Claustrophobia (Or Close Freinds)

Torchbearer – Cursed Lands
Episode 24

May 19, 2019

Samson had to hike back to Town by himself. He managed to look for supplies. Jack and Aldormo left the gates of Crowthorn. Meeting Initial Samson, they decided to head back to the Tree: A long, long trek. The ever sharp-eyed adventurer Aldormo tries to retrace their steps back to the First Tree and ends up at Merigold’s the woods witch’s hut. Followed by Jack, huffing, and puffing with along his wheelbarrow he rented.

They meet a young girl sitting on a log. She is skinny, waring an oversized cloak bound with rope so that it fits like her child frame. She says that they shouldn’t be rude, and offers direction to the First Tree.

Aldormo trots off with the knowledge of the right direction, while Samson looks out for trouble. They get to the Tree, but somehow it was Aldormo shifting eyes and memories of the unspeakable plot that they got embroiled with that served to correct the path.

When they get back to the edge of the horrible fey ring, Samson unties the gear bundle to take out a cloak, but thinking better he leaves some stuff from his bag here to make room in his pack.
Jack strikes a lite a torch and hands it to Samson to light the way down.

Jack lead the team on their trip underground, while Samson lights the way down as they all climbed down into the dark shaft, beneath the surface. It was damp and had a decaying sour, earthy smell. And having to hold everyone’s hand down left Jack both angry and irritable.

The dark inky pool lay off to the side of the chamber and a crawl space that led to the lair of some unknown animal at the other. A dead giant rat lay on the ground, and a foul smell emanated from this whole region. Brave and perhaps a bit foolish Samson and Aldormo set off into the belly crawl of a cave to search for the effigy of the corruption. Dropping their packs, Samson leads the spelunking and Aldormo tried to grab the hips of Samson to guide him, but Samson would not have it. Crawling forth on their bellies, torchlight and smoke only a few inches ahead and the smoke not having anywhere else to go but your eyes and lungs, made this super unpleasant. Remains of bones and trash cover the room’s floor, and you hear a faint whooshing sound. The torch goes out as fear takes your heart.

Samson ever the adventurer, looks around for treasure and in his exhaustion tries to push through digging into his reserve, but is caught up in the safety of “Mad” Jack. There is a belly squeeze in the rock. It is constricting, but in there, he can see some shining copper coins and a chute lower into the bowls of the earth. Alerting Aldormo and Jack about his plan to go further in, he yelled that to Jack and went into the hole. Feet first using kicks along the wall to shuffle forward.

Aldormo and Samson inched forward, and Samson fell in after Aldormo, getting stuck together in a chute. Aldormo’s knees are jamming against Samson’s head. Samson is starting to feel ill over time spent in the dungeon.

Samson decided that it was time to head back after he saw water in the tight tunnels. Samson feels its time to leave and leaves the torch behind. Aldormo tries to escape and ends up hitting their head on the low ceiling, making their vision blur.

Near-death and beat up they discuss their next move.

Country Road

Torchbearer – Cursed Lands
Episode 23

May 12, 2019

Aldormo was walking through the woods and spies Jack and introduces themselves. Jack was looking for treasure. After meeting up, they went to the cart and picked through the remains. Leaving some goods here, set out to travel to Crowthron with some of the treasure and a plan to do somethings in town.

The journey to the lost woods led them to the Lost Grove, a group of trees in the dense forest that is on top of the only hill, the surrounding lowlands are a dense misty forest. Travellers often find themselves looping back to the groove.

Goblins lost in the woods, can be seen arguing atop Lost Grove. The party attempted to sneak on by, hiding in an underbrush covered thicket. You are trying to hear them, and you hear a fight that breaks out amongst the goblins.

After a while, the light dimed down. Journey to Crowthorne was strenuous, and their belly rumbles remind Aldormo that they probably haven’t eaten anything in a while as they reached the nearest landmark.

“Mad Jack I got it,” and Aldormo takes off like a bloodhound into the wood.

