4e FR - Loudwater and Beyond

Frequency:Fortnightly (Saturday's)
Location: Black Horse, Narrow Lane, Aylestone (usually in the skittle alley)

Time: 12:00pm - 5:00pm.

System: 4e D&D

Players: (full) Bill, Nathan, Henry, Chris, Anna, Dan, Liam, Mik (DM)

Campaign setting & developments:
"For many years, goblins have laired in a nearby dungeon hidden in the boughs of the Southwood. This dungeon is known to some as the Barrow of the Ogre King. Recently, the goblins have become bold enough to leave their dungeon home to raid the nearby town of Loudwater. It is up to your newly-formed band of adventurers to deal with the threat the goblins pose and discover why they've attacked the town."

Session 1
Well, the peaceful morning in Loudwater was shattered as the goblins blew a hole in the town's south wall and poured through. The town militia was nowhere in sight, but thankfully some visiting adventurers rushed into the fray. Rapidly despatching the green-skinned menace. Unfortunately one unlucky townsman was caught in the initial assault, Lady Moonfire has sent her condolences to the family.

Gnarsh (the half-orc ranger), Rhogar (the dragonborn warlord), Richard D'eath (the human paladin), Temegin (the goliath barbarian), and the mage known only as "Buttercup", later discovered the goblins were attempting to retrieve the "horn totem" from Garwens Curiosities.

Further investigation revealed that the goblins were raiding local caravans from a hidden base in nearby ruins. On their way there they were waylaid by more goblins. Once defeated they discovered that the goblins needed to totem to complete a ritual of some sort to raise "The Ogre King".

Upon finding the goblins lair Gnarsh unfortunately triggered a trap on the entrance, and another fight ensued with the entry guards. Next they encountered more goblins and dwarven zombies.

''Will the intrepid heroes-to-be survive the further terrors that await?
Will the warlord end up on his rear once more?
Will we ever discover "Buttercup"s real identity?''

Session 2
After a rejuvenating rest Temegin the Barbarian waited above ground with the party's oil laden cart (to guard the rear) as the remaining four heroes ventured further into the dwarven barrow.

They were soon met by a mixed group of Goblins and Hobgoblins and made short work of them, relieving them of the contents of their treasure chest before investigating the deep growling noises the ranger detected behind the locked door.

They opened the door to reveal another chamber housing a group of hobgoblins led by a warcaster and accompanied by a grey and dire wolf. Unfortunately it was during this furious melee that a couple of the heroes hit the dirt, and Rhogar the Dragonborn Warlord fell to the friendly fire side effects of Æðelric's (Buttercup) Acid Arrow attack against the warcaster . Though saddened by their loss, the heroes hackles were raised when they discovered amongst the warcasters belongings a message from the chief of the orc Bloodreaver tribe instructing the hobgoblin/goblin forces to begin taking villages as slaves.

After another rest to regroup and recuperate the remaining 3 heroes descended the narrow spiral walkway of the catacombs narrowly defeated a small group of Stirges that infested the chamber. The heroes finally confronted the High Shaman Sancossug in an effort to prevent him raising the Ogre King. Æðelric opened up with a spell which would have dealt the Shaman a mighty blow, only to see Sancossug use his power of misdirection to cause the magic to target Gnarsh the half-orc ranger that had courageously charged into melee with him. Richard the Paladin also entered the fray but the Shaman's powers proved to much and soon the two warriors were lying helplessly on the ground before him.

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Æðelric decided that retreat was the best option heard the hideous laughter of the High Shaman echoing after him up the catacombs as he finished the hapless heroes off.

Æðelric and Temegin returned to Loudwater to lick their wounds and find new allies so that they can return to the dwarven barrow and put a stop to the goblin menace and prevent the coming of the Ogre King.

Session 3

A merchant caravan en route to Loudwater was being accompanied by a group of adventerous souls when they were waylaid by some human thugs led by a tiefling bandit. The heroes in training made short work of them and once they reached Loudwater learnt they were part of a local group of ne'er-do-wells under the control of the mysterious Lady of Shadows.

After some digging around they found that the group were extorting protection money from local businesses and were responsible for several locals going missing. A brawl in a bar turned nasty and the heroes discovered the time and location of a "secret" meeting.

Upon investigating they found the lady of shadows (a dark creeper) and her cohorts, despatching them with out too much trouble. Further noseying around unearthed the fact that slaves had been taken to the Zelbross bandits and the "snake men".

The local store owners were quite grateful.

''Who are the Zelbross Bandits and the snake men?
What are they doing with the slaves?
Why has it begun to snow so late into the sping season?
What happened to the intrepid band that set out to stop the Goblins?''

Session 4

Aethelric returned to Loudwater and linked up with the hardy souls that had removed the threat of the Lady of Shadows.

After plying them with copius amounts of brandy and the promise of treasure and splitting goblin skulls they agreed to help put an end to the threat of Sancossug and his goblins.

An unseasonal snowfall made travelling interesting until a sudden blizzard struck, the heroes weathered it but discovered that its origin may well have been fey induced.

The entrance to the goblin lair showed signs of recent traffic and so the heroes cautiously made their way into the complex.

Encountering minimal resistance they made their way to the crypt where their valiant predecessors perished only to be confronted by the horrror of the fallen heroes reanimated undead corpses, along with a brutishly huge zombie accompanying the Goblin High Shaman.

The heroes threw themselves into the melee and although Thoradin the Druid fell to the unnatural strength of the hulking undead his comrades managed to bring him back into the fray. Many were the cheers when Fargrim, the Paladin of Moradin, dropped the monster to the gore slicked floor, but their high spirits were short lived as it stood back up, albeit dripping ooze and ichor from its many wounds.

Although the two dwarfs ended up on the floor again, the heroes did manage to overcome the High Shaman and his abomination. As the goblin's last breath escaped its lips the heroes took the time to pause and regroup.

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''Is this the end of the Goblin threat?
What has Chief Krand and the Bloodreavers to do with the goblins?
What is causing the unusual weather patterns?''

Session 5

After a brief rest, albeit interrupted by a minor skirmish with some nosy Orcs, the intrepid heroes returned to the surface. A crisp fresh snowfall covered the courtyard as they set out for Loudwater.

En route they encountered some strange blue-skinned goblins that seemed to relish the cold weather.

Upon reaching Loudwater they reported to Lady Moonsong, trading the severed head of Sancossug for the promised reward. Then they trundled to the docks to see if they could sell the paired Horn Totems fro the Barrow to Zark. Banjo the halfling rogue spotted two individuals that he recognised from his time in Baldurs Gate, realising that a past indescretion was about to messily catch up with him, he decided that it would be in his best interest to depart Loudwater as quickly and quietly as possible.

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While Æðelric bartered with the surly dwarf, Fargrim and Thoradin helped load the barrels onto the waiting barge. Everything was going well until Fargrim dropped a barrel, it broke open revealing its contents - a bound and gagged human child!

Zark made a run for it but was swiftly brought down by the party as the crew of the barge dove into the raging waters of the Delimbiyr, pursued by the enraged Fargrim. They party managed to capture 2 alive and 1 escaped, the other 3 perished in the attempt.

''What is causing the preternatural winter?
Why was Zark smuggling children out of the city?
What threat do the Bloodreaver Orcs pose?''

Game Session 6: Suffer not the little children

Our intrepid heroes handed over their prisoners (Zark and the remaining barge operator) to the Loudwater militia, trusting justice to be done. While there Captain Harrowleaf introduced them to another pair of adventurers looking to make a name for themselves. The hulking Goliath, Garusk, and his lithe associate Li, who after an evening of discussion and much brandy joined our merry band.

Fearing the slavers would try to recover the barge, Æðelric and Thoradin decided to lie in wait on board. Their prudence paid off in the early hours of the morning, as three furtive figures snuck aboard the snow covered deck, though they soon wished they hadn't as the wizard and druid made short work of them.

In the morning Captain Harrowleaf revealed that under interrogation Zark had revealed the slavers were holed up in a disused temple of Tyr just outside Zelbross. The heroes set off to investigate further.

Arriving near the temple Li scouted forward, her stealth training letting her discover several bandits hidden in wait amongst the ruins, unfortunately her aim was a little off and her crossbow shot which should have taken the nearest sentry out merely alerted him to the party's presence.

Several thugs armed with cheap maces rushed to the attack, led by a swarthy man in heavy chain. Battle was joined with the thugs menacing the druid, wizard and rogue, while the doughty paladin charged the man in chain in an effort to prevent bringing his deadly looking crossbow into play.

Another figure appeared from deeper within the ruins, human in shape but scaled, and the barbarian Garusk charged towards him.

Image(image courtesy of "Riverwind the Plainsman" - a dragonlance novel)

The melee was brutal, with several members of the party being repeatedly dazed by the mace attacks of the thugs, and the barbarian taking the brunt of the marsh mystics poison cloud attacks, but eventually, bruised and battered, the heroes prevailed.

A thorough search of the bandits and the ruins revealed a dozen children caged ready for sale as slaves and the treasure cache of their captors.

While the heroes decided on their next course of action they noticed a group of the strange, blue-skinned goblins approaching. Though outnumbered more than 2:1 the party made short work of the smurf-like attackers. A search of their corpses revealed a small amount of gold, some healing potions and around the goblin spellcasters neck, a chain sporting the symbol of Auril the Frostmaiden.

"With their base raided, is this the end of the Zelbross Bandits?
What was their connection to the reptilians?
What sentance have the Loudwater Magistrate's handed out to Zark and his asscociate?
Where are these blue-skinned goblins with a penchant for ice magic coming from, and why?"

Game Session 7: "Oh the weather outside is frightfull...."

Our heroes escorted the rescued children back to Loudwater, reuniting them with their relevant parents and garnering the thanks of the gathered townsfolk.

Curious as to the fate of Zark and the river slaver they went to see Captain Harrowleaf, only to find that both had been released due to "inconclusive evidence" by the Magistrate, though the good captain murmured of court corruption at the highest of levels.

Retiring to the warm embrace of the Inn's common room the party enjoyed an evening of food, drink and good company. Making the acquaintance of Curavar, a local sage and former adventurer, who was impressed with their prowess and skills so far and wished to share his findings about the inclement weather patterns in the area. After several more flagons were quaffed they slumped off to their rooms.

