The Swordlands

Shadow over Kindraed...
Second Session

The party sailed through the night toward the fishing village of Kindraed, though it quickly became apparent that the damage done to the main sail by Aengus's errant magic was severe indeed. They came to a decision to set ashore earlier than intended and travel overland to Kindraed rather than row all the way around the spit. The warforged valiantly volunteered to tow the boat behind himself along the shore, and to meet them at Kindraed. That was how they left him after putting ashore, walking grimly into the waves, tow-rope in hand. Slowly the boat lurched after him, seeming to the unaware observer as though it must be crewed by ghosts.

After a short overland trek, the group – sans warforged –  crested the wooded rise above Iben's home town of Kindraed, and all stopped in shocked silence at the sight before them. Kindraed was burning! Iben let out a muffled cry of horror as he raced headlong down the snowy slope towards the town, the others following close behind. As he got closer, the hunter noticed that the boahouse was burning; the town's only wooden building. The townspeople had gathered around and were working quickly to contain the blaze that had already engulfed the building's high walls. Ignoring his fellow townsfolk's exclamations of surprise at his sudden return, Iben rushed towards the stricken boathouse. The Kindraeders were shouting something about raiders, but Iben dismissed them as fanciful: Raiders had never dared to strike so close to Himmenborg. From within the boathouse came cries of fear. The villagers were clearly busy with the fire itself, and so it fell to the adventurers to attempt a rescue. Thinking quickly, Sigurd conjured forth a magical ray of ice, temporarily making a safe entrance to the burning building via the window. The party barreled through and once inside quickly located the fisherman, Ingo, trapped inside.

Meanwhile, Karl Il-Tannith, the gnome, was hanging back on the wooded hillside above the town. He kept his keen eyes peeled, scouting for any danger that might present itself, or any clue to the mystery of the burning boathouse. So preoccupied by his task was he that he scarcely noticed the approaching thump thump thump of approaching footsteps. A moment later Karl was almost bowled over as a massive blue-skinned humanoiid thundered past him towards the town! He made out a strange cluster of spikes across the creature's shoulders, and a crude club that looked as though it had been fashioned from an uprooted tree. Cursing himself for his lack of awareness, Karl gave chase to the creature, taking care not to attract it's attention. To Karl's horror, the blue beast crashed headlong through the side of the burning boathouse, the very building into which Karl's companions had disappeared just moments earlier!

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Homecoming

I will catch a dragon fish and feed her to the Fey,
Who look down from the mountain where they watch our children play,
They look out from the silver stream that falls from up on high,
They watch our children dance by day, by night they watch them lie.

I will catch a dragon fish and feed her to the moon,
That lights the silent waters of the ancient Fey lagoon,
From the darkness of the ocean to the black and sandy shore,
But a ripple on the water and the moon will dance once more.

I will catch a dragon fish and feed her to the land,
Where once there walked a maiden fair, the moon upon her hand,
Her foot trod lichen carpet and her brow with garland lain,
Lies now below the water where the palened lass was slain.

I will catch a dragon fish and feed her to the sea,
Where once were halls of golden boughs now shall sorrows be,
The weeping of the hours pass before the sun shall rise,
Upon that pool of blackened glass where my fair maiden lies.

I shall catch a dragon fish and turn it on the hearth,
In my home of mud and timber on the black sand path,
The house of all my fathers where my children shall be born,
From whence we hear the whispers till the coming of the dawn.

From ‘Homecoming’, a traditional song from Kindraed

The evening draws near as the survivors of the Aurora make landfall after the battle of Nine Mothers Gap. The boat can sail no further as the sail was damaged by an eldritch misfire in the chaotic escape. As the chill descends once more, Iben suggests that the party continue along the shore to Kindraed, the small fishing village he calls home. The Warforged knight, suggesting that he will bring the boat after them, ties a heavy rope to the prow. Holding the other end he walks slowly and purposefully into the sea, disappearing beneath the waves. The boat lurches, and turns slowly in the water as the rope creaks taught. The party watch as the boat seems to drift into the growing darkness.

