Heroes of Khemer

A message of hope.
Another friend falls to the horde.

     The heroes gather their supplies and begin to make their way out of the Thornwaste. The deadly land is not ready to give up its claim on the heroes lives, however, as they are attacked by a pair of wyverns as they travel through a ravine. The monstrous beasts swoop down and grab Ian and Kishra, looking for a quick meal, and fly off towards their lair. Sir Atreus gives chase, while Moric and Thissag use bow and crossbow to try and take down the wyverns.
     Unfazed the creatures cling tightly too their prey, fighting off the attempts of the wizard and rogue to get free. Unable to take the creatures down, Moric and Thissag gives chase as well, as Sir Atreus tracks the monsters to their cave. The valiant knight climbs up alone to confront the wyverns, but makes a tactical error by making his ascent in-between the two beasts. The monsters savage the paladin, dropping him, and now their are three victims in the lair. Moric and Thissag come up with a plan. Moric will try to draw the beasts out, while Thissag sneaks in to heal and help their fallen comrades. The plan works brilliantly, and in short order Moric has slain the wyverns and the heroes are healed and ready to travel once more.
     Travel is arduous, but in a couple of days the heroes find themselves on the trail to the County of Ellisfield. Pressing hard, they arrive in Gormsey. The group finds the village on lockdown, but not completely empty. Getting some rooms at the Jester’s Rose, the dwarven innkeeper Aznal tells the heroes that they haven’t seen much of the “supposed” hobgoblin invasion. She tells them that the only thing they’ve seen is a couple of goblin raiding parties, not at all out of the ordinary. The group spends the night and re-provisions in the morning, while Sir Atreus makes his way to the Brilliant Halls of Light and meets with Brother Vernus. Brother Vernus explains that while most people did indeed flee to Brindol, some were simply unwilling or unable to leave everything behind, so he stayed behind as well to take care of his flock.
     As they leave Gormsey, the party decides to send Thissag to the Hammerfist Holds, to see what help he might be able to secure from the dwarves in their fight for the Vale, while the rest of the party presses on towards Brindol. They make their farewells and press on, and soon they see the telltale signs of war. The Duchy of Allondale is deathly quiet and as they make their way into Coniston, they see black smoke rising above the Nimon Hills to the north. They find only a token force left in the town, and again spend the night and move on in the morning.
     About halfway through the next day’s travel, the party crests a small hill and below they see the sights of a battle. A carriage is under attack by a pair of ettins and a gang of goblins. A mounted knight and a group of soldiers wearing the livery of Brindol fight to defend the carriage but are soon struck down by the humanoids.
     The heroes spring into action with Sir Atreus and Moric charging towards the ettins, while Ian takes off after a group of goblins and Kishra prepares his arcane magics. The battle is on, and one group of goblins, showing surprising discipline, waits for Ian’s charge and spring their attack at the last minute surprising and surrounding the rogue. Finding himself wounded and in trouble, the young warrior panics and rides on through hoping to get away. Meanwhile, the second group of goblins interrupts Moric’s charge at the ettin and the warrior responds by throwing his spear through the biggest and nastiest looking one. The goblins respond in turn, using their foolish tactics to taunt and enrage the mighty Moric. Sir Atreus charges the ettin and lowers his lance for the kill, but the two-headed monster swats aside the weapon and smashes the knight with both club and morningstar, sending Sir Atreus flying off his mount, unconscious. Kishra evens things out some, by dropping a fireball amongst the goblins surrounding Moric, but the second ettin takes away the momentum by charging forward and smashing Moric in a similar way that Sir Atreus was smashed!
     Things look grim for the heroes as the first group of goblins surrounds Ian once more, causing him to leap from his horse and flee…right into the clutches of an ettin who, having dispatched Sir Atreus already, gleefully pounds the young rogue into the dirt. Kishra knows that the situation is dire and that if he doesn’t get aid to his companions, he and the entire Vale may be doomed. But Kishra is no conjurer of cheap tricks, he is a wizard of the Crystal Tower! The magus starts off by blasting the closest ettin with a cold spell limiting the giant’s movement and then takes out most of the goblins with a fireball. Then making his way to the fallen Moric, he administers a healing potion, bringing the warrior back from the brink of death.
     Using the power of Woundhealer, Moric rejoins the fight and engages both ettins and the remaining goblin barbarian, allowing Kishra to escape and use a healing potion on Sir Atreus. He then helps out Moric by taunting the closest ettin to get his attention. Enraged, the ettin gives chase and threatens to smash the wizard, but the distraction works. No longer having to defend against both giants, Moric goes on the offensive and slays the ettin engaging him, and also gave Sir Atreus enough time to mount his steed and charge forward with his lance, this time impaling the ettin threatening Kishra. The tide had turned, and in short order the remaining ettin and goblin were defeated and the heroes rushed to check on their fallen comrade, Ian, and the soldiers of Brindol.
     With the use of both mundane and magical healing, the Lion of Brindol and two of the soldiers were saved but unfortunately, Ian was gone. With a heavy heart the heroes set to finding out why these soldiers and the carriage were here, when a second fight nearly breaks out. It seems that the Lion of Brindol, is none other than Sir Erdrick Teskerwill, a knight that shares a tumultuous past with Moric.
     Many years ago, Moric was in the service of Duke Kerden of Brindol nearly reaching knighthood when fell in love with the Lady Elisi, who was betrothed to Sir Erdrick. While the sentiment was shared the union could never be and Sir Erdrick taunted Moric over the “victory”. Moric responded by smashing the face of the knight, and was banished from Brindol for his actions.
     Time did nothing to heal these wounds and Sir Atreus was forced to step between the two warriors. After calming down the situation, they find that Sir Erdrick was on his way to the Hammerfist Holds to hire the Shining Axes, a mercenary company of axe wielding dwarves, famous in the Vale. The heroes help the soldiers to depart for the dwarven holds, but Sir Erdrick stuns Moric by saying, “If I don’t make it back, look after her for me.” before departing.
     With the fate of the Vale weighing heavy upon them, the heroes set a funeral pyre for Ian, and make their way towards Brindol once more.

