Tor's Gate

3 - Five Bloods
Corpses are missing their hands, but the hands make a repeat appearance.

Early Malader, 2718: Some idle time passes. Vorzheva decides to purchase a horse, and Par introduces her to the dealer Ruul Pakshrin, who sells her the mare Lumbri. Halwain brings a pair of novices from his temple to the Tattered Gryphon, and Vorzheva debuts a new dance for the occasion based on Vayani courtship dances (one that later becomes known as “the Scandal Dance”). She ends up in Halwain’s lap at the end of the dance, embarrassing him, but claiming it’s to make him look good in front of his friends.

On their way back to the temple, Halwain and his two friends discover a body. The victim was apparently strangled by one hand, then had his throat cut to drain away the blood and his own hands removed. Investigation over the evening and the next morning reveals this is the ninth to die in this fashion, though the first two were stabbed rather than strangled. The Thehtites from the Temple Under the Mountain have done what divinations they can, revealing that “a Southlander is in danger.”

Halwain brings the news to the Gryphon at noon, where he meets the others (Vorzheva returning from the first of many visits to Mother Farla’s orphanage). Deducing that this means someone from Ibrydos, the group assumes the target is Marib-abn-Li. Going to her house, they find she’s already been forewarned, and her wards have destroyed animated hands that attempted to find their way inside. She agrees to send for them later.

As the group waits at the Gryphon, a messenger arrives to tell them that Marib-abn-Li has been attacked again. It’s a trap, however, and when Vorzheva and Hope go to their rooms for their gear, Vorzheva is attacked by a small swarm of severed, animated hands. They destroy the hands (Zath nearly igniting the inn) and intercept two suspicious men watching from outside, slaying one and capturing the other. The culprits turn out to be members of the Five Blood Society.

The corpse of the dead cultist is taken to the Thehtites, who coerce information from its animus. He names his master as Tairg, Slayer of Mothers, says he makes his home among the roots of the rose, and asserts he is guarded by the faithful, that which was taken, and that which was sent.

They spend the evening investigating, and find a suspicious house downhill from the House of the Rose brothel. The contents include some traces of ritual work, and the landlord is able to describe the renter. With the help of gate guards, the group tracks their quarry to a farm in the nearby town of Lockstone.

The infiltration isn’t quite a success; fire mages are not terribly stealthy. Speed prevails, however, and Vorzheva, Hope and Zath are able to cut down Tairg while Par and Halwain struggle with the hideous snouted thing, “That which was Sent.” Zath finally burns the summoned entity to death. A crate of animated hands is dispatched shortly thereafter. The group takes a few of the priest’s spoils (including his chainmail, which Hope dons), leaves his money with the farmer family to assist with damages, and goes back to collect their reward.

Characters Introduced: Ruul Pakshrin, Salder, Mirin, Mother Farla, Madam Amberyll, Tairg

Characters Departed: Tairg

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2 - The Funeral
A funeral is held in which the recently departed is not the only one needing to be put to rest.

Early Spring 2718 (CE): A little over a week later, an older man by the name of Kalyan approaches Vorzheva and Hope. He is looking for an honor guard for his former employer’s funeral cortege. He doesn’t expect trouble, but the deceased (Payal Chalkspar) asked to be buried in the family cemetery, which requires some travel out of town. He offers 20 crowns a head for an honor guard of four.

Vorzheva, Hope, Zath and Par all accept. Only two other mourners make the trip: Selik and Forshan, also former servants. Also attending are three workers to dig the grave, and the priest Halwain Escrit, a devotee of the Higher Nine who will conduct the ceremony.

The trip itself is uneventful; the service, however, is not. Animated animal skeletons (the most dangerous, a boar’s) come burrowing out of the freshly-dug grave and attack. Halwain notes the bones were gnawed clean.

They retreat with the mourners to Chalkspar’s home, now belonging to one Brest Ilvar, who plays host to them that evening. In the morning, the five (the honor guard plus Halwain) return to the grave site, and squeeze through the tunnels farther into the mountain. The tunnels lead to an old mausoleum buried deep, one that Halwain translates as belonging to a warrior called Kuli Kavan. They fight a variety of walking dead — human skeletons and zombies, and a ghoul king wearing Kuli Kavan’s golden death mask. The fight is dramatic, but the undead are laid back to rest, and the death mask restored to Kuli Kavan’s sarcophagus. Halwain reconsecrates the ground, and Payal Chalkspur’s funeral concludes.

Some time passes, during which Parmoran begins teaching Vorzheva to read and Hope to better her sword skills.

Characters Introduced: Halwain Escrit, Kalyan, Selik, Forshan.

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1 - The Menagerie
A sideshow proves more dangerous than expected, but so do its customers.

Shortly after Icemelt, 2718 CE: Par wakes Vorzheva early to go see a menagerie outside the western gate. A variety of beasts are on display. One — a “Devil-Ogre” from Toquay — inconveniently breaks its bonds and is loosed. Par and Vorzheva put it down with the aid of a hooded magician. Afterwards, introductions are made: to Zath Osath and Hope Wainwright.

It turns out the ogre was deliberately loosed, by a girl attached to the show. It was a distraction so she could flee. The adventurers track down the girl, Trileene, and hear the story of her abuse at the hands of the caravan-master Valmer. She explains that there are eight guards, three of whom might be dangerous (Trig, Sorco and Vesh). The adventurers lure out Vesh, who was following Trileene, and capture him. Then they head to the menagerie and shut it down.

The menagerie contained a badly treated hunting cat, which is taken to Wolfchapel; a malicious huge spider that must be put down; and a plant that drinks alcohol and changes color (which Zath trades to Osgrod for three months of room and board). Zath keeps Valmer’s carnival wagon. Trileene stays on at the Tattered Gryphon as an entertainer. Vesh is turned in. And the group runs into a court wizard who acts nothing like a court wizard.

Characters Introduced: Zath Osath, Hope Wainwright, Trileene, Valmer, Trig, Sorco, Vesh, Kallin Longpaw, Mace, Constable Querth

Characters Departed: Valmer, Trig, Sorco

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0 - Preludes
A tiefling comes to Tor's Gate.

Mender 2717 CE: Vorzheva parts company with a caravan in Lockstone, meets Sidelle. The two are entangled, so to speak, in an affair against a botanomancer. They set off for Tor’s Gate, and there’s an interlude at the unfinished Carler Tezzun’s Inn. Thimber Tallstalk, aka Tallshanks, aids them with goblin-trouble from the Foulbriar. They rescue a number of captured men from a goblin camp. On the last leg of the road to the city, an ogre blocks their path but is made to flee.

On the 10th of Mender, they arrive in Tor’s Gate. Vorzheva earns a room at the Tattered Gryphon by ousting the would-be lute-plucker “Sir” Luuvar Dialdon, and meets the sellsword Teric. This causes some trouble, and Dialdon eventually pays others to steal her violin. His mischief is undone, though.

Over the winter, Teric moves on and Vorzheva goes to the Hall of Swords to learn a new form of swordfighting. She is given to the care of one Parmoran, which will prove entirely more significant than anyone suspects.

Characters Introduced: Vorzheva, Sidelle, Thimber Tallstalk, Luuvar Dialdon, Osgrod, Rahani Marib-abn-Li, Roarsh the Bald, Hevark Goldhammer, Teric, Slorn One-Eye, Velanya, Parmoran, Tierkarone

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