At the gates of Crowthorn. The tavern was busy since raiders, beastmen, and mercenaries working for Liar’s Castle drove the fleeing farmers behind the walls lest they are captured. This, of course, further exacerbates the food shortage currently happening at Crowthorn. Full of field workers and recently freed slaves, the tavern is bursting at the seams.

Mad Jack with gold in hand went to the Crowthron Inn. The streets were the home for Aldormo for the weak or-so time that they stayed in the town.

Jack went to look for a cart, and he got a shrewd smith that had a free cart try and deal a hard bargain, pay now and then get a share of the treasure once the cart is returned. However, Jack wanted to pay upfront, so that’s what he agreed to.

After staying in town, Jack went looking for Aldormo. They were found face down in the gutter, with a sullen look in their eyes and happily got up. Never to speak about what they got up to again.

Leaving town the head of the baker’s guide asked the players to save their leader since he was captured by Beastmen while helping relatives pack from their home and flee to the walls. The group decided to ignore the baker’s plea and look into the lost baker at a later time.

 

Friends In High Places

Torchbearer – Cursed Lands
Episode 22

April 7, 2019

*Thump*

Making there way back to the branch-catwalk, they see a big gaping hole in the web underneath where through which they can see the ground below and the shattered remains of the cart.

The group frees Billy from a web cacoon struggling on the wall. A group of roving bandits abducted him to be sole into a travelling circus since they thought he was a child. This group set out and were an attack by another group, and he managed to escape. He lacked food and water for a few days and woke up in complete darkness.

After freeing Billy, they cut open another sack since they could hear a muffled voice – and not just random bark screams form a forests-kith. They met Aldormo the ranger, an elf. They are tall, dark-skinned and pale-haired, their raiment is a knitted vest with a bumblebee, and they are from the north Ash Lands. They are an Ash Lands elf. They grew up there and ranged all over and joined the forest rangers in the South years ago before the elves of the First Forest sealed the gates of their citadel. Now they search for a bow of the leader of the Rangers. They live amongst the trees. After pleading the group his service because they freed them, they all set off downwards.

After looking around a little bit, they made the party made their way down the sloping vines as the spider climbed after them. A little less wary now, as the large man who through it off the tree was no longer present. Rushing the group found itself at the base fo the spiral walkway and ran down the stairs.

They reach the suspended catwalk again, hustling along with it they jumped onto the first platform, and it tilted overthrowing Aldormo and Billy off. Samson helped Billy out, and they pulled Aldormo free since with their 10′ pole.

The spider follows as they descend the rest of the way. They see it coming and lite the now blocked way outside with a torch.

Billy’s break down at the site of his friend’s still body amongst the remains of the shattered cart. Inconsolable, he slumps down and cries into his hands.

Aldormo looks back and challenges the spider waiting in its dark hole to a fight to the death in the name of friendship. All while, Samson carries all the bodies to the edge of the woods straining his back he lies down and tries to meditate it away but such injuries take a toll on the body, and Aldormo summons ethereal ghost bees and challenges the spider to come and get him, all while the spider simply watches from inside the tree hollow.

Korban runs out and collects dark shield with a red star on it. Korben spends little time inside the grisly totem fey ring.

Billy filled with grief, starts to scratch the topsoil off and digs into the soft earth with his hands. He is planning to bury his friend himself. The hole slowly fills with tar that burns Billy’s hands like acid, clouding Billy’s mind with only pain.

Aldormo is observing this, “This looks like it hurts.” Billy frantically scraps the acid off on the mud, Aldromo leans in and says, “We should take your friend and have a proper burial. Preferably without injury. You should stop,” over the screams and whimpers of Billy whose hands have begun to bleed from the acid.

Aldormo begins to drag Billy away from the hole, and once a distance away, Billy pleads through tears, “What do we do now?” While Korben turns and runs off with the shield into the forest. He ran off with Samson yelling after him to come back. His footfalls were the only thing that can be heard cracking in the dark.

