Carrion Crown: Kyle's

A Game of Tribes
Ulli Gengari is confronted by Vollensag

Taken by Alika to restore the rangers mind deep within the confines of Shudderwood, Alika begins the ceremony to call forth a servant, aspect or arvatar of Earistil. A shining white unicorn with a golden mane answer her calls to help the ranger Ulli from his ailment.

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She placed several items in front of the unicorn for payment. The unicorn spoke in a soft voice. “The poultice will cure your friend from his madness. Drink and he shalk be restored”. Drinking the poultice Ulli had his memories return to him. He could feel his reflexes return, his hand eye co-ordination, his knowledge of the woods and his skills in tracking creatures. Thanking the unicorn which soon faded away, the pair packed up there gear and headed back to Ascanor.

Ulli and Alinka walked along the forest path, back towards the Ascanor Lodge. The shadows of the trees crept back slowly and their tops seemed to glow in the afternoon’s closing light. Ahead, through the treetops he could see the lights of the Ascanor Lodge.

Ulli looked to Alinka and smiled. She was quite attractive, he thought to himself. But she was no Yselda Sain. She had given a lot to bring the herald of Erastil into being to mend his shattered mind and he had more respect for the cleric than he had before. He would repay the debt immediately and happily upon return to the lodge, as the paymaster there held a small fortune of Ulli’s payments for tracking, escorting, hunting, guiding and so on.

All things that Ulli may no longer be able to do should the madness that consumes the woods remain unchecked.

The madness seemed to hear his thoughts and in an explosion of leaves and branches a mangled body was thrown from the treeline and into the path in front of them. Alinka jumped back in shock, her red hair whipping into her face as she unshouldered her bow, notched an arrow and drew the string. Ulli merely flinched. Whatever threw the body at them knew that they were there and if it wanted to attack them they wouldn’t have had a warning dumped at their feet.

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“I don’t care for your words, your false explanations are meaningless Ulli." Ulli peered into the treeline and saw the speaker. He smirked to himself and stood to full height and folded his arms.

“Hello, Vollensag.” He said as a tall, broad powerful werewolf stalked into sight. The leader of the Primordial tribe was a towering powerhouse of muscle and fury that dwarfed the ranger in every way.

‘Is he insane?’ thought Alinka, noting that Ulli was treating the meeting as a conversation rather than the issue of a threat.

“Go tell whoever sent you to stay out of wolf affairs!” The massive werewolf barked, his yellow eyes blazing with his anger, “Let him know that his dealings with Mathus Mordrinacht and the Silverhide pack do not sit well with the other tribes of this wood.”

“Modrinacht?” Ulli said, “Modrinacht’s in charge of the Silverhides now?”

Realising that the ranger had no idea what had happened in the woods, Vollensag smiled. “Yes, he has taken charge of the tribe in the wake Kvaka’s death,” he spat at the mention of his old enemy’s name, “All of us know why and we will all punish the Silverhide dogs for this!”

“Do you think that Silverhides really want to follow bloody Modrinacht?” Ulli asked, “You, of all, knew Kvaka Sain as your greatest rival, even you would have to acknowledge that she and her tribe would never resort to treachery.”

“Never,” growled Vollensag. Ulli knew that the word was a lie sharpened with pride. “There shall be much blood spilled between our kin before another Silverhide packlord sits upon Highthrone.”

Ulli placed his hands on his hips and listened intently to Vollensag. Alinka, who had lowered her bow, shifted on her feet nervously.

“Mathus the betrayer shall never claim the title, and should you and yours continue to support him, the wrath of the wolf packs shall fall upon him and his friend at the lodge!” Vollensag continued, pointing a clawed finger at the ranger.

“So Modrinacht betray Kvaka after all,” Ulli said, without surprise in his voice, “And his friend at the lodge- a man named Vrood?”

Vollensag snarled at the mention of the name before nodding.

“And this Vrood, he travel with four? A fat-man, a goblin, a man and an elf woman who carry a… " Ulli motioned in the air by miming to hold and swing a scythe, “A wheat-cutter?”

“Yes,” Vollensag said, his hatred subsiding, if only slightly, “They stalk the woods, close to the centre, near the-”

“-Demonwolf territory?” Ulli finished. Vollensag’s anger quickly returned to him.

“Can’t you see?” Ulli began, “More than you one man who wanted Kvaka dead was bloody Modrinacht. He not like you, he is coward. He make plans and plots with this Vrood and his men. Plots that shit on the honour and pride of all tribes of Shudderwood. The same tribes who were pushed from the centre of the wood by bloody Demonwolves!”

Alinka relaxed her bow arm. The werewolf was listening intently to Ulli.

“They kill Kvaka and ignore ancient rites of Highthrone. These bloody Demonwolves and their friends will kill this wood, your wood, my wood! Why fight Silverhides? I’ll give you Modrinacht and you and other tribes can make this madness stop!”

“Hnh,” Vollensag began, baring his fangs in a cruel smile, “One by one the other tribes will follow me. Khamalia and her Broken-Ones are already mine. It’s only a matter of time before the other tribes are as well. The only alleigance between the wolves of the woods will be to crush the Silverhides!” He clenched his fist in the air in front of Ulli’s face, “And they are powerless to stop it! Even now the Silver-hand are attacking them daily!”

Alinka knew that there was no reasoning with the Primordial leader. But she knew that Ulli wanted the madness in the woods to stop, more perhaps than any other.

“And then what? The Silver-hand turn on you too! You have been deceived, Vollensag! Your ‘alleigance’ is nothing more than revenge! You know that in Shudderwood revenge and stupidity are close friends.”

“Speaking of close friends,” Vollensag said with a sneer, “You need to keep an eye out for your little bitch Yselda. We all know about yours and her courtship. It would be such a shame if-”

Quick as a snake Ulli stepped up to the Werewolf and seized his fanged necklace and wrenched his head down to his level.

“You will not fucking touch her,” the ranger scowled with a degree of wrath that exceeded the werewolfs, “None of you.” He released the necklace and stepped back from Vollensag, who watched Ulli in stunned silence, nodding gently, the threat understood.

“You know that Silver-hand have declared you as great trophy, don’t you?” Ulli said to Vollensag, his composure returning to him, “You know they want your head on their cabin wall, yes? I have seen the place they reserve for you.”

“It is no secret they hunt the most powerful lord of the woods, Ranger.” Vollensag replied, his chest swelling slightly with pride.

“But always they have upper-hand over you. Why? They have silver. They have Wolfsbane. And you retreat from them. I cannot blame you. They have killed Primordials before. They would enjoy killing you.”

Vollensag growled.

“What if I give you the Silver-hand?” Ulli said, opening his hands as an offer, “Served them up to you and your Primordials? Let you take them?”

Silence hung in the twilight air as Vollensag contemplated the offer.

“I’m listening.” He rumbled intently.

“If I send them to you, you can ambush and destroy and I give you Modrinacht as good faith. Would you leave Silverhides and reconsider offer to unite and kill Demonwolves before fighting for Highthrone?”

“I might.” Vollensag said quietly.

“Very good. Then these men you shall have in return for alleigance against Demonwolves. Do I have your word of this?” Ulli asked, holding his hand out to the predatory lord.

Vollensag looked at the hand and then looked to Ulli’s eyes.

“Yes,” Vollensag rumbled, shifting on his powerful legs and shaking Ulli’s hand. “You have my word. But you must also deal with the third co-conspirator whom helped Vrood and Mordrinacht kill Kvaka, it is someone at Ascanor Lodge”

Alinka narrowed her eyes and looked at the calculation in the Werewolf lords cruel, yellow eyes. ‘Has Ulli been so far from contact that he doesn’t know deception when it has been played upon him?’ She thought to herself.

Retreating from the handshake, Vollensag stalked over the remains of the Silverhide he had thrown onto the path and with a powerful bite, twist and wrench tore off the dead Werewolf’s head. He threw it to the ground at Ulli’s feet and smiled wickedly.

“Call it a token of our little agreement… Now leave our territory and return to your cozy wooden den, or share the fate of this poor little sheep!”

Vollensag chuckled to himself before he turned and bounded into the treeline, crashing loudly through brush and branch as he did so.

Alinka shouldered her bow and walked over to Ulli’s side as he bent down and gently picked up the Silverhide’s head in his hands. He recognised the man, he was a woodsman who used to live near the edge of Primordial territory.

“Ulli, did you see the deception in his eyes?” Alinka asked, “He will not keep his word.”

“I know,” Ulli said, smirking up at her, “Neither will I.”

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From Edgewood to Ascanor

Leaving the destruction of Edgewood tavern behind them the adventurers gave up the idea of pursuing the Black Banner when Carrows Raven and Alikas Hoot could not find them. Worst yet it seemed the Black Banner had retreated through the most dangerous part of the Shudderwood, Demon wolf territory. Ulli said any pursuit at this point was a foolish endeavour, the ranger was furious at the fact his compatriots had not listened to his woods and had caused the destruction of Edgewood travern. “I don’t care what you do, but I am headed for Ascanor Lodge”.

After considering there options the party decided to follow after Ulii. The ranger was intending to use a hidden natural goat goat trail to the south, through Silverhide territory. The trail would shave off four days of travel by foot, as it went straight through the wood as the crow flies. Ulli told the party “Be weary and do not stray from the path, as the area is inhabited by spiders of all sorts. Spiders are drawn to the area by some sort of mystical influence”.

