such creatures had gotten into the house was revealed when Petruchi made the mistake of stepping through an open portal to the Void. He was rescued by Brumal, but when they returned they brought with them the undead form of Astabari, transformed into a Deathlock and imbued with unholy power from sitting in the Void.

They defeated Astabari and ended his experiment, thus closing the Gate to the Void and returning some semblance of normalcy to the house.

During the investigation of the house it was revealed that Rivana, she who had started this quest, was actually a spirit of some sort, for her body was found leaving her much confused. With Astabari’s (re)death, she faded, hopefully at peace.

Too, they found a deed to the house and, upon conversation, it was decided to utilize that to gain ownership of the property. Using some of the funds from selling off the arcane library they found they paid off the back taxes and took ownership of a leaky, overgrown structure in Uptown. Neighbors promptly hassled them about maintaining their property up to the standard.

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Chapter IV
Fairy Tale Tropes

Storyteller Intro

A messenger at their door lets the heroes know they are summoned to the OoS (Office of Safety) for their paperwork is completed – they are now under retainer with the city for its adventuring needs. There they meet with Sofia Garzoni. She informed them that she was their contact within the bureaucracy and would both handle any issues or questions they had and pass along requests from the city when need arose.

The need now was simple enough – a new bandit group had set up on the Great Southern Road. It had hit six caravans over the last two months and needed to be dealt with – both the dead and financial losses were stacking up.

After some discussion the party headed south, associated with a caravan bringing a shipment of metals to Pilia. At Southhold, Averlae’s furthest south point of control, they met with Captain Eckalo who gave them a bit more information and indicated his patrols had found tracks leading into Feflar’s Wood – but he had declined the opportunity to send his cavalrymen into the heavy wilderness. Another attack had been reported within the last few days, making it unlikely that the bandits would hit their caravan if previous activity held true.

And it did – their caravan reached the safety of the more open lands surrounding Pilia. With some discontent the party moved back to the locations near which they knew the bandits had entered the woods and ventured into the woods.

There they rescued a young wolf from a bed of BloodRoses, recognizing the plant from their brief exposure to the plant at Green Ale by the Sea. The wolf was most insistent that they follow him rather then a set of diverging trails. They did so and were greeted by the reuniting of the pup and his mother. Who, as it turned out, was descended from the First Wolf ever created and spoke with them. In thanks for rescuing her child, she offered them the suggestion that they speak to the Wood Witch, who might know about the bandits they brought up.

The Wood Witch, Felicia by name (although her pause before giving it suggested it had been a long time since it had been used), turned out to be rather old, withered, and garrulous. But her hut and flower beds were well cared for at any rate. She offered to show them a secret way to the bandits lair if they would take care of a problem for her – a young green dragon had taken up residence within the woods and she would rather that problem go away before it became unmanageable. More, a tribe of Kobolds had taken to worshiping the creature.

The adventure was on and their arrival foretold when Aralynn failed to take down a guard before he could sound his horn. Despite dispatching him shortly after, they found the way well guarded by a swarm of armed kobolds as they moved forward.

The fight was long but Kobolds are not frightful creatures by any means. But when their hero – Yik Yik showed up riding upon a well-trained dire weasel, they were quite encouraged. She wounded Petruchi greatly with a well placed lance, but then fell to the blows of Brumal. And then the dragon appeared, the size of a horse, its scales still a vibrant green, annoyance in its roar. Combat with tough, with the creature taking many blows that would have slain anything they had yet faced. They were fortunate in that the Witch had given them some powder that reduced the effects of its corrosive gaseous breathe weapon.

When it finally fell (when attempting to escape), the remaining kobold’s morale shattered and they fled. For the party it was time to loot the dead, find the dragon’s horde (even a small dragon should have something, right?) and report back to the Wood Witch.

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Chapter V

Our heroes, having defeated the Green Dragon as promised to the Wood Witch returned to her abode with the head of the defeated creature as proof, and future mantle dressing for their home.

She was unimpressed.

She did however lead them deeper into Fafler’s Wood, south and east were the forest growth was deep and the terrain became quite rocky. The bandit’s lair abutted a cliff and, upon reaching the far end the party found a stream entering into the hillside. The Witch apparently meant for them to traverse the stream and emerge behind the bandit’s encampment. To aid in that she had thoughtfully prepared to turn them into fish.

With some distrust the party accepted this and were soon swimming into the cold waters. They were attacked by a mean-spirited fish but were able to defeat it using their bony heads and strong fins. It turned out that Hex’s energy attacks were still able to manifest despite his scaliness and he was able to help keep an additional attacker from making them swim with the fishes less literally. They found, of all things, a small wooden box and were able to push it along until they emerged into an underground cave.

Returning to human/elf/gnomish form they were able to force it open and found inside a pearl bracelet.

Eventually, they realized that they were in caves that the bandit’s leadership used for their homes and storage facilities. They quickly explored and looted the entirety of the caves and spoke with a rather rude weasel who was the pet of a Cleric of Jak’zaal. The loot from the presumed leader’s rooms included some coded messages.

They peered out of the cave and saw the rest of the encampment – some sort of fighting pit w/ animals caged up. A possible barracks like structure, and two unknown buildings and the palisades that protected the whole area. A plan was set into motion – they freed the animals and set fire to the barracks, all without being seen. When about a dozen bandits came to get water to fight the fire they were ambushed and defeated.

Now came the rest of the camp to fulfill their duty to Averlae…

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Chapter VI
The Bandits Camp

We pick up with the heroes having entered the bandit encampment, overwhelmed those they’d stumbled upon and having successfully staged an ambush of a party sent to get water from the cave to put out a fire they set.

After hoping to lure in more enemies for a separate death they realized that the enemy must have seen the arrows they used to set fire to the building. The bandits were waiting for them when they emerged.

Only the fear of an assault coming from the outside kept them from having organized against the party more effectively, but as the battle started it appeared the bandits might have the upper hand. Arrows launched indiscriminately damaged both sides even as more swordsmen advanced upon them. In desperation, Petruchi prayed for the sudden oncoming of a deep mist, which hid the party from their more numerous foes. Jessyca finally began clearing the enemies in front of her, and Aralynn summoned up a mighty hippogriff to challenge the bellowing Ogre the bandits had allied with. And the tide turned.

Eventually, beaten back, their allies dying, the bandits attempted to flee but few were successful as the gate was blocked by none other then the wolves they had met earlier, tearing into the bandits ranks from behind. One by one key bandits fell – the Priestess of Thieves, the ogres, the hellhound Fluffy, the man who appeared to be the leader. Finally their gnomish spellcaster broke free, using invisibility to escape where others failed. He was pursued by Brumal, faster, but punching at the air futilely. The final enemies escape seemed likely as the wizard used a spell to transform into a hawk.

And fell to the ground, pierced by an arrow from the druid Aralynn who had taken to the air on mystical wings.

The party explored the encampments remains, finding stashes of weapons and a building full to the brim with plundered goods. And, of all things, a wagon, despite no trails leading to this encampment from the main road.

It was not all of the reportedly stolen goods, but it was quite a find and recovery would begin in earnest once the party was able to get word to Averlae. More, they successfully translated the letters, which seemed to indicate some sort of wider conspiracy and named one Lord Fabraco as an instigator. Although the name meant nothing to them.

Also, upon exploring one building, the elvish senses of Aralynn were tingling and she found a secret door. The bandits had apparently built their storage building upon a base of ancient stonework at the site without fully investigating it. The sense of it was old and the party wanted to descend down the ancient stairs it revealed.

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