Camp starts fine with Billy cooking some Rabbit and Aldormo wandering off and picking wildflowers. Samson dug the grave and buried the bodies of Rasotto the dwarven adventurer and Ludolf and Sledgey, the porters. He marked their graves with the nearest large rocks he could find.

Aldormo took off their holy symbol and left it on the graves as well as flowers that they picked, keeping one and wearing it in their hair. In a haunting voice they begin to sing:

My eyes are dim
I cannot see
I have no specks with me
I have no specks to see.

The sound of the song’s haunting melody captivates Billy, and both Billy and Aldormo’s anger disappears with the last note.

Night falls with Samson’s prayer of a fair journey and for the Breath of the Burning Lord to visit them in their time of need.

Dwarf a la Carte

Torchbearer – Cursed Lands
Episode 21

March 31, 2019

The heroes find themselves amidst the tallest branches. Surrounded by webs, barely able to make out a cart hanging a short distance below the lowest limb. This tree is over 400 feet tall, and its lowest branch is still 200 ft above the ground. The view obscured by the shell of spider webs and various web sacs. These sacs hold small birds and other things most not moving, a few squirming at a jerky rhythm, not stopping nor-tiring.
The branches form catwalks with whatever thing that took you from one level to another, long destroyed.

The group spot a nearby web sac. They hear grunting coming from it. As they approach, they see it is a tree person. Its limbs were sticking out through the web bag as it flails around wildly. They identify it as a forest-kith, although its bark is stained black and is rotting. He takes a swing at Rasotto, much to the surprise of everyone. Rasotto frees an arm making a little more difficult to cut them loose as they continue to flail wildly.
*Rarwggliglr* the voice of bubbled gurgling mixed with crackling of stick. There are four such creatures around also stuck in silk sacs.

After a short argument breaks out about the nature of the creatures, Rasotto is urged to free the beast by his companions but hesitates. Jack sees this as an opportunity to give a scan of the area and sees a giant spider’s leg disappear from view as the spider that was following them crawls beneath the catwalk-like tree branch the party is on. It crawls towards them unseen heedless of gravity, upside down. Seeing the giant arachnid disappear set them on edge.

A after some debate, Rasotto cuts open the cocoon holding the rotting forest-kith. He starts screaming at the party. He runs toward the party flailing. After getting the giant axe destroyed the creature, its bark skin starts to knit together with a black ooze. Jack pushes the defeated sunbleached tar bleeding forest-kith with the handle of his axe and shoves him off the side of the ledge. He falls into the webs below.

The spiders pounce on the now slowly flailing tree child. Seeing this, the party uses this opportunity to try to climb higher, but the spider finished fast and started climbing up after them.

The party with no way forward decided to fight together rather than risk falling and separated. And so an epic climb-fight broke out. Punctuated by the dwarf falling, dagger extended overhead onto the back of the spider and trying to pierce the beast, climbing to better positions and Jack tossing one-handed the spider off the surface below.

Dwarf and spider fall into the web below. The spider climbs inside hoping to surprise the group as they climb down on the inside. Rasotto, the hardy dwarf, tries to free a shield and the porters who had fallen just before the fight. In the effort, Rasotto dislocates his arm. The dwarf crawls over to the cart and tries breaking open the chest.

The pounding causes the web to suspend the cart to break.

Two hundred feet fall.

Dead.

Spider-Dwarf

Torchbearer
Cursed Lands Session 20

March 17, 2019

Goblins come to camp drawn in by the smells of the ruined rabbit. The party hid in an attempt to see what they did. While the green-skins poked about the campsite, they saw the party trying to hide. Want to fight and prove their might, they attempted to drive the party off so they can loot the camp in peace. The party decided that driving off the goblins was prudent and with the mighty axe swing, Mad Jack was able to drive away from the hunting party. Frightening them with his prowess.