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A Desert Storm
Ride the lightning!

     Although battered and bloody, the heroes quickly take stock of their situation. Still deep within the Ghostlord’s Lair, the group drinks some healing potions, gather their gear and press on. They decide to explore a little more of the tomb to see if they can uncover any more clues about the Ghostlord’s involvement with the Red Hand, and of course, Ian wanted some treasure.
     Exploring the secret passage the Ghostlord used to enter the hall, the heroes find a corridor leading to a room with some sort of diseased-looking tree flourishing in a dead and dry soil. Laying in front of the tree, are three human-sized bodies wrapped in shrouds. Kishra, Sir Atreus and Thissag study the tree while Ian quickly grows bored and searches for the Ghostlord’s treasure room, leaving Moric to tag along after the young rogue to keep him out of trouble. As the spellcasters put their heads together, Ian uncovers a secret door that does indeed lead to treasure. The treasure horde appears to have been ransacked, but thousands of gold and silver coins lay about the floor, half covering several magic items buried within.
     Not having any luck discovering the purpose of the tree, Sir Atreus decides to cut open one of the shrouds to see what was inside. As he approached, however, an enormous ghostly lion manifests through the walls and the tree itself and blasts the heroes with a supernatural roar. The fight is on, and the lion gives the heroes fits by phasing in and out of existence, blasting the heroes with its roar and corrupting gaze, before fleeing to the netherworld. The heroes retreat back to the main hall to gain some more room, but the ghostly cat follows. Thissag runs back to the tree room to try and smash the evil tree to splinters to see if that could deter the apparition, but again the lion follows and blasts the dwarf with its roar, incapacitating him. The group sets up a strategy and decide to wait until the lion shows itself again before striking. Kishra teleports the group back to the tree room and the tactic works. In a few moments, the group has prevailed and the heroes heal up again looking to move on.
     Back in the main hall, Kishra decides to get a sample of the strange yellow liquid, but unfortunately lets some of the necromantic fluid touch his skin. Before anyone can react, the elven mage falls unconscious and apparently paralyzed from the exposure. The party decides that it is time to get out of there and Moric grabs Kishra, while Ian grabs the treasure chests and the party looks to make their way back to the anteroom. Upon arriving, they find the entry chamber full of a strange mist, and the heroes retreat back to the dissection chamber to rest. In a couple of hours, Kishra awakens, apparently unharmed and the group moves back into the anteroom. There, the heroes find their exit blocked and their only way open to be a spiral staircase leading up towards the stone lion’s head. Unsure of what they might find upstairs, the party decides to rest some more and gather their strength. Ian removes a locked door from their path and the group rests in a group of apartments within the complex.
     Their resting place appears belong to others however as dragon scales are hung along the walls and ceiling, and a finely crafted statue of Tiamat stands looming in one corner. In two adjoining rooms, the party finds a storeroom; inside are dwindling supplies of food and water and other sundries, and a room with a soft cot and the pages of an opera about Tiamat crushing a temple of Bahamut. Confused, the group decides that this must be a faction of the Red Hand, and most likely, that of Wyrmlord Ulwai Stormcaller.
     The party rests for four hours before making their way upstairs to face the hobgoblins, somewhat refreshed. At the top of the stairs the group is assaulted by a trio of hobgoblin monks that are quickly dispatched, but not before one of them runs to a set of double doors and gives a warning. Assaulting through the doors, the heroes find themselves on a balcony, in the mouth of the stone lion, and in the midst of a raging storm. There they face another trio of monks, a pair of hobgoblin clerics, and Ulwai Stormcaller. The beautiful hobgoblin bard, with her hair in braids and adorned with mithral jewelry, sneers at the heroes.
     The battle rages with Sir Atreus, Moric and Ian fighting the hobgoblins, while Thissag and Kishra engage a pair of hellhounds summoned by the hobgoblin clerics. Ulwai proves to be a formidable opponent, controlling the elements, blasting the heroes with powerful winds, thunderclaps and lightning bolts. The might of the heroes proves to be to much for the Red Hand, however, and soon Ulwai decides that discretion is the better part of valor, blows Moric a kiss and jumps off a balcony, apparently using her mastery of the wind to control her flight to the ground. With Moric taking out the remaining hobgoblins, Ian runs after Ulwai and launches himself into the air stabbing the Wyrmlord with one hand and grabbling hold with the other!
     Kishra uses his magic to grant himself and Sir Atreus the power of flight and the knight gives chase, wounding Ulwai. Not finished yet, the Wyrmlord flies higher into the storm. Looking deep into Ian’s eyes, Ulwai winks and then shoves him, breaking his hold and dropping the rogue some eighty feet to the ground, before fleeing. Sir Atrues rushes down to check on the rogue, and somehow Ian survived. Kishra flies after Ulwai and blasts at her with his magic, but the Wyrmlord is too quick and escapes. Regrouping, the heroes use their remaining magic to heal, gather their treasure and retreat to their campsite in the Thornwaste to rest for the night.

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Into the Thornwaste
Death and Undeath.

