The Ascension Gate

ORCS!
Sarenday, 27th of Toragas

I find myself wondering…who were they? Were they farmers? Merchants? Shepherds? At least one was young, a teenage girl of perhaps sixteen. What might she have been? What might she have done with her life?

Pointless questions, but ones I cannot help but ask as I pile their lifeless bodies atop those of their murderers. The funeral pyre I am building is ignominious, a simple bonfire of bodies and profane monuments deserving of the flame. The stench is horrific, rotting flesh combined with the scent of burning flesh, and a tar black smoke that burns the eyes and chokes breath. A terrible sight. A terrible duty.

The bandits of the keep deserve such an undignified fate. Kidnappers, thieves, and murderers, the lot of them. A mass unmarked grave awaits their bones, outside the keep’s walls, just beyond the clearing’s edge. They will be forgotten, and their souls shall find no rest from Gadar’s wrath. As it should be.

What we found below, though, was the true travesty of this place. The one-eyed man, the one they called Ranchefus, invoked dark powers and darker rituals in a sacred chapel dedicated to Gadar. He tortured these poor souls. He made them scream and cry out, demanded blasphemies to cease his torments. He murdered them, and leashed their souls to their decaying forms, turning them into mindless undead. Even beyond death, he tortured them.

We put them to rest. We released their souls to Gadar, and I hope that he will forgive whatever blasphemies were wrested from their lips before they died. I pray for the Light to shine on them and guide them home. I pray that Ranchefus meets the devils he served, and spends eternity screaming for that service.

I pray the fire dies soon. I have had enough of the scent of death.

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In which the gang tries to storm the tower.
Featuring butts

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Day by Day Calendar

Session 1

Monday 7/27

17th of Hamas

-Party of Daba Ruk, Bartak Beartooth, Vilig Sojet, and Illios of the Order of the Merciful Hand enter the Haranshire region.
-Sent by the merchant Gordrenn on contract, the party seeks to deliver a parcel to the wizard Tauster in the town of Thurmaster.
-Party is ambushed while on the road by Lyrchwood by 5 bandits either dressed as farmers or hidden beyond the tree line.
-After a hard fought battle, the party interrogate bandits’ leader Carlanis, discovering orders to steal the parcel as well as abduct Daba.
-After killing the bandit leader, Illios oversees the burial of all the bodies and the party pushes on through darkness to the town of Milborne.

Session 2

Tuesday 8/4

17th of Hamas Evening

-Party enters Melbourne and decide the Silver Crown Inn is best left to locals.
-Meet Old Grizzler in Silver Crown.
-Party goes to Baron of Mutton.
-Meet Andren and his grandfather.
-Meet Andren’s brother Bart.
-Meet Andren’s girlfriend Jelenneth (apprentice to Tauster).
-Meet Samhiese the Priest
-Meet Naften the stable keeper and his dogs
-Daba nearly starts a war putting dogs to sleep so she could spy on our own property

18th of Hamas

- Party comes across ‘The Folly’; a failed merchant’s bridge concept.
-Naften warns us not to stay at the Hound and Tails in Thurmaster.
-Party take passage on a barge to Thurmaster. Bed down for uneventful night along the way.

19th of Hamas

-Party arrives in Thurnmaster. Not much more than a small frontier post.
-Head to Tauster’s Tower (only stone structure in town).
-Meet Tauster and deliver the parcel.
-Tauster knows nothing of Carlanis; suggests that interest was due to the cash value of the spell components in the parcel and Daba just for her exotic nature.
-Meet squire Marlin of Thurmaster.
-Message arrives that Garyld, constable of Milborne, requests the party’s return.
-Party hops barge back to Milborne.

20th of Hamas

-Party again camps after full day of travel on barge. Uneventful night.

21st of Hamas

-Party arrives in Milborne and meet with Garyld.
-Garyld has discovered beheaded bodies the party buried in Lyrchwood, believes them murderers. Jelenneth has also disappeared and the party are suspected.
-Party plead innocence and agreed to help.
-Interview Andren and search Jeleneth’s room for something with her scent.
-Go to the mill; decide not to press questioning w/ parents.
-Send note to Tauster gently inquiring if he called Jelenneth up early (mother was concerned)
-Garyld lends party use of Blue, his dog, to help search Hog Brook, a possible lead.
-Travel along the Churnett river east to farm of Kuiper, a local Ranger.
-Party search Hog Brook w/ Kuiper and meet Olean, a druid.
-Party hopes to also find missing werebear named Maxim
-Party beds down in Thornwood.