On the way to, they managed to make it some way there standing in front of the first tree of the world. They had managed to fill up their waterskins with runoff. Here they took to camp, while the drainage was drying up. Mad Jack attempted to sew the rip in Samson’s bag but ran out of thread to complete the job. Rasotto dug deep, and his body managed to get rest and healed sickness by itself without difficulties. Entering the tree by boost and standing in the center, they realized that the chute down into the tunnels below was filled with web, their rope intertwined with it. So up to the spiral staircase, they travelled, warry of railing-less edge. Up they went until they reach a catwalk that jutted into the center of the hollow tree. There at the end, another catwalk sat suspended in web at an awkward angle. Rasotto inspected the sticky silk stands and vines and decided the jump could be made. After the harrowing jump, they continued the staircase until it was no more. All that was left was to climb upwards on the now thick vines, around some 100 ft high. Catwalks, promenades and tree branches greeted them after a heroic effort to climb the branches.

At the top, there were several body-sized shapes wrapped in web, along with the inner walls. They cut one open and found the desiccated remains of an elf. They had a circlet and a hammer. The warhammer had dwarven runes etched along with the head. Grabbing the contents and noting that they should search the rest when they had time, they continued outside. The branches are long and flat, some as big as trees themselves, the lowest of which is 200 feet in the air. They suspect the dark shape in the web to be the cart that was seen from below. Again noting that they will need to come back to try and cut it down, they continued unto the branches, which are covered in a thick web. The audience sees a spider giant and quite sneaks up behind the adventurers. We will have to come back next time to see what happens.

I am Up in the Woods

Torchbearer
Cursed Lands

March 10, 2019

Rasotto and Billy are lead up, into the home of the an essentially a forest god by a creepy forest bush person. They call themselves Forest-kith. They are spirits which inhabit the woods and can possess the trees themselves. His face in the woods appears old and cracked in the bark. He occasionally drools black tar and coughs out smoke periodically throughout the conversation. He wants them to go on a journey to the first tree and find a dark effigy that is the source of this mysterious power. He suspects that is located somewhere in the depths of the tree. He believes it was put there by a man who turned his heart cruel in search of power.

The great forest spirit is the eldest spirit in the forest. All the others are young and not as powerful. He put his roots in and took a more permanent position as a tree to fight and contain the rot in the magic circle. He is waging a war with the cult and it seems now the castle too, all while maintaining the corruption from creeping and decaying the ole forest. He asked the party to travel to the first tree while he fights a forest fire set by the slavers at Liar’s Castle.

The other members of the party were already there and were present for the conversation. They agreed to travel the first tree and set off toward it, this is when they realized Billy the halfling wasn’t present and they lacked the map. Without a charted part, they were forced set off to make their way to the cursed grove, trying to follow the paths. They heard drumming approaching drum, drum, drum. Mad Jack set off to see what was causing the noise. There, hiding in the trees, sat Korben. He saw Mad Jack and yelled run! Barreling through the woods after him and chasing the party was a massive, twisted troll with beady eyes, coarse wiry hair and a huge puss filled nose. They ran and managed to escape and afterward were left breathing heavy, afraid, but alive. They set off once more and this time only made it partway and needed to reorient themselves in order to continue. They made it to the lost on, top of a hill and were unsure where to go next. Samson went to go look for a trail and fell down a ravine. His boots sliding and he landed unharmed but at the bottom of a steep 15-foot cliff, with only up as the way out. Mad Jack retrieved some dead wood and hurled it down the ravine. He told Samson to position it so he can boost himself up like 5 feet or more, with Samson’s reach around 7 to 8 feet and the boost of about 5, they were able to easily reach down and pull Samson up. Growing tired they rested. Mad Jack tried to sow together Samson’s pack but was out of rope, he’ll have to remember to restock when he goes back to market. The group rested and tried to steel themselves for the trials ahead.

Samson started saying how he can’t manage alone, and that he feels hopeless, and was comforted by his companions’ reassurances, but was unable to rest due to Korben’s insistence that if something were to happen that he’d take his friends bones. The dwarf Rasotto’s tough façade was lifted and he had a good messy cry as only dwarves know-how, which settled his anger, for now. Mad Jack sought refuge alone walking through the woods. But before the dwarf cried he had tried to make a meal out of a young rabbit he caught. His mouth-watering, but he lit it aflame in his haste, ruining it. Rasotto remembered he had water to share with everyone. But the subtle wafts of cooking meat would attract predators… next time.