     The group’s respite is broken in the middle of the night. While on guard duty, Moric is attacked by a group of goblin worg-riders and a short but intense battle ensues. Moric holds off the goblins and shouts for his companions to wake and to arms! Quinwyn fires his bow, while Kishra flings eldritch magic and Sir Atreus and Ian move to engage the enemy. In short order, the goblins are defeated and two of the worgs flee, leaving behind a pair of goblin warriors. The heroes interrogate the goblins, with Moric slaying one to get the other to talk, leading to words between Sir Atreus and Moric for his actions. The party comes to the conclusion that he is only a straggler from the Horde and has no information to give.
     After resuming their rest, the heroes wake the next morning and prepare to depart for the Thornwaste. Scrounging the farmhouse for supplies they gather a couple of waterskins and a large rain-barrel and load the gear on the horses, when Sir Atreus gathers their attention. He explains that the corruption of the phylactery is plain for him to see. It has fostered internal conflict amongst the heroes and even had Kishra willing to bargain with a supernaturally evil creature. After a quick prayer to the Light, the knight lays the phylactery on a chopping block and brings Cyfiawnder down upon the Ghostlord’s phylactery shattering it. Immediately the skies darken and the wind howls through the copse threatening to topple the trees and heroes alike. It is over momentarily and the heroes depart along the south trail.
     Quinwyn leads the way, and after a few hours the group veers southwest off the trail. The land quickly becomes barren and dry with the sun baking down and thistle choked ravines and briars slowing the heroes pace to a crawl. The group finds the travel rigorous and the search for food and water sparse. Camping for the night, the group discovers that the plant life in the Thornwaste is dangerous as well as some sort of vine monster attacks Ian on his guard shift, but the heroes make short work of the creature. The following day is worse as the heroes make their way deeper into the desolate land; the sun and heat saps the heroes strength leaving them fatigued. As they make camp, the heroes notice a strange wave moving through the tall grass towards them. Before they have time to react, a monstrous Behir emerges from the wave and engages the heroes!
     The battle is intense as the creature blasts the heroes with bolts of lightning from it’s maw and tears into the group with tooth and claw. The creature’s armor like scales deflect all but the mightiest strikes from the party as the beast moves with incredible speed. Moric, Sir Atreus and Quinwyn engage the monster with steel and bite deeply into the creature’s hide. The behir retaliates with an incredibly powerful lightning blast that catches Quinwyn directly in the chest and drops the elven warrior. Thissag rushes to the aid of the fallen fighter and uses his healing runes to bring the warrior back from the brink of death. Kishra gathers his arcane might and throws a powerful bolt of magical energy and severely wounds the creature. The behir was not done yet and blasts at the heroes again with its lightning breath. While Kishra and Thissag were able to dodge the blast, Quinwyn’s armor acts like a conductor and zaps the elf again, this time killing the valiant warrior. Enraged, Sir Atreus viscously attacks and slays the creature. In the aftermath, the solemn group prepares a pyre and burns the body of Quinwyn before camping for the night.
     The next two days, finds the group struggling to make their way to the Ghostlord’s lair. Without Quinwyn to guide them, the group becomes lost and is in danger of dying from heatstroke and is dangerously low on water and supplies. Kishra, perhaps channeling his brother’s spirit, rights their course and near the end of the second day, they come upon a rise and see a massive stone lion crouching on the top of a nearby hill. As if to signal their accomplishment, the skies darken and a heavy rain falls down upon the weary heroes. The group rests and recuperates for a day before venturing into the inner sanctum of the Ghostlord.
     The next morning, they make their way between the paws of the stone structure and discover what appears to be a lair of some great beast. Blue scales littering the floor lead the group to believe that this is the lair of the behir that attacked them in the wild. After a quick search, the party discovers a secret passage that winds it’s way up into the stone lion. Marching up the ramp, the party is attack by a pair of enormous ghostly lions, but defeat them after a short battle.
     Following the passageway, the heroes move deeper into the Ghostlord’s lair encountering several strange rooms; what appears to be an audience hall, a dissection chamber and more, before coming upon the strangest room yet. A long hallway flanked by several alcoves on each side, each alcove with some sort of bolt-hole in the center of the wall. The center of the chamber has a deep pit of glowing yellow liquid, with a dire lion interred within. In the southern end of the hallway stands a massive statue of a lion in decay. The northern end of the hallway had an oval chamber, a massive sphere of obsidian floating within over a dais. Sir Atreus determines that this area is used for some necromantic rituals, decides that they must destroy the obsidian sphere and swings Cyfiawnder into it with a mighty crash, cracking the sphere. Immediately, a mist starts pouring into the area from the bolt-holes, and a creature enters the hall from a secret door behind the statue, its flesh yellow and sunken and clinging to its bones in tatters. The chamber grows unnaturally cold and the liches demands “You dare to trespass in my domain? Explain yourselves at once!”
     Undaunted by the undead abomination, Kishra replies “We have destroyed your phylactery, and now we have come to destroy you!” Enraged, the creature attacks and the fight is on. Sir Atreus, believing the obsidian sphere to be a source of power for the liche, attacks again and shatters the sphere. Six undead hobgoblins crawl through the bolt-holes, their bodies seem to have been dissected and reanimated with necromantic power, and the mist seems to be emanating from them obscuring the vision of the heroes. Kishra throws bolts of magic at the liche, who waves them away as if waving away a mosquito and blasts the elven mage with black magical bolts of his own, severely wounding him. Ian moves forward to attack the liche only to discover that the undead sorcerer has a magical field surrounding him that will drain the life force from any living creature. Moric engages the spellstitched hobgoblins and Thissag moves to heal Kishra.
     With the mist filling the hall, the heroes find themselves in a difficult situation; unable to see where their enemies are, while the undead seem immune to the effect. The spellstitched hobgoblins tear into the heroes wounding Ian and Thissag and severely wounding Moric, with only the magic of Woundhealer keeping the warrior alive. A ball of magic fire slams into the heroes, severely wounding Sir Atreus and Thissag and incapacitating Kishra. Trusting to his training Ian strikes back and drops two of the spellstitched hobgoblins, while Sir Atreus shouts that the liche has moved behind them and moves to engage. The valiant knight moves into the Anti-Life Shell of the liche and delivers a incredibly damaging attack to the undead monster, but the Ghostlord does not fall.
     Hearing Sir Atreus’ call, Moric rushes to his aid ignoring the claws of the spellstitched hobgoblins that rend his flesh. Sir Atreus feels the life being drained out of him and swings Cyfiawnder with all of his might, but the draining effects are too much and the attack misses. Moric, knows the situation is dire and that he likely has one opportunity. Kishra is down, Thissag and Ian are severely wounded and Sir Atreus won’t survive another moment in the liche’s Anti-Life Shell. With a primal scream, the musclebound warrior rushes past Sir Atreus, ignoring the pain of the liche’s magic and plunges his sword deep into the Ghostlord’s black heart. In a blast of necromantic power, the Ghostlord explodes, the waves of necrotic energy destroying the undead hobgoblins as well. With their foe seemingly defeated, the exhausted heroes collapse to the ground victorious.