Their sweet slumber was disturbed however when Li heard unskilled fumbling at the door's lock and quietly roused her companions. As the four men entered their chamber the party suprised them and quickly overcame them. Of the two survivors one gave in to intimidation quickly and readily admitted that the other had hired them has thugs to "put the frighteners" on the party. The party kept to their word and released him for his honesty, turning their attention to the remaining intruder. When threats didnt work, and neither did following them through. So they tied him up and locked him in the hold of their barge. After going through his belongings the only identifying item was a ring emblazoned with a hawk motif.

When they went to check on their prisoner next morning they found him still locked in the hold but someone had gotten in and stabbed an exquisitely crafted silver dagger with a carved hawk hilt into the base of his neck.

Perturbed by this turn of events the heroes followed Curavar's directions and headed off towards the Dire Wood and Draigdurroch's Tower, encountering a blizzard en route which delayed them only slightly. They arrived at the Dire Wood to find that something had been destroying the forrest and leaving a barren winter wasteland. It wasnt unpopulated though, as a large group of Frost Goblins lay in ambush. In the ensuing battle it began to look grim for the heroes as the powerhouse Barbarian succumbed to the repeated magical assault of the goblin Hexer. Luckily the remaining party members rallied and with the combined abilities of the paladin Fargrim and Aetholric channeling healing energies through his spirit wolf, Garusk rose again to fight on beside his comrades to victory.

As they gathered their wits, they could see their goal in the distance. As they approached they could see the warlocks tower was encased in a block of ice, as they attempted to break through it several of the decorative statues lining the approach leapt into life and attacked. The heroes fought bravely against the diminuative foes as the towers outer doors opened to reveal another hidden figue which proceeded to attack their resolve and attemp to daze them. After defeating their foes and smashing the remaining statues (just to be on the safe side the party paused to gather their strength before entering the tower proper.

What terrors await inside the Warlocks tower?
What has been destroying the forest of the Dire Wood, in some cases snapping the trees at their bases?
If the Frost Goblins are involved, why weren't their tracks around the tower?

Game Session 8: "....but the fire is so delightful"

The heroes entered the Warlock's tower to find the contents covered in a thirty year layer of frost. A huge banquet was laid out in the dining room and Li was quite amused by the tinkling noises the frosted fruit made when she dropped them to the floor.

Garusk was poking the frozen blue flames in the corner fireplace when it spat out a pair of creatures, apparently made of ice themselves, which proceeded to attack the party. Though the heroes were quickly able to deal with them, they discovered more had appeared from other frozen fireplaces within the surrounding rooms, and some were more difficult to dispatch.

Once they had dealt with the icy intruders, the heroes made their way upstairs to be confronted by yet more varied forms of the ice creatures. Aetholric sensed that they were creatures of the Elemental Chaos and coming through portals contained within the frozen flames. After finally despatching the freezing foes, the companions made sure that all the fireplaces were clear of the remaining ice-flames. When they felt more secure they set about searching the ground and first floors more thoroughly, discovering as they did a pair of frozen corpses, and several books on alchemical research and processes.

Aetholric managed to carefully damage Draigdurroch's summoning circle, ensuring that no-one could use it to "safely” summon demons again. Our daring delvers then investigated and used the teleport pad to gain access to the third floor.

A thorough search ensued of the living quarters revealed little more than frost-damaged tapestries though the small library gave up several of the warlocks books relating to his study of the failed deity Karsus and the subsequent destruction of this Netherese demi-god, indicating that he was working on creating a dark pact to draw upon the lingering power of scattered fragments of Karsus.

Hidden behind one of the tapestries was a door protected by magic, which Aetholric was able to bypass, and Li was then able to open, revealing Draigdurroch's study.

Before anyone could stop her Li searched the heavy oak desk for traps, and not finding any, proceeded to open the drawer. The magical glyph of warding exploded causing considerable damage not only to the heroes in the room but also to the drawers contents, leaving only charred blackened remnants of the warlocks notes.

Another teleportation pad was found and used, depositing the party on the roof of the tower, amidst the full splendour of the magical winter. Their attention was immediately drawn to the very large sapphire floating at the centre of the roof, pulsing menacingly with eldritch might, and then also to the hulking brute that stepped into view behind it.

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(Image courtesy of Dungeon Magazine Annual 2010)

A tense struggle ensued, during which several members of the party were blown off the tower-top to land with bone-crunching force at its base. Eventually through their combined efforts the heroes were able to overcome the foe, Li dealing the final blow that not only killed the fearsome beast but sent it tumbling over the low parapet. As it breathed its last breath Li heard it say "Sorry Mistress" as its form melted into the ether and the glowing gem which was linked to its life force exploded, knocking the heroes to the floor once more.

As they recovered their wits the icy shroud crumbled around the tower as the eldritch-powered curse was broken and the wintry weather dissipated.

With the weather returning to normal the heroes thoughts turn to other questions.
What link if any was there between the tower and the blue-skinned goblins?
Why weren't there any in or around the tower?
What caused the massive damage to the surrounding woodland?

Game session 9: "If you go down to the woods today...."

As the last of the icy cocoon fell away the air was split with a bone chilling roar from the north-west, none looked more shocked than Thoradin as a supressed memory resurfaced of a leering hobgoblin face mounted on dragonback, laughing as his eladrin mentor lay dying.

With the weather and the forest returning to normal our intrepid band set off back to Loudwater to resupply and recover. Unfortunately, they fey-inhabited forest had other ideas and it was long before they ran afoul of the creatures within.

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A group of fey panthers and an elven archer ambushed they party, though the tables were turned when the mighty Goliath charged the archer, first smashing him into the air, and before he could recover hammering him to the ground. Satisfied that his foe wasnt going to get back up he immediately engaged another of the panthers. The rest of the party managed to weather the assault with minor wounds also, before continuing their journey.

Several hours marching later, the forest threw up another surprise as a very grumpy owlbear waylaid our weary band.

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Garusk, Thoradin, and Fargrim charged the creature, hoping to overwhelm it but it proved more resilient and released its shrill screech, stunning the trio. Before Fargrim could recover the owlbear had grabbed him in its mighty claws and only the timely intervention of his allies helped free him before it could rend him with its deadly beak. As Li joined the fray the beast began to show signs of weakening and the found herself in the terrible embrace. It was a close call but eventually the heroes managed a victory but needed to find a secure site to recover and lick their wounds.

Setting of refreshed once more (with Garusk wearing his new owlbear loincloth), the increasingly anxious band surprised a band of orcs. The greenskins proved no obstacle and a search of their corpses revealed that they were a raiding party of the Bloodreaver's. Li was happy to discover an exquisite short sword in their loot.

Finally clearing the confines of the forest and with Loudwater in sight our weary heroes hearts lifted, until they heard the howls and jeers of a group of the blue-skinned goblins mounted on wolves chasing after them. Swiftly gaining the upperhand our merry band soon despatched all but one of their foes, the last one fleeing back into the wilderness, its tail between its leg, and the flagons of the Green Tankard Tavern beckoned.

Game Session 10: "Nice night for a walk" (quote taken from punks meeting the Terminator on the street)

After an evening of rest our heroic band descended upon Garwan's Curiosities intent on unloading some of their spoils. The friendly dwarven shopkeeper happily traded with them, buying several items and selling them a few new items in return.

A visit to Lady Moonfire followed, with our heroes receiving their promised reward for restoring the weather to normality, before returning to the Green Tankard for further celebration. Thoradin, feeling a little worse for wear, decided to take a stroll in the hopes that the night air would help to clear his head. This proved to be a poor decision as he was accosted by a pair of thugs who surprised him in his inebriated state and bludgeoned him into unconsciousness. Unfortunately by the time a passing militia man found him, the thugs had relieved him of his cash and Thoradin had died from his wounds.

The rest of the party were still carousing in the Inn when Captain Harrowleaf entered, sombrely telling them of their companions demise and that his remains had been taken to the temple. There they met Brother Griffon, an Uthgardt foundling and priest of Silvanus. As none of them knew Thoradin's wishes regardig burial, Brother Griffon performed a Speak With Dead ritual, discovering that the dwarf wished to be returned to Nature's embrace and getting a description of his murderers.

The heroes took their fallen comrades possessions, leaving Brother Griffon to arrange a suitable burial, and the knowledge that those responsible wore the insignia of a hawk on a split field of red/purple. Enquiries with Curavaar and Captain Harrowleaf revealed possible links between merchant caravans and Sebren the Magistrate. And so they set out to enquire further of him in person.

As they walked up the street many of the townsfolk gasped in fear as a large shadow passed overhead. A large white dragon,surrounded by cloud of frosty air, alighted on the temple roof, its scaly talon punching through and, as the heroes watched, plucking the corpse of their fallen dwarven comrade from the interior.

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In a rare emotional burst, Aetholric launched a magical assault at the beast, as Fargrim ran down the street towards it. In answer to the challenge the beast jumped down to street level and loosed a blast of its chilling breath at the paladin before facing the mighty goliath barbarian charging toward it. An epic battle ensued with the barbarian and paladin suffering as much from the intense cold radiating off the beast as from its actual attacks. Li the rogue took the opportunity to drag the dwarven corpse out of the melee as Garusk succumbed to his wounds and dropped heavily to the icy floor. As luck would have it a visiting priest emerged from the temples interior, waves of healing energy flowing towards the fallen goliath before striking the dragon with his holy ire, dazing the massive beast and forcing down the street away fro the temple.

Fargrim the paladin took advantage of the beasts distracted state to charge it once more, his mighty craghammer leading the way. As if it barely noticed the beast took to wing, albeit briefly as it landed heavily once more upon the fallen druids body, its claws curling predatorily around its prize. Determined not to let their comrades remains be taken, Garusk, Fargrim and Li all charged forward to surround the terrible reptile. Its massive haunches tensed as it launched itself skyway, the dwarf clutched tightly in its talon, despite receiving solid hits from the assembled heroes, and flying off in the general direction of High Forest.

After thanking the priest for his timely intervention, he agreed to accompany them as they resolved to discover more of Thoradins murderers by confronting the Magistrate. Upon admittance to the Magistrates residence the arrogant man dismissed their achievements, even stating that the town had suffered more since their arrival than beforehand. This incensed the paladin, and he grabbed Sebren by the front of his robes. The sound of hidden crossbows being readied convinced the enraged dwarf that discretion would in this case be the better part of valour, and he released his hold.