After travelling for more then 6 hours, it was Scarlett whom noticed two dozen or so coins on the trail. The glint of the sun refelcting off them through the large trees gave them away. Ulli told the party, people whom travelled the goat trail often slept in a near by ruined tower, only about 60ft from the trails edge. Deciding to take a better look at yhe strange encounter, it was the Watcher, Scarlett and Ulli whom saw half a dozen chittinious creatures waiting in the trees overlooking the trail about 20 feet further up the road. Trying to get a better read of the creatures true intentions the Watche cast a detect thoughts spell and focused on the spider like men.

Ettercap

“Sacrfice, sacrifice, sacrifice…… The mistress will feed”. The watcher also picked up an intense feeling of hunger. Ulii said the creatures were ettecaps, it was very strange for so many of them to be gathered in one place. Usually errecaps befriend other spiders, creating large swarms of the eight legged freaks. Due to ettecaps nature, they were usually quite aggressive to other creatures of their own kind. Often ettecaps ate each other. These ettecaps seemed to be influenced by something more powerful, which kept them from killing each other.

Scarlett spotted a natural dead log fall trap just below were the ettecaps were hiding in the trees. Scarlett decided to deal with the trap first, slipping on her ring of invisibility and moving to disarm the trap.

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While scarlet worked on the trap the rest of the party spread out, to look for clues on who was the owner of the sails (coins) and other possessions on the trail, keeping there distance not to provoke the ettecaps. Alika spotted a broken wagon with a merchant coster symbol on the side nearby where the ettecaps were perched. Scarlett also spotted the wagon but alos saw several more natural traps designed to protect it. The red mantis assassin saw another pit and crudely fashioned spear trap nearby.

Following the coins Ulii tracked sone strange large drag marks of medium sized bodies being dragged. As Ulli followed the tracks, he found several pools of blood and some thick webs. Briefly stumbling over a web, the ranger did mot see the web quiver at Ulli touching it. Seconds later a haunting melody filled the rangers mind, like a demonic harp being violently plucked. Ulli was fascinated by the tune to find its source. The ranger moved rowards the ruined building where the haunting melody emanated from.

Ecthelion and Lancel had been keeping a close eye on the rest of the party, all except Scarlett that is whom disappeared in front of there eyes. Carrow mindlinked to Ulli was the first to realise the ranger was acting quite strange. “Beautiful, beatiful tune” Ulli said to Carrow, even though he could hear no music. If the doctor had learnt anything from the ranger was that Ulli liked to keep his presence in the Shudderwood to a minimum, taking detours to avoid conflict whenever pissible. Ulli would cover his tracks, mask his scent with piss, hide and approach the enemy from the shadows. Instead now the ranger headed for the ruined tower without even a weapon drawn, walking freely and openly without trying to conceal his approach. Using his intuition (sense motive) Ecthelian was the first to sense the ranger was bewitched by some sort of enchantment, acting out of his usual cautious manner. Immediately Ecthelian moved to prevent the ranger from moving any closer to the ruin.

“Sacrifice, sacrfice sacrifice….. The mother has her quarry….. feed mother feed” the watcher picked up from the ettecaps thoughts once more. Ecthelian managed to resist the infernal tune and tried to slap Ulli out of it by smacking him hard in the face with an open hand. He also tried his best to prevent the ranger moving any further, trying to tackle the ranger to the ground. But Ulli was big, strong and fast. He had trained for years to perfect his movements. Over time Ulli had grown strong and agile, one of the most competent hunters in all of Shuddrwood. The halfling could do little to prvent Ulli from following the tune. He pushed past the halfing and continued to wander towards the entrance.

Lancel seeing Ecthelian was having trouble with ranger moved to help. As he moved closer he to was captured by the infernal tune. Bewitched by the tune he too began to move strangely. The demonic sound harp kept pluckung Way luring the young paladin and ranger closer. Ecthelian tried to slap Ulli out of the trance once more but to no avsil. Scarlett by this time had disarmed another trap, movibg up closer to get a peak inside tbe wagon. She was more the 140 feet away from her friends whom were on the opposite side of the trail. Alika, the Watcher and Sxarlett were oblivious to the danger Lancel and Ulli were, Ecthelian desperately tried to snap his friends out of there fascination.

Seeing no other alternative Carrow used hus psionic powers and placed an aversion in Ullis mind. The thought of his beloved Yeszelda was going to die if he walked through that doorway. Still bewitched by the tune, Ulli begsn to circle the tower looking for another way to get in without having to us the door. Ecthelian went and slapped Lancel. This time the young palafin broke free from the tune. Back at the trail alika had her bow in hand ready to shoot at the ettecaps if they noved agsinst her and her friends. Seeing an opportunity to feed on the two left adventruers the ettecaps dropped from the trees to move in agsinst the watcher and Alika.

By this time Scarlett had finished disarming the traps while invisible and moved to loot the wagon. “Kill, kill, kill, more sacrfices, more saceifices” the watcher picked up as the ettecaps climbed down rhe trees and moved to confront Alikia and himself. Trying to use the creatures natural hate for one another to buy time for his friends to arrive he used a murderous command on one the ettecaps and comnanded “Kill the others”. Immeadiately one of larger ettecaps let loose with its claws and bites on a nearby smaller ettecap. Alika began to hum and conjure a spell, summoning forth a friendly owlbear known as Bazuzzo to help fight against the ettecaps.

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With his mind free from the enchantment Lancel followed Ecthelian into the tower to find the source of the music. Meanwhile Carrow kept an eye on Ulli to make sure the ranger was safe, as he was there guide and the person whom they could not afford to loose, especially since they were so far off the usual merchant trails. Towards the rear of the ruins, where part of the wall had decayed and collapsed a large tunnel went futher into the earth. The tunes seemed to run along the various webs from inside the burrow. The interior of the wartchtower itself was covered in thick webs and several bodies in cacoons were hoisted up on several support beams that lead up to the observation post of the tower itself.

Lancel decided he was not going to drop down in some decrepit tunnel and struck a smoke stick tossing it in. The two paladins waited for the enemy to emerge. Moments latter the music stopped and Ulli tegained his mind, but still had an aversion of the watch towers door. Meanwhile Alika had finished he spell and called in Bazuzzo the mighty owlbear. The otscle, the watcher through more chaos into the ettecaps with another murderous command, turning themselves on one another once more. With the large owlbear close by the ettecaps moved in to overwhelm the creature with numbers. Alika the Erastil cleric fired at the ettecaps whom tried to get in behind her owlbear friend. The ettecaps bites punched into the owlbears flesh, injecting there toxin into him. Bazuzzo enraged by the bites that punctured him like neddles went into arage, his adrenaline burnt through the toxins prventing them from causing to much harm.

Waiting at the entrance to the large tunnel, Ecthelian and Lancel backed away from the smoke so they could see what emerged from the tunnel. First was the chitiious insectoid like scream and then a large bloated abberation emerged from the tunnel. The weaverworm had bloated white segments of a maggots body, which erupted into a torso of mixed feminine and insect like features. Pale humanoid skin and carapace meld together beneath a face with segmented eyes and mandibles chitterening a song of a discordant alien clicks and hisses, as overlong carapace claws weave cords of thick webbing between them.

Weaverworm

Lancel snd Ecthelian u leashed a barrage of attacks as rhe creature moved out of the smoke unaware of two paladins exact location due to the rising smoke. Ecthelian scored a deep wound on the side of the weaverworms hide. Lancel found a gap in the chitinous plates causing more white puss like blood to ooze to the ground. Both the attacks caught the weaverworm unawares. Ulli multi and rapid shot hrough the doorway, three arrows stuck in the creatures hide. Carrow moved in with Lilth at his side. Lilith let out a psionic boom of kenetic energy which smashed into the worms side. Carrow then brainlocked the creature, caught in a form of stasis preventing the worm from moving to far or attcking the Drs Friends.

Bazuzzo the bear had enough of the small ettecaps that kept biting his hide. The owlbear struck one ettecap with its two claws, lifting the creature above its head an literally bit and wrenched the creature into halves. Alika laid more arrows onto one of the ettecaps that hung off Bazuzzos leg. The watcher commanded again “Kill the others of your kind”, keeping the ettecaps un a state of confusion as they tried to fight off the human, the elf, the owlbear and each other. amongst the carnage Scarlett snuck in and looted the dead bodies sprawled about the ettecaps nest.

Under the brainlock the paladins open up more attacks on the weaverworm. First was the halfling whom cut the creatures forearm and shoulder. Lancel delivered heavier blows, puttig the full force if his muscle and weight into each blow, severing several fingers and followed up with another thrust into the creatures abdomen. The weaverworm manage to free itself from the mental influence of the Doctors brain lock entanling Ecthelian in a web and trying to strike him with the large knife like claws that teamed with a paralytic ooze. The halfling manage to deflect the attack with his ahield. Ulli let another barrage of four more arrows. This time only one connected. At the same time Ulli fired he noticed part of the dround move 20ft nearby had been disturbed, as though someting was tunneling through the earth. Carrow tried to brain lock the crature once more, it resisted his enchantment. Lilth opened up with another kenetic blast of sonic energy which smashed into the creatures hide once more. Its movements began to slow, but not before Lancel put it out of its misery.