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Marked For Death
I guess we've made a name for ourselves.

     The heroes make their way south along the trail, keeping a wary eye out for stragglers from the Red Hand Horde, everyone except for Ian that is, who’s inattentiveness at rear guard, allows a warrior in shining plate armor to trail the group from a distance. Near the end of the first day the party comes upon a farmhouse in a small copse of trees. Quinwyn, who had been scouting ahead, warns the group as he discovers a troop of hobgoblins and an ogre, torturing two poor farmers hanging from a tree in the yard. The elven warrior dismounts and sneaks closer to the creatures with his bow drawn and waits for his companions.
     The rest of the group prepares an assault as Quinwyn launches an attack with his bow and Thissag fires a shot from his crossbow. Sir Atreus charges forward on Majestic, his faithful steed as Ian turns invisible and makes his way around to the flanks of the goblins, while Kishra prepares to battle with arcane might. Soon, the fight is on and the heroes find themselves in a pitched battle, when suddenly the odds get even worse! Arrows fly at the heroes from the farmhouse windows, fired from the bows of hobgoblins hidden in the house. To make matters worse, a pair of enormous goblin-dogs (Greater Barghests), each with a pair of hellhounds, flank the party from each side of the trail!
     Things look grim for the heroes. Quinwyn tries to withdraw to his brother Kishra who finds himself gravely wounded from the fiendish hounds, while Sir Atreus quickly gets surrounded by the hobgoblins. The gigantic ogre makes a bee-line for Thissag the dwarf, as dwarfmeat is his favorite delicacy.
     The fighting spirit of the heroes would not be denied however, as Thissag turns the tide in the battle by opening his magical Bag of Fog, blocking the view of the Greater Barghests and archers from targeting the wizard and himself. Ian wades invisibly into the fray surrounding Sir Atreus and mortally strikes the hobgoblin leader, allowing the knight to fight his way clear. Quinwyn rallies to his brother and fends off a hellhound and a Greater Barghest, allowing his wounded brother to drink a potion of healing and recover.
     The danger is far from over however, as the Red Hand forces regroup and prepare to swarm over the heroes again, when a spear flies over the head of the ogre, narrowly missing the beast, striking a tree and exploding into flame. Moric, the warrior who had been trailing the party charges into the fray and evens out the odds for the group. While the elven brothers, Kishra and Quinwyn, fight as a team, the group rallies to them with Moric engaging a Greater Barghest and Sir Atreus riding down a hellhound, all the while Ian has become invisible death, felling hobgoblins unseen.
     The battle turns in favor of the heroes again, as Quinwyn slays one of the Greater Barghests and Sir Atreus viscously wounds the other causing it to flee. The mighty warrior Moric finds himself in one on one combat with the massive ogre, and slays the beast in a single blow. With their leaders down, the remaining hobgoblins are clearly outmatched and in short order the heroes find themselves victorious. Quinwyn and Sir Atreus thank Moric for his help and welcome him to join their quest, explaining the dire situation of Elsir Vale and their mission to stop the Ghostlord from joining the Horde, and the warrior readily accepts.. After explaining that they are in possession of the Ghostlord’s phylactery, a heated discussion springs up between Sir Atreus and Kishra, with Kishra proposing that they could use the phylactery as a bargaining chip with the Ghostlord, and Sir Atreus adamantly refusing to bargain with the undead abomination. Agreeing to disagree, the heroes put the argument to rest.
     Wounded and depleted on magic, the group gathers and burns the bodies of their enemies, while Quinwyn buries the farmers that were killed by the hobgoblins. The group decides to take shelter in the farmhouse for the night, but not before they discover that the hobgoblin sergeant had sheaf of parchment in his pouch, each bearing a likeness of one of the party members. Clearly this was no random encounter, but rather an ambush meant to take out the party. Apparently, the heroes’ efforts in the Elsir War, have gotten them noticed by the leaders of the Red Hand Horde.

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Who is the Ghostlord?
The return of Jarret Nurth.