The party grudgingly left, though once outside the goliath and dwarf began a grappling match, taking the interest of the door guards, as Li skulked around to the rear of the building. Climbing to an upper floor window she gained entrance to an unused guest room. Finding nothing of interest beyond the fact that there was movement on the foyer balcony beyond the chambers door, she decided to try another window. This room appeared similar in all respects to the first apart from a leather bound book closed with a clasp on the nightstand. Before Li could examine it further an Eye of Alarm triggered, shouting "Intruders, Intruders, Intruders". Grabbing the book, Li dove out of the window, her training helping her to tumble safely to her feet as she hit the floor and running as if the very devils were after her. At the sound of the interior alarms the door guards lost interest in the wrestling party members and assumed a protective pose before the doors as the rest of the party took their cue to return to the Green Tankard.

Confident that she had made good her escape Li stopped in a secluded alley to examine the tome. Her training allowed her to detect some sort of magical trap within the book and she set about removing it, unfortunately it proved beyond her skill, exploding in an acidic burst. Li's quick reflexes allowed her to escape it unscathed, the book however was not so lucky. She quickly tried to recover what she could of it, and was able to make out that the book had been some sort of ledger, detailing the sale of what appeared to be several of the missing persons from the surrounding area - though the part which would have shown their destination and buyer had been destroyed in the blast. As she returned to her companions she became aware of someone following her, someone well trained. As she entered the Green Tankard she could see no trace of her pursuer. Tossing the damaged volume to her friends she quickly exited from the rear entrance and climbed up to the roof in an attempt to spot her tail. She didnt have to look far. On the roof opposite the man calmly sat watching her and flashed a brief salute before disappearing behind the building and out of sight.

What does the dragon want with Thoradins corpse?
What link is there between Thoradins murderers and Li's mysterious follower, if any?
What response will the Magistrate and his allies have to the party's actions?

Interim

(email sent to players of Li, Garusk, Fargrim, and Father Tully)

You see yourself running through dense and unfamiliar woodland. The dim light filtering down through the canopy of foliage above barely provides enough to see by, and you’re unable to tell if it’s sunlight or moonlight. You become aware of several other shapes close-by, some slightly ahead, some a little behind, and others parallel to yourself. You can’t get a good look at them at this speed but you know slowing is not an option. You feel a sense of urgency, as if you are either running to something or from something. Your step falters on an unseen tree root and your momentum carries you forward, your head hitting the ground hard causing you to black out. Just as you lose consciousness you hear the plaintive howls of wolves closing in.

(email sent to player of Aetholric)

The woodlands passing by seem eerily familiar as you run in the muted light filtering through the dense canopy of foliage above. Your companions run beside run as eager as you are to reach your quarry. A twig snaps ahead, giving away their position and your pace and pulse quickens in anticipation. Cresting the lip of a hollow you see them before you, and your companions fall upon them in a furious assault. Your voice rises with your companions, celebrating your victory as you raise your faces to the heavens. As your gaze lowers once more you feel suddenly sick to the pit of your stomach as you see your blood-soaked hands, and beyond them the mutilated corpses of Garusk, Li, and Fargrim. Your victorious cries turn to one of horror but is drowned out by the howls of the pack around you.

(All were then directed to this adventure log)

You awake in your bed in the Green Tankard Inn, back in Loudwater. A cold sweat covers your body, you can hear your companions stirring in the adjacent rooms and off in the distance several wolf howls echo in the night.

Session 11

Assembling for breakfast after their disturbed sleep our heroes turn their thoughts to the journal Li recovered from Sebren’s residence. Aetholric, having mastered the Make Whole ritual, proposed trying to magically repair it to see if it held any further information, so Li and Fargrim took a walk to Garwan’s Curiosities to see if the wily old dwarf had any ritual components for sale.

Strangely, his door was locked (not that this bothered Li for long) and when they gained entry they found the dwarf was not in. As they searched for the items they required Fargrim heard something fall and break in the storeroom and went to investigate, finding a broken jar that had previously contained ash of some sort, but what got his notice was the footprints in the ash leading to the back door which had been forced open from the inside. Unfortunately he wasn’t quick enough to get more than a slight glimpse of a figure fleeing from the alley way. After barricading the door he returned to Li, exploring the upper floor and Garwan’s personal chambers for sign of the dwarf. However the rooms had been ransacked, so, leaving enough coinage to cover their “purchases” on the counter for Garwan, they decided to inform their comrades.

As the pair returned to the Inn one of the younger acolytes from the temple came rushing up, telling the heroes that not only had their fallen comrades corpse been taken in the dragon raid but also the temple’s holy relic (a sizable piece of quartz from heart of an earthmote) was stolen! Brother Griffon had already set off in pursuit alone and the remaining acolytes were understandably concerned. The heroes agreed to try and locate the missing priest and recover the relic, but thought that a quick return trip to Garwan’s was order to locate some provisions. When they arrived they heard someone moving about in the upper rooms. Using her stealth Li crept upstairs and managed to surprise a hooded figure, as her comrades joined her they discovered the figure to be Zark, Garwan’s exiled nephew! After some questioning it was revealed that Zark’s former associates had apparently kidnapped his uncle as punishment for his getting caught and exposing their operation.

Meanwhile Aetholric’s magic had restored the acid-damaged journal, revealing comprehensive handwritten notes about the shipment of initialled “goods” between Loudwater, Silverymoon, LLorkh, Zelbross and the Greypeak Mountains. The dates and numbers of which matched with what the group had previously discovered of the child smuggling operation previously, though no names were actually given. It was agreed that they would give Captain Harrowleaf the journal and the returned Zark for safe keeping until Sebren’s involvement could be proved beyond doubt.

And so they set off toward the High Forest, it wasnt long before they came across Brother Griffon staggering towards them before he collapsed. After giving him some healing he was able to tell them he was on his way to ask his Fey friends if they knew anything of the dragon when he had come across a large group of Orcs escorting prisoners. Without regard for his own safety he had launched a rescue attempt but it had gone badly and he barely escaped with his life. The party accompanied him to his meeting with the Fey, learning that soon after his failed rescue the Orcs had split. The majority of them taking several prisoners off towards the northeast and a smaller contingent taking a single prisoner in the direction of the Dire Wood. The Fey also revealed that the dragon was lairing just beyond the Dire Wood in a cave complex beneath a ruined temple before leaving.

Next day Brother Griffon returned to Loudwater to alert people to the Orc slavers in the area and the party continued the search for the Dragons lair. They came across a small cave in the side of a hillock with Orc guards outside. Making short work of the Orc forces they freed their prisoner, a tiefling bard named Wrynn who agreed to accompany them as battling a Dragon would make a great tale.

As they skirted the edge of the Dire Wood they realised they were being followed, discovering that a hungry owlbear had picked up their scent, though their combined assault soon saw it off. A short time later they arrived at the temple ruins and engaged the Orc guards and their drakes. As the last reptile slid lifelessly to the floor an excited chittering could be heard coming from deeper with the ruined complex.

What’s making that excited chittering noise further in the ruins?
Why were Orc slavers bringing the captured bard here?
Who was this temple once dedicated to, out here in the midst of the High Forest?

Session 12

As the last of their enemies bodies slid to the floor the heroes turned their attention to the statue to the north in an effort to discover who the temple had been dedicated too. While most of them did so, Li used her stealth to sneak forward and discover the origin of the “chittering” noises.

The chamber ahead contained a large group of excited kobolds being bullied around by a burly orc warrior. As Li returned to inform her companions, one of the kobolds began ambling towards them. Having identified the statue as Rillifane Ralathil, ancient elven god of the wilderness, the party listened intently to Li’s findings and Æðelric used a well placed magical assault to take out the inquisitive kobold. The party decided to take their foes on from opposite sides, and so began their assaults.

The initial attacks took down the majority of the kobolds, leaving one or two on the dias and the orc warrior. Bouyed by their success Li charged the brute, scoring a great hit and wounding the monster deeply, though her celebration was cut short as a retaliatory sweep of its mighty axe knocked her to the ground and the snarling warrior followed it with another tremendous blow, sending her into oblivions embrace.

Having despatched the kobolds he was facing Garusk saw his friend fall and the red mist of rage descended, he charged the orc, Fargrim following close behind to engage their foe. Father Tully used his Silvanus granted abilities to bring Li back from the brink as the companions surrounded the brutish warrior.

Æðelric meanwhile was trading attacks with a kobold slinger on the dias, before finally getting the upperhand.

Garusk and co seemed to have the upperhand with the orc having it surrounded, until it entered a hacking frenzy and was still keeping pace with the heroes as the combat began to move up the steps of the dias, when suddenly a javelin streaked in, striking the orc deeply in the leg. The heroes and the orc were equally surprised to see the javelins thrower was a lone kobold that had been hiding at the back of the complex. Eventually the orc fell to the superior numbers of the party, and they approached their unusual ally.

They discovered his name was Skrit, and that he and his fellows had come to worship the mighty dragon. Unfortunately they arrived to find the dragon was subservient to the cold ones and so, unworthy of their worship. Skrit was waiting for his chance to leave the bullying orcs and return to his tribe. When asked about the dangers below, he told them the entrance was guarded by a one-eyed monster and more cold ones and that the dragon and the others didnt use this entrance, prefering a lower entrance with an underground river. The party decided to let Skrit leave in the morning after a nights rest. Unfortunately, Æðelric couldnt let an “evil” kobold live and whilst on his turn at watch, despatched the poor creature.

The party descended the spiral staircase to a large natural cavern, dominated by a stone tower. Two wooden bridges connected the tower to the staircase and then on to a narrow stone walkway ending in a heavily secured door. The tower showed no visible signs of an entrance but the tower-top was dominated by a glowing portal guarded by a pair of orc archers, their drake pet, and what appeared to be a sickly beholder whose growth had been stunted.

Li quickly siezed the initiative, leaping from the bridge to the tower-top and engaging the orcs immediately, while her companions took the more mundane route. A short but bloody battle ensued but the party prevailed with only minor injuries. While Æðelric and Li worked together to disable the portal (not wanting more enemies to appear behind them), Fargrim moved to investigate the secured door. As he crossed the second bridge it creaked ominously under his weight, but he made the far side. The heroes decided to secure a safety line between the portal supports and the battlements beside Fargrim. Each of them crossed in turn, the wooden bridge threatening but holding firm, until Father Tully, the aged planks giving way. Only a quick grab of the prudent safety line saved him from a perilous fall. As the only one left to cross Garusk retied the rope around his waist and took a running leap across the gap, unfortunately catching his foot on the crenalations at the last minute, causing him to plunge downwards until the rope pulled taught and slammed him into the side of the chamber. As he pulled himself back to his waiting companions, Li discovered and disarmed the trap within the doors lock and unlocked it, revealing some sort of alchemical lab beyond.