22nd of Hamas (pre-dawn)

-Party is awoken by 9 orcs and a hulking Orag.

Session 3

Tuesday 8/25

22nd of Hamas (pre-dawn/dawn)

-The Battle of Hogbrook; ambush by Orcs.
-Vilig has a vision of the missing Jelenneth.
-Declan goes to find Druid for help.
-Party puts down Orcs after hard battle.
-Olean appears after the battle with Blue, dead, his muzzle covered in green blood.
-Seems the Orcs were searching for the werebear.

Session 4

Tuesday 9/1

22nd of Hamas

-The party searches for the werebear.
-Bartak tries to call the werebear using bear tones (not unlike a jewish mother)
-Kuipper leads party East, ends up finding bear tracks.
-Party finds bear, Bartak enters into contract negotiations with the bear.
-Illios heals bear, who calms enough to become a hybrid.
-Kuipper takes Maxim to Crynon farmstead.
-Party heads to Hog Brook, Vilig swims river and ferries party across, they camp on the North side to avoid danger.

23rd of Hamas

-Party arrives back at Milborne and sees an auction taking place.
-Return Blue to a devastated Garyld.
-Tauster hasn’t seen Jelenneth.
-Auction is a foreclosure auction for farmers losing their land due to the New Mire. Darius Carmen’s name comes up (not the first time).
-Group stays night at Baron of Mutton, dodges/calms Andrens fears about Jelleneth.

24th of Hamas

-Party awakes the next morning to an invitation/summons to the big house on the hill to see Darius Carmen.

Session 5

Tuesday 9/22

24th of Hamas

-Bartak has a vision about a stone structure and a one eyed man.
-Party answers summons to Darius Carmen’s house and is met at door by butler.
-Dine w/ Darius Carmen and negotiate jobs with him including the New Mire, bandits, green skins, mutilated sheep, and a Hamas Day delivery.

Session 6

Tuesday 10/13

25th of Hamas

-Party agrees to deliver package to Count Palfrey by Hamas day
-Set double watch when they stop for night; daba/vilig hear an unnatural 2 tone wolf call.

26th Hamas

-Party floats through Redwood and see a small group of farmers/regulars armed w/ pitchforks and crude weapons, talking on the roadway.
-Arrive at Thurmaster and debate as to where to sleep/how to guard the goods.
-Illios stays at warehouse, rest head to Tauster.
-Tauster’s place has been ransacked and he’s had vision.
-Allows party to stay in his tower if they clean it; Bartak stacks things.

27th Hamas

-Party escorts wagons of goods to Count Palfrey. Uneventful.
-Meet Parlfray; seems scattered and forgetful.
-Meet his son Lintern; very nice and enthusiastic.
-Party learns of the return of the lizard men.
-Rabid dogs in the Redwood

28th Hamas

-Group heads back to Thurmaster and spend night at Tauster’s.

29th Hamas

-Party takes the overland road back to Milborne through Redwood.
-Passers by believe rabid dogs have been put down.
-Bartak senses change in berries and nature.
-Woods seem to be under abyssal influence.

Session 7

Tuesday 10/27

29th Hamas

-Forest seems to be under Demon Plague; originating in the abyss.
-Party encounters some form of demonic plague dog w/ dead bodies and kills them.
-Find body of female half-elf (maybe Oracle); died earlier from bludgeoning by inhuman strength; has withered left leg.
-Dead merchant and merchant’s guard are not local, Sistaort (major city). Two men died by dogs.
-Tracks lead away from the glade south toward river, then enter river. Bartak searches underwater, but find no tracks.

Session 8

Tuesday 11/3

29th of Hamas

-Party continues to head West towards the Great Rock Dale.
-Investigate area where they heard howling previously. Investigate farmsteads. Farmer confirms sounds, but other than small farm animals missing, nothing of concern.
-Move on to area where slaughter sheep were found, it’s the evening. The set watch.