By torchlight the companions clamber across mussel-spined rocks and stretches of coarse sand as they follow the coastline eastwards. With night soon upon them they round the final point, and from across the rock-ringed bay they espy Kindraed. But to Iben’s horror, all is not well…



The ancient settlement of Kindraed has stood here on the black sandy shores of the Kindersee for hundreds of years in the shadow of a dark mountain known as Aelfborg. The presence of Aelfheim touches upon every aspect of the lives of the Kindraeder. They offer wine to the spirits of the woods so that in their revelry they will leave the hunters unharmed, they sing to the stars, whose reflections in the night sea are the spirits of the fallen, and they burn effigies to keep malignant spirits deep within the mountain, as it is said to have been cursed long ago. The wind, the waves, rain and fire, night and day, Alfheim is as much a part of this world as all the gods in the heavens, for whether malevolent or benign, the spirits must be tempered with ancient practices that lie at the heart of this community. The 13 houses of Kindraed are large and round, built from stones and mud about a central hearth. The villagers are skilled in their crafts, old crones shrouded in coarse black cloth gut dragonfish with a razor sharp knife in their wizened hands. Fishermen cast their nets far across the green waters of the Kindersee, and mother work their looms with spit and spindle while the children tend their fathers pigs in muddy pens on the slopes of the mountain.

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An Orderly Withdrawl
First Session

"Back to the boat!" hollered Aengus, as the new skeletal legion closed in. Further cracking noises in the darkness, combined with the continuing stamp of bony feet from behind the ranks, made everyone swift to comply.Iben cut the rope holding the boat in place as each person climbed aboard. For a second he wondered at allowing the Warforged aboard – could he really be trusted? – but then thinking of his actions and the way he had healed Karl made his mind up.

Sigurd spoke again to the elemental powering the boat, bidding it take them with all speed back out of the cavern and on their way. With a mighty breath, the boat leapt away from the ice-ledge, skeletons pouring forwards after it. The cavern ceiling and walls began to crack and splinter under the strain, chunks of ice raining down from above. The boat scraped through the opening back into the fast-flowing current outside, riding over the remains of the Aurora for the final time and leaving that doomed boat behind forever.

Any hopes that the skeletons would be left behind as well was soon dashed, however. Caves in the Icewall all around them soon had more figures emerging from them, all clutching weapons. Several leapt down into the boat as it passed, and battle was joined once more. Iben smashed one back with an axe as Aengus fired another green spear. The skeleton he was aiming at ducked, and Sigurd cursed to see a neat hole burned in their sail. Within seconds, however, Karl had struck down the swift-moving foe and ditched it over the side.

At the front of the boat, the Warforged knelt, one hand holding his morningstar. "My Lord Kord!" he called out. "Grant us safe passage through this day, so that we may do your bidding furthermore!" As if to emphasise his point, a skeleton that had been quietly trying to board the boat on one side was smashed back into the water by a mailed fist, the Warforged glaring down at it.

Looking behind, Sigurd spotted another boat of similar size following them. Peering through the gloom, it appeared that black-clad figures were fighting on that boat, too, but they also seemed to have time to draw bows and fire across the water at them.

"Ware arrows!" cried Sigurd, ducking down. The shower of arrows rattled into the boat, but did no lasting harm. Finally, with further exhortations to speed and despite a few more skeletons attempting to hitch a ride, the boat suddenly burst free into clear water, leaving the ice behind. Looking around, it appeared that both the skeletons and the persuing boat had been left behind in the Icewall.

The armour, weapons and bones of their foes still littered the bottom of the boat. The Warforged, Karl and Aengus sifted through them, finally coming to the conclusion that there were at least three different factions amongst the skeletons from clues found in the insignia worn. The bones were dumped overboard, but the armour and weapons kept for possible resale. The sun shining down on them, they set sail for Kindraed.


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The Skeletons Attack
First Session

Reacting quickest of all, Karl ran towards one skeleton and buried his shortsword into it's ribcage, shattering it. Although the skeleton faltered in it's approach for a moment, the necrotic energy driving it on still raged, and it raised it's weapon high. However Aengus, from his position next to the newly-awakened Warforged, called forth a spear of brilliant green and flung it from his hand, and the skeleton collapsed into the snow. Aengus then moved off to one side, his form fading into the background and he invoked the power of his fey pact.

Two more skeletons attacked the Warforged, blades shining in the light. Smashing his morningstar into one of them, he invoked his Righteous Brand, gesturing for Iben to follow up his attack. Two arrows sped from Iben's bow in as many seconds, and another skeleton crumbled away. The second, however, proved a more elusive foe, it's confident movements and sharp attacks causing the Warforged to suffer a scrape along one arm.

Sigurd, standing near the boat on an icy ledge, turned to see two more skeletons climbing out of the water, their rictus grins promising nothing but pain should they reach her. With a yell, she cast a Thunderwave and a roar of sound struck them both, causing snow to explode out in all directions. One managed to get it's shield in the way, blocking the damage, but the other was pushed back and shaken, falling prone on the edge. It's bones almost cracked under the pressure, but it managed to climb back to it's feet, the light glittering off the icy patches on it's skull.

