Loudwater & Beyond

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!

Werewolf

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.

Nighthawks

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 Garusk 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.

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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.

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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.

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?

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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?

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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?

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Interim

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.

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Session 10

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.

Aussiroth

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 from 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?

As our intrepid heroes continue their adventures, several reports come to light of cattle mutilations on some of the outlying farmsteads, and the sounds of howls in the woods at night.

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Session 9

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 wasn’t long before they ran afoul of the creatures within.

Feypanther

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.

Owlbear

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.

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Session 8

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.

Spirit (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?

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Session 7

GaruskOur 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?

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