30th of Hamas

-Party are pointed in direction of Manis’ farm; where sheep were ripped to pieces.
-Manis’ farm is a little run down, a bit unkempt.
-Brother (Manis) and Sister (Brenda) are aggressively disinterested.
-Manis is far more worldly and cultured than would be expected.
-Wolf tracks are found. Sheep have been torn to shreds.
-Party leaves. Brenda seen in window with a yellow/gold eye. This is day after the last full moon, which Brenda knew.

Session 9

Tuesday 11/11

30th of Hamas

-Party heads West from Manis farm, set watch and hear same double howl from North East beyond the Manis farm. Dana determines it’s from Death Dogs.

31st of Hamas

-Party stages a forced march back to Milborne
-Arrange rooms at Baron of Mutton

32nd of Hamas

-Bartak determines that the choker from the Oracle and the shell necklace taken from orcs match.
-Party meet Rastifer, the general store keeper.
-Party brings Darius Carmen up to speed on tasks, he pays them, sends them directly to the New Mire, and informs them of another shipment to Palfrey in 3 weeks.
-Party heads South to Harlatan, finds very small settlement: storage buildings, the inn, and then surrounding farms.

Session 10

Wednesday 12/2

32nd of Hamas

-Party heads to Inn and determines history of the New Mire. Many ‘causes’ for New Mire, all BS.
years. Every local has their own reason for the new mire and each is equally bullshit

33rd of Hamas

-Party travels to mouth of Cutter Brook through the Terraces and Patchwork Hills.
-Declan discovers a small boy spying on our party; he tells a story about blue skinned demons in the area. Daba determines he’s talking about Goblins.
Boy leads group to farmhouse. They discover Goblins tracks leading East. Party chooses to stay in the farmhouse for the night and trap it. Night is uneventful.

34th Hamas

-Illios is worried about missing Hamas Day
-Party makes a couple of attempts to follow the tracks, loses them, finds them again. The tracks begin to converge as the party reach the Patchwork Hills.
-Party finds a ‘holler’ with two goblins in it.

Session 11

Tuesday 12/29

34th of Hamas

-Party listens in on goblins, learns of religious ceremony.
-Attempt to trap goblins by Bartak dropping behind, immediately foiled by Bartak extreme noisiness. A fight breaks out.
-2 goblis escape into the cave and the party sets up a trap.
-Meet Grundlegek (chieftain)
-Meet Burukkleyet (Shaman) who has an odd gold ring.
-Party enters a negotiation with goblins about the New Mire.
-Ring is determined as possible cause of New Mire.
-Party trade for ring and have 7 days to to return a copy of the ring.

Session 12

Wednesday 1/6

34th of Hamas

-Party marches through the night to Milborne to stay at Baron of Mutton.

35th of Hamas

-Party wakes just before dawn.
-Hamas Day celebrations
-Illios does official things.
-Bartak enters drinking contest.
-Meet Lefayre the traveling priest.
-Vilig sees eye patch man, purchases thieves tools, and daba picks the lock to a warehouse.
-They find the residual aura of what they think is a teleportation spell, but no one eyed man.
-The party retreats to the inn and plan to talk to Tauster about the ring.

Session 13

Wednesday 2/3

1st of Toragas

-Daba has a dream about another Tengu.
-The group heads to Darius Carmen’s to update him on the New Mire and talk w/ Tauster.
-Tauster examines the ring and will send it away for full examination.
-Party plans to visit blacksmith in town and get a facsimile of ring made.

Session 14

Sunday 2/14

1st of Toragas

-Party waits for fake ring to be made, decides to investigate bandits of Lyrchwood.
-Party camps by Cutter Brook

2nd of Toragas

-Heads to location of attack on 17th of Hamas. The graves they left are empty.
-Party search the woods and find nothing of interest.
-Interview a woodsman. Nothing odd. Party heads back to road, works west till dark and camps. Nothing during the night

3rd of Toragas

-Party heads back to Milborne to ask Garyld about the missing bodies and to collect the ring/fascimile from the blacksmith.

4th of Toragas

-Party picks up ring from Walright the blacksmith, deliver facsimile ring to Blue goblin Shaman

5th of Toragas

-Party returns to Milborne.