Several tables and shelves were full of bubbling beakers and frothing funnel-necked jars, around which were numorous frost goblins led by a Hexer. The Hexer conjured a concealing cold fog to confuse the heroes as they moved in to attack the goblins. The swing of battle was fairly even until Æðelric blasted a fireball into the centre of the room, those goblins that didnt fall to it soon did so to the secondary explosions of the tables contents.

As the dust (and bits of goblin) settled the heroes began to wonder, how much further into the complex they would travel and what further terrors awaited before they would once again face the mighty white dragon?

Session13

The party cautiously opened the door leading from the chamber, prepared for the next onslaught. But instead of teeth and claws the only thing that assailed them was the stench of moldering death wafting up from the shaft dug into the rock at the back of what appeared to have once been a store area. Investigation revealed a set of iron rungs set into the wall of the shaft and descending into the darkness beyond.

Garusk decided that bravery was better than caution, and after striking his sunrod, climbed down the rungs. At the bottom he found a large chamber, with a brass gong sat next to the rungs and several skulls, apparently human in origin, scattered around the floor. A shuffling noise caught his attention as he looked further into the chamber and saw a figure ambling towards him and numerous, partly devoured corpses lying on the ground. Garusk wasted no time, and rushed forward, his mighty hammer leading the way. The zombie was soon sent back to the grave and Garusk surveyed his surroundings. The chamber opened up to the south, its level dropping into a wider gorge before climbing back up. But in the gorge were more zombies, one of which had a misty cloud clinging to it. With the sound of his companions descending into the chamber behind him Garusk leapt down into the gorge to engage the zombies.

The rest of the party approached the lip of the gorge more cautiously whilst Garusk fought, Fargrim being next to join the fray as the mist-shrouded zombie came closer, bringing the cold of the grave and chilling the heroes as they fought. Even when a second shrouded zombie climbed into the gorge from the far side, our heroes semed to be having more trouble with one of the other zombies that just didn’t appear to want to stay dead, repeatedly getting back up from the blows Fargrim and Garusk rained upon it. Eventually their persistence paid off and the undead were finally put to rest. The heroes agreed that rest and recovery was in order and retreated up the shaft to the more defensible room above, and Wrynn examined the brass gong that he had liberated earlier.

Fully rested our intrepid band ventured forth once again, cautiously advancing to the far side of the gorge towards the sound of running water. The chamber ahead opened to reveal a small waterfall pourng into a fast flowing river crossing the chamber. An ice-slicked wooden bridge crossed the river close to the waterfall and the river flowed out of the wide end of the chamber into a roiling bank of mist that twinkled with frostiness. two of the misty zombies were waiting for the heroes along with a strange blue-skinned hobgoblin female on the far bank of the river dressed in plate armour and shield, emblazoned with the symbol of Auril. As she saw the party enter she called upon the Frost-maidens power and blasted them with a gust of frosty-wind, a thin rime of frost causing all but Garusk to slow their movements.

The mighty barbarian broke into a run, his powerfully muscled legs propelling him over the river and past the zombie on the other side, its chilling mist barely slowing him, as he charged into the Aurilite striking with his deadly hammer. Only a timely deflection from her shield saved her, and she used his own momentum to hit back with her icy flail.

Battle was joined as the rest of the party spread into the chamber. Aetholric used his magic to knock one of the zombies into the churning waters to be carried off into the concealing mists, while conjuring a rolling ball of flame to confine the remaining zombie against the far bank. Li and Fargrim traversed the bridge (only Fargrim’s dwarven stubborness stopping him slipping over) and joined Garusk in combating the self-proclaimed “Fist of Auril”, though only Li seemed able to land any telling blows. Wrynn tried to join the fray but was not as agile in his crossing of the bridge, sliding onto his tail twice before finally reaching his companions.
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Just as the heroes were gaining the upperhand and Aetholric’s flaming sphere destroyed the zombie an ominous growl came from the rapidly disappearing mist as the Fist cried “Aussiroth, protect me” and the white dragon charged forward. Holding its terrible chilling aura in check for fear of damaging its ally the deadly reptile relied on its physical abilities to attack the group. Wrynn used his bardic abilities to make the beast believe the wizard had caused it great offence, and as it couldn’t get past his repositioned flaming sphere it unleashed its icy breath, catching both Aetholric and Father Tully in its blast. The heroes realized the beasts reluctance to harm the Fist and theorised that keeping her alive would actually be to their benefit while they fought the dragon. Li managed to disable the Fist, stunning her into unconsciousness as the rest of her companions battled on.

With all their efforts concentrated upon the great beast it was only a matter of time before it too succumbed to their assault. Pausing only to catch their breath the heroes set about checking for valuables and their efforts were rewarded as they found a cache of treasure frozen into an icy pool that the dragon seemed to have been using as a bed.

Having closed the portal and defeated the Aurilites, what now awaits our brave band?

Session 14

Having plundered the dragons meagre hoard out heroes turned their attention back to their unconscious prisoner. Divesting the Fist of her armour and tying her up securely they brought her back to consciousness and began questioning her, focusing on the missing body of their former companion Thoradin Earthblood and the Heart of Silvanus. After a little persuasion, she revealed that both were hidden in the tunnel above the waterfall. As Fargrim stood guard over the Fist, Li of Amn and Garusk ascended, but before they could explore further a pair of chillborn zombies staggered foward out of the darkness. Li backflipped back into the chamber below, her lithe form twisting artfully and landing with cat-like grace, in an effort to lure one of the zombies to follow her, while Garusk roared his battle-cry and charged the zombie ahead of him.

Unfortunately his inexperience with the Mordenkrad he’d recovered from the dragons hoard meant that his blows continually fell short of the mark. As the second zombie clambered down Li peppered it with shots from her crossbow, causing it to lose its grip and fall rest of the way. Once down it soon came under attack from Æðelric, Li, and Wrynn, and soon was floating downstream to a watery doom. Garusk meanwhile decided to retreat from his foe but as he turned to flee it struck him a hard blow and immobilized the Goliath. Luckily Li had regained the tunnel entrance and with a running leap flew across the river to her long-time companions aid.

Once the undead were defeated the heroes recovered the body of their friend and the temple relic, and with the Fist’s usefulness outlived, delivered rough justice to her, leaving the corpse to float into oblivion. Exploring further up the tunnel they found it opened out within the High Forest and decided to lay their fallen comrades remains to rest beneath a sturdy oak, before returning to the underground chambers and taking a well earned rest back on the tower top where they had previously disabled the Aurilites portal.

Unconvinced that anyone would build such a tower simply as a way point and using their ropes descended to search the base. Their efforts bore fruit as Æðelric discovered a secret door, requiring a combination of stones to be pressed before opening. Li examined it and discovered it was trapped and if the incorrect sequence were pressed the trap would be sprung. And to emphasize her point, she triggered the trap, a cloud of tiny poison darts puffing out of the stones before they reset. Trying another combination, the door swung inwards, revealing a small entrance chamber. Though there were several pegs along the wall, only two ermine cloaks were hanging up. A single door led further in to the tower and Li skillfully found and removed the trap from it, then opened the door to find a corridor clogged with a multitude of spider-webs. A well placed blast of wizardly fire cleared the way and as they explored further a trio of spiders attacked. Once they were defeated the heroes explored a smaller side room which appeared to have been a sleeping chamber. A thorough search revealed a couple of sheets from a diary in the desk draw and purse of gold in the bed. They also found a Rod of Deadly Casting in the wardrobe (not a portal to Narnia – sorry guys). A search of the spiders chamber revealed what appeared to be shard of broken glass.

Ascending the spiral staircase to the upper chamber brought the heroes to what looked like an entire floor split only by two glass walls, with a large stone table. Visible on the other sides of the walls were a carrion crawler and a gelatinous cube. Examination of the table revealed a pressure pad below which when Li pressed it caused the glass walls to begin lowering into the floors. As the heroes readied themselves the crawler clambered up the wall of its cell and along the ceiling, dropping amidst the party and trying to attack Fargrim. After an all too brief battle the beasts lay spread across the floor and the heroes set about searching the remains.

Session 15

The party began their journey back to Loudwater, traversing the High Forest without incident. As they continued across the rolling grasslands they became aware of the sound of combat ahead.
Æðelric, Li, and Wrynn crept forward to investigate, discovering a tall, blonde barbarian engaged in melee with a pair of dog-like humanoids within an old, crumbling stone circle. Æðelric recognised the man as a fellow Uthgardt and thought the dog-men were either Gnolls or Werewolves.

Garusk and Fargrim charged forward to assist the beleaguered warrior, with Wrynn and Father Tully close behind. Their timely intervention distracting the creatures and diverting their attacks from the severely wounded youth.

As Æðelric and Li prepared to support their comrades two more, previously hidden creatures attacked them. The heroes were momentarily taken aback, watching in horrid fascination as their foes wounds began knitting together confirming their worst fears, Lycanthropes!

The heroes suffered many wounds from the beasts slashing claws and vicious bites but even knowing what their foes were didn’t prepare them for the revulsion of seeing the fallen bodies twist and squirm as they reverted to human form upon their deaths.

In the aftermath of the combat Æðelric recognised the blonde barbarian as Alkrum, a childhood friend from his tribe. As he made the introductions his comrades were shocked to see Alkrum’s own wounds healing themselves before their eyes. Another Lycan!

Quickly Æðelric explained the hidden truth about his ancestry. Explaining that centuries ago the tribe took in refugees from ancient Gauntlgrym, unaware that they were actually werewolves until the refugees turned upon their would-be rescuers. The tribe’s devotion to the Grey Wolf aspect of Uthgardt twisted the lycanthropic curse; while it did turn the entire tribe into werewolves they were able to control their savagery. His companions looked aghast, had they been travelling in the company of a savage beast all this time without knowing it? Æðelric continued to explain, if a tribe member chose to leave the tribe for a period of time no less than year would be free of the curse. His father, Wulfric, wanted to spare his son this fate and when his friend Mendohl Harpell saw the arcane potential within the young barbarian, agreed that he should leave with the wizard and make his own way in the civilised world.

