The Aspen closes

The party sees torches and hears several somethings approaching, tromping through the swamp. As they near it is the captives from the moathouse. There are 4 men who have armed themselves, all previous caravan guards who are leading the way, followed by a motley band of 9 others.

They hail you from outside the ring…two of the guards step forward and tell the group that there’s no way they are staying at the moathosue with the crazy barbarian….“This place is beautiful,” says a man armed with a crossbow. He sees Chef “That guy alright? he did a lot while we were captives with the crap food that the Hobgoblins were feeding us on. kept finding things to make it taste better…..”

Force shield goes up, trapping the two guards inside the ring with you. One turns and yells at the others “Run, get away from this place follow the plan we talked about……” the others flee as the lich appears and begins to speak…..


Alynis, notices the girls silver tatoos, reminding her of her book. She approaches close to the girls. She introduced herself and takes down her hood and tells the girls that silver is one of her favorite colors. Alynis begins a light hearted conversation with Emmer.

The cynical curmudgeon Helm bowed his head. “Show your servant the truth, Helm.” With that, Helm’s deity blessed him with a Zone of Truth around the tree. Anyone near the tree could not lie.

THe party takes turns asking the girls questions, mostly been told before, but everyone leararns.

Raif took the lead asking the girls questions“ Who are you?”. Emmer, the oldest answered. Emmer, Verla and Gerty.”

Helm knew they spoke the truth and nodded his head. Raif: “What are you doing here?”

“Our caravan was attacked by those weird monsters just made of limbs. We ran into the forest to hide. When we returned, our wagon was gone.”

Helm nodded.

“Where are you coming from?”

“We were returning home. Our family worships Pholtus and we are helping the Pale recruit an army against Iuz. My father was angry and scared because Pholtus no longer answered prayers. Daddy felt he could no longer protect us.”

Helm nodded.

“Pholtus no longer answered prayers for your dad?”


Helm nodded.

“But, you still have power. Does Pholtus answer you?”


Gerty added in a tone of someone who is clearly deaf, “I do not need for Pholtus to answer me. Pholtus is in me.”

A leaf fell from the tree. The limbs of the great Aspen began to moan.

“Why is that thing after you?”

“I’m not sure it is. I think it is looking for you.”

More leaves started to fall.

A Ring of Trees

Kvothe listens closely to the girls.

“Yes, Oeridian Aspens are amazing creatures. Looks can be so deceiving. You would never know that all of these are the same tree unless you dig down and really look. We’re all more connected than we realize.”

“There are many good creatures here, don’t judge us by one senseless act.”

“The silvery designs on your arms are beautiful, what are they?"

Storm has lighted a torch and just walk towards them at a normal pace. When I get to the clearing I’m just going to ask why they’re having a secret meeting that very clearly involves everyone.

No one pays attention to his statement instead listening to the girls.

Emmer responds to Kvothe, “Two years ago, the three of us became very sick. Gerty, Verla and I became very sick. They were too young to remember, but I do. My mom prayed day and night. In the middle of the night, with my mom sleeping next to our bed, a man came in. He was all pale, but his hair and cloak shined like gold in the firelight. He placed his hand on the three of us and the fever broke. That is when Gerty went deaf. They appeared then.”

She lifts up her arm and it glows as though she cast the cantrip light on it. She then lets it dim.

Kvothe studies Emmer. He looks at the hilt of Emmer’s dagger and sees that it is similar to both Tiberius’ dagger and the larger emblem that is on Tiberius’ shield. The fact that they said that their parents were returning to Hawkburgh in the Theocracy of the Pale tells you that they most likely worship the same god as Tiberius — Pholtus.

Emmer looks at everyone and says, “There is great evil coming this way. In fact, it might already be here. I fear it has turned your friend in the moat house. He may have to be put down like a rabid dog. Do not be saddened. This is happening everywhere we have traveled. Good can triumph over evil, but only if you stand up to it.”

The conversation is interrupted when one of the strange body part undead creatures crosses the outer ring of trees. The party and Emmer stands up and faces the creature. Verla continues to take care of the wounded chef. Gerty jumps over the chef, getting in between creature and them, and crouches down with her fingertips outstretched on the ground like she did when she cast the shied-like spell.

When it sees everyone stand up, it seems startled and retreats.

