On their way to Qin and its surroundings the Lorebook Hunters are flying over the western hills and mountains claimed by Kirtin. These lands are far from the old Empire of Sheljar, outside of the influence of post-Awakening Telse and haven’t sent their children to defend the Northern Slope in centuries. This is unclaimed lands, far from roads, lacking major rivers, and barely settled. On their fourth day they find a small village on a river and land.
This took place over multiple sessions. It was all after they eliminated the threat of Parun, but discovered he is neither Scholar nor Proctor, merely evil.
Saffron, Maurice, Behn, Doceo, Aamar were present in at least one session as active PCs.
Mansaray, Samul, and Ixnyx stay at the airxip while docked at Thurible.
The remaining characters are in Sheljar. Ajhenas and Kuda are on the Tower Island creating a military, while Telley is on the settled island with the Temple of Wisdom (where the goblins hid) helping the people make a life there. Braaz, and Els are working on restoring the two homes on the south end of the Island Inn.
Shonie is retired and remains in Telse.
The town of Thurible is small. There are maybe 13-14 houses and even the rare commercial buildings are also houses. The Beaver and Bottle serves strong liquor and some ale. One home also rents a couple of extra rooms when trappers come through town. Mostly, this is the nothing town of the wilderness, settled on an island in the river.
There’s one significant problem — about a third of the children have disappeared since the Awakening. It is a constant fear. The heroes, feeling like heroes, step away from their trip and pledge to help solve this problem. They search through town and discover the last known spot of the last children.
They walk the path knowing that a few kids never came back from this same journey. This path winds through and around cliffs, streams and forests. It is at times dark, at times safe.
Our Lorebook Hunters get jumped by a group of Proctors, all elves. These are eliminated, but clearly the Proctors are expanding their reach into the Western Wildes. The group tends their wounds and continues to hike through this rough land. The tracks take a turn into a little alcove, it is covered in a bush, but looks to be a cave, maybe a tunnel.
There are many more tracks of people (humans, halflings and goliaths) heading away from this entry. They decide to check the first entry. It is dark and the cave slopes down. One wall is worked stone. The other is a mix of natural rock and roots dripping with water.
Our heroes discover a chamber with a door across from them, immediately on their left and a larger double-door far to their right. They go left first.
Beyond that door is another chamber, this one occupied. A huge swarm of wasps and a disgusting woman made of human flesh, iron, stone and branches is in the room. There is a fight.
After they win the fight with the Sister of Wasps they hear a series of doors slamming, six of them. A scream of vengeance rings out as the group is trapped. An older voice says “No, they must go. They are the key to our power. You may leave.”
A door in front of them and the door behind them opens. A rope ladder drops from the ceiling. It leads to a small opening with the darkest possible green seen through the opening.
Aamar climbed a rope ladder and entered a dark world, thick with overhead vegetation and a huge tree trunk. As he surveyed the land he noticed a dark pool. Inside that pool of water a single hand is trying to grasp the edge, unable to pull itself out. The Cleric of Quar walks over to rescue the drowning man, noticing Bishop Ollium’s signet ring on the hand. When Aamar tries to grab the Bishop’s hand the vision of pool and victim disappears into a shower of coins of the realm — none are corporeal. Aamar also learns that every branch and leaf seems to be coming from the same trunk. When he gets close enough to the trunk it appears as if a wall. It is so large the curvature is not apparent in the near darkness above the coven.
He retreats from this other-world of an obscenely large tree.
No one else goes up. They explore the new door and try to prop others from closing again. The group works their way through the dungeon to another hag. In this case she is riding a swarm of children.
Through brilliant use of spells and tactics the heroes free the youth without an injury to Thurible’s kids. They destroy that ugly hag as well. But then, descending through the ceiling is the ethereal form of the Night Hag, the Auntie.
She speaks in hisses and pride. She announces that the group must be free, for if they succeed she will be even more powerful than she is now. They question her, but she speaks about a future that is more like a myth, a future where there are no limits on the magics of Kin.
All of the doors fling open including the barn door where the Sister of Youth used to ride her swarm out to terrorize Thurible and other farming communities.
It is dark. By reckoning the group knows it is only late afternoon, but the sky is covered by cedar branches and leaves. They are under the canopy of the same dark tree that Aamar found earlier, but now with dozens of children trying to find their way home. One is an easy ally. Saffron’s crown of forgetfulness helps break the spell put upon him, and he leads them down a path. It is in a shroud of darkness and the children start to scream out to their parents, or grandparents, their aunts, their brothers.
Doceo leads the way upon leaving. Surrounded by his three dogs he scans the exterior of the lair and finds a path. In a small clearing he sees five dogs, some exact copies of Vondal, Victus and Delg, all staring at a point in sky while covered in ice. It dissipates as he approaches.
Saffron sees two skeletons, one with a ghost-dog and the other with a skeletal bird. Both approach a wedding rope. They are headed away from her, leap the rope and laugh. It looks as if Rohan and Teegan, friends of Saffron’s mentor, are finally happy — and dead.
As Maurice flanks the group he is alone in darkness, barely able to see the Light that Aamar has cast. A loud boom startles the young halfling. In the direction of that noise he sees his father holding a key and then a huge ball of metal rip through his father’s torso. The vision ends as the key falls from his father’s hand.
Behn’s vision is of Shonie, their former companion. She is trapped in a cage, unwilling or unable to speak. Her slight form indicates starvation. There are wounds. As he touches the cage Shonie disappears.
[DM Note: I had visions established for every regular PC and have contemplated telling Mansaray and Samul what they would have seen, but maybe the group heads back to the coven. This was also the first time the group encountered something that could be considered fey.]
Upon leaving the cover of that cursed cedar and the coven they are in sunshine again. By evening they are in Thurible. Only two families are missing children, both with the same names that were used by the Sister of Wasps and the Sister of Children. For the most part Thurible is happy, for the first time since the Lorebook Hunters visited.
But now the Hunters know something new. Their quest to stop the Proctors may empower other evils, and their possible futures include pain.