Meanwhile, the owlbear Bazuzzo kilked another ettecap leaving three. The watcher convinced another ettecap to kill its friend, leaving only two. The creatured that moved through the earth erupted from the ground. It was another weaverworm. As it surfaced it struck Ulli in the shoulder with a paralytic claw snapping it off, leaving it inside Ulli. Ulli froze, as the toxic agents coursed through his body.

Sensing his friends distress with his mindlink, Carrow and Lilth moved to help the paralyzed ranger. Moving back outside the Ruins Carrow trapped the second weaverworm with a brain lock, while Lilth let loose another kenetic burst of sonic energy. The two paladins were close behind as Carrow let out a yell that Ulli needed help. The chitinous creature remained locked in a gaze with Dr Carrow. Lancel slashed cutting the weaverworms gace while Ecthelian attacked its abdomen scoring another buest of white pussy blood explode from the creatures waist.

Bauzzo was now more sngry then ever as one of the ettecaps ripped of flesh from his thigh. The watcher convinced another ettecsp to kill its injured friend that Alika had shot several times with her bow. The great owl bear Bazuzzo finished off the remaining ettecap, corkscrewing its head off with a pop. Unable to break free of the brain lock the paladins made short work of the remaining weaverworm.

By now Scarlett had fully looted the wagon of anything valuable. The merchant wagon was that of the Gordon Whinchester trading consortium, a merchant coster that specialises in trading alchemical reagents and new science black powder weapons. Scarllett had found a small crate of silversheen and a amgical ring. For some reason no one questioned the disappearance of the rogue. The two paladinw went to wcout out the burrow to make sure the area waw safe while Carrow pulled the claw from Ullis shoulder, making the wound worse but freeing Ulli from his paralysis. Alika healed the ranger of his wounds. The watcher and the paladins searched the burrow. The warcher found a note, which was all but incomprehensible except for he name Cilias Graydon.

After leaving the watchtower the party returnrd to the road, setting up camp and resting the night when it got dark. There nighr went without incident.

The next day Ulli leasd once more. After about three hours of travel the Ulli spitted a human snared up in a tree with a silver dagger handing out of its heart.

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Without thinking the ranger moved to make sure it was nit a friend or somebody he knew. Ulli had always been cautious, and had always reminded his fellow adventruers to be weary of the dangers the woods posed. Carrow removed the daggrr from the humanoids heart. As Ulli went to cut down the body Scarlett noticed 5 ctossbows that had been trained on the body with almost invisible wires connected to there firing mechanisms. Before she could yell out and yell the ranger to stop, Ulli set off the trap.

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One of the bolts missed, three hit his abdomen and one scored a terrible hit to his face (critical hit). The bolt that connected with Ullis faced had been laced with poison (critical hit deck card). Unknown to the ranger or his friends the bolt was poisoned

Moments later Ulli collapsed in caratonic, coma like stupor (CHA 0, drained from 8).

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Unconscious for some time, it was only when Ulli awoke that the rest of the party realised how serious Ullis injuries were (failed fort save x2). The blow to the head had left Ulli with a servre case of amnesia (failed will save/ouch – rolled 11 on the madness table which was amnesia, so unlucky). Ulli caught a glimsps of creatures that live inside the dark tapestry, which assaulted his mind.

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As the parties guide in the middle of the Shudderwood, with little but a general direction to go on, Alika telling the group it could take Ulli a week to recover, the adventurers had to reconsider the position this put them in. From best estimates they were less then a day to Ascanor lodge, but it requured tge to cross a river and then circumnavigate to get to the lodge.

The warcher decided to consort a higher power to obtain a bearing of the direction they should take. He was told in a riddle to cross a river, find the wolfbane field of flowers and move towards were the hounds bark. If you cross a second river you have gone to far. Studying the map for some time the party also realised that if they hugged the river bank it would also bring them to the lodge, a better alternative then blindly walking the forest looking for the watchers signs. As such Scarlett produced a magical feather token that once placed in water formed a boat, she akso produced another token which would propel the craft upstream by producing a fan if strong winds. In return Scarlett asked her compatriots for coin to pay for the cost of the magicak tokens. Alk agreed except Alija whom tried to persuade Scarlett that it was in rge best interest of all the party to let them travel for free. Scarlett refused, so Alika decided she would find her own way to the lodge rather then be held to ransom by a greedy pirate. With that Alika conjugation ed a fly spell and along with her companion hoot headed east towards were hshe believed the lodge was. Meanwhile everyone else used the boat, hugging the east river bank.

The hour would take 6 hours for boat to reach Ascanor. Along the way they saw some very primitive werewolves in the tree line whom hurled rocks at them when they speed up river. Carrow controlled the boat with azpsionic windstorm, Scarlett steered, the watcher tried to use his knowledge of the map to get there bearings while Lancel and Ecthelian kept a watch on the shorelines and river for anything dangerous.

It only took Alika three hours to reacvh the lidge, she spent her time to find an area in the woods to call forth a lesser planar binding to ask a favour of one of Erastils faithful, and cure Ulli of his amnesia. Such a calling required a tranquil place within the woods, free from humanoid contact. A communal area of the woods that all sentient creatures non humanoid creatures shared. She prepared the ritual area for Ulli’s arrival. She returned to the Ascanor lodge gate to wait for the rest of her party to arrive.

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As the party arrived Alika took Ulli out into the woods to restore his mind. Meanwhile the rest of the party went to the gate to enter the lodge. At the gate the party was confronted by the porter Belik, of Ascanor lodge. After intrducing themselves and speaking with the porter about entering, Belik refused there entry saying.

“I apologise for any misunderstanding, but as the porter of Ascanor Lodge, I cannot permit your entrance at this time. You do not have a reservation in our books, and despite your claims, I have no evidence to justify allowing strangers into the lodge. From the look of you, unlike the rest of my guests, you haven’t come hear to take a peaceful retreat. I want no trouble, sdo off with you all, and take whatever troubles you bring elsewhere”.

A ranger made his way to the gates and offered them to comne on a hunt with him instead, then he would allow them to cone to the lodge as his guest. The rangers name wad Duristan Silivio Ariesir, whom preferred to be called Silivio. The party quickly learnt he was a msn whom disliked formalities. The watcher pulked the porter to tge side and explained the situatuon to the porter, how he had booked special reservations, was a member invited to the gambling tournament and his letter of recommendation had been damaged. After seeing the damaged ketter Belik decided to allow them into the lodge.

As was a precaution to all guest to ensure no werewolves entered the lodge the party was required to drink a concoction of wolfsbane mixed with silver. Unknown to them the watcher had laced it with a special chemical that induced a devination upon them. It was during this divinatiin the following happened.

The Vision

You feel fine, for a moment. Then your vision starts to swim. You see colours, people you’ve met, places you’ve been, memories you have yet to experience, and then it all disappears. For what seems like an eternity, you drift through the darkness, alone, without shape. You awaken in a cramped chamber, filled with liquid. You try to scream, but your lungs feel strange in your chest. You see a white light in the distance, and as it grows you feel great trepidation and wonder at what the future may hold.

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The white light envelops you, and you experience colours, shapes, and sounds. You hear voices scream and chatter, but you can’t understand what they are saying. You see old friends, new friends, people and places you don’t recognize. Everything is moving so fast, and you feel a rushing sensation as everything starts to take form. You begin to fall, the dark starry sky above you, the cold ground below. You hit the ground, and the last thing you see, as your eyes slowly close are the grey ruins that surround you. You hope your message will be heard. You begin to spin again.

A woman weeps in the distance. Her cries reverberate with a profound sense of loss. She whispers “Ezekiel” and screams. The emptiness before you begins to bleed. Words begin to appear, spelt out by the gashes and the blood “Stop the Whispering Way. What is the Carrion Crown?” She bears the message, and the scars to prove it.

You try to look away, but everywhere you turn there is blood. A skinned man, once full of faith, now a bloody ruin. a book of bloody names. A resplendant ballroom appears around you, draped with old and dusty white sheets. Many people are there deep in conversation. Some you recognize some you do not. Stonecrow, Kilarra, Oghren and Acelin are there. Acelin is far more beautiful than you remember him. He has found his true place amongst these people. There are others you have yet to meet, but somehow you recognise them. They notice your presence. They turn as one and stare at you. They smile. They speak with one voice “As you are, we once were. As we are, you shall be.”

You feel faint, and the vision shifts into a blind, white eye. You hear a voice. It says “Look closer”. The eye begins to change into a golden scarab. The scarab comes alive, turns, and stares at you. It has a golden, human face, long fosaken by the realms he helped forge. He looks at each of you in turn and he smiles, full of pride. “Be strong. This is your fight, and your sacrifices will not be forgotten” he says, as his face is destroyed by flames, and then you notice your surroundings.

The courthouse is utterly consumed by fire and rage. You see a frightened child in a cage. A figure strolls defiantly through the flames, shrouded in darkness. It smiles as the world burns. The child weeps, alone and defeated. But there is something wrong. An emptiness, a formless void of light speaks to the child. It offers a key. The child takes the key, and escapes as the dark figure roars with fury and revenge.