6th of Toragas

-Party meets with Garyld.
-Party Warns Gerald about the empty graves;
-Garyld plans to investigate William the woodsman on the following day; ask him about inconsistencies in stories.

7th of Toragas

-Party gets crates for Count Parlfray from Darius Carmen, load them on barge. Spend the day on the river and camp just beyond the Thornwood to the south of the river.

8th of Toragas (pre-dawn)

-During Bartak’s watch he hears “Bring the bird and the priest. Kill the rest.”
-The party are ambushed.

Session 15

Thursday 3/3

8th of Toragas (pre-dawn)

-Bartak awakens party as eye-patch man leads ambush.
-Party manages to persevere despite foes’ superior numbers.
-Bartak is cursed .
-Eye-patch man escapes via spell allowing him to fly away on black wings. He spoke in infernal tongue to do this.
-Party retained a prisoner and decide to set off to Thurmaster to complete their delivery and meet up with Tauster.

Session 16

Thursday 3/24

8th of Toragas

-Party attempts to interrogate the fishy prisoner to no avail. Magic is at play.
-Prisoner has seizure and awakes w/ amnesia.
-Party takes the prisoner to Tauster.
-Group takes ‘roger’ to the local squire with a letter from Vilig to Garyld. They plan to return to Milborne to check in on the charges.
-Party continues on to Count Parlfray and is met by Lintern at the door. Dinner begins.
-Bartak presses the story of the Broken Spire keep from Palfray. The party dedicates itself to investigating this.
-Priest Lafayer is at the keep and for 200 gold he removes the curse from Bartak
-Parlfray announce some guarded pilgrims of Gadar have been killed/are missing and they need help.

Session 17

Thursday 4/6

9th of Toragas

-Party agrees to follow the warm trail of the pilgrims and heads out north into the Howler’s Moor.
-Bartak finds tracks of humans heading West, which they follow.
-The party comes to a hillock/rise w/ death dogs on other side, gnawing on staked humans.
-Combat is initiated.

Session 18

Monday 4/11

9th of Toragas

-The party enters a long pitched battle with the death dogs.
-The party collects some remains from the pilgrim remnants.

Session 19

Saturday 5/7

9th of Toragas

-Illios confirms that the dogs have demonic worms and there’s some concern of infection.
-Bartak finds tracks (human feet) heading north westward; attempted to be hidden.
-Bartak and Vilig are very bad in the morning and vomit up eggs and worms.

10th through 15th of Toragas:

-Party abandons warm trail to heal at the keep.
-Vilig nearly dies in bed; Lafayer is called for to heal him.
-The party in total stays at the keep for 5 days
-Daba finds tale of 150 year old tale: Palfrey ancestors moved against evil priest and cult. Some great battle in Hardlow woods; priest stopped, woods cursed, treasure left behind.

16th of Toragas

-The party heads back west searching for tracks; West to the Hardlow woods.
-Moving into the woods Daba detects undead, discovers perfect circle of dead life in mud. Colder than normal. The location of the battle she had researched.
-Camps for the night; first watch (Daba) interrupted by extreme cold. Wakes party up.
-Ghostly visage in dark robe appears.
-The party dispatch 3 ghouls and a wraith.

Session 20

Saturday 5/19

17th Toragas (pre-dawn)

-Daba locates 3 magical aura’:. One where the wraith appeared, two smaller side location.
-Party digs and finds armor, weapons, coinage, and a wizard spell book.
-Vilig and Daba suffer from Ghoul Fever and are weak for a few days after.
-Party camps on the moors.

Session 21

Thursday 5/26

18th of Toragas

-Party travels back to Parlfray’s keep.

19th Toragas

-Daba is stil recovering
-Parlfray is gone; headed South to bolster the troops’ morale in fighting the Lizardmen.
-Vilig and Bartak seek information about the Broken Spire Keep in the private library of the Parlfrays, discovering a likely location in the Thornwood.

20th of Toragas

-Party travels to Thurmaster.
-Bartak seduces a barge master to give the party a ride.
-They meet w/ Tauster who has gotten a letter back about the identification of the magic ring.