     The heroes rest for the night in what they determine is the old Rhest Town Hall. While the others take turn on guard, Kishra uses his arcane magics to identify the magical loot they found. The next morning they do a thorough search of the compartments, and determine that Wyrmlord Saarvith was sent here to establish a hatchery for the harrowblades, or Greenspawn Razorfiends, as the hobs call them. They hear the howls of the razorfiend coming from the west and decide to investigate. Upon entering the enclosure, they are immediately set upon by the dragonspawn. The creature blasts them with it’s caustic breath, but the heroes are quick and mostly avoid it, with only Atreus suffering from the acidic effects. The razorfiend was not done however, and the beast leaps at the group looking to rend the heroes. Quinwyn is up to the task and eviscerates the beast with a flurry of steel. The group searches the pen and finds thirty razorfiend eggs hidden underneath the water. Kishra takes one for study, while Quinwyn destroys the rest and the heroes set to return to Starsong Hill.
     The return trip proves difficult though as the lizardfolk raft they stole has been re-appropriated by the saurians. Some quick thinking by the elven brothers provides transport as Quinwyn and Kishra quickly tear down the harrowblade enclosure and instruct a raft of their own. The group returns across the lake to their elven boat with Trellara’s body in tow, and spend the rest of the day sailing towards the the elven community. Arriving early on the following day, the group explains to Sellyria what happened at the drowned city and they prepare for Trellara’s funeral on the following day. The elves of Starsong Hill thank the group for the help in the Blackfens and agree to not only provide them transport on their giant owls back to the road blockade, but also to send a contingent of owl riding elf warriors to Brindol to help with the defense of the city.
     Upon arriving at the road blockade, the party wastes no time in destroying the structure and gathering men to leave. They make their way south along the Rhest Trail to Witchcross and decide that after two hard days on the road, they need a bed for the night and take rooms at the Fox n’ Feather, the local inn. While enjoying a meal and getting some much needed rest, the heroes witness a village boy come in and give a note to the innkeeper, who solemnly tells the common room that the Red Hand Horde has taken and burned Terrelton. The group decides to make haste to Brindol and leave the next morning riding hard for the city, leaving Sergeant Hersk and his troops with the supply horses to catch up.
     Returning to Brindol, the groups finds the city very different from how they left it. In the apple and pear fields, guardsman drill from dusk till dawn, and they city’s walls are lined with crossbowmen, even at a late hour. The gates of the city are impossible to close as the throngs of people stream in from the western and out through the eastern gates toward Dennovar. The party makes their way to the Shining Citadel where they find the Sisters of Mercy tending to many of the wounded refugees, looked over by Sir Marcus Nazgul and his Silver Gryphon Knights. Sir Atreus gets the group rooms at the cathedral and the heroes plan their next move.
     The next couple of days has the heroes splitting up to accomplish their goals more quickly. Thissag stays at the Shining Citadel, digging through old scrolls and manuscripts to see what he can find on the Ghostlord, while Kishra makes his way to Brindol’s library to do the same. Quinwyn and Ian head toward the docks to secure a ship to transport them down to the Thornwaste, and Atreus makes his way to the keep to inform Androen’s nobility of their progress. In the end, all were successful in their duties and discover that Urikel Zarl, or the Ghostlord, was a sorcerer involved with a lion cult hundreds of years ago and had a conflict with the Kingdom of Rhestilor. It is said that he was killed beneath the paws of his own stone lion monument and turned himself into a liche. Armed with this information, the heroes board the Grey Gull and travel the Elsir River west towards Talar.
     The captain, Huan Mallia advises them to rest for the night in Talar, as it will be the last time they see civilization for several days. The group agrees and make their way into town where they find a couple of the Sisters of Mercy loading villagers into wagons and decide to help with the evacuation. Noticing one of the refugees was acting strangely, Thissag notifies the group, and a suspicious Quinwyn discovers that the refugee is none other than the notorious cultist Jarett Nurth! He grabs the priestess and attempts to pull her from the wagon, when several of her cultists, disguised as villagers, spring to her aid. The fight is on and sees two spearmen engage Sir Atreus and Thissag, and two swordsmen attack Quinwyn. Kishra moves to help his brother and blasts one of the swordsman with his eldritch might, but is attacked from behind himself by a cultist wielding a wicked spiked chain. Ian, who had been lazily avoiding helping the townsfolk on the deck of the ship, hears the commotion and springs into action. The battles takes a turn for the worse as the chain fighter wraps his weapon around Kishra and savagely drags him to the ground and wounding him badly. Quinwyn throws Jarett to the ground and dispatches the second swordsman, moving to help his brother, but the distraction is enough to allow Jarett to use her spells to turn invisible. The group rallies with Atreus and Thissag defeating the spearman, but the chain fighter sees that his group has lost and threatens to kill Kishra if the heroes do not give him two horses for him and his mistress. Reluctantly, the party agrees and provide the mounts; the chain fighter allows Jarett ample time to escape before he himself flees.
     As the cultist rides away, Qunwyn and Ian quickly grab their bows and fire, severely wounding the cultist. Sir Atreus steps before them demanding that they stop as a bargain had been struck. An enraged Quinwyn states that he struck no bargain and that Atreus let them get away, but the damage was done and the cultists were gone. The heroes spend the rest of their time in Talar in silence helping the townsfolk depart, and the next morning a very quiet and solemn group board the Grey Gull and sail west.

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The Ruins of Rhest
The fall of the Nighshadow clan.