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Thunder and lightning split the void, and illuminate a castle in the distance. A strange device crackles with power that should never have been. You see nightmares of flesh claw at you from the chaos, spitting and howling in torment. Lightning strikes the device and the world shatters. Light and darkness split apart with a torturous shriek, and true chaos envelops you in a way you cannot even begin to comprehend. Things that are. Things that aren’t. Things that are neither. The world blurs in a maelstrom of possibility. You feel the addiction this chaos feels. The will to continue, to expand, to consume.
You lose yourself as you tumble through time and space, waiting for sweet oblivion to save you from this madness and pain.

The nightmares fade away. All you can see is sand. Someone stands motionless, their cape swaying in the breeze as they watch the moon. They whisper, in a voice both female and male “Freedom.” And as the wind rises and the sand swirls, the moon is obscured and water cascades in from all around you. A vast empire stretches out in all directions, forgotten by time and eroded by the water. But some malign alien sentience dwells deep in the abyss. It slumbers, plotting, dreaming, awaiting the day when it can once again engulf the world in madness and ruin.

A growing light permeates the water. The moon, full and luminescent shines brightly above a dark forest. Wind and screams echo through the trees. It moves, alive, howling, crying, and fighting. The forest eats itself from within with an insatiable hunger. You hear an infant scream. You turn to see two werewolves. The larger of the two cradles an infant in its arms. They both stare at the baby, full of pride, wonder, and love. They both notice your presence, and roar a deafening howl into the darkness. The forest melts, dripping into the darkness beneath you.

Somewhere in the distance, you hear thunder. You see a maze, impossible in its complexity. A misshapen child, half rat, half human scurries through this maze. The formless chaos of light follows her, chasing her, but she seems unafraid. She resonates hope. Finally, they reach the centre of the maze. You see a shining beacon of golden protective light. Beneath the light lies a book. The evil and potential it exudes is palpable. The chaotic light moves past the rat child, whispering its thanks, and moves to stand before the two artifacts of unimaginable power. It reaches out, and the world fades.

You open your eyes. You feel the pain from you wounds. You try to breath but your lungs are punctured and broken. Battle, everywhere around. You see the living and the dead, fighting, hating, devouring one another. Monsters and beasts stand beside men and machines, all full of defiance, but all aware that they are doomed. You know you are witnessing the end of the world. The sky burns, and all around you is terror and blood. This is it. There is nothing left. The world will die, and will be forgotten.

Aeons pass. You drift slowly through the vacuum, searching for stars you can no longer see. This can’t be it. It can’t be over. As you think this, the stars flare back into existance, and the cosmos rewinds. You fall back down to Golarion.

You see it, the moment when everything you have ever known and loved sits upon the precipice of annihilation.

A lone figure sits quietly in the tomb. She is pristine without, withered and rotten within. She smiles. She has experienced more than any mortal should ever have to. She stares longingly into the ornate coffin, full of envy, pity and desire. She wants to burn all the empty promises, all the monsters, all the greed and power and corruption; But mostly, she just wants to see the world burn. The coffin opens beneath her gaze, and ominous light drips from its chiselled edges. A skeletal hand claws blindly into the darkness.

Two dead, soulless eyes open slowly before you, full of endless malice and pure evil.
They whisper “I see you.”

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A letter left by Professor Krane before he left

Thankyou again my friends for saving my life and I wish you all a safe journey my for the road wherever it may lead you. I fear my return to Lepidstadt empty handed will be another unwelcome spectacle to the city. Many archeologist of the university were hoping for good news regarding the recovery of the artefacts of King Nervedas lost relics, lost more then a 1000 years ago. Furthermore my research was damaged beyond salvaging.

I have heard from travellers whom have stopped at Edgewood the happenings over the last few weeks. Lepidstadt in ruins thanks to riots. A massacre at the carnival. Worse still are rumors of a war on the edge of common folk with Belkzen as orcs amass in the tusk mountains. With the death of Cage Blunnde the watch captain, a well respected man even by the criminal element I fear will only add to the woes. Slaves whom escaped duting the chaos of the riots attack good folk from the sewers. The pharasma church has been decimated. The temple to Sarenrae clerics squabble amongst themselves as too whom should lead the church as there head priest approaches retirement. The druids cabal have left Lepidstadt for the woods to deal with whatever it is that has stirred up the wolves and fey. The university is still recovering from the damage to its reputatuion Viktor Von’Drakh and Lorrimor has done over the pasdt year. The university also has to repair itself from the damage csused by the beast when it stole artefacts from the antiquities department and looting from the riots. The cities watch coffers are empty and now the guard is leaderless. Trade has crawled to a snail pace. A large uncontrollably storm now brews to the north over Scholos Cormarcs. Vielands is a ripe for the plucking, as it has little strength left should another nation come knocking……. I fear what lies ahead.

What I can offer you besides my personal fears is information for saving my life. My time here at Edgewood has not been without a reward for you. For more then six months a man named Auren Vrood has hired a room at Edgewood. The Black Banner and other black cloaks have frequented his room. He has come and gone for weeks at a time. But one thing is for sure, he scared everyone at the Inn. Those whom passed by his room heard strange whispers from his room. He returned with the Black Banner 3 days (5 days ago) before your arrival. The Black Banner spoke of how Vrood helped them kill the most powerful creature in the woods, with Vrood claiming its heart when Knu carved it from the creatures body. They said it was the mighty werewolf Queen herself Kvaka Sain. Vrood disappered 4 days ago and the Black Banner had since been waiting for him to return, causing strife for any travellers whom came by. Often they went and killed any creatures in the woods that were not human. So I offered them the job to hunt down the Nervendas relics so Edgewood wood be free from their presence, and I could concentrate on my research.

I last heard Vrood was headed for Ascanor, if the Black Banner are in trouble they may turn to him. But be careful, I got a chill whenever I saw the man.

Safe Journey and better days,
Professor Krane

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Mysterious Note

“Corpses aflame and innocence lost
Noble intentions at dangerous cost
As darkness scares away the light
Within you dwells the evil you fight
Make haste weary travelers, this I implore
…You’ll find all your answers at Ascanor”

- Note found pinned to Edgewood Inn’s door

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Ulli's Diary : Part 2

Entry 6: Set out from groves to ancient druidic place nearby. Was pretty, even with assassin vine everywhere. I went to make torches to scare it back, but puppetman did something to push it himself. I see no lights, no flash, no cards so cannot be magic. Group takes artefacts taken by old druids and we leave in big hurry when puppetman decides to give predator luring smell to vines. Were I young Ulli again, I’d stay to watch what happen.

Entry 7: Nearly need my shit shovel and new pants! Woman shrieked through forest, bloody paldins go off running, I not get time to yell at them not to. Area full of Sqwaukiebirds, big monster birds that Sqwuak. Bloody Paldins corner it in cave, they attack it, they spell at it. Girl man-hunter fires arrow into small paldin instead of Sqwuakiebird, small paldin keep fighting. They get it, they make it dead. Before it does, it howl like werewolf. My heart sank when i heard Prince Wolves howl back. We must move and fast.

Entry 8: More than any other bloody creature in world known to Ulli I have made decide I hate PALDINS. “We should move on,” i said, “Get away from here, about to very bad here.” But small Paldin go “No Ulli, we not retreat Ulli, we Paldins Ulli, we like to be honourable corpses, Ulli”. Puppetman, he show sense. I tell them we need to move but again with the honor and the “but Ulli”. Ba. Bloody paldins. I climb tree and wait for when prince-wolves come. If Paldins get killed by prince-wolves, Ulli try to keep others alive.

Entry 9: Puppetman has said he will lure Princewolves into Sqwuakiebird cave and then Alika will close cave. Is brilliant idea! Kill off prince-wolves and we live! He might not be so bad. Not as bad as Paldins.

Entry 10: Fight over. Prince-wolves came. Must hand to Small Paldin, he hold his own in fight. Puppetman make prince-wolf talk while paldins fix werewolves. Ulli not hear what Prince-wolf say over Bloody small paldin. He argue with puppetman, he want to kill talking princewolf because he evil. Ba. Ulli tell small paldin ‘No good or evil in shudderwood, only alive and dead.’ Small paldin must follow god of stubborn fools. Progress delayed, small paldin say to Ulli “We must help these people Ulli, they innocent Ulli, Ulli Ulli.” I am sick of hearing my name. I agree to help people and take to tavern to Prunus. I begin to wonder how paldin will feel around some of my friends in proper edgewood.

Entry 11: Prunus dead. Tavern gone. Not want to talk about it.

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Hunting artefacts in Edgewood

After retrieving the breastplate with the firey emblem and the ring in the small bowl with water in it from the druidic altar, carrow relinquished his psionic push on the strangling vine. Not before they had written down the writer from the two pillars. It read;

Lofy stone reaching higher, holds in its grasp the sacred fire.
Two miles toward the sun’s first fire, the earth’s embrace will still its ire.
A league to the west in sacred mother’s home, the royal water is returned to its own.
Northwest four miles the image flies, atop forest giant in azure skies.
Six miles north at forest’s heart, where name and namesake no longer part.

After copying it down the party discussed what the words meant. Alika suggested “I’m sure the sacred fire is the breastplate, the royal water could be the vial and the wand could possibly be the earths ire …” “Leaving us to solve to location of the forest giant and the place where name and namesake .. no longer .. part ?”, remembering Krane had told them they were looking for a breastplate, a wand, a vial, a staff and a scroll.