At mention of Æðelric’s father, Alkrum announced that that was the reason he had sought him out. Wulfric was the tribe’s shaman but recently another barbarian, Colred, had returned from a spiritual journey and challenged him for his position, killing him in the process and becoming the new shaman. Since then Colred had subverted the tribe’s noble heritage, encouraging them to new heights of savagery. Soon after, the tribe of the Black Ravens who shared the Raven Rock ancestral mound with the Grey Wolves, drove them off. Colred led them to a new homeground in the Glimmerwood and continued to subvert the tribe into the worship of Malar (the Beastlord) and increasingly savage acts against their neighbours. When several members of the tribe spoke out against this they were slaughtered where they stood, and so Alkrum and a few select others set out into the wilderness to search for Æðelric in hopes that the magical skills he now had would help bring them back to their honourable heritage and to tell him of the sad demise of his father. Unfortunately, Colred despatched hunting packs to track them down.

As the party came to terms with this revelation, Alkrum offered to assist them in healing the festering bites they had received from the hunters, and prepared a herbal tea made from wolfsbane to counteract the Moon Fever that would be passed on in their saliva.

After a short rest, with Alkrum accompanying them, they set off once more towards Loudwater. Several times throughout the day they saw numerous wolves in the distance, shadowing their route, but coming no closer. As night drew in the group made a cautious camp, fully aware that the concealing darkness hid unfriendly eyes. Their fears were well founded as, in the early hours of the morning, shortly before sunrise, another group of werewolves attacked.

The ensuing battle was fierce and bloody, but the heroes and Alkrum prevailed, albeit suffering several more bites and slashes in the process. Gathering their belongings and partaking of another of Alkrum’s brews, they made it the rest of the way to Loudwater.

A quick stop at the Green Tankard Inn to drop off their travelling gear, and our heroes paid a visit to Captain Harrowleaf. Alkrum took his leave of the party, deciding it would be of benefit for him to appear to still be searching for Æðelric and laying a false trail to throw of any further hunting parties. As the rest of the party continued to the Captains residence, Father Tully took the opportunity to return the Heart of Silvanus to the under-repair temple.

Captain Harrowleaf seemed tired and haggard and told the heroes that he had been having a hard time keeping Zark in custody but as he was the only proof of Sebren’s involvement with these “Nighthawks” it was necessary. He informed the group that Loudwater in general and the magistrate in particular had been quiet in their absence.

The heroes regrouped back at the Inn, and while they were having a quiet drink that evening Li noticed her rooftop “admirer” watching her as he sat drinking at a table near the doors. As she watched her calmly finished his drink, stood and walked out. Quickly informing her companions, she followed him (Garusk, Wrynn and Æðelric in turn following her) through the night streets of Loudwater towards the run-down tenements in the north-west corner of town.

She watched him enter one of the ramshackle buildings and cautiously followed him inside, her three allies waiting within shouting distance outside. The downstairs was deserted and she crept up the rickety staircase. Of the three doors on the upper landing, only one showed any light through the crack at the bottom. A quick examination revealed a shoddy blade trap which she easily disabled before opening the door. The room beyond contained a small chest of drawers with a lit candle upon it and a bed occupied by a short, white haired figure. It took Li a moment to realise that the figure wasn’t moving at all. Checking the next door on the landing revealed a storage room with dust covered jars lining the shelves. As she checked the third door she found it to be secured with a very good quality lock which looked out of place in these meagre surroundings. As she attempted to pick it she heard movement from the rooms below.

Garusk, Wrynn and Æðelric watched as minutes after Li entered the building, two cloaked and hooded figures followed her in. As they entered the heroes caught the telltale glint of metallic weaponry at their belts, and realised their friend would be in trouble.

Garusk charged in at the men, swinging his mighty mordenkrad and catching his opponent a solid blow. The two figures drew shortswords and daggers, weaving the blades in intricate patterns and nimbly slicing the hulking goliath as they danced around him. Æðelric had waited outside the building and was surprised when the man Li had followed came leaping out of an upstairs window, landing in the street beside him, and beginning to run off, until Æðelric’s magic immobilized him.

Back inside the building Li unlocked the door only to find that someone had also dragged something heavy across to block its opening. Garusk was beginning to falter under the continued blows of his opponent. The second figure choosing to throw one of his silver daggers at Wrynn. Unfortunately the blade was coated in a wicked poison that caused the bard to lose his vision.
Li descended the staircase as the heroes recognised the stylised weaponry of their opponents as that of the Nighthawk’s, engaging the closest assassin just as her mighty barbarian friend fell to the floor into unconsciousness. Realising they were outclassed the heroes used their abilities to flee the building as Wrynn’s invigorating lyrics brought him around in time for him to sprint after his friends.

Fearful of pursuit they didn’t stop running until they were back at the Inn, only then realising that Li wasn’t with them. As they prepared to go looking or her, she appeared in the doorway. Having sought refuge in a neighbouring building she waited until there was no sign of the Nighthawks, then ran back to regroup with her friends.

session 16

Recovering from the brutal attack of the Nighthawks, our intrepid heroes returned to the abandonded tenement to investigate the body Li saw in the bed, only to find that it was a fake made to resemble Garwan the dwarf propietor of the Curiosity shop. Further searching found a scrap of paper tucked between the floorboards in one of the upstairs rooms, the only word written upon it was “Llorkh”. The party decided to travel to the bandit town using the barge they had confiscated from the children smugglers, and set off to discover what link if any there was between the bandits and the Nighthawks.

Setting a steady pace they made good progress on the first day before tying up on the riverbank for the night. In the early hours of the morning, as Li took her turn on watch, several men were spotted approaching the barge from the darknened riverbank. Quickly rousing her companions, Li realised that the half dozen men were indeed Nighthawks, not the efficient killers that they had encountered before but still dangerous opponents, made even more so by the spellcaster accompanying them. The party made short work of the thugs but every time they tried to land a blow on the Magus it’s magic whisked it to safety. Only by the combined efforts of the party were they able to negate his viscious spells and bring him down with combined ranged attacks.

Next day they continued upriver until they heard the sounds of a womans screams for help from a nearby farm. As the heroes approached they saw a group of men in black cloaks with grey circles emblazoned, surrounding a farmhouse with lit torches in hand. A smaller farm building was already well alight. As Garusk and Fargrim charged forward, Li snuck around to a side door of the farmhouse. The men called out to the party that this was Iron Circle business and none of theirs, Garusks answer came at the end of his mighty weapon. Father Tully and Wrynn supplied support to their fighting companions but were soon engaged by two wolves that the Iron Circle bandits had brought with them. The battle was bloody but short as the outclassed bandits fell to the heroes blows. Li managed to calm the woman and two small boys in the farmhouse, and once the fighting was over the homesteader offered the party a home-cooked meal as way of thanks, explaining the the Iron Circle were former roving bandits that had gone civilized and now ran the town of Llorkh, based from the old Keep that overlooked the small town. The bandits had arrived to demand “protection” money and when she had refused they had begun to burn her outbuildings. After disposing of the bodies and bidding the family goodbye the party continued onwards.

Reaching as far as the river could take them, they moored the barge, Æðelric remained onboard, utilising the time to commune with his spirit guides and study more of the rituals he had taken from the Warlocks tower. The rest of the party headed off on foot. Not long thereafter they saw a guarded wagon approaching with more of the black cloaked bandits escorting another figure in a red surcoat with some sort of mechanical hound leading the way. At Li’s urging the party stood aside to allow the group to pass unmolested but as they drew level one of the bandits was struck by a crossbow bolt. Tensions were raised and as both sides went on the offensive Li noticed a figure secluded in a nearby tree.

As the mechanical hound attacked Father Tully, knocking him to the ground, Garusk sprang to his comrades aid, his mighty mordenkrad clanging against the mettalic hide of the creature. Hoping to avoid uneccesary bloodshed Li ran towards the hidden figure shouting as she went for the bandits to realise where the attack had come from. Fargrim followed as swiftly as he could but suddenly found a crossbow bolt buried in his leg and the unmistakeable sensation of a poison pumping through his system, robbing him of his strength.

Barely pausing for breath, Li nimbly climbed the tree to engage their hidden foe, she was now able to see that it was another of the Nighthawks and her sudden assault pushed him from the safety of his concealed perch. The fall to the ground was barely noticed amidst the rain of blows Li continued to rain upon him, aided by one of the bandits. As the sniper slid lifeless to the floor the red-dressed man signalled for his escort to stand down. Thanking the party for their timely assistance he appeared surprised to hear of the Nighthawks but Li assured him that were a threat to the areas stability. He invited the party to accompany him back to Llorkh for their mutual safety, choosing to cut short his patrol in favour of alerting his superiors of this new threat to their power base. As they approached Llorkh he advised them that the Iron Circle had stepped into the power void left by the Zhentarim since the Spellplague had caused them to lose their foothold this side of Returned Netheril. Bringing a semblance of order and civility to the leaderless town. Leaving them outside the town tavern he thanked them once again before ascending the steep pathway to the keep overlooking the town from the cliff above.

Inside the tavern the party took seats at a table, the only other patrons being a coupe of off-duty Iron Circle soldiers. As they sat enjoying their drinks the quiet ambience of the common room was spoilt as a group of swaggering bandits entered, walking directly to the party’s table as their self-elected leader declared “Thats our table!”, despite the partys politeness the thugs were spoiling for a fight, and were soon rewarded as combat erupted, though the heroes were careful to pull their blows, not wanting to cause too much trouble. The brawl was shortlived as it soon became obvious that the party outclassed the thugs and those not lying unconcious on the barroom floor decided they had urgent business elsewhere.

As our heroes apologised to the barkeep, they enquired if he had seen anyone bearing the Nighthawk symbol in town. Indeed, a week before three such men had been in the bar (one of which matched the description of the man Li had followed), they had been accompanied by a fourth man who seemed to be left out of their conversations but had still left with them when they went to the Trading Post in town. Thanking the barkeep, the heroes headed off.

The chubby little man that ran the Trading Post had a selective memory though after a little cash had changed hands his recollection became clearer. The suspected Nighthawks had purchased supplies and equipment for a journey into Thunderspire, an ancient Minotaur stronghold under the nearby Greypeak Mountains, now rumoured to be home to orcs, and worse!

With plenty to think over the heroes retired to the nearby Inn to plan their next moves.

Session 17

“Episode VI XVII – The Return of the Jedi Zhentarim”

Retiring to their room at Auntie Nonnie’s in Llorkh, our heroes’ were surprised to awaken in a dank underground chamber, lit only by the glowing runes on the floor below them. A quick check confirmed that they had all their equipment and also a scroll sealed with the mark of the Iron Circle.