Session 22

Thursday 6/9

20th of Toragas

-Party has Tauster identify Daba’s wand.

21st Toragas

-Party resupplies for a week on the road and take the barge to the North side of the river near the Hog Brook to meet up w/ Kuiper.
-Meet Madrigal.
-They learn of a bird people in the woods and the possible disappearance of Olean. Kuiper agrees to go with them in the morning.

22nd of Toragas

-Party and Kuiper travel the length of the Hog Brook.
-They camp at end of Hog Brook.

23rd Toragas

-Kuiper heads to Aarakocra, party splits off South into deep wood.
-The trees change to oaks, the party sets traps, wary of Spiders.
-Party camps for the night.

24th Toragas

-Party comes to the clearing w/ the keep; no wildlife, a death aura as in Hardlow woods.
-Vilig scouts the perimeter, and has to dodge multiple lethal traps.
-Group waits until night fall and use Daba’s levitation and sleep to knock out crossbowman guard on top of keep.
-As Vilig and Bartak scale the keep, Illios (carried by Daba) falls through the rickety tower floor along with sleeping guard.

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All bears bleed red.
A joint effort by friends of Dragons with Quick Tongues

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Witchcraft
Sarenday, 20th of Toragas, 2022 AG

In the time I have traveled with Daba, she has seen me perform the rituals of the One Truth many times. My prayers at sunrise, holy day celebrations, even the rituals of the dead. Although sometimes curious, often questioning the rites and the reasons for them, she has always born witness with respect and a solemness I appreciate. It seems strange to me, though, that I have not seen much by way of her religious practices. Perhaps religious is not the correct term, but neither would be arcane.

I have, often enough, observed her in the act of channeling her powers, creating thunderstorms from a clear day, fire bursting forth from her talons, even speaking with creatures of the air from miles distant. I have seen magi study their books, alchemists prepare their potions, and clerics of the order in their meditation and prayers to Gadar. Yet, with Daba, I see her only speak to Declan, meditating with him perched upon her shoulder. Does she pray to some unknown god? Perhaps Gadar in a form that the birdfolk know?

Yesterday was the first I had seen of any of Daba’s rituals. She was gracious enough to allow me to observe what she called “gettin’ the spells”. She laid out a book of wizard spells we had found in the Hardlow woods, in a circle of bones, from what may have been a bird or rat. Candles, lit and placed at specific points around the book, lit with an incantation to “y’all watchtower folk”. Then, she merely sat, waving her talons over the book and murmuring in a low voice, speaking a tongue I did not recognize.

After a time, she removed the book and replaced it with a small brazier covered by an iron grate, filled with burning sheep dung. A pot of water was placed over it, and allowed to boil, before acrid smelling herbs made what I can only imagine to be a most bitter tea. A cup was poured, the water removed, but the brazier remained.

What happened next, I must admit, shocked me. She took up the book, and with a jerk, tore out many pages. I later learned that the pages contained the necessary incantations and formulae for the casting of one of the wizard spells, but that wizard spells are quite complex, hence multiple pages. She held the pages above the brazier, chanting, as they caught flame. The pages burned rapidly, as if releasing some hidden power, and the ashes of the pages fell upon the grate.

Daba removed the grate, and carefully poured the ashes into the concoction she had created, stirring it with a long talon. Strangely, Daba did not drink the tea, but rather, Declan hopped from her shoulder and with a belabored sigh, began to drink. I must have been right about the taste, as Declan coughed and sputtered with each gulp. Yet, he continued to drink until the whole cup was drained.

Daba repeated this ritual many times throughout the day. I must admit, I was fascinated. Such a backward and barbaric practice, yet I can already tell that whatever she wished to accomplish, she did, at least mostly. There is a feel about her, a certain essence of power that was not there before. It is minor, no doubt, but there nonetheless. The more I learn of her, the more I respect her craft, whatever that craft may truly be.

Truth and Light

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TREASURE
treasure

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Message to Captain Storn of The Clarion's Call
Posted to nearest port via Lafair's Mirror Sight spell

Sent on 14th Toragas, 2022 AG

Captain (stop) Things have changed (stop) Would like to rejoin Clarion’s Call at earliest convenience (stop) Send location date of best safe harbor meeting place (stop) Vilig Sojet

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To Find the Living, You Must Face the Dead
Erasday, 16th of Toragas, 2022 AG

I am cold.