Alika offers her own prayer to Earastil
Earastil, hunter of the moon, make my aim true.
Give me goals to seek and the constant determination to achieve them.
Grant me communion with nature, allow me to live surrounded by plants and animals that I can grow, protect and nurture.
Allow me the strength and wisdom to be my own mistress, not defined by the expectations of others.
And sustain my sexuality to be as yours — wild and free as nature itself.

Using Ullis knowledge of the woods the group head east towards the second clue. Two miles toward the sun’s first fire, the earth’s embrace will still its ire.

As they closed in to the area the 1st pillar spoke of, they heard a blood curdling shriek of a woman to the south. Ecthellian was 1st to move dashing through the undergrowth in the womans general direction. Ulli and Alika decided to sneak up, knowing that it was very strange for a woman to be alone this far north in edgewood, as well as the pair had heard of a duck billed like creature that mimics voices and drags unsuspecting people off to its lair. Lancel follwed Scarlett. Carrow foccused his mind on Ulli, as to use his psionic powers to apparate to the ranger if needed. Alexei, still full with ale was happy to wait alongside Carrow.

“Arrrrhhhhh….arrrrhhhh.aaaarrrh” came the cry again. Ecthelian homed in on the screaming which emanated from a cave with a 20ft clearing around it. It was dark inside, so the halfling flicked on his goggles of darkvision and headed in. As the halfling entered he saw;

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Nearby was a pile of rotting carcasses, a large nest and several regurgitated valuables which obvious had been thrown up by the creature. As the Qurupeco spotted the halfling it let out a howl in rage. Ecthelian moved into strike. As he got closer the creature tried to cover him in a sticky mucus like substance. Scarlett reached the cave first from the rest of the group, less encumbered by armour and not sneaking up. She call upon an enchantment and cover her arrow in light, firing it into the cave were the commotion was to see what was happening. Unsuspectedly she hit Ecthelian, luckily her arrow bounce off his armour. As Ulli hit the clearing Carrow, Alexei and Lilth the puppet apparated to his position. By this time Ecthelian and the Qurupeco had traded blows, with the halfling coming of second best, healing himself with his lay on hands ability.

Ulli, Lancel and Scarlett took a few shots with arrows while they moved in closer. Ulli halted at the edge of the cave and continued to fire. Carrow and Lilth blasted the creature with psionic energy. Sonic booms wizzed about the halfling head. Ecthelian was holding his own, with is allies aid and the creatures escape blocked, the Qurupeco moved further into the cave, letting out a magical howl, recovering a portion of its wounds. But the creature was out matched, just before Ecthelian serverd its nerve ending in its leg, it left out one last roar. It wasna’t a roar natural to the creature, rather it sounded to Ulli like a werewolf in distress. Moments later the Qurupeco lay dead.

Ulli suggested the party moves on before any werewolves in the area responded to the call. But Carrow wanted to search the creatures lair for valuables. Alika suggested the cave may represent the earths embrace from the pillar, as it in the general area the pillar spoke of. The group found some coins, a crown made of bear claws and twigs which teamed with magic and a rickety wand. Camping out at the entrance of the cave Ulli could hear werewolf howls in the distance responding to the distress call. Ulli wanted to leave, he knew crossing any werewolf tribe would be dangerous. He suggested as a precaution the party try to mask their scent while they leave the cave, as the howls were only a couple of miles out. Ulli explained it would be hard for the group to leave and cover there tracks, but if they were going to do so it needed to be done now.

Lancel bold as ever said “let them come. It would be hard for such a large group to move through the forest and not leave a trail, better to fight them here”. With that in mid Scarlett imediately started to prepare some traps, first a fit trap and a crossbow trap accoss the entrance to the cave. Alexei moved to the rear of the cave, muttering something. Only Carrow knew Alexei had conjured a spell through his mindlink with him, to spy on the incomming werewolves. Carrow used this knowledge to his benefit, apparating out with his psionic ability to catch one of the werewolf scouts unaware. Meanwhile Ulli and Alika had an interesting conversation. The pair decided to mask there scent and hid in a nearby tree prepared to wait out the fight if need be. Ulli was furious, they had no business to fight the Prince wolves on there own turf. If need be, he would let the travellers from Lepidstadt die while Alika and him hid amongst the trees. Ecthelian and Lancel would revealed themselves in the 20ft clearing. They would give the Prince wolves a chance to back off or a chance to negotiate. If things went pear shaped they would hold the clearing while Scarlett beld the entrance to the cave. Alexie, Carrow and Lilth concealed themselves in the darkness of the cave.

Alexei was the first to notice with his spell the werewolves and there approach vector. Carrow then apparated out to catch the werewolf scout unaware, dominating the mind of a young werwolf mutt (used to describe lesser werewolves), telling him to lead them to lead the rest of his pack to the cave and then run away. Unknown to the good Dr was that several eyes watched his psionic power from the forest. If these intelopers wanted a fight, the prince wolves would happily oblige them. Even though the mutt was mind controlled, he would be of little use come combat anyways. But such an action meant a declaration of war. Kyra, a young female werewolf was sent back to inform the rest if the Prince wolves that there was more trouble to be had in edgewood. Meanwhile the rest of the pack would kill the intruders.

Cybrisa

Back at the cave everybody was prepared, with Alika taking the last first moment to place some defensive magic around herself and Ulli. Only moments later the dominated young white furred mutt know as Huusie, entered the clearing, immediately running away when he saw the cave. A crackle of electrcity huzzed overhead, a lightning began to strike down from the sky above Lancel and Ecthelian. With htehre bows aimed at the clearing, its was with a quick rush the Proncewolves came hurtling towards the group. 12 werewolves and 4 wolves. One werewolf fell into Scarletts trap, Carrow had stolen the breath of 4 werewolves with his psionic powers, Lilith had blasted one with fire. the rest of the wolves moved in and surrounded the two paladins in the clearing. The pair of them with there mercy sbility active to take the werewolves alive and cure them of there curse. Three manage to slip passed and moved in on Scarlett, her crowsbow trap bounced of the thick hide of one of the werewolves. Surrounded, the paladins were trading blows with 6 werewolves and 2 wolves, while bolts of lightning rained from the sky. Ulli and Alika spotted the werewolf caster and fired arrows, attempting to disrupt her spellcasting. Alexei weaved a spell making enemies more vulnerable to attacks.

Mindlinked with Ulli Carrow also started to fling spells at the werewolf caster. Lancel and Ecthelian had dropped a werewolf each, before the entire cave behind them twitched with movement as the werewolf conjured and entaglerment spell awakening all the vines and grass in the area. The vines wrapped themselves around Carrow preventing him from moving. Lilith, Scarlett and Alexei manage to twist and turn out of the way of the vines. The two wolves and werewolf near Scarlett also resisted the effect. Scarlett was tripped by one of the wolves which bit her on the ankle. Lancel vleaved into another werewolf with his smite evil. Carrow managed to lift the werewolf caster in the air with his mind and slam her into the ground. Alexei prevented a werewolf from moving, with a spell, whilw Alika and Ulli continued there barrage from the trees. After a few fleeting moments, all the werewolves except three lay on the ground unconscious, the wolves that accompanied them had been killed.

Carrow mindlinked with Huusie called the dominated werewolf back to the cave. During this time Ecthelian and Lancel preceeded to cure the disease (lycanthropy) that ravage there attackers bodies, freeing them from the curse. Alika healed those injured. Momrnts later Huusie retured in human form. Immediately Ecthelian used hus ability to route out sources of evil on the strange human whom emerged from the forest. Distrusting the newcomers intentions Ecthelian moved into a position in which to strike yim down should he become a threat. Carrow told Ecthelian the man was under his command. Putting two and two together, Ecthelian moved to knocked the man out, belueving him to be another werewolf. Dr Carrow told tje dominated werewolf to thfow his weapon to the ground, and plead for his life. Ectelian knovkef the man unconscious and removed the curse on him. Carrw and aecthelian then had a heated discussion at the paladins decision to treat the mind controlled werewolf as hostile. An argument ensued.

Meanwhile Ulli remained perched in his tree, looking for sign that other werewolves may be clise by. Another argument broke out over the fate of the villages they had just saved. Whether to continue after the druidic artifacts or escort the villages out of Shudderwood. Carrow wanted the artifavts, Ecthelian wanted to escort the villages, while Alexei just simply wanted more wine. Lancel asked Ulli how likely the villages will survive on there own. Ulli said therev was little chance they would make it out of the woods unharmed. With that Lancel decided to escort the vilkagers to safety. More concered with protecting the druidic artifacts Alika wanted to continue to track down the locations previously described on the stone pillars. Scarlett said they had fone there good deed and should leave the villagers to there own fate, and go after the artifacts. She quickly changed her mind when Lancel offered more coin. With the party split, it came down to Ulli there guide to make a decision. After some more words exchanged between Carrow and Evthelian, the party eventually decided to return back to the Edgewood Inn.