Since the girls seem to know more about this than we do, I quickly look at them and ask “Should we destroy it?”When Raif sees the undead creature he immediately ran towards it with his shillelagh ready to strike. Fully rested, unlike the rest of the party, he though about changing forms to a faster creature, but instead chose to ask the girls what to do. He turned and yelled, “Should we destroy it?!?”

Emmer quickly responded, “We have no idea what they are or what they are doing!”

Raif reached the section of the ring of trees where the creature appeared and stuck his head out. There was no sign of it. In fact, there wasn’t even prints on the ground even though the creature was a bunch of arms and legs all twisted together.

Raif looks at the girls and asks, “Who are you? What are you doing here? Where are you coming from? Where are you going? Why is that thing after you? What was it about your Caravan that you think caused it to be attacked?”

Helm looks at Raif sternly and Raif replies, “Basically, their presence might be putting us in danger and I need a reason to stay in that situation.” Helm grumbles “you are right, let’s gets some eyes up and watch our surroundings…”

Verla, the middle child, looked to Raif and asked “Are you a druid?” Raif answered “Yes.” Verla then asked, “Which god do you worship? Who gives you your power?”

Raif looked at her with a face that even a child understood meant that it was none of their business. Verla was taken aback, but continued. “Our god is worshiped by a great many druids. I was hoping you were one of them.”

Tobold finished putting together a shelter and had a fire lit. The girls huddled near the fire.

Emmer then looked at Helm. “Why won’t you pick a side?”

Helm: “I chose sides once before kid. It didn’t end well but led me here. Now I stand where my god directs me, which is with you now, apparently. Tell us your need I have other business my god demands of me as well.”

Helm, Alynis, Kvothe talk
Into the Trees

As the girls continue to move Alynis, Helm, Kvothe and Tobold are close by. Further away Storm continues to follow.

Helm shares with immediate group in confidence (in character):

“I am told by HELM to be increasingly vigilant and watch carefully, protecting those in need.
Clearly something is up with Turok, but it’s fair to say he is anything but weak or in need of our protection. Quite possibly just the opposite.

We have all journeyed together for some time now, but this does not mean we all serve a common purpose. We must remain vigilant now more than ever and be ready.

HELM commands we ‘Know our foes. Care for our weapons so they may perform their duties when called upon’ and councils that ‘careful planning always defeats rushed actions in the end’.

We need to work together to understand these kids and what they’re all about, we need to carefully figure out what has changed with Turok, and we need to be prepared for what we determine our course of action to be.

Kvothe tells the girls his name. Then he shares his story of when he was Emmer’s age his family was murdered in front of him, and how he wandered a Forrest much like this alone for weeks before he stumbled into a town. There he was beaten almost to death by a gang of boys. So he understands what the girls are going through. He then asks for more information about their parents, the caravan that was carrying them, what race they are, and what they plan on doing now.

Two of the three girls listen to Kvothe intently. Although they tell you that the youngest one is deaf, she nods when they nod as you tell your story.

As you walk out past the moat house, Emmer looks out into the distance then turns to Verla and asks, “Is that a Oeridian Aspen?” Verla nods and Emmer tells you that we will find shelter there.

You turn towards the trees and pass through. As you walk past the trees, you see that you have just passed through a ring of trees and at the center of the circle is a massive single tree with a talk and wide canopy. They ground is dry at the base of the large tree.

Emmer tells you that all the trees you see here are the same tree. When a new seed of a Oeridian Aspen takes root, it is both male and female. If it survives long enough, the roots grow a massive structure underground. From that massive root structure, a ring of trees will grow from out of the ground. When that happens, the large tree only creates pollen. It becomes a father tree. The ring of trees only produce seed and become female. They are one giant living creature.

Emmer tells you that she and her sisters were travelling with their parents who are missionaries from Hawkburgh. Her father became quite angry when he lost his ability to cast spells which happened recently. Concerned that he could no longer protect his family they were returning home.

They had made camp at night, but kept the horses bridled to the wagon in case of bandits or monsters. They has left the wagon to defecate as a group as they always did before they went to bed. That is when these hideous creatures entered the camp and spooked the horses. They became scared and ran into the woods. In the mist and fog, they got lost. Scared of the monsters, they hid and slept during the day and only moved at night. They saw the moat house with lit fires and hoped to find help. They became really scared when the courtyard lit up. Because it was a ruin, they were afraid that they ran into a bunch of bandits.