     The next morning, as the group prepares to leave, they are approached by Jorr. The crotchety old woodsman demands to know if they are truly planning to set the hobgoblin prisoner free, and when Sir Atreus confirms that they are, Jorr storms off in anger. The party finishes their preparations and release the hobgoblin, only to see the wretched creature felled by an arrow a mere fifty paces from the road blockade. The heroes rush to the top of the fort to find Jorr with bow in hand and the other guardsman having a good chuckle at the fallen hobgoblin’s expense. Furious, Sir Atreus admonishes his guards, who give him apologetic looks, and then confronts Jorr about his actions. Jorr, shows no signs of remorse and states “the filthy gob woulda just joined his brethren and attacked us at the first opportunity”. Not satisfied with the response, Sir Atreus places the woodsman under arrest and once again prepares to leave, only to be interrupted for a second time as a merchant caravan approaches the blockade from the north.
     One of the caravan guards, a dwarf by the name of Thissag Irongut of Clan Coalhewer, cautiously approaches the heroes to see what is going on. The group tells the dwarf of the events taking place ion the vale and warns the caravan of the danger that they are facing by continuing on to Brindol. Thissag, a rune priest from the Hammerfist Holds, decides that he can do more good by helping the heroes with their mission in the Blackfens and joins the group. The party finally completes their preparations and make their way into the marsh.
     After a day spent slogging through tall reeds and grasses rising out of ankle-deep mud and muck and backtracking around large open areas of murky water, Quinwyn spots a hillock that would serve as a good campsite for the night. As the heroes approach the mossy island of mud and peat, they notice that the body of a horse-sized owl is sprawled across the top of the hill, its body partially eaten and dissolved in spots. Ian volunteers to go investigate, and is surprised when a large lizard-like creature peeks up from behind the carcass of the owl. The young rogue and the reptile both cock their heads to the side, curious about what stands before them, when the creature launches itself at Ian, using its short wings to leap an incredible distance and attack the rogue, savagely tearing into Ian with its wicked claws, nearly eviscerating him!
     The group quickly reacts and moves to help Ian, but find wading through the muck difficult, and to make matters worse, two more of the creatures appear from the sides of the group and attack as well. Atreus and Quinwyn are making their way up the hillock and engage two of the creatures, while Thissag and Kishra face off against the third. Making great use of their leaping ability the creatures leap back and forth between the groups, unimpeded by the terrain and quickly take the advantage, felling Kishra and wounding Thissag. Quinwyn moves to help his brother, but is unable to make his way quickly enough, before the creatures leap again and change foes. Things look dire for the party until at last, Atreus gets close enough to strike one of the monsters with :Cwfiander. The holy sword blazes like the sun and bites deeply into the infernal creature and evening the odds for the group. Quinwyn follows Sir Atreus’ lead, having finally gotten the swamp beast’s timing down, and waits for one of the creatures to leap at him. As the monster gets within range, the elven swordsman deftly sidesteps and lops off the creature’s head. Sensing that victory is at hand, Sir Atreus valiantly charges the remaining foe and destroys the hellspawn.
     After a quick round of healing from Thissag, the group investigates the grizzly scene at the top of the hillock, and discover a jade band around the ankle of the owl, and an obsidian ring in the gullet of one of the lizards, as well as a iron coffer containing some magic items and some treasure. The group determines that the owl must have been a mount, but before they could move forward, they are set upon by five more giant owls and their elven riders. The elves demand to know what is going on and who the strangers are in their swamp. Kishra diffuses what could have been another confrontation and finds that the newcomers are the Tiri Kitor elves, lead by Killiar Arrowswift, and make their home in the Blackfens. The elves identify the lizard-creatures as “harrowblades” and the fallen owl as one of their own belonging to one of their hunters named Lanikar. The Tiri Kitor ask the party to accompany them to their home in the swamp, Starsong Hill. The group agrees and after short flight on the backs of the owls they arrive at the elven village.
     There, they are greeted by Sellyrira Starsinger the leader of the Tiri Kitor and Trellara Nightshadow, the sister of the fallen elf Lanikar. She thanks them for their help and explains that the Blackfens have grown more dangerous as of late. The harrowblades are a new menace, most likely brought by the invaders in Rhest, a goblin chieftain who along with his black dragon ally, have lead a force of hobgoblins and ogres into the marsh. Sellyria invites the heroes to stay with them for the night and attend Lanikar’s funeral on the following day, and the party agrees. The funeral held on the following day is one of feasting and celebration, where stories are told and songs are sung in remembrance of the fallen. The heroes even take part; Quinwyn puts on a martial display of prowess, Kishra dazzles with a magical show, getting a pleasant round of applause. Thissag joins in, telling a dwarven tale of valor, in the way that only dwarves can appreciate and receives a polite, yet subdued response. Inspired by his comrades and too much elven wine, Sir Atreus attempts to tell the story of the battle of Skull Gorge Bridge, but it is so disjointed in his drunken stupor that Kishra and Quinwyn need to come to his rescue a second time.
     The next morning as the heroes make ready to leave for Rhest, Quinwyn is approached by Trellara Nightshadow who states that she would like to accompany the group and avenge her brother’s death. Seeing no way to refuse the elf maiden’s request, Quinwyn agrees and the group sets out by boat towards the sunken city. Late in the day, the heroes arrive at a large lake in the middle of the swamp, where, here and there, the tops of buildings are seen poking through the murky waters marking this as the lost city. The groups decides to send Quinwyn and Ian scouting around the perimeter of the lake while the rest of the group watches the center of the lake from the shore. After a few hours the group identifies two buildings in the center of the lake as the base of operations for the Red Hand forces in Rhest, even seeing a large black dragon take flight from one of the structures. Quinwyn and Ian return shortly after and inform the rest of the party that several lizardfolk encampments surround the lake. The heroes decide to steal a lizardfolk raft and paddle out to the center of the lake to infiltrate the sunken city.
     As the group gets closer to the main structure they see that several ogres are patrolling the boardwalk surrounding the building as well as the rooftop, and that hobgoblin archers man a bell tower a short distance away. Seizing their opportunity, the party attacks the central structure, Thissag calls upon his rune magic to buff the party’s defenses and Kishra throws a devastating fireball at the top of the building incinerating the four ogres at the top. Quinwyn, Trellara, Atreus and Ian quickly assault the ogres on the boardwalk and eliminate the sentries. Making their way to the top of the building they find stairs leading down into the structure and notice that the denizens of Rhest are mobilizing their defense. Several lizardfolk raiders are making their way to the building on rafts and the hobgoblins in the bell tower begin to trade bow shots with Quinwyn and Trellara, while Kishra throws fireballs at the approaching lizardfolk. Atreus and Ian venture down into the building and are immediately set upon by a massive ettin and his hobgoblin master. The fight is on and the the hobgoblin, a sorcerer, attempts to mind control Ian, but the brash rogue brushes off the mental attack and eviscerates the sorcerer. Atreus sees an opportunity and uses a mind control scroll of his own to take control of the ettin’s feeble brain. Meanwhile, back up top, the hobgoblin leader of the bell tower has used powerful magics to launch himself into the air and fly over to confront the heroes. After a short but intense battle the heroes find themselves victorious, having defeated the hobgoblin swordsman and chased off the superstitious lizardfolk after Kishra annihilated one of their rafts with another fireball.
     Unfortunately the fight isn’t over yet, as the black dragon Regiarix has returned, erupting from the bowels of the building with the Wyrmlord Saarvith astride his back. The group decides to move down to the lower level of the building to escape the dragon’s deadly caustic breath, but unfortunately Quinwyn and Trellara are cut off by Regiarix and Saarvith. The dragon rips into Trellara tearing her to pieces and smashes Quinwyn with his tail sending the elven swordsman over the edge an into the lake below. The party would rally however, Atreus and Ian drink potions of flight and quickness respectively and the group, as well as the mind controlled ettin rush to engage the dragon and Saarvith. The battle rages on and in the end, the heroes stand tall as Ian leaps to the back of the dragon and guts the goblin wyrmlord and the combined might of the party brings down Regiarix as he tries to flee. The group quickly searches the rooms below uncovering several coins, gems and magic items, including the dragon’s horde. In addition, the group finds intel on the hobgoblins goals in Rhest, but what may be most troubling is the note the in Wyrmlord Saarvith’s room pertaining to an alliance with the liche known as the Ghostlord.