Backtracking 2 and 1/2 hours, Ulli spotted some smoke coming from the direction of the Inn. As they got closer the party could see the inn was ablaze. With several bodies with there hearts torn out on the ground outside the inn. Ecthelian moved to the well and began to put out parts of the fire with aid from the cured werewolf villagers, Lancel began to drag out bodies from the Inn, while Carrow used his mental powers to keep the fires at bay. Scarlett went to recover what she could of Professor Kranes notes. Alika healed who she could. Alexei sat back and enjoyed the spectacle with bottle in hand. Ulli went and helped only those he knew.

After putting out the fire and healing those they could, found the tavern owner Prunys and watch captain Cage Blundde dead. 7 people had survived and professor Krane was among them. Waiting until the professor could speak as he coughed insesinately, Krane told the party the Blackbanner had turned on everyone in the ravern accusing them of thievery. Tney lined people up and killed those they believe lied to them. Prunys and Blundde were outmatched. They locked the rest in the tavern and then set it on fire. Krane also told the party that the Black Banner Company had stole most of his maps.

With sick and unjured, bodies lying about everywhere and night closing in they decided to rest for the night and send the villagers back to Lepidstadt. Ulli buried his dead friends. Alika buried the other villagers away from the tavern to prevent any creatures from the forest from being attracted to the smell. Lancel was a little distraught anout the whole situation fearing he may have caused this because of his decision to steal the Black Banners admantite axe and map.

Salvaging what they could, the next morning the villagers were sent bavk to Lepidstadt. Deciding to deal with the Black Banner, the party heads into the forest more the 36 hours behind them.

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Memories

Werewolves abound in the Shuddetwoods.

Freeing those turned by the prince wolves
Moon

The watchers dream

Alexei snored loudly. The dangers and chaos of the night seemed like a distant memory in the midst of a drunken haze. These people he had stumbled upon oozed power and purpose. He knew they were safe.

He was dreaming. He hadn’t dreamt in a very long time.

An endless expanse opened up before him, shifting and contorting. The plants threw strange shadows that moved and twisted with a life of their own. He wandered quietly through this place. It was not unfamiliar to him. He knew where he was going.

He soon found the tree. It moved, shifting and reshaping in the winds of chaos that enveloped it. Its branches were devoid of leaves and grew endlessly into the expanse. It knew he was there long before he had seen it. It whispered into his mind.

”We see you. You are not welcome here, liar.”

He continued walking towards it, unafraid. It was, after all, the reason he had been summoned here.

”Look closer. Aren’t we all liars?” He smiled as he stood before the tree.

”You do not understand.” The tree hissed. “Things are not as they seem.”

”You think me blind, old friends?” Alexei laughed “I know things are different now. But this is why we are here.”

”YOU are there” The tree screeched “And you do not belong. There are others. They have taken your place.”

”HAH! The others?” Alexei spat. “They don’t understand. They watch, and interfere when it suits them. And so do you.”

”Mind your tongue, young one. You forget your place.” Warned the tree.

”I forget nothing. And I have no place.” Alexei took his leave.

After quite some time, he heard the voice hiss “We shall see, liar. Your secrets will end with the world around you. Seek the lodge. You know what must be done. We are watching you.”

”Look closer.” Alexei whispered as he walked away.Then he dreamed no more.

Whitecoat

“Whitecoat. We don’t get many of their kind in Shudderwood. From Lepidstadt they are. And they should stay in Lepidstadt. They don’t belong out here. It’s the wolves and the goblins. The goblins kill and steal, the wolves eat the bodies. We find many of them out there. They think of riches, they think of knowledge, and all of them end up dead. One way or another.

But this one. He lives when he shouldn’t. The others, they find Shudderwoods mysteries. And they find their end. But him, he seems to know the mysteries. Or he doesn’t care. I met him, once. He saw us, skinning a deer we found. He didn’t sneak up on us. He waved and smiled at us. We tried to ignore him, but he came to us anyway.

We says “This is our kill. You don’t belong here and you should go back the way you came.”

He says “There is nothing I can offer you, men of the wilds. This is your home. You know what is here, and you must keep what you can find for yourselves. I need no food, or shelter. But there is one thing I must ask of you.”

Rob says “Then ask it, city man. Then be on your way. We don’t have time for you.”

Then he speaks. We have all heard the rumours. Nobody cares anymore because everybody knows it’s a myth. But he asks anyway.

”I’m looking for the Labyrinth.”

We all laughs. Seriously, a whitecoat asking about the Labyrinth? We thought they were smarter than that.

When we finished chuckling, we says “There is no labyrinth whitecoat. You should know that. You is smarter than all of us.”

Then he said something I never heard no whitecoat say.

”We are not smarter than you, friend. We have our vices, and we have our battles. We war with one another until somebody wins. You, true pioneers in the wilderness, you do not fight your brothers. You band together to fight a common foe. Truly admirable for those we would think simple. I have lost my friends. They still fight, but they think me an enemy. But I am no enemy. I need to help them in my own way. And it is against their wishes.”

We was taken aback. We know lies, and he told none.

We says “Head northeast stranger. You won’t find no Labyrinth, but you’ll find people who believe in it."

He smiled and gave us his thanks. Then he walked away, and we saw no more of him. I was drunk that night, so I’m nobody to give witness. But, for somebody like that to come from Lepidstadt. That aint no small thing."

Blackcloak

“The stranger. I had a friend who seen him. He came to me, terrified. He was shaking. He told me he and his crew had been attacked by werewolves.

“Another day in the Shudderwood Kaleb, nothing you couldn’t handle I suppose.” I says laughing as I took another drink.

Then he leaned right in close and said “Werewolves we can handle…but the man…” He started weeping! Right there in the tavern!

“The stranger” He continued “He scared us good. Wearing a black coat he was. We found him by the river. Just staring at it he was. We thought easy pickings. As we approached him we heard him talking. He kept saying ‘hungry’ and ‘empty’. We thought he’d lost his marbles. So we snuck up on him. We thought we had him.”

Then Kaleb lost his shit. He was weeping and screaming.

I tells him “Calm down for fucks sake, the innkeeper’ll have us kicked out!”

Then he says “He’s following me. He knows I’m here.”

Then Kaleb took off running. I heard nothing of him for days. But I’ve heard tell of a man found who’d been mostly eaten. Happened far south east of here. They say it was wolves. He was wearing Kaleb’s ring. I know because they found a note on his corpse. It had my name on it.

It said “I was lost, and now I’m found. Alex, pass the ring around.”

I know Kaleb didn’t write that note. It was his blood the words were written in. I don’t know how long I’ve got. I’ve been in this tavern for days.

Trust me, friends…

Don’t cross the blackcoat.”

Ulli

“Yes, I’m an old friend of that Wild-man. He comes and goes. Sometimes I have not seen him for years at a time, but he always comes back. I have no idea where he lives out there in that wood. Now, are you going to order or what?”- Prunus, Owner of “The Edgewood Tavern”

“I’ve heard he’s a werewolf!” -Traveller

“A few of us have seen him. Sometimes we have to escort a caravan through to Ascanor Lodge. We always feel like we’re being watched in that bloody forest. We don’t mind it when its him. I saw him a year and a few months back. He was standing in a tree over the road, bow drawn, watching us march along. Quite intimidating for just one man.” -Amory, Town Guard of Lepidstadt.

“I know his sister, I do! She’s a maid at the lodge. She said his name isn’t even Ulli! You can trust me on that.” -‘Honest Hannah’, Tavern wench at “The Edgewood Tavern.”

“Tell him that the Black Prince wants to see him.” -Traveller.

“He walked with me from Ascanor to Lepidstadt a few months ago. We exchanged stories, which was fine and grand. He’s quite an extraordinary man. May Iomedae walk with him.” -Sebastian Traft, Cleric of Iomedae.

“Word is that there’s been an Ulli Gengari in the forest for almost a hundred years!” -Woodsman.

“A friend of mine bet me three thousand gold pieces that the fellow he went hunting with cold bring me a Silver-Pronged deer to my door. I knew that Silver-Pronged Deer were’nt in that bloody loathsome forest, so I made my wager. A few days later this man who smells like the dead animals he wore came to my door holding the sign of ‘The Silver-Pro nged Deer’, a tavern from some gods-know- what town on the opposite side of the forest! Have to admire the savage’s creativity, what. I still refuse to fork over the wager.” -Baron Hanningmoor of Lepidstadt.

“I heard that he was raised by Wolves!” -Loni, Tavern wench. “He was’nt raised by wolves, he wears dead wolves, thats stupid.” -Gerund, Tavern Cook. “Well what do you think then, your highness?” -Loni Tavern Wench “I heard he was raised by the druids of the forest. They wanted him to be one of them, but magic hadn’t touched him so he became a ranger instead!” -Gerund, tavern Cook. “Well… Fine. That does sound more believable.” -Loni, Tavern wench. “Will you two stop gabbin’ and get back to work!” -Prunus, Tavern owner.

“I won’t participate in rumors. If you see Ulli, tell him Arkady should go home sometime.” -Lietpold, butcher in Lepidstadt.

“I heard he speaks to trees.” -Farmer

“He used to have a wolf. It got old though, was injured in a fight. He left it with a friend of his at the Edgewood Tavern.” -Farmer

Dantz

This article is divided into three sections, each being the individual alter egos/namesakes used by Dantz.