The skeletons moved in as a group, striking swiftly at those nearest to them. Karl, in particular, found a new foe engaging him and Sigurd, wounding him in the shoulder. With a simple turn and gesture, the Warforged called out a Healing Word, and Karl was astonished to find the wound closing up. He grinned back at the skeleton, hefting his blade and matching it stroke for stroke.

Staying on the edge of the battle. Aengus threw another magical spear, this time managing to curve it around his ally to strike home. Karl, taking advantage of the distraction, slipped into a flanking position with a shouted "Thank you, my Lord!" and attacked his foe from behind as it attempted to slice Sigurd in two. Sigurd, in turn, had made a patch of ground even more icy, causing the skeleton standing upon it to pick it's way carefully toward her rather than running forwards.

All the time, the sound of marching feet was coming from further into the cavern. Were reinforcements arriving? And for who?

Still standing where he had been discovered, the Warforged smashed forwards into the swift skeleton he faced, and as he connected a thunderous roar sounded in the cavern, causing a fine mist of ice to fall from the ceiling. This magical augmentation of his strike dazed his foe, and Iben was able to swiftly dart round behind it, drawing a pair of axes as he went, and do more damage. Finally, with a muttered blessing, the Warforged charged his weapon with fire and swept it through the skeleton's ribcage, crushing it utterly. The fire spread throughout the rest of it's bones, and they quickly burnt to ash.

The tide of battle turned, and Sigurd, Karl and Aengus quickly dispatched the remaining two skeletons, with Iben scoring the final blow. His arrow penetrated the skull of the last skeleton, and the light in it's eyes faded as it slumped to the ground.

As each combatant took a second to catch their breath, the Warforged pointed towards the back of the cavern. Following his gaze, the group could see a further legion of skeletons emerging, and with further cracks and more splintering of ice, more foes started to push their way out of the ice and began to move towards them. The situation looked bleak.


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The Warforged Stirs
First Session


The blue light spread throughout the Warforged's body, illuminating each joint and link. As it reached the floor, it began to spread out across the room, racing across the snow and ice to several other pillars and shapes. Slowly looking from one figure to another, the Warforged appeared to come to some sort of decision. It's mouth opened, and for the first time in more than two hundred years, it spoke.

"Designation: Ally" it stated, staring at Iben. Iben realised that it was looking at the religious icons that he wore around his neck. Quickly, he found an icon of Kord and raised it. "Ally!" he called out.

The Warforged looked down at it's own feet, seeing the ice melting away around it. Letting the morningstar fall to the ground, it stretched out it's arms and shook the accumulated weight of years free from it. Splintering and cracking, the encasing ice fell away slowly, raising a small cloud of ice-dust on the floor. The blue light went with it, spreading further out into the room and flooding the columns of ice that surrounded everyone. At the feet of the Warforged, a symbol of magical power glowed briefly in the floor.

With a loud crack, one column shattered in place! Breaking out from inside was a skeletal figure, clad in the remnant's of armour and clutching a battered axe. It's head turned towards Karl, the nearest living creature to it and it began to advance.

Within seconds, several more loud cracks and crunches heralded the arrival of several more skeletons from around the room, one wading through the water to approach. Dimly, Aengus could hear sounds of more movement from further within the cavern, echoing through the ice.

The Warforged turned it's attention to the skeletons, turning slowly to face the nearest. "Designation: Foe!" it cried out, snatching up the morningstar from it's side and taking a step to form a defensive line with Aengus. The others all drew weapons as well, instinctively closing up a little.

With a terrible rattle of bones and the click of feet on ice, the skeletons attacked!


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Inside the Ice Wall
First Session

Distantly, the other boat's light disappeared behind another twist of the icy channel that they sailed down. As it narrowed, they began to pick up speed, the current becoming a little more fierce. Timbers and wreckage drifted in the sea – the final remnants of the Aurora. The darkness closed in on them as the ice thickened above, blocking the sunlight. Only Sigurd's light, kept low, and Aengus' fey-born ability to see in the dark kept them on course.

The boat swung around a tight bend, and looming out of the darkness the final fate of the Aurora could be seen. The figurehead of the sunken ship had broken free and crashed through a wall here, splintering the ice and causing a cave-in. Through the new gap in the wall, a strange light could be seen shining. Looking through, Aengus could see a large cavern, previously untouched, and illuminated by a shaft of sunlight spearing down through a crack in the ceiling. Stalactites and stalacmites, together with columns of ice several feet thick, filled the space, and the water lapped gently against the shore. Peering more attentively, Aengus spotted what looked like a statue, stood half-buried in ice, upon the floor of the cavern.