It turns out that it is much worse.

Emmer tells you to place the body of the Chef at the base of the tree where it is dry…..Kvothe and Tobold comply.

Trek through the rain

Kvothe and Tobold get close to the girls, who seem to just be moving methodically away from the moathause, carrying the body of the Chef . The rain has lightened, but lightning still licks the sky. Helm and Alynis are hanging back, a bit more cautious, while Storm follows at a slightly further distance.

Since Kvothe was so close to the girls, he should have gotten a good look at the tattoos on their arms. He would have told the girls that since he helped carry the cook out of “harms way” for them he would like to know who they are.

As you walk about Kvothe asks them who they are and if they know how powerful they seemed to be.

The oldest says that she is Emmer and is nine and speaks for the rest. “The middle, spoiled brat is Verla. The youngest is Gerty. Gerty is deaf and only reads lips and is good as seeing things others don’t.” Emmer says. What is odd is that the deaf child is the one who realized that Turok was lying. Clearly based upon their actions, they are Lawful Good.

When he asks if they know how powerful they are, Emmer says, “You’re silly.”

Alynis and Helm have drawn near Alynis speaks with Helm, Alynis is shocked – not as much by Turok’s actions, but by the 3 girls. She tells Kvothe and Helm that she has been reading a strange book since the group’s early encounter at the museum. The book is about 3 young sisters who have silvery hair and their lives after they are adopted by an aged man. The 3 girls have different gifts and abilities. The book seems to grow over time with new chapters documenting the girls growth to womanhood.

While Alynis does not recall reading all these chapters initially, she has been largely overwhelmed by her newfound adventures and strange, seemingly magical powers, so may not be remembering correctly. She tells Helm and Kvothe that she is not certain what the arrival of the girls means or if they are related to the girls from her book. She knows the girls in the book do not cause others harm with their powers, but given the strange happenings of the night, she is reluctant to infer that they were not a decoy or misdirection from something more nefarious.

Yet, Alynis is eager and curious to learn more about them. She had planned to ask about them at the magicians guild in Zulerin, however, the party has not returned there in many days. Perhaps she will seek Rotcod O’hw knowledge.

As for Turok, in some ways she understands his actions, given that he lived apart from people, fending for himself in the wild, and to Turok, it may seem that the party has killed indiscriminately (to the group in the context of likely battle – but perhaps for Turok every day is a battle).

Alynis also realizes that many people will likely die in these increasingly dark times, as her mother did. Yet, Turok’s new killing, causes her to worry that his bloodlust is taking him towards an unpredictable evil that the group cannot abide. This will not bode well when they need to gain allies and information. She states that she is angered that his actions sent the girls away before she could observe them. She is not ready to exclude him from the group as she sees the benefit of having an hulking, raging menace as she notes that having a “meat shield” is a protective advantage to her.

Kvothe says "With our band continuing to hack away at the Chandarion’s grasp on this region, and the she/male enchantrix we just encountered in the dungeon, this feels like mind games and tricks to set the party against each other.

Alynis the book you’re reading about the girls with silvery accents in their hair, that changes every time you read it, how close are they to these girls with silvery tattoos?"

Alynis replies the girls in the book had silver hair not tattoos…but it is odd that there are three girls and silver in both the book and right here in front of us.

The party continues following the girls who continue to move into the swamp

Three Girls

Three young girls move into the inner courtyard of the moathouse The party is cautious what would three young girls be doing in this awful weather. Tobold and Kvothe move to the door, their smallish stature may be more inviting.

The girls are hailed and the eldest draws a dagger, ushering the other two behind her. The party shouts questions to them that they answer.
The three are lost girls of missionaries of Pholtus. Their caravan was attacked by skeletons a couple of nights ago. In the confusion, they were separated from their family. They’ve been fleeing since
They smelled firesmoke that drew them here

The party is still wary, but one of the recently freed captives is not. The man calling himself “Chef” has come down with a bowl of piping hot stew. “Girls, youz could use some hot food?” he questions trying to lesson the girls fear.

Chef moves into the rain and the courtyard, the girls are still scared and back away. Chef calms them with words, eats some soup to show them it is not poisoned and leave it for them backing away and back into the mouthouse.