Darnys Urthadar: “I remember her. Lemme tell you something- that little bitch made a grave mistake when she kicked me in my jewells. All i did was grab her arse. She was a woman in a bar full of men, what did she expect? Kicked my jewels so hard I’ve had… difficulties… since. She knew how to make me hurt. I’ve promised myself, I’ll shank the bitch next time I see her.” -Roland, Barfly at The 40 flagons.

“Darnys Urthadar? Are you sure? Darnys died about 23 years ago. Plagues took her, gods rest her soul, she was only a child.” -Brenner, Senior town guardsman, Lepidstadt.

“Darnys was indeed my cousin, probably my favorite, even after she died. The Urthadars however are a vast family with many, many cousins and the like, all spread around Ustalav and beyond. I think my cousins other uncle named his daughter Darnys in her memory. Maybe you’ve met her? She has black hair and grey eyes, eighteen years old I think.” -Holt Mezzener-Urthadar, Lepidstadt.

“I arrested her once, drunk and disorderly. No girl should drink that much. Now move along, no lollygaggin!” -Town guard, Lepidstadt.

‘oldest families, whom have maintained a noble social position until as recent as the last thirty six months of the date of this publication. A strong genetic quirk is prevailent across the family, as all Urthadar men have black hair (until the senior years, in which case it whitens, not greys) and steely-grey eyes, whereas the females in the family (those born of Urthadars, obviously not the females who marry into the bloodline) always have ashen-blonde coloured hair and hazel eyes.’ -Nobility of Ustalav chapter 11, House Urthadar.

The Night Cat: “I heard she doesn’t touch the ground, just runs on rooftops!” -Woman, Lepidstadt

“I heard she hates dogs!” -Man, Lepidstadt.

“What of her? She’s a wanted criminal, citizen. Start moving or i’ll have you for loitering!” -Town Guard, Lepidstadt.

“Saw her once. I looked out my family’s manor window and saw her, on her haunches on the end of my neighbors house. Two words. Skin. Tight. Leather.” -Youth, Lepidstadt.

“I gots nothin’to say ’bout her, heh heh. Na, nothin. Look mate, this chats over.” -Suspicious man, Lepidstadt.

Dantz Urthadar: “He’s been missing for about four years or so now. Shame really, I heard his father’s dying in Caliphas and his younger brother’s gone AWOL too. They’re the only men left in that bloodline, shame for that families wealth to go to dust.” -Archvist, Lepidstadt town hall.

“There’s multiple court orders out on him. Probably about twelve or so? Nevermind that, theres about five times that many bunty hunters that all want him.” -Town gossip, Lepidstadt.

“Dantz is my cousin, Darnys’s older brother. He’s not open for discussion.” -Holt Mezzener-Urthadar.

“He’s been missing for too long. Good mate o mine actually. We used to play dice here. If you see him, tell him Fickle’s still looking out for him.” Fickle Jim, Barfly, The 40 Flagons.

Lancels Code

A conversation Elmore had with Lancel during one of his teachings of the Paladin code 2 years ago to the day…

Elmore: A Paladin is always Loyal.

Lancel: But father, does that mean we must be loyal just to our friends or our enemies too? Why should we be loyal to those we suspect of plotting truly evil deeds?

Elmore: Well son, A Paladin is always Honest! If a paladin suspected someone of evil deeds he would confront him about it.

Lancel: But father, what if by confronting them you knew it would end in your death? Wouldn’t that only put us further behind in our life long service to vanquishing evil? And what if by not being completely honest we could gain their trust leading to a far greater evil?

Elmore: Son! A paladin should never lie or seek to deceive a person.

Lancel: But father, what if by a simple act of deception you were able to steer someone out of harm’s way? Or what if you deceived an enemy into believing your prone? Are there not times we can use the skill of deception for the greater good?

Elmore: You should never be deceptive in the way you fight. You should be righteous in combat!

Lancel: Why don’t you tell that to a flesh golem who is playing dirty! What is the point of dying a glorious death just because you refuse to swing a blow your enemy has not foreseen? It is no wonder that there is so much evil in this world when every Paladin is fighting as predictable as the next! Our enemies must laugh at our codes of honour and righteousness as they exploit them using our predictability as an advantage. Should not the true honour be in slaying evil and not dying because we followed all of our god’s blessings with no sense other than black and white?

Elmore: Lancel, enough of this questioning! A Paladin seeks to do that which pleases his god in all manners of the Code, and knows that the purity of his soul has a profound impact on the abilities the gods bless him with. If you keep up this disrespect for our beloved Iomedae you will lose all the power she blesses upon you!

Lancel: Father, I believe you are wrong. All the teachings in the Paladin code lead to one thing. Vanquishing evil and restoring a world of honour justice and righteousness. I believe the Paladin code acts as a guideline we are meant to follow to help lead us on the right path. Though I’m sure many days will come in which these codes must be tested, even put aside temporally for the greater good. If Iomedae believes I am unworthy for speaking such things than May she smite me down!

Elmore: Enough of this! I think it is time for a break. Lancel, you have disappointed me today. We will resume this lesson tomorrow. I hope you reflect on today and return with a little more respect.

Shadows unrelenting

He ran across the battlements, his heart almost beating out of his chest as he did so. His body, conditioned in the extreme to this kind of exertion, was giving way. His heart beat like a drumroll’s flurry and his lungs burnt with every breath, as if he was inhaling embers. Never had he been pushed so far. His pursuer was relentless, he had to give him that, however begrudgingly it was. He skidded around a corner and dived for cover as an earsplitting shriek blasted past him, punching a chunk of the stone wall away and into the Bezelken foothills far and below. He swore under his breath and scrambled to his feet and ran like hell. His pursuer surged around the corner behind him and he felt a chill sensation wash up his spine and steal his breath away as it locked its deathless gaze upon him. He felt his legs seize and ache as the sheer terror of the undead nightmare overwhelmed him. He croaked weakly, unable to breathe and doubled over. This is the end, he knew and he accepted that he could not continue. The nightmare spoke and he heard no sound as his life was blasted away from him. She awoke, uneasy and nauseous, her wide Half-elven eyes opening slowly, just as she trained herself to do.

Shadows Cometh

There is a shadow on the horizon.

A goblin runs across the fields in it’s wake, a strange beacon of hope in troubling times. He rides with deception under his belt, and the burden of identity upon his shoulders. To dream men’s dreams denies the dreams of goblins. What interesting dreams goblins have.

He hesitates at a cross roads, Lastwall one way, the truth another. With a silent sigh he pulls his reins, the cat knows where to go. He can not hide from the truth anymore. He is not a man.

And so he rides forth to the goblin city… unlikely allies I know, but who turns down friends in such dark times?

The paladin awakes with a start. He has not slept easy since the spire. His golden hair drips in sweat. His heart burns with trepidation. Silently he creeps down stairs of the near empty manor, a reminder of a decision that can not be undone. Soon the guildhall will be complete but a long path need he travel before he sees the whisperings end.

He does not walk this path alone however, for there is another. A paladin of small stature and great heights. I feel a darkness there. I do not fear it, for only can shadows move within shadows unseen.

He kneels deep in prayer to the god of light, her warmth moving further from his face. What part will the Halfling play? Time only tells.

For the guardian of the woods time moves faster than it once did. The forest that is part of him is changing, he is changing. The shadow touches everything. He stands over the body of a deer, what was once a deer. It is not the first. The god of light does not shine this deep in the woods, and strange creatures transgress the undergrowth unseen.

And like the guardian of the woods the witch hunter stalks forward. Her eyes shine with a fire that will surely cast shadows back. Little is known of her, a meeting I look forward to.

There is one who dreads it though. A friend turned enemy. A god turned demon. She sits next to the throne of darkness, her power growing with her fear. She feels the witch hunter; she knows how that thread must end.

The harrower knows how that thread must end. The harrower knows…

But there are things not even a harrower can see, for an anomaly exists in the flow of time. What proof is a body after all?

And what part do I play in all this? I am merely a simple puppeteer, my part is not important. It is the path our heroes now embark on that will determine the flow of time.

There is a shadow on the horizon my friends. Let us pray the sun shines through.

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Uli's diary (If he actually had one)

Ulli’s diary (If he actually had one)

Entry One: “Met with group in Lepidstadt, two paldin, one small named ecthillion, one man with girls name. another ranger named Anika -of erastil, (if any god welcome in my house is erastil) Girl man-hunter and man with puppet and eyes I don’t like. He makes stomach turn.”

Entry Two: “Prunus had bad news. Kvaka Sain, my old friend, dead. Killed by men in black robes. Bad news. Very bad. Werewolves gone to war, fight for new king in woods. Very very worrying. As difficult as she can be, I hope Yselda is well. Puppetman seem to have offended Prunus. I don’t know what he said or did but Prunus kicked me out of tavern! Had to drag along drunk from tavern too. Useless loudmouth. We cannot stay near tavern, Prunus want us gone. Mad times when friends don’t welcome friends. As plus, I got to see my little doggie Hector!”

Entry Three: “Had to venture into Edgewood Groves to Blind man’s cliff, (named for when i spot drunk walk smack into it in middle of night years ago. I was still boy then, i thought was very funny) where Anika proved herself good. She make cave of stone for shelter. I am grateful of this, she is most useful friend. We call watches and prepare to sleep. I hand out piss-jars for new friends, they laugh. I forget sometimes people they not understand wild. Puppetman not take jar. Say he does not piss. Very Unnatural, this is.”