Though the night is warm and damp with the recent summer rains, the chill of winter has entered my bones. Autumn has barely begun, and the summer heat has not yet faded, yet I shiver. The sound of insects at the height of their enterprise thunders around us, yet it feels as though all should be silent, frozen, and desolate.

This is the touch of the dead. Damned souls that befoul the realm of the living, seeking to steal from it warmth and life to sate…something. Perhaps to feel warm for a fleeting moment, for a brief respite from the soul-shattering cold of death. Perhaps out of spiteful jealousy of those that yet live, hatred for that which they can never be again. Perhaps simply because they are compelled by the dark magics that animate them and truly have no memory of what they once were. I do not know the answer.

We did not find the pilgrims. I am convinced they are still alive, but we lost the trail long ago. We should have stopped the search miles ago, but I did not want to believe we had failed. Stubbornly, we pushed on, even as the sun’s light began to fade.

We found the clearing at dusk, a morass of mud and dead trees deep in the forest. I knew at once that we had found something dark, confirmed by Daba’s proclamation that an aura of necromantic magic hung heavily in the air. It seemed likely that this was the place mentioned in the local histories found at Parlfray Keep; the site of a battle between Lothar Parlfray and a dark cult. It would seem a curse truly was laid on this land, and we were drawn to it like moths to flame.

The wraith appeared after moonrise, two pinpricks of cold blue flame where its eyes should have been. Its body was translucent, nearly invisible. Only the shifting beams of moonlight bending through its outline gave any real indication that something was there. It locked its gaze on me, and I could feel pure hatred emanate from it like heat from a furnace.

The battle was swift, and Gadar be praised, our strikes true. Still, the creature’s touch was something I will never forget. It was as though my very soul was being pulled apart, like a loaf of bread broken to be consumed. I do not believe any permanent harm was done to me, but I will not forget that feeling. It will haunt my dreams.

Vilig is looking wan and feverish again. No wonder, with those creatures scratching at him. I will go and tend to him now. I doubt I could sleep anyway.

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Bartak speaks.
Relevant slang.

I don’t write down my thoughts, as a rule. When you’ve been hearing “carve your name on hearts, not tombstones, and especially not rocks in general” for over a hundred years, you fail to see the point of “immortal words.” That last bit was in air-quotes. I feel like I need to make that clear.

When Doc metalified my beard, I felt pretty cool. I mean, in general, I feel like I’m a pretty strong fighter, even if there’s always room for improvement. But a metal beard? For grappling??? That should have made me a bad mama jama! (Picked that up on the road from the youths; cool, right? I’m into it.)

It did not make me a bad mama jama. Instead, it made me a good poppa flop. What I’m saying is that I spent a lot of time on the ground. I guess two heads really are better than one. They got me good. It probably didn’t help that I kept “inciting attacks of opportunity.” Again, air quotes. Side note: I’m not convinced that these so-called attacks should apply to me… I don’t have a reason.

All that said, we did still kill those death dogs. Gave those dogs a real punch in the gut towards their namesake! Didn’t get to talk to any of those traveling priests though. Too bad.

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Bartak’s Beard is Metal AF
Unedited Session Notes from Monday 4/11

9th of Toragas

BATTLE!

Vilig crits, Daba lievitates and drops lots of thunder clouds. Doc is made of metal, Bartak’s beard is metal,

Our passion for killing has met their potential for dying.

Doc has a kukri

Bartak won’t stop crit missing and falling down.

Vilig drowns in his own lung blood

story of the fight is a constant stream of critical misses and death

“Maybe they have a shaman death dog with a ring.”

“When does Daba learn fuck-cloud?”

“If my life depends on Bartak keeping anything clean, I’m in a lot of trouble.”

GM: the remains of a dwarf spill out of the death dog.
B “My people.”
V “I thought Bears were your people.”
B “They’re all my people…That’s why I’m conflicted.”
GM: There’s dwarf armor.
B: “This is great!”
V: “So much for conflicted.”

The party collects some remains from the pilgrim remnants.

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