Curious as to what this all might mean, the group decided to enter. Their ship sailed gently inside, and Iben was able to moor it using a spear as a mooring-point. The statue was embedded up to it's knees in ice.

It was of humanoid shape, tall and quite thickset, wearing ancient looking chainmail armour. A large morningstar was gripped in one hand, and Sigurd recognised the symbol of the God Kord on it's chest. The figure gave off an aura of calm meditation, although there was something about that made everyone a little nervous.

Karl went ashore first as the lightest member of the group, testing the ground. Finding it stable, he waved the others forward and they approached the statue. Aengus came to a sudden realisation – this was no statue, but a Warforged. He had never seen one before, but tales told in Concordance spoke of sentient constructs, built for war in times gone past. Now he was up close, he could see that behind the helmet two dim glows were visible – the Warforged was certainly active once, and might even be revived now. Looking over the armour and Holy Symbol again, Aengus suggested the Warforged must be several hundred years old.

Sigurd's natural curiosity got the better of her. Stepping forward, she reached out and touched the statue. A shimmering blue light spread from the eye sockets, running throughout the creature, and into the ice below. The ice shattering off it, the head began to turn.


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After The Wreck
First Session

The waters were still full of froth and foam, the aftermath of the Sea Dragon's attack leaving Sigurd floundering in the ocean. Spotting that the Aurora's keelship had survived, she managed to swim over and began to pull herself onboard. An arm, clad in unworked hide, was draped over the side, not moving. As she hauled herself up and onto the deck, she spotted Iben lying almost comatose, the motion of the boat rolling him too and fro.

Sigured flopped to safety, praying to Melora that the beast wouldn't return and destroy this, their only hope of survival. A few minutes later and the diminutive figure of Karl, the Gnome that had been travelling onboard, also made his way onto the boat. Finally, Aengus managed to gain purchase on the side, almost slipping as a particularly large swell caught them, and with the assistance of the others was able to gain the haven of the ship. Of the other passengers and sailors there was no sign in the dim light. The four of them collapsed, exhausted from their ordeal.

Later, as the son rose, they revived a little, exploring the vessel that had saved them. It was noticed that there were some supplies in crates, along with water and several hundred gold pieces of trade goods. There was also a chest stored there, bearing the insignia of Lord Wyvernhoe. Both Karl and Aengus tried to open it, bu the lock was too strong for them. Some good-natured argument ensued as to the relevant methods of lock-picking, made slightly hysterical in the aftermath of a near-death experience.

The dawn brought a wondrous sight to their eyes. Ahead of them, to the North, lay a glittering wall of ice. It stretched as far as they could see East and West, blocking the route North. Dimly, beyond, Iben could see the distant mountains of his homeland, but for now the immediate problem was how to navigate through this imposing wall.

Sigurd had been working on the boat. During their time on the Aurora, she had learned that it needed no oars, instead being powered by an enslaved air elemental concealed within the figurehead at the stern. With some arcane words of encouragement, the elemental began to blow air into the sail and the ship moved slowly North, towards the Ice Wall. Iben joined Sigurd at the tiller, happy to steer the ship with Karl and Aengus' direction.

As the Ice Wall drew nearer, cave entrances became apparent. Some were very small, but other loomed high, and the ship passed easily inside the Wall itself. Once inside, the level of light dropped dramatically until Sigurd, gesturing over the magical Orb she carried, was able to conjure forth light of her own. It did not reach far, but it gave the four enough light to continue to navigate.

Staring down into the water, Iben could see Dragon Fish swimming beneath them. The fish, some as much as two or three feet long, had sharp teeth and a nasty temprement. Every year some unlucky fisherman lost a hand or arm to the deadly creatures. However Iben, showing either bravery or foolhardiness, resolved to catch one. In due course it was flopping around in the ship, pinned to the deck by a spear, before Iben darted in, slit it's throat and offered it up with a prayer to Lady Snowshoes, guardian spirit of hunters. Clutching one of the many amulets around his neck, he muttered a prayer and offered it up, hoping for a sign of favour from her.

In the distance, another light gleamed, revealing, on the edge of vision, another boat.


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Pre Game Intro
It Struck From Below

The northman looked out of place amongst the wealth and trappings of civilisation, but his host, the trophy hunter, who had so enjoyed hearing his stories had insisted on lavishing food, wine, and fineries upon him. Iben's account of his encounter at sea had captivated him such that he had commissioned an artist to conjure a fanciful likeness of the beast, complete with razor sharp talons and monstrous jaws, dismissing Iben's protest that he had not actually seen the monster's head, if indeed it even had one.