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March to the Blackfens
But first, a murder and a raid

     After defeating the dragon, Ozyrrandion, Atreus and Quinwyn set out to help the folk of Drellin’s Ferry prepare to evacuate the town, while Kishra and Ian look to secure passage up the Rhestwash towards the ruins of Rhest, where they believe another of the Wyrmlords of the Red Hand may be stationed. Deciphering the notes of Wyrmlord Koth’s map let the heroes know that Wyrmlord Saarvith was in the Blackfens, possibly brokering a deal with the local lizardfolk tribes to join the Red Hand. The group decides that while their force is too small to deliver a blow to the Red Hand by themselves, they may be able to weaken the Red Hand’s position by taking out their Wyrmlord leaders. Kishra and Ian find that while most of the boats have already left, one daring boat captain by the name of Cullen Tyroshi will take them upriver to just north of the Witchwood, if they are ready to leave soon. Joining back up with Atreus and Quinwyn at Jarett’s Sundries, Kishra and Ian inform the warriors that they have booked passage when a local woman approaches looking for her son Owen. She says that she hasn’t seen him all morning and wondered if Jarett had seen him. Jarett tells the heroes that the boy is something of a local troublemaker and that she hasn’t seen him.
     The party, being heroes, decide to search the town for the missing boy and split up. While Atreus and Kishra uncover nothing, Ian and Quinwyn are more successful. Ian discovers that a group of local hoodlums had dared Owen to rob Jarett’s Sundries before she left town with all of here wares, and Quinwyn put his tracking skills to use finding the boys trail leading to a small stand of trees near the north end of town. Following the trail, Quinwyn is shocked to discover the boys corpse, seemingly killed in ritual fashion. The group rendezvous at the Church of Light and Atreus tells them that the symbol carved into the boy is that of Asmodeus an archdevil with a cult following. As they decide what to do next, they notice that Ian is missing and must have sneaked out to see what he could find at Jarett’s shop. Rushing to the store, the heroes meet back up with Ian who says that while he did indeed infiltrate the shopkeeper’s abode, he didn’t uncover anything for a secret cellar with bloodstained floors. Before they group can decide what to do next, cries from the center of town let them know that goblins are attacking the west bank!
     Atreus, Quinwyn and Kishra rush to help, meeting up with Sir Holger and a contingent of guardsmen at the ferry, while Ian stays behind to keep an eye on Jarett. The ferry pulls our heroes across the river as quickly as possible and they see that a group of goblin worg riders and an enormous hellhound savagely assaulting the west bank. The heroes join the fight, and although the mere presence of the demon dog was enough to slow Tehnavaer, Atreus’ superior horsemanship was enough to spur the mount forward and strike a telling blow with Cyfiawnder. Quinwyn stays in front of his brother to protect the wizard using his bow to strike the goblins from range and Kishra slings his spells at the goblin invaders.
     On the other side of the river, Ian spots Jarett and two of her bodyguards loading up her wagon and preparing to leave town. The young rogue calls for them to stop and they nearly ride him down, leading to Ian calling them seven different kinds of coward. The taunt works and the guard nearly loses control of the wagon as he turns to curse at the thief. The two guards leap from the wagon to engage Ian, while Jarett tries to control the rogue with her magic. Ian fights off the mind control and quickly dispatches one of the guards and engages the other. Jarett seizes the opportunity, takes the rains of the wagon and escapes, while Ian subdues the other guard and throws a dagger at the fleeing cultist.
     Back across the Elsir, the heroes press the advantage against their goblin foes and are looking to wrap up the battle when they notice another hobgoblin wave entering the town. A group of five warriors and a hobgoblin sorcerer approach the group, but Kishra quickly dispatches them with a great ball of flame. Only the hobgoblin sergeant and sorcerer survive, and the sergeant quickly decides that discretion is the better part of valor and retreats leaving the sorcerer alone. The hobgoblin sorcerer spreads his contempt amongst both his fleeing comrade and the heroes, challenging them. “What can soft-bellies like you do against the might of the People of the Dragon?” he screams, and then lets forth a mighty fireball of his own that crashes down amongst the heroes, killing Atreus and Tehnavaer instantly, and severely wounding Quinwyn and Kishra. Only the timely return of Sir Holger and his men saves the heroes and chases off the hobgoblin sorcerer.
     With the battle won, the townsfolk take the defeated heroes to Brother Derny a the Church of Light to be healed. He then uses the remaining magic in the Staff of Life to return Atreus to the land of the living. With a solemn heart Atreus approaches Delora Zann at the livery to see if he can acquire a new mount. Delora presents him with a proud white stallion that she calls Majestic and states that the horse is a gift to Atreus for his and his comrades efforts in saving Drellin’s Ferry. The next day finds most of the town evacuated and the heroes are approached by Lord Wiston and Sir Holger. Sir Holger nods to the heroes. “You’ve already done us good, heroes. Without your warning, we’d have all been asleep in our beds when the horde arrived on our stoops. You’ve saved many lives today. For that you have my thanks. But I am afraid your work may not be done yet. There’s nothing to stop the Red Hand before they reach the walls of Brindol. If there’s anything more you can do to slow down the Red Hand, we’d be mighty grateful,” the Lord says. “I’ll personally make sure that Duke Jarmaath knows what you’ve done for us.” The heroes made their good-byes and loaded their gear on to the River Queen, the ship of Cullen Tyroshi. Joining them at the ship is Sergeant Hersk and a group of guardsman. “These men have lost everything they own during the raids on the town,” Hersk says, “we want to help fight this threat and are here to serve you, if you’ll have us.” Atreus and the rest of the party agree and they start their journey toward the Blackfens.
     They group makes their way upriver and see the signs of war along the river. Several times as they came close to the west bank, goblin archers would come out of the woods to take shots at the passing ship, but soon they were north of the Witchwood and traveling on land on their way to Rhest. With the help of Quinwyn and Jorr, they avoid most of the perils of the journey and the group comes upon the Rhest trail leading to the north. They follow the road for a couple of hours when they see a blockade before them straddling the trail, and manned by a hobgoblin archer. Quinwyn, Ian and Kishra, decide to move forward with stealth while Atreus and the guardsman stay back so as no to alert the guards. Ian makes his way to the blockade and uses his armor to turn invisible while Kishra and Quinwyn stay within bowshot of the fort. As they prepare to spring their attack, Kishra slips and attracts the attention of the guard, who shouts out an alarm. With their cover blown, the group attacks in force. Quinwyn and the hobgoblin archer trade shots before Ian takes out the guard at the top of the tower. To make matters worse, more hobgoblins fire bows from inside the fort and a couple of ogres appear and throw spears from behind the walls. Kishra blasts the doors of the fort with a mighty ball of fire and soon the flames consume them. With their cover destroyed a couple of hobgoblin sergeants move out to engage the heroes in melee and Atreus and the guardsman charge in to join the fray. The ogres wound Kishra and Quinwyn with thrown spears before Atreus comes in to smash one of the hobgoblins with a mounted charge. Tiring of ranged combat the ogres rush out to join the melee, but Atreus continues his charge and skewers one of the ogres on his lance killing him instantly. The second ogre moves to make Atreus pay but a look of surprise crosses his brutish face as an invisible Ian hamstrings the monster from behind dropping him to his knees, and follows up by opening the ogres throat. Quinwyn eviscerates one the the hobgoblin sergeants sending the remaining hobgoblins fleeing from the fort. Quinwyn and the guardsman, with their crossbows, strike down the fleeing sergeant and Ian knocks the last archer unconscious.
     The party interrogates the hobgoblin, promising to set him free if he cooperates, but the creature knows little of the plans of Rhest. He tells the heroes that the goblin Wyrmlord Saarvith is in command of Rhest and he’s not sure what the goblin’s plans are. When Kishra asks him how a lowly hobgoblin could rise to the level of a Wyrmlord, the hobgoblin replies “probably because of his friendship with Regiarix, a black dragon.” The heroes decide to spend the night at the fort before moving into the Blackfens the next day and agree to leave their mounts at the fort with Sergeant Hersk and the guardsmen, as they would be a liability in the marsh. They settle down for the night at the fort wondering what terrors the next leg of this journey will bring.