Wrynn opened it, revealing a note from Nazin Redthorn, leader of the Iron Circle. “My apologies for tricking you into this situation, but I couldn’t take the risk that you would refuse. When you awake you will be inside the Tower of Green Flame. The place is overrun with terrible undead and has been a terror to our town for some time. Former members of the Zhentarim occupation force fled here when Netherese forces arrived to destroy them, but the strange magic of the tower turned their underground temple to haven for the undead. Any treasure you may find you are welcome to, we ask only that you put an end to whatever keeps reviving these unholy creatures.”

Ignoring the darkened corridor beyond the curtain to the west the party opened a door eastward and entered a chamber as Father Tully activated a Sunrod to drive back the dark. The chamber was clean and free of the carrion smell that permeated the previous room. A sense of peace and well-being surrounded them. A faint red glow from under the western door lured the party onwards.
Opening the door the heroes found a metal urn filled with fire casting patterns of flickering shadows around the room momentarily distracting them as a trio of shambling zombies moved to attack. The undead minions were swiftly dealt with and Wrynn investigated the urn, discovering the contents to be everburning embers from the Elemental Chaos.

Continuing westward the party entered a room that may have once been a laboratory of some kind. Several mouldering books remained on the shelves and a handful of vials lay on the central workbench. A large group of zombies shuffled into action, accompanied by a trio of others still clad in military uniforms. From their fighting ability it soon became apparent that the well armed undead retained more than a little of their former prowess. Eventually the heroes overcame all of the foes and upon searching the room found the books too decayed to be of use, and the vials to contain what appeared to be various necrotic based items. Li investigated the chest, finding it contained a sum of gold coins and a bejewelled belt.

The only exit from the room led south, as they entered a short corridor they could see that it opened into a larger chamber. The lighting from which cast shadows as hidden figures moved around. Summoning her stealth Li wrapped herself in shadows and was able to conceal her in plain sight in the middle of the room. As she took in her surroundings she realised there were numerous undead, then all cognizant thought left her as a wave of evil energy from the altar swept over her, robbing her of her will. As her companions began to enter the room they were shocked, not by the undead awaiting them but by the crossbow shot from Li! Battle was joined as the undead moved to intercept the heroes. Assuming the undead in the robes had magically controlled his companion, Garusk bravely charged down the room, taking multiple hits from the zombie soldiers as he went. As the party fought on Li regained her will and began to attempt to prevent the altar from affecting her or her companions again. As the rest of the heroes continued to battle the zombie priests of Cyric used their unhallowed magic, and the robed wight channelled his necrotic powers, immobilizing Garusk. Recovering from the magical assault the mighty goliath used his fury and beat the mage to the ground, as the combined might of Father Tully’s radiant magic and Fargrim's dwarven stubbornness saw them through. When the last of their enemies fell lifeless (so to speak) to the floor, our heroes retraced their route back to the peaceful room to recuperate.

Upon waking they felt invigorated and ventured south into what looked like a storeroom of some sort, guarded by two more of the soldier zombies. Even though the undead shrugged off a couple of mortal blows the heroes overcame them. A quick search of the crates revealed mouldy food packets, iron chain and some surprising clean water.

The corridor beyond was empty, or so they thought at first, then what looked like a wall detached itself from the gloom. A huge zombie ogre blocked the far end of the corridor, but despite its size it proved only a minor inconvenience. The door previously hidden behind the putrefying behemoth led back into the chamber with the alter to Cyric, Fargrim and Garusk could hear the sound of chanting coming from within and without pausing Fargrim charged in. He was shocked to find that the undead soldiers, priests and mage had arisen again but before he could react, the insidious energy of the reactivated altar washed over him and the mage’s magic bolt immobilized him.

The heroes were bottlenecked in the chamber entrance by the undead and were hard pressed from the start. The battle wasn’t made any easier when the priest’s used their prayers to make the heroes attack themselves. As the heroes began to make headway with two of the zombie soldiers laid to rest once more, the mage-wight poured forth necrotic energy, bringing one of his fallen comrades back into the fray. Father Tully called upon Silvanus and blasted the undead with his gods holy radiance, as Garusk and Fargrim continued to pound on them and Li used precision strikes to take down one of the priests, returning him to his dark gods embrace once more.

As the last of the foul creatures fell to the ground the altar pulsed again, its magic causing Fargrim to strike out at the nearby Garusk, but some semblance of his will must have stayed his hand as the blow fell short. Li, with Wrynn’s assistance disabled the altar once again, and then the party set about smashing the unholy relic to pieces.

Session 18 Die, Zhent, Die!

As the heroes finished crumbling the last part of the Altar of Cyric to rubble they heard a chime resound throughout the complex, coming from the chamber with the magic circle in which they had appeared. Returning to the chamber they found their comrade Æðelric, resplendant in his newly enchanted dragon-skin cloak. The wizard had come looking for his wayard companions and the Iron Circle had directed him to the Zhentarim temple below the Tower of Green Flame.

After taking a few moments to bring each other up to speed it was agreed that if the undead in the altar room had been brought back to unlife, maybe those in the other chambers the heroes had previously faced had too. Wrynn decided to remain in th chamer with the urn containing the everburning embers in an effort to see if they could be taken with them as they others made their way to the chamber that contained the shelves of Necromancy books.

Sure enough several undead were present, though not for long as the party made short work of the rotting creatures. Passing through Cyrics shrine once more they were relieved to see that the altar remained in pieces and no undead had revived. Li examined the doors leading from the chamber, discovering they were warded with another necrotic glyph. Bypassing it they entered the next chamber to discover what at first glance seemed to be an over-sized game of chess, with several soldier pieces flanked by hulking armoured brutes. When these began to move however it became clear that they were more undead Zhentarim with zombified Ogres in tow.

They heroes quickly engaged the foul creatures and morale was high as the Ogre’s fell, only to be dashed once again as the beasts rose up, flesh hanging of their bodies in huge chunks. When the party put them down a second time the creatures did not rise again.

Exploring further they discovered a poorly hidden pit trap in the next chamber, which Li proceeded to disable (Father Tully tested it by jumping up and down on it). Turning south Garusk and Fargrim opened a door, triggering another necrotic glyph, and revealing a small chamber containig a shrine to Bane. An undead Zhent priest stood before an onyx statue of the Black Lord in his form as the Tyrant (an armoured figure with sword resting and a globe in his other hand) with Zhent soldiers around him. The battle was swift and bloody with the undead soon lying strewn around the room. Æðelric examined the statue finding that th globe was exquisitely carved to represent Faerûn itself and could be removed from the statue. Rather than do so by hand the wizard conjured a magical extension of his own hand and lifted the orb free, as he did so an ominous grinding sound like stone on stone echoed through the complex. The wizard tried replacing the orb but nothing further seemed to happen. Unwilling to leave a shrine dedicated to an evil god intact, the party proceeded to smash it to pieces, after which Fargrim picked up several fist-sized chunks and placed them in his backpack.

The small door that led from this room led into what looked like an ante-chamber with a set of double doors embossed with a scene of a robed skeletal figure striding across a field of fallen warriors, rays of power streaking from his outstretched hand to strike the bodies. The party were able to identify this as a representation of Myrkul, former god of the dead that was slain by Cyric on his journey into godhood. Li unlocked the doors to reveal the chamber beyond and the undead Zhentarim forces standing ready to face them……

Session 19

As the heroes faced off against the Zhents it looked as if they were going to have a hard time of it, but once they had broken the phalanx of the undead soldiers the battle soon went their way. Li managed to take the sorcerous wight out of action with well placed attack from her deadly crossbow. Soon the Zhentarim littered the floor, doomed to rise no more.

The immediate threat taken care of Aetholric examined the pool which was giving off magical emanations to his arcane sight. As he viewed it, the murky liquid swirled, revealing a vision of the room where the heroes had faced the “chess” undead.

Returning to the tranquil safety of the room they were using as a base they encountered a hidden trap, Li quickly disabled the pressure plate and the close by door trigger of the hidden magical crossbow trap, and the way was clear.

Wrynn was waiting for them, his attempts to remove the elemental embers from the large brazier had been unsuccessful but he had used the fiery device to dispose of the remaining Zhentarim corpse parts, just in case.

After resting the heroes continued their explorations, returning to the room with the viewing pool, Aetholric sensed magical emanations from two adjoining rooms. One contained a pair of small fonts held up by stone cherubs, which seemed to contain restorative liquids. The other revealed a large blood red glyph on the floor with a large chest beyond it and a large bronze brazier styled to resemble a roaring dragon. While the others suddenly found something very urgent and important to do elsewhere, Li examined the room, discovering the glyph was a trigger to somesort of trap from the brazier. As she attempted to disable it, it activated, spraying the area with fierce flames. After a couple more attempts she finally disabled it only to discover that the chest was a solid stone decoy!

Continuing onwards the heroes discovered a collection of shrines dedicated to Mask, Bhaal, Myrkul and another smaller altar to Cyric. These were guarded by more Zhentarim undead with several shambling corpses of former villagers. The heroes faced attacks from several fronts but weathered the assault. Finally laying to rest the last of the undead Zhentarim, before Aetholric reactivated the magical portal, returning them to the base of the Tower of Green Flame.

As they appeared they found themselves surrounded by waiting Iron Circle guards who escorted them to Iron Keep and an audience with Lord Redthorn himself. His offer of stock replenishment as reward for their actions met with contempt and disdain from the heroes. Despite their attempts to coerce and intimidate a more substantial reward, they left empty handed and heavy hearted.

Returning the the Cliffside Brewery and Tavern, the party made casaul conversation with several off-duty members of the Iron Circle when Garusk noticed a trio of strangers leaving the taproom and caught a brief glimpse of a familiar silver dagger!

As the party pursued them, the trio split up, two entering a small residence while the third skirted around the back and over the low garden wall. Fargrim and Li chased the lone figure while their companions prepared to assault the building. As Fargrim vaulted the wall the revealed Nighthawk fired his crossbow, the bolt burying itself deep into the dwarfs flesh. Rather than slow him down the injury just enraged the paladin and he proceeded to close with the Nighthawk, discovering that his companions had exited the building by another door and lay in wait. Hearing the sounds of combat the rest of the party moved to investigate, finding the remaining Nighthawks and engaging them. The battle was short but bloody, though with the help of Father Tully and his healing powers, the heroes managed to defeat the trio of assassins.