Helm and Alynis are still on the second floor, but Kvothe, Tobold and Turok are all at the front door. Storm is still hidden in the front tower

The girls get to the soup and gobble it greedily. “My little ones there is plenty I go fetch more bowls….” Kvothe and Tobold have engaged the girls now, attempting to calm them they see that the girls have silvery tattoos on their arms, some sort of script that reflects in lightning flashes.

Chef runs upstairs, grabbing more bowls of soup. He comes down and calls to the girls again “I have more hot stew for you….”

Turok emerges from the shadows behind Chef, an evil scowl on his face, “I’m sick of you being nice…” Turock says gruffly plunging his sword into Chef’s back, its blade going clean through the smallish man. Chef looks at the blade protruding from his chest, coughs blood, mutters “why?….” Turok puts his foot on the mans back and withdraws his sword.

The girls scream as the bowls of soup clatter to the cobblestones, Chef’s body tumbles down the steps in front of the door his blood mingling with the rainwater. Helm and Alynis rush downstairs hearing the commotion as kvothe and Tobold rush to try to help the dying captive.

Helm, “What the fuck is going on here?” Turok begins stammering about the Chef being an infiltrator so the girls can kill the party….Helm moves to Chef and Spares The Dying He sees the girls staring at him as he moves back to the group now arguing with Turok. The youngest of the children motions with her hands, the oldest yells out “HE’S LYING!” pointing at Turok.

Turok insists that the Chef was up to something, poisoning the stew, and being a distraction….The party is unable to understand his action, it seems like he just killed in cold blood. The middle girl also reiterates “He’s Lying” pointing at Turok. “Come with us,” the oldest girls says, "You two (Tobold and Kvothe) "pick up that man and bring him. "

A silvery light flashes outside, the body of Chef is illuminated. Tobold and Kvothe lift the man, they can tell he is gravely wounded, but is alive, his bleeding has stopped. . A translucent sphere of silver-blue light encompasses the girls. The girls move back toward the moathouse gate and out, Tobold and Kvothe are following closely carrying Chef’s body…..

“Fuck I guess we got to follow them now,” Helm mutters gathering up his gear. Tobold is tracking the girls, who are moving slowly and surrounded by a magic shell of light, so they are easy to follow. Kvothe and Tobold are near enough to see Helm, and Alynis is another few steps behind.

Storm waits until he can just barely see Alynis, he looks over at Turok standing motionless in the doorway then follows as well

Everyone moves off, leaving Turock, standing with his bloody sword in hand

Moathouse END

The party gathers up all the information, papers charts maps it can. There is a good indication that these bad guys in this moathouse were spying on Homlett and raiding caravans. They’ve rescued 15 captives, but only 14 made it out as one was crushed by a gate trap. Several of the rescued are caravan guards while others are craftspeople including one who is a cook.

As the party climbs out of the dungeon, leading the motley band of rescued slaves the sky darkens and opens up. The group decides to long rest in the tower of the moathouse, it is secure, and wait out the bad weather. Storm moves to the front tower, the others to the main tower.

A fire is built in the hearth, of the main tower, the same place where Storm killed the guards in the guise of a giant hyena. The group has gathered some of the foodstuffs that were in the lower areas and the rescued Chef, who calls himself just that “Chef” gets about making a huge pot of stew that the captives consume with delight. The party is a bit wary of the captives, and of the Chef, so they stick to their own group keeping an eye on them.

Tobold befriends a few, and engages Chef and his cooking, Tobold finds the stew delightful. Chef has put on some of the clothing from the dead bandits, replacing his dirty and torn clothing with a tunic and boots. Several others have likewise raided the bodies for boots and other items.

Watch is set, two of the ex-caravan guards, Wren and Y’org are allowed to keep watch, but no weapons are issued.. The sun has set, an inky blackness occasionally broken with flickering lightning and a cold wind whips through the arrow slits of the keep.

Watch calls down, there’s something on the east wall. A crawling mass of hands? There is some sort of magical or undead horror scaling the rubble section of wall. A mass of humanoid hands, writhing and turning his slowly making its way over the rubble. Crossbow bolts and__ firebolt_ stop it.

The party is more alert now, the sending stones click, Storm says something is coming toward the west wall… Peering into the darkness there are three smallish figures, humanoid, crawling their way out of the surrounding swamp, the figures move though the felled front gate and into the courtyard, through the lightning flashes the party sees 3 young girls, the oldest no more than 10, they are soaked, covered in filth, shivering and look like they have been fleeing something…..

