We left off the penultimate session of this 'season' of ACKS with the company in the town of Opportunity, resting after removing the Curse of the Dancing Altar from their teammates and gear. Drew's bard Garwyn had brought the Watch of Opportunity up to snuff, collected his first month of taxes, and had a castle under construction in order to secure the surrounding countryside. While the castle was in the works, Garwyn held 'court' in his modest townhouse in the Guild District, receiving ambassadors from the Caravaneers Merchant Consortium out of Deal, who paid their respects, tributes, and permit fees. Unfortunately, one of their caravan guards had been hired by Crowfeed, a former thieves' guild leader who Garwyn had unseated violently while bringing order to Opportunity, and struck him with a poisoned crossbow bolt before being cut in twain by Corinth. Garwyn survived thanks to anti-venom, and the Caravaneers paid reparations and swore to aid the Company in bringing Crowfeed to justice for the damage done to their reputation. Additionally, Garwyn dispatched a spy to Deal, from whence the caravan had come, to find Crowfeed and to report to the Judge of Deal the presence of this criminal in his jurisdiction.
Some days later, Corinth was contacted by a white-clad monk who claimed to be seeking to safeguard the knowledge of Skulltaker's location beneath Sandygates. During the course of their conversation, the monk revealed that his Appian Order had Durgrim in their custody at their monastery north-east of Deal, where he was recovering from torture by Skulltaker's cultists, and Corinth revealed that Skulltaker had been sealed into Sandygates via wish. The monk thanked her for this knowledge, and then attempted to poison her; upon being slain, he disintegrated into a cloud of angry bees. It is believed that he and his order are servants of the Chittering One, but their aims remain unknown.
Sick of poisoning attempts, the Company decided to venture to the Temple of the Crocodile, 30 miles into the swamps southeast of Opportunity. En route, they slew a giant tarantula and made peaceful contact with a band of elephant-man. Upon their arrival, they found a tricky political situation, with two factions of crocodile-men in opposition. One worshiped Bokrug, the Water Lizard, traditional deity of the crocodile-folk, while the other worshiped the Great Crocodile, a terrible winged crocodile which lived in the Temple (which the traditionalists claimed profaned it). Corinth befriended the Bokrugites with an offer to slay the Great Crocodile, while Carcophan overcame the problem of boat acquisition to reach the Temple proper with arcane intimidation, extracting an oath of fealty from the chieftain in this manner (and so laying the foundation for a chaotic, beastman domain for himself).
So politically secured, the Company ventured into the temple to slay the Great Crocodile, which was in fact a juvenile crocodilian dragon with breath most foul, which killed outright the Albanian and Carcophan's newest henchwoman, Myu the Nightblade. Carcophan himself was laid low by it, suffering permanent injuries to his lungs, while Fjalkov's henchman Okayu lit himself afire with military oil and broke his neck while spasming (he survived, but was paralyzed from the neck down). Meanwhile, Garwyn attempted to use Carcophan's potion of dragon control, but to no avail. Before dying, however, the Albanian had landed an excellent shot at the dragon's eye, and Corinth hit it with a desperate throw using the Bullseye Sword. The dragon tore at Hulst, whose spear glanced off its hide, before Garwyn used his ring of spell storing to slay it with a lightning bolt.
In the hoard, they found many wonders, most fabulous of which were a bag which is bigger on the inside than the outside and a flawless emerald egg the size of a man's fist. Carcophan secured his rule over the crocodile-men, and the Company returned to Opportunity, where they discovered that two things had gone amiss in their absence. First, when Carcophan returned to his domicile, he found the lead-lined, sentient skull of Ancaglon the lich had disappeared, as had his tenant, the priest Xenogenes. It was surmised that Ancaglon had possessed Xenogenes, or struck some deal with him, in order to further his own ends. Further, when Carcophan took several arcane devices to Kroner to have them identified, the one-armed dwarf was nowhere to be found. Garwyn's spies reported that he had been contacted by a fearsome witch, who had paid to have his arm healed, and that they had subsequently disappeared from town one moonless night. She was speculated to be a servant of the Webspinner, or perhaps even Webspinner herself, and while it was cause for concern, the consensus was that there was little to be done about it.
And so the Company goes its separate ways. Garwyn has set himself to improving the lot of the people of his domain, and to expanding his own power, with the aid of his many henchmen. Carcophan has retired to the swamp, there to build a tower and rule over the crocodile-folk; his injuries leave him much less able to adventure effectively, and he is loath to subject himself to divine healing, as it might interact poorly with the side effects of his deal with Ancaglon. The Albanian was mourned, briefly, before it was found that he had 13000 gold pieces in his saddlebags, whereupon there was much rejoicing. Corinth has decided to continue adventuring; she does not wish to settle down, run a domain, and be bogged in administrivia, and so has decided on the path of knight errant, though she has invested her wealth in caravans. With her go her henchmen, the barbarian Hulst who owes his ancestor-deity Urvin a quest for the Spear of Aldus, and the valkyrie Freija Windhelm. Fjalkov the spellsword has also elected to continue adventuring in Corinth's company, and it seems likely that Jerol the Thothite Cleric may remain with her as Garwyn's representative. While Okayu survived his injuries and was restored to life and limb by the Harmakhans in Opportunity, he is marked for death by supernatural forces, and is likely to be subject to attacks by things from beyond the veil; as a result, his life expectancy is limited. However, he remains, albeit grudgingly, by Fjalkov's side; he has nowhere else to go. Finally, it seems possible that, as Carcophan has no surviving apprentices, he may send a crocodile-man minion to serve with the Company in order to remain informed. This may cause tensions, but is sure to be entertaining.
While the Company has carved out a safe haven for itself in Opportunity, there remain many challenges in stock for it. These include:
- Rescuing Durgrim from the Appian Order
- Eliminating the continually-bothersome Crowfeed
- Avoiding becoming entangled in the machinations of either Ancaglon or the Webspinner
- Cleansing the Mad Monastery
- Finding and raiding the towers of the Circle of Six
- Pilfering the Zaharan Vaults of Xea-Gle
- Deciphering the treasure map found in the Hoard of the Great Crocodile
- Eliminating the remaining orcish warbands scattered when they broke the Siege of Opportunity, along with other forces of chaos in the region surrounding Opportunity
- Killing those pesky wyverns that keep making trouble north and west of Opportunity
But for now, ACKS is on a hiatus while all of us move, I recharge a bit, and the characters spend the in-game-world winter drinking in the warmth of Garwyn's newly-finished mead hall (which, now that I think of it, really needs a name). It's been a lot of fun, and I've finally found a system that I don't have an overwhelming desire to hack. A+