The Abyss

Torchbearer
Cursed Lands Session 18

March 3, 2019

Running through the woods, Rasotto and Billy separated from the rest of the group. They were lost and as midday approached light from the suns rays directly above shone through and managed to dimly light the forest a bit.

They were in a small groove, with the trees vaulting overhead. In the middle of the groove standing batter and worn arch about the size of a doorway. The arch stood on a platform made out of concentric steps leading to the top. As Rasotto neared it, the hair on his arms and beard felt static in the air and as he passed through an audible pop. A small shock and that was all. Intrigued, he put his eyes real close and also listened to the stone. His mastery of stonework allowed him to ascertain that this was a magic portal and that to use it the secret phase and ritual must be performed and the magic will hurl you through space to a different location. Curious they cleared off the moss and felt the runes. They decided to bring the cleric back hear, once they found him to translate. So set off, looking for any trail leading from the portal. They found a long seldom used, slightly overgrown stone path heading back in the direction of the Cathedral. They followed it away and found a secret wagon trail, South would lead to the Cathedral and North, to the edge of the forest. Not wanting to have anything do with the wood and hoping their members of the group would assemble at the gates of Crowthorne they set off. Exhausted and run ragged they hunkered down to camp on the edge of the woods just South of Crowthorne, when small animals and other creatures starting moving real fast. A raging wildfire started in this section of the forest. They had to break camp immediately, this was going to be a long night. Wary they set off to the west, travelling for some time before entering the forest following their map circumnavigating the fire.

The sought the Forest-kith. And they found them, walking the ground started to give way, and Rasotto manages to throw himself aside, but Billy wasn’t so lucky. He was at the bottom of a near 20-foot pit. Rasotto was going quickly search for a branch or vine to extricate the halfling from the hole, but Rasotto instinctively scouted the area for danger, to which he saw the waiting eyes of the Forest-kith. They tree-like nature and leaf-like voice creepy and alien, started to accuse them of starting the fire. After a heated argument, both sides agreed that the blaze was the work of the beastmen, for Liar’s Castle and that they were searching the forest for the party and so they were responsible for mediating the punishment to the beastmen. Agreeing that the beastmen should die for the crimes, they helped Billy out of the pit and relayed a message that their leader wanted to speak with them.

 

Shallow Grave and Past’s Ghosts

Torchbearer
Cursed Lands Session 17

February 24, 2019

Billy and “Mad” Jack found the party.

Billy had woken up before dawn and wandered off. He found a waterfall and took a swim. By the time he got back, the rest of the party had left.

When “Mad” Jack awoke, he found himself alone with the body on the once sleeping man. He trudged after Rasotto the scout but tired and took rest.

Finally, back together, they decided to travel back to the Dark Cathedral. Billy successfully navigated back to the Cathedral with Rasotto and Samson’s help, with “Mad” Jack bringing up the rear carrying the body. When the group was discussing how to proceed to get past the guards, “Mad” Jack’s grip on the body faltered, and he dropped it with a thud.

As the guard called for reinforcements and started to search, Rasotto put on his robe that he stole early from the cathedral. He proceeded to attempt to convince them to get in, pontificating on the various positive aspects of being apart of the Dark Church of St. Viscous. Rasotto sacrificed himself, allowing himself to be captured but not before making a scene to allow time for the party to dig a grave. After a few moments of grave digging while Rasotto tried flipping pews and kicking candle down, he was restrained and chained to the wall. In the proceeding rescue, Billy snuck in and freed him from the chains while Samson and “Mad” Jack ran interference. Struggling to flee they managed a short-lived victory, as the adventurers once again found themselves lost in the woods.