One more door

The party assembles all the information on the apparatus and the obelisk, Tobold copies down the obelisk symbols, takes rubbings of them even.

The last door is bared form the other side and is quite a pain to get through. Eventual trial and error with mage hand and storm as a centipede finally unbar it. But there are bad guys on the other side.

A force of brigands has fortified itself behind barricades and fire at the party as they make their way through the door. Their fortifications hold little assisting as magic spell circumnavigate the barricades. Turok wads into battle smashing the enemy soldiers. 8 in all, well armed and well equipped.

A final room reveals a androgynous man sitting at a desk admiring himself in a mirror, he is brushing his hair when Turok breaks down the door. The man, or is it a woman definitely has elven blood in him/her. Turok is smitten with her beauty.

“Welcome to my moathouse, what can I help you with?” she coos seductively. Storm is sneaking into an adjacent room and realizes that the fireplace has a line of sight in on the persons bed-chamber. “My Name is Lauren” says the beauty to Turok, “What’s yours?” Turok begins to shut the door, his lustful intentions are to be with the body before him.

Several of the others sense something is not right and draw a bead with magic on Lauren….

Magic Missile strikes Lauren, her image fades, just a illusion.

The party rounds up several pieces of jewelry adn other items worth gold. They also acquire a large amount of paperwork, scrolls, maps and charts. They will look over this later.

They return to free the other prisoners and take everything else int eh portable hole. leading a ragtag group of freed slaves they head back upstairs

Kwalish Items and a Dead Gnome
Fraggart Found!

The party follows the dry trail of blood to a desk, behind it is a gnome dead for at least a week. His left arm is missing torn off at the shoulder . The room is searched and a good collection of tools and small parts, most unidentifiable are collected and placed in the bag of holding. Most notably are some books adn diagrams by the author Kwalish, most written in gnome.

Storm continues using the apparatus and eventually finds out how to remove the water in the pit, but once the pit is empty, the water still rushes in, the machine can not keep up. Tobold is called to look over the Gnomish texts and eventually finds journals and notes, the dead gnome appears to be Fraggart, who has been building these machines by following plans by someone named Kwalish.

It is another short rest for the party. Storm transforms into an octopus and explores the water in and out of the cisterns. Loos like fresh water filters in to his pool, flowing in and out. He can not travel far upstream before the passage s narrows too much for him to squeeze though, but downstream he is able to eventually make his way out, coming up several hundred yards from the moathouse

Short rest and exploration

The party takes a short rest and then explores the rest of the complex. The Bugbears have a lair similar to the Hobgoblin lair they are in. They find the trigger room for the bars that trapped them earlier.

Both Bugbear and Hobgoblin lairs reveal maps and charts, a quick look over shows them to be inventories, contact sheets, and notes on defenses of surrounding towns. There are trade route schedules, and contractual payments. This looks like the bandits are quite organized and ready to become a scourge to the surrounding area.

The party still has a securely locked door as well as the old archway leading down, they opt for the archway first. They are greeted with a large cold pool of fresh water, buckets and ladles indicate it must be water source for the moathouse. But a far wall has been knocked through. Investigation indicates a false wall and secret door have been removed, behind it another section of the pool, aside which sit two odd apparatuses. A black obelisk sticks out of the water.

One apparatus is a bell, an actual church bell, on a pulley system, investigation reveals a gnome sized individual could climb inside and be lowered into the water. There is a porthole in the side and a magical light. Tobold climbs inside and Turok lowers him into the water. Tobold tries in vain to read the symbols on the obelisk, but Turok is having sadistic fun raisign adn lowering the bell quickly, eventually letting it go all the way to he bottom where it rests 40 feet down in the cold water. Tobold ends up having to swim out from the deep water

Storm meanwhile has taken a look at the other contraption. It looks like a huge beer keg on wheels. There is a pump mechanism on the side, and a hose goes into the water. It is hard piped out of its top with the [pipes going into the ceiling. Storm is on a operators chair and eventually figures out the thing can be used to pump water from the pool. There is a magical ability to see what is at the end or the pump tube and to control it. A scrying type ability like his shillelagh, seen through a crystal lens (think TV camera and monitor).. The tube can be manipulated though several levers.

As storm plays with the device, the others move into a back room, it looks like a long forgotten storeroom, there are diagrams and tools, adn books and a work bench and a trail of dried blood leading behind the work station……


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