Loudwater & Beyond

Session 21

Communing with the spirits, 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.

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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.

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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………

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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……

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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.

Zhents

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’sradiant 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.

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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 “”/campaign/loudwater-beyond/wikis/llorkh" class=“wiki-page-link”> 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.

Llorkh

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.

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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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