 

A Viscous Sermon

Torchbearer
Cursed Lands
Session 16

February 10, 2019

Rasotto and Samson found themselves alone, scouting out the trail to the Cathedral. After a brief discussion about whether they should turn back or scout out the Cathedral, they travelled there. They spotted a thin shirtless muscled man with tattoos running down both of his arms. He sat on the steps tending a small brazier for warmth while sharpening a dagger with a rock to a razor point. The two decided the best course of action was to sneak and check out the back.

The Cathedral of St. Vicious was a tall, imposing structure. White marble wall that was painted black with ash and tar, its stain glass windows glazed over with some red viscous liquid. They made their way to the side where there was a door barred on the ground level. A horizontal sliding latch adored the door.

The Initiate Samson recalled his days as a street urchin and decided to push the latch open peer inside and lower a fishing hook and release the bar from the inside. After stealthy freeing the latch from the catch, the way was free. They made their way into the red-tinted main chamber.

After spotting robes and quickly changing they made their way into the pews onlooking an altar, that was ringed with skulls and had a large red tapestry with a foreboding symbol on it. Behind the alter a mezzanine with a large organ with tentacle-like pipes softly played. The whimpers of a man in the corner could be heard, he was chained to the wall. They sat there and attended a black sermon.

A wizened old man called for the deaths of the adventurers that were disrupting their work in Liar’s Castle, and the importance of their work to attain a place in the Halls of Chaos and join the tables of the Lords of Shadow. After the sermon, the people who filtered in went to their own devices. Some gambling, others selling wares, while some disrobed and went behind tapestries. While others still went to torment the man chained to the wall. In amidst the chaos unfurling, Samson tried overhearing peoples’ conversations, but the most crucial thing he heard was, “Samson is that you?” To which he turned and walked back to the way he came in. While he was doing that Rasotto went over and talked up this man. After distracting the man until Samson left, Rasotto too left. They hurried away, exhausted and scared. They made camp, and while setting up, they realized they had some luck, a small stream nearby allowed them to fill their water skins.

 

No Heroes Here

Torchbearer
Cursed Lands Session 15

February 3, 2019

The grove was dimly lit by starlight. Making their way through the thinning tree line, they spotted in the middle lying down, a sleeping man. Rasotto and Billy stood on one end of the grove with the porters Ludolf and Sledgey, while Mad Jack and Bruick the other.

The party stomped over hoping the man would awake.

The guide Bruick heard rustling in the bushes and was scared. He said that he thought they had dealt with the forest creatures and that they wanted him dead for cutting down a tree. Rasotto told the forester that they liked making sacrifices to the forest creatures and so he would be next. Mad Jack in through confusing released the man from service and he ran as the soft rustle of laughing trees made there way after him.

They poked, kicked, punched and kicked the sleeping man again to no avail. Splashing water on his face to no avail. They made camp, Rasotto making a map with the help of Billy and Billy preparing the Rabbit as jerky for later, and Rasotto teaching Billy how to fight.

Rasotto decided to plug his nose and cover the man’s mouth. He slowly turned blue, then purple. Upon release, he was no longer breathing. They lamented not having a cleric there to help this man. They decided to leave this man now slowly losing colour in his cheeks, but not before checking his pockets. They found copper. Counting their luck, they set off to find the Cathedral. While simultaneously blazing a trail, Billy also searched the forest for signs of deer. He got turned around, but Mad Jack managed to find a rabbit to eat.

Rasotto ever the vigilant scout, was up ahead a bit and so was the first to hear muffled music floating through the trees. There was a man eating food, fat and sloppy, and another man, more creature than man, his goat legs tapping a beat and this slighting goat head was blowing into a set of pipes, whose music beaconed them to eat. Shrugging off the music Billy talked with the beast, and so struck a deal after talking about the nature of meaning and reality. The agreement was they could take the man out of here and the Sleeping man too, back to the lands of men, and to make sure that they never return to the forest. So, they set off after the man puked behind the bushes for quite some time. He came back a little lighter. They travelled again in the direction of the Cathedral, Billy leading still but this time not hunting, and paying close attention to the direction of travel.