Entry Four: “Damn that puppetman! Damn him til roots take him! He on watch not even for hour and he somehow causes storm in middle of edgewood groves. Big storm, ripped trees from ground. Heard for miles. I do not know this for sure, that he to blame, but storm not natural here. This fool, he puff on cigar and say to me ‘is un-natural, isn’t it Ulli?’ He is damned right is unnatural, as unnatural as him. I destroy cigar. Stupid man, does not he know animals smell him? Bloody Werewolves smell him? He has no place in Shudderwood. I will watch him. I hope he prove himself good. I insist we move on, but friends say ‘why, Ulli, why we move Ulli?’ We move because Lepdistadt to Ascanor know we here! ‘is ok, Ulli, we stay here Ulli.’ Especially small paldin say this. Watches double, we sleep lighter.”

Entry Five: "That giddy boy with girl name run off with girl man-hunter in night. I miss this, running with girls. Cannot blame him. He slow us down though, foolish boy tire himself running all night. He good kid though. He human, natural. Not puppetman. Puppetman reveal he DID make storm. Bastard. Drunk-with-mouth wake up, ‘Oh, my head, oh, i tired, oh i need more over-indulgence.’ Bastard. Drunk fool make worms drunk when he dead. Found Anika on knees, maybe crying in what left of grove. Wind-storm destroy too much, is miracle we not attacked in beds! I feel sad by this. Lucky is only edgewood, but if was my Shudderwood, I would want puppetman blood. Arrogant fool, bloody puppetman. She hand him bag of seed, replant grove. He give it to her “I do not do work of gods.” She offended. I plant trees, try to distract myself from news of Kvaka. I hope puppetman makes no more enemies."

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Shadow Cometh

There is a shadow on the horizon.

A goblin runs across the fields in it’s wake, a strange beacon of hope in troubling times. He rides with deception under his belt, and the burden of identity upon his shoulders. To dream men’s dreams denies the dreams of goblins. What interesting dreams goblins have.

He hesitates at a cross roads, Lastwall one way, the truth another. With a silent sigh he pulls his reins, the cat knows where to go. He can not hide from the truth anymore. He is not a man.

And so he rides forth to the goblin city… unlikely allies I know, but who turns down friends in such dark times?

The paladin awakes with a start. He has not slept easy since the spire. His golden hair drips in sweat. His heart burns with trepidation. Silently he creeps down stairs of the near empty manor, a reminder of a decision that can not be undone. Soon the guildhall will be complete but a long path need he travel before he sees the whisperings end.

He does not walk this path alone however, for there is another. A paladin of small stature and great heights. I feel a darkness there. I do not fear it, for only can shadows move within shadows unseen.

He kneels deep in prayer to the god of light, her warmth moving further from his face. What part will the Halfling play? Time only tells.

For the guardian of the woods time moves faster than it once did. The forest that is part of him is changing, he is changing. The shadow touches everything. He stands over the body of a deer, what was once a deer. It is not the first. The god of light does not shine this deep in the woods, and strange creatures transgress the undergrowth unseen.

And like the guardian of the woods the witch hunter stalks forward. Her eyes shine with a fire that will surely cast shadows back. Little is known of her, a meeting I look forward to.

There is one who dreads it though. A friend turned enemy. A god turned demon. She sits next to the throne of darkness, her power growing with her fear. She feels the witch hunter; she knows how that thread must end.

The harrower knows how that thread must end. The harrower knows…

But there are things not even a harrower can see, for an anomaly exists in the flow of time. What proof is a body after all?

And what part do I play in all this? I am merely a simple puppeteer, my part is not important. It is the path our heroes now embark on that will determine the flow of time.

There is a shadow on the horizon my friends. Let us pray the sun shines through.

View
Heading to Edgewood

Notes
Recruited Carrow, Scarlett, the Watcher, Alika and Ulli.
Told them about the dark cult and the lrsd that they are headed for Ascanor
Cormarc is tried and burnt alive for his crimes against Lepidstadt.
Head for Edgewood, the edge of the Shudderwood.
Along the way find the corpse of some dead jobo goblins, find a dagger in the nearby brushes.
Stop at edgewood tavern.
Meet Krane and blackbanners
Have a confrontation with black banners over the dagger on Carrow
Carrow charms to of the banners
Other banners attack
Cage Blunnde steps in, watch captain of Lepidstadt and prevents any further confrontations and the fight escalating.
PCs and Banners party are seperated.
Cs learn around tavern Banners woked alongside a man valled Vrood and the whispering way, hearing boast of the Blackbanners cutting out Kvarka Sains heart (Packmistree of tall the Shudderwood werewolves) with the dagger Carrow found.
Learn the dagger is called heartseeker, a weapon the Banner found when they killed a kobold chieftain.
Carrow and watcher go to banners room despite Blundies request to learn more about the Banner and what they know.
Fight breaks out again.
Blunnde tells Pcs they are to arressted by him and returned to Lepidstadt to face judgement
Krane talks Blunnde out of arresting them if they help him with a task
Blunnde agrees but states they can’t sleep in the tavern. If they run away they will be comsidered futives in the Vielands just like the person they consorted with to construe the beast escape in Lepidstadt Viktor Von’Drakh.
Krane tells them he will celan this mess up if they help him track down someartifacts, he gives them a map.
Lancel notices Krane wears the Estoic order of the palantine eye.
Krane informs them about his research into ancient mummfied tombs around the area, and that hebelievs several druidic artifacys hild the key to opening a old crypt he discovered.
Pcs agree to the terms and decide to leave and head north of Edgewood tavern to an old cave Ulli occasionally uses, returning the next day to speak over more with Krane about the specifics of the quests.
During night at cave Pcs are attacked by several will-o-wisps
Carrow destroys half the forest with a wind manifestation
Range weapons in the wind seem to do little, as does magic
Lancel and Ecthelion kill the will-o-wisps after allot of trouble
Rest the night in cave.
Lancel and Scarlett sneak back to Edgewood tavern to look over Kranes research and any information he has on the Esoteric Order of the Palantine eye.
Scarlett copies some of Krane research
Learn that Krane intended to give the quest to the Blackbanners to hunt down druidic artifacts
Lancel sneaks into Banners room and steals map and a magical great axe
Lancel and Scarlett return to cave.
Head out for first location on Kranes map
Find several traps
Find a druidic shrine protected by an assassin vine.

Lancels dream

After the execution of Cormarc. When Sir Lancel layes his eyes to rest that night, he feels his dream being altered and interrupted. (My character using Elven Dreamspeak) The dream takes over from what he was previously dreaming. Sir Lancel wakes up on rough and withered floorboards, its feels and appears to be an abandon shack. Looking above the rafters he see’s a female figure dressed in an signiture black and red leather armor, tossing an serated edge blade up and down. As he glances to look upon her face he see’s that she is wearing a frightful mantis like mask.

She then speaks to him “Argh you sleep rather soundly for a murderer. Thats good. You’ll need a clear conscience for what This One is about to propose.This One comes to you as an member of The Red Mantis Assassins. This One’s voice is the will of Achaekek The Mantis God. He is observing you and knows that you wish bring the Order of the Palitine Eye to ruins and admires how you end life without remorse or pity.” She nods her head to the left of Lancel as he see’s the decapatated body of Cormarc.

“Achaekek is most pleased…. And that is why This One stands before you. This one bears an offering .. An ironic opportunity to build a business proposition in seeing the Palitine Eye’s destruction. This One knows that you have the potential for their next candidate that they are looking for, after all you are the slayer of the beast and the law bringer of Cormarc which was their greatest threat. This One wishes for us to use this to our full advantage, find their most hidden secrets and exploit them such as who is within the Order, what they get up to and what their deepest desires are.”

She leaps off the rafter standing next to Lancel “Unfortunatly This One cannot infiltrate the Order as This One’s God frowns upon it. Now your probably wondering why to trust This One and why not go deal with it yourself, well This One’s expertese can deal with the wicked that lurk within the Order leaving no trace to This One and yourself.” She then places five red feather tokens into Lancels left hand "These tokens provide great value to you with judging the wicked. Speak these words Requiescat In Pace (means rest in peace in Latin) and say the name and crime of the recipient, then This One will then punish for their crimes. Must be someone afeeliated with the Palitine Order. "

“This One has ways for getting you into the Palitine Order, just incase if none of them proceed to recruit you. But all of this comes at a price, for when This One helps you get into there ranks This One demands to know every secret or bit of information you find within the Order. This One wishes you to keep all of which we have spoken of a secret, otherwise This One will have to accompany you to the afterlife, however This One knows you will not betray her as we have a common enemy threat which we cannot take out by shear force as they lurk everywhere.”

“Seek This One at the 40 Flagon Inn at 11pm tomorrow night if you wish to discuss further and seek answers for what layes ahead, when you reach there ask the bartender for Scarlett Cross he will point This One out, however it will not be This One’s true form since This One gave up her identity long ago. If you do not want to seek This One’s out burn the five blood red feather tokens as they will have no further use to you and forget about what we have discussed. Fairwell Sir Lancel Dane” The dream begins to fade away and you continue the dream which you were originally dreaming.

When Lancel wakes up he notices 5 blood red feathers in his left hand, it cant be an coincidence.

Cob nekromantin ak10

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