As the dust settled, and the heroes began to examine the bodies, the sound of approaching armoured feet could be heard rapidly approaching………

__Session 20
If you go down to the woods today...__

Aetholric and Li slipped into the nearby house that the Nighthawks had entered, unobserved by the approaching squad of Iron Circle warriors, and quietly set about searching for clues as to what the assassins were doing in Llorkh. The house showed signs of regular use but nothing untoward as they moved to inspect the bedroom and storeroom individually. Li found a small iron bound chest beneath the bed, easily disabling the needle trap placed on the lock, and its contents of gold coins marked with the Netherese symbol. The storeroom held more grisly secrets however. A sealed barrel was found to contain the mouldering corpse of a townsperson, stuffed unceremoniously inside.

The rest of the party stood ready in case of trouble as the two dozen warriors formed a semi-circle around them. One of the Adepts stepped forward and with a slight tremble in his voice demanded to know why they had assaulted members of their town. The party told him they had recognised the trio as members of the Nighthawks and followed them when they left the inn, only to be ambushed here, and revealed the assassins trademark daggers as proof. The Adept looked back at what appeared to be his superior officer for encouragement before ordering his troops to gather the bodies and bring them with the party to the Iron Keep before Lord Redthorn. The party calmly agreed and accompanied them.

At the Keep they were shown into a room and left with the bodies and a trio of guards. Shortly Lord Redthorn and his elite guard entered, ignoring the party, and moved to examine the bodies. Garusk overheard them mention that one of the Nighthawks was called Memtar and sent one of his men to check his post. Lord Redthorn turned to the party and asked them what had transpired. Telling him what they had told the Adept earlier as he listened intently. As they finished, he gestured to the bodies and told them that one of them was a member of his Iron Circle and had been for a couple of years now, the other two were believed to be visiting family members who had shown interest in joining also. Redthorn apologized for disbelieving the party’s previous claims about the Nighthawks and in thanks for revealing this treachery within his ranks offered them the hospitality of his Keep for the night, which the companions happily accepted.

Having found nothing else of interest Aetholric and Li rejoined their companions at the Keep and told them and Lord Redthorn of their findings. The party were invited to dine with the Lord and his elite that evening and during the course of events Lord Redthorn agreed to supply mounts and pack animals for the party’s journey north and they discussed the Nighthawks and the rumours concerning their movements in the area. By the end of the evening a new alliance had been agreed and a glimmer of hope for the future could be seen.

Next day the party prepared to set off towards Everlund and the home of Aetholric’s mentor. Lord Redthorn had arranged to have their barge returned to Loudwater for them and any word of Nighthawk activity would be sent there for them. So it was with lighter hearts that the party departed.

Having decided to follow the edge of the High Forest up and around the companions were a little unprepared for the rough terrain but soldiered on, the swath of land between the forest and the river varying between a couple of miles and barely anything. Indeed it was as the forest seemed to block the way, the party having to wind their way through the ancient trees, that they came across what at first seemed an abandoned campsite, until the figures of muscular dog-faced creatures loped into view. “Gnolls!” advised Aetholric, “vicious fighters and excellent trackers”. Leaving their mounts the party approached on foot.

Five of the creatures were spread throughout the camp, casually tearing through the remaining tents. Taking advantage of their not being noticed, Li and Tully spread out a little as Garusk charged the nearest beast. Though this proved to be a fatal mistake; as its companions, showing a surprising turn of speed rushed to its aid; three of the hairy creatures surrounding the goliath and jabbing him with their crude long spears. Fargrim, Wrynn and Aetholric moved up to assist their comrades as another Gnoll appeared from one of the tents, this one was bulkier and wielded a huge club studded with what appeared to be sharpened teeth; with a blood-curdling howl it charged Father Tully and smashed the wicked club into the priest, the jagged teeth ripping a horrendous wound that continued to bleed profusely. Responding to their leader’s howl, the trio assaulting Garusk struck again and the mighty barbarian fell under their onslaught.

The remaining companions had little chance to mourn the falling of their towering friend as they were hard pressed by the Gnolls. The remainder of the battle was hard fought, with Fargrim falling to blows (but thankfully saved by the magic of his armour and the pure stubbornness of the Dwarf to stay down) and Father Tully also being battered to the very threshold of Deaths Door as the final beast dropped lifeless to the forest floor.

Session 21

Using his Speak with Dead ritual, Æðelric discovered that the spirit of Garusk was happily reunited with his sister in the happy hunting grounds of his Ancestors, and so with the assistance of Father Tully, laid their fallen comrade to rest.

Moving on with heavy hearts, the heroes came across a badly concealed kobold ambush. Letting the rage she felt at losing her long-time travelling companion, Li tore into the diminuative reptillians, her fury lending strength to her blows. Tully, Æðelric, and Wrynn minded the mounts as Li and Fargrim waded into the kobolds. As they did so a cloaked figure wielding an axe joined the fray, and between them they made short work of their foes.

As the last kobold slid lifeless to the ground, the stranger introduced himself as Fenrir, an Avenger of Oghma, who had been attempting to prevent such ambushes on the few merchant caravan’s that passed through this area. He was also looking for a former Zhentarim officer known to be leading a mercenary band in the region and after a brief discussion it was agreed that he could join the companions on their journey to each’s mutual benefit. Fenrir had heard rumours that the kobolds were working from a hidden lair somewhere near a local waterfall up a minor tributary of the Delimbyr river, so the party decided to track them down.

As they approached the wooded area around the waterfall they noticed a large number of lesser kobolds scattered around the area, suppossedly on watch but not doing a particularly good job of it. An armoured kobold stood within a circle of glowing runes, equally oblivious to the party’s approach. Mustering her stealth, Li crept through the concealing trees to strike the armoured kobold, fading back into the welcoming shadows before the witless creature realised it had been attacked. Fargrim and Fenrir charged up the surprisingly shallow stream, each dispatching kobolds as they swept onwards. One of the kobolds scampered up the rock face to the cave entrance from which the water cascaded, its excited yipping could be heard below, as the party slew the remaining kobolds without even breaking a sweat.

The sounds of more kobolds in the cave could be heard as the trio ascended to the cave entrance, Tully, Æðelric, and Wrynn once again remaining with the groups horses and gear. Cresting the entrance the heroes were faced with a dozen of the yapping beasts, swarming forward to hold the trio of invaders at the cave opening. As blow after blow laid a kobold low, another took its place. Just as the party began to make headway, slaying half of the annoying beasts, a pair of the armoured kobolds appeared from deeper within the caves, flanking one of their deranged wyrmpriests and a fat goblin, cloaked in wolf fur and wielding a pair of wicked axes.

Regardless of kobolds around him, Fargrim charged forwards to engage the grinning goblin as his companions continued to dispatch the lesser enemies. The dwarf and the goblin traded heavy blows, the goblin showing viscious prowess with his axes, as the wyrmpriest bombarded the dwarf with his balls of flame. Having dealt with their opponents, Fenrir assaulted the armoured kobolds to prevent them surounding his dwarven companion, as Li used the concealing shadows to find an advantageous spot from which to strike at the wyrmpriest.

The fight was brutal and bloody, with Fargrim falling before the goblins blades, only to stand once more as the magic of his armour revived him. Eventually their foes fell to the combined attacks of the trio and they searched the chambers from which the goblin and wyrmpriest had come. They discovered a locked chest and Li nimbly opened it, revealing several items that had been previously taken from caravans in the area, along with a note from Commander Acastus Kolya to Irontooth, advising that he was to take command of the kobold band and continue his raids. Kolya’s messenger would call on schedule to collect his cut.

After hiding the corpses onder the waterfall, and securing their mounts, the party decided to rest and await the arrival of Kolya’s messenger.

Some time later, Æðelric spotted a group of riders approaching. Tully, Æðelric, and Wrynn once more took the mounts to safety and kept them quiet while Fargrim, Li, and Fenrir waited in the cave as the riders dismounted. Leaving one of their number with their mounts, the other four ascended the cliff face to be confronted by the trio of heroes. Three of them were obviously nothing more than hired thugs and these fell quickly, but their leader was of a sharper cut, wielding his longsword with finesse and accuracy. Li managed to force him back out of the cave, hoping the drop of the falls would cause him serious harm, unfortunately his lithe form twisted and he landed on his feet with cat-like grace. Not to be outdone, with a shout of “Canonball” Fargrim took a running leap from the cave mouth, tucking his legs and aiming to drop his armoured bulk onto the messenger, but missing terribly and landing hard in the shallow pool. Fenrir and Li descended with a little more grace and then the trio set to with renewed ferver against the swordsman, trading several more blows before he fell to their onslaught.

session 22

When is a dwarf, not a dwarf?

The heroes continued to travel northwards along the edge of the High Forest, they came across what appeared to be a ruined temple. Ever cautious, Li scouted ahead, discovering the place was swarming with centipedes and a pair of Ettercaps.

After the bried struggle, they searched the rest of the ruins and were surprised to discover that it appeared to be of dwarven origin. Wrynn recalled the legend of the Delzoun, an ancient dwarven empire that spread across the north-western realms that predated even Netheril. It would be quite common for them to build temple/trading posts above ground, even in a predominently elven area.
Further examination revealed a wide shaft where the earth had given way to a chamber below, perhaps this was where the Ettercaps had come from?

With her companions securing a rope, Li abseiled down into a well lit chamber to find herself surrounded.

An unarmed Ettercap began to approach her as she caught sight of four grey skinned dwarves loading crossbows before disappearing from sight. Li readied her weapons as she called for her comrades to help. As she engaged the Ettercap, Wrynn attempted to descend the rope, landing with a thud on the rubble below, soon accompanied with more grace by Fenrir.

Without warning, the grey skinned dwarves re-appeared, firing their crossbows before discarding them in favour of their warhammers. "Duergar!" cursed Li as she recognised them. The fight was brutal but thanks to the timely intervention of Father Tully's healing powers, and Li and Fenrir forcing two of the evil dwarves into triggering their own pit trap.

A search of the room revealed a number of gold pieces along with a bottle of strange bronze liquid with Wrynn and Aetholric identified as a healing potion.

At the far side of the room a pair of ornately engraved doors which had been rudely defaced led further into the complex. After checking for traps, Li gave the all clear for the party to forge ahead.