"Well my friend!" declared Lord Wyvernhoe standing hands on hips before the portrait, "The one piece missing from my collection. You have found me a dragon, and no mistake! I shall have it's head, and you shall lead me to it!"

Within a week a frigate was chartered. The Aurora , a ship of war bedecked with harpoons and bristling with armaments such that a pirate prince would shudder at the prospect of facing her on the open sea. Busy about the deck, a crew of veteran mariners full of rude talk, each one with a keen eye for trouble and profit. And, come the unexpected, a party of adventurers of varied talents who had each been met with offers of highly paid work, enough to take them out onto the high seas in search of monsters. The captain, Lord Wyvernhoe himself, had sailed the seas far and wide in his day, yet he had never seen nor heard of the distant land which the curious northman had arrived. This fact intrigued him nearly as much as the marvellous prize he imagined he would soon boast.

Several months passed at sea. With the clement harbours of Concordance far behind them the waters grew wild and the weather came upon them. With no sign of land nor quarry it happened that the crew took to muttering, cursing their captain and his inane folly, for they did not take to rationing with their sponsor so laden with gold. A ship wrecker of a night it was when Wyvernhoe, far in his cups, came stumbling into the midsts of just such a meeting.

"You worthless dogs!" He shouted, "With our prey near abouts, you find time to plot and connive! Look upon this fine party of fellows over there. They are all accustomed to hardship and deprivation, they understand that great rewards lie ahead and they do not idle themselves in cheap talk! Come the morning I'll have you flogged for your dissent!"

Maybe it was small consolation that the sailors were spared a whipping, for that night the beast they hunted came upon them. Deep beneath the rolling black waters, a dim glow appeared rising, growing larger and brighter until the barnacled hull of the Aurora shimmered with ghostly radiance from below. The ship's bell rang, and as the crew leapt from their hammocks there came an almighty crash. The ship lifted in its entirety into the air before shattering it's timbers like tinder. The crew were hurled in all directions into the icy water, where they were dragged down amidst wreckage and ruin to a watery grave.

A few among them made the surface, and as they emerged they glimpsed a colossal serpentine from, it's coils, long enough to encircle the remains of the Aurora many time around, were lit with scintillating patterns of phosphorescent light, glowing points on the tips of many long fronds that decorated it's body. The survivors struggled helplessly as the body of the beast rolled and turned with effortless grace around them before the waves consumed it, the phantom light spiralling down into the depths of the northern ocean.

Fortunately for the adventurers who had survived the attack, the Aurora's small craft remained intact and now drifted a short swim away. Without oars they soon learned that the vessel hosted a bound elemental within it's rear mounted figurehead which, when properly commanded, would heave a gust of wind into a single sail and thus propel boat and crew forwards. With the nearest land some way to the north the decision was quickly reached to continue on before the beast struck again.


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The Ice
Slow Moving Thoughts

…trapped in the ice…

…i do not eat…i do not breathe…i do not sleep…

…trapped…

…trapped…

…many suns have risen…i feel the warmth, distant, not touching me…

…i am ageless now, without purpose…

…i was created to fight, to be part of the Legion that waits…all that is lost…

…trapped here…

…i must be found…the Legion must be found…

…kord grant me patience…i will endure…i will sustain…

…trapped forever, in the ice…

Trapped.


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The Nine Mothers Gap

After months at sea the Aurora, and the almost 70 souls aboard her, are destroyed in a sudden nocturnal attack. In the frigid still of night the ship is struck violently, splitting the hull and filling the lower quarters with freezing water in a matter of seconds. Those not trapped below deck at this point frantically made for the smallcrafts, when the vessel suddenly broke across midships and all were plunged into the icy darkness.

A small group of adventurers gather in one of the Aurora´s remaining keelboats, facing no alternative but to make their way onwards looking for survivors. The small vessel, designed for exploration, bears it´s figurehead at the stern, where a bound air elemental can be commanded to blow into the sail and propel the ship forward.

The adventure begins as the players sail through the Nine Mothers Gap, a network of subterranean canals that join the oceans of the known world with the uncharted waters of the Swordlands.

The 9 Mothers Gap is an extensive series of natural canals carved through the glacier that seperates the Swordlands from the Auslands. Networks of tunnels and caverns link the labyrinthine waterways, and their openings dot the towering walls of ice.

A dim, frigid blue light pervades the gap, except for occasional swathes of bright daylight that spill across stretches of the waterways as the immense claw-like shards of ice that form the cavern rooves fail to meet. Below the surface of the water can be seen the pale glow of large luminescent dragon fish as they swim through the tunnels.

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