This chamber housed four large stone sarcophagi, and all but one had been smashed open, most likely by the hammer wielding duergar standing beside them. Another Ettercap accompanied by a trio of Fire Beetles and a pair of spiders joined the Duergar in assaulting the party, though in their exuberance the beetles managed to kill most of the Duergar Miners with their fiery blasts rather than harm the heroes. The spiders and Ettercap unfortunately fared better, as before the battles end all the heroes had felt their blood burn with poisons coursing through them. Needing to recoup their strength they made sure that the next set of doors were secured and saw to their wounds. Fargrim took the opportunity to retrieve the heads of the damaged statues from the central pool and replaced them, as he did so a sense of wellbeing filled the room. He then moved to examine the untouched sarcophagus. It was the resting place of a dwarven hero of Moradin "Ivak Stoneblood" and as he read the inscription, images formed above the central pool showing the dwarf in battle against duergar, his mighty anvil headed hammer glowing with Moradins light as he smote them. Then the image changed to show dwarven priests interring the warrior with his sacred weapon in its resting place. Fargrim gave a gentle push and the lid of the sarcophagus slid easily back, revealing the aged corpse but the hammer looked as if new. Fargrim lifted it reverently, feeling the power of Moradin flowing into him, before resealing the lid.

As the next set of doors gave way before them the heroes were confonted with a bizarre sight. This cavernous chapel is dominated by a towering statue originally crafted as a representation of the dwarven deity Moradin. It has been crudely transformed into an image of the bizarre insect deity you’ve seen throughout the temple. Smaller statues of dwarven gods and heroes, similarly disfigured, stand against the walls. Four basins on raised platforms stand in the four corners of the chapel. A rubblechoked passage leads away to the north.

Kneeling before the great statue of the insect god is a stout duergar in green robes. He is flanked by pair of scorpions the size of wolves, and a monstrous spider clings to the towering statue above him. Another pair of duergar arrayed in chainmail and armed with mauls stand protectively beside him. The kneeling duergar was praying loudly in grotesque utterances of some unholy language.

The chanting stopped suddenly, and the kneeling duergar leapt to his feet and turned towards the heroes. His gaunt face twisted in a rictus of hatred and madness. He raised a twitching finger, pointing at them, and shouted in Common, “Slay them in the name of Chitteruk!”

Wrynn and Li took the brunt of the scorpions attention, finding themselves in the grip of their viscious claws, when they did manage to extricate themselves the terrible beasts struck them with their poison stingers.

Fenrir was faring much better as the spider scuttled across the roof to sink its venomous fangs into him as the trio of duergar closed in.

As the insects began to fall the heroes were able to concentrate on grey dwarves, and were surprised when one of the guards, suffering a mighty wound, began to growl and grow before their eyes. Swelling to the size of an ogre and battling on with renewed strength from its huge biceps.

By the time the last foe slid lifeless to the floor, the trio of heroes were all looking decidedly worse for wear and welcomed the healing ministrations of Father Tully as they searched the chamber for hidden treasures.

As they examined the bizarre statue of Chitteruk (a god that none of them had ever heard of) they discovered that it was empowered by a smaller piece of glowing bloodstone, a Shard of Karsus!

As the party marvelled at the ancient relic they also uncovered in the rubble at the rear of the chamber an ornately hilted shortsword which Aetholric identified as a harsh songblade, obviously the duergar weren't music lovers.

The recovering heroes made their way back to the surface to rest before resuming their journey.

Session 23

As the heroes journey to Everlund neared its end they came across an ambush in progress in a narrowing of the trail. Two men dressed in the now familiar garb of the Nighthawks were engaged with a pair of hired guards whilst another pair of guards defended their merchant employer. “50 gold each if you save me” shouted the merchant as the party approached the fray.

Li, Fenrir, Fargrim and Aetholric surged forward to aid against the Nighthawks, and as battle was joined the merchant stepped forward and blasted Li with magical fire! As if waiting for this signal the accompanying guards turned from their sparring with their assassin colleagues and joined the attack on the heroes.

With the others pre-occupied it was up to Father Tully and Wrynn as another figure came running from the concealing trees behind them, dressed in deep purple leather armour and wielding a wicked looking greatsword. With its first mighty strike it had Tully on his knees. The heroes noticed that the edges of the wound caused by the impressive blade were turning dark and hard.

As the melee continued, despite Tully’s repeated healing magics the newcomer had the upper hand and soon landed a telling blow, dropping the priest to the path, but before he could hit the dirt his entire body turned to a black porous stone and a surge of energy pulsed up the sword into into wielder as he turned his attention to the rest of the party.

The others had fared a little better with Aetholric’s spells despatching the guards with ease and the assassins and merchant/mage suffering heavy damage at the hands of his companions. They felt a pang of fear as the Tully fell and the newcomer strode towards them.

As Fenrir and Aetholric dropped one of the assassins, Li concentrated her attacks on the mage and Fargrim squared up to the approaching swordsman. Heavy blows fell on both sides and within minutes it was Fargrim that next felt the petrifying bite of the greatsword. To make matters worse, the heroes realised that as the energy pulse flared up the blade its wielders wounds healed. Then it was down to the swordsman, Li, Fenrir, Aetholric and Wrynn.

As Li and Fenrir engaged him, Aetholric and Wrynn gave supporting fire and much needed healing as the mysterious figure brought their allies close to falling before finally bringing him down.
The heroes caught their collective breath as they examined their fallen foe, and Wrynn realised he recognised him. His name was Mikus Greystone, a member of a noble family from Netheril and rumoured to be the heads of the secretive society of killers known as the Nighthawks! The rest of the heroes looked at Wrynn in shock at this revelation, but the tiefling could only shrug and admit that he recognised the face but not how he knew it, another flash from the bard’s missing memories. As they examined their fallen comrades conditions Wrynn recalled another tale that mentioned that the Greystone’s victims could only be revived by being smeared with blood from a living Greystone! Their gazes dropped to the obviously deceased foe at their feet.

Aetholric and Fenrir, being more familiar with the area suggested they seek out healing and help within nearby Everlund. And so with heavy hearts (and heavier companions) they approached the city.

Session 24
As the heroes approached the city of Everlund they spied a trio of guards manning the gateway, though the traffic seemed to be passing through unimpeeded. At their approach the guards straightened up, realising this was more than just a merchant caravan and stopped the heroes, enquiring as to their business. While Aetholric and Fenrir explained their intent one of the guards noticed the slumped form of Mikus Gravelstoke tied to one of the horses and asked what was wrong with him, “A fellow traveller we came across that is in need of priestly aid” the heroes replied and the guards let them through, albeit with raised eyebrows and a few second glances.

Following Fenrir’s lead they headed to the compact temple of Moradin to see if Fenrir’s associate Jeren was in attendance. One of the brethren fetched the half-elf from his studies and they became acquainted. After explaining the predicament of their petrified companions and the incapacitated culprit responsible the dwarves of the temple were more than willing to provide the necessary ritual to bring the miscreant back to life in order to save a paladin of their god and his companion.

With an evening to spare the remaining heroes decided to find local information on Nighthawk activity and followed Li’s lead to the local house of easy (though moderately priced) virtue. Discovering that aside from the occassional lone sighting, the Nighthawks had no discernable presence within the city. Satisfied with the information the heroes retired to Aetholric’s former abode, the home of Mendohl Harpell. Easily recalling the incantation to release the wards, Aetholric opened the doors for his friends and they entered. With his increased knowledge the wizard was keen to investigate his mentors private study, previously beyond his ability to enter. With Li’s assistance in removing the mundane trap Aetholric subdued the protective glyph and stepped into the study. Expecting to find a veritable hoard of arcane knowledge they were a little dissappointed to find the shelves almost empty, a few minor ritual books being all that remained. On Mendohl’s stone desk a few scattered papers remained, detailing troop movements of the Netherese within the Fallen Lands, though dated several months ago. As Aetholric examined the trio of draws within the desk, Li began to search the walls for hidden compartments and such like. As the wizard discovered a collection of glass flasks and diary, the rogue found a hidden door and its activating push plate, happy that they weren’t trapped she pressed it and the door slid inwards to reveal a steep, narrow staircase leading downwards.

Leading the way down Li stopped halfway, her acute senses picking out the trigger for a trio of pendulum scythes, after defeating them with her trusting tools she declared the rest of the way clear and the party found themselves in a chamber lined with shelves. One side filled with spell and ritual compnents and the other with larger jars contianing preserved creatures (whole or just parts thereof). The only other exit was a heavy steel door opposite the stairway. With a good search both Li and Aetholric were sure that the door was safe to open, and when they did so they found the chamber beyond. A carved, stone lectern stood within a protective circle etched into the stone floor, and beyond that a larger circle was also carved carefully into the surface with many deep gouges within its centre and burn marks. Aetholric identified it as a summoning circle, but when his companions asked he didnt recall Mendohl actually summoning any creatures that he knew off.

Returning to the above ground chambers, Aetholric perused the diary, discovering that his mentor had confided with an ally named Eaerlraun Shadowlyn at the Moongleam tower. As they had to wait until the morning for the results of the dwarves ritual, they decided to enquire of Lady Shadowlyn, and set off to Moongleam tower.

They were met by one of the students of the tower and awaited an audience with the Lady, before long the elderly woman appeared and escorted them to a private chamber to discuss their enquiries about her friend Mendohl. She receognised Aetholric, though he didnt recall ever meeting her before, and in the course of their conversation it was revealed that Mendohl was investigating Netherese advances in the area of Saharelgard (now known as Spellgard) and their intent to control the oracular spirit that was reportedly found their.

She also gave them the welcome news that Sebren the Magistrate had been overthrown in Loudwater and that the Lady Moonfire had assumed control of her town once more after Sebren’s allies had raided the militia headquarters, releasing a prisoner and injuring Captain Harrowleaf. Reports pointed that he was headed northwards along the Delimbyr.

Returning to Mendohls home they rested, feeling safe from their troubles for the first time in days. In the morning they returned to the temple to find their prisoner alive and awake, securely shackled in what the dwarves politely called a meditative cell. As the heroes entered one of the priests suggested that if the scurvy cur accidently fell down the stairs it would be a problem, and that as none were in the cell he would be more than happy to fetch some. The heroes politley declined and began their questioning of Mikus. Forcing him to press his bloody palm over the hearts of their petrified friends and thus restoring them. As they continued to question him, Fargrim and Father Tully took their respective leave Roll of the Honoured Dead. Finding themselves in need of a companion with healing skills Fenrir’s associate Jeren offered his services and joined their happy band.


Contributors to this page: Mik .
Page last modified on Sunday 18 of September, 2011 14:37:10 BST by Mik.

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