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Return to Drellin's Ferry
Ill tidings of approaching doom.

     With the bridge destroyed and the oncoming horde presumably slowed, the heroes prepare to depart for town when they hear a noise coming from Skull Gorge, a loud grunting sound. Moving in to investigate, they suddenly see a body come flying out of the gorge and land amongst them with a resounding splat. The broken and battered body is, unfortunately, that of Edward, Atreus’ squire, and is followed out of the gorge by Old Warklegnaw, the hill giant chieftain. The giant, having survived the fall, recovered Edwards body and returned him to the heroes. “You have done me a great service my friend, by returning his body to me” Atreus says, “and for that I am eternally grateful, but I must now ask what else you can do to help us against the horde.” The giant ponders this for a moments and replies, that while many of his kin have already joined the horde, there are still many giant who have not, scattered through the hills of the Witchwood. Old Warklegnaw says that he will gather his remaining kin and harry the Red Hand, through the forest, buying the people of the Vale another couple of days. With a plan in place, the heroes ride through the night and arrive in Drellin’s Ferry the next morning saddle sore and exhausted.
     The heroes spend the morning in Drellin’s Ferry resting and resupplying in town. Atreus takes Edward’s body to the Church and asks Brother Derny to prepare the young lad for his funeral rights and explains the danger that is approaching the sleepy little town. Quinwyn makes good use of his time, going to see Jarett Nurth, at Jarett’s sundries to gather supplies for the next leg of their mission, while also spreading word to the common folk of the goblinoid horde on it’s way. Ian, in true Ian fashion spends his time sleeping, seemingly oblivious to the danger on its way. After some time, Lord Wiston, Sir Holger, and Delora Zann, the master of the towns livery stable, approach the heroes in the Green Apple Inn to appraise the situation. The heroes explain the dire situation facing Drellin’s Ferry but the townsfolk, not having seen the massive size of the horde, had trouble believing the scope of the danger they were in. The group impresses upon Lord Wiston that thousands upon thousands of hobgoblins are advancing, supported by giants, manticores, and dragons, and Lord Wiston’s next reaction is that of panic and indecision. Lord Wiston tells the heroes that he must take this information before the entirety of the town council and will ask the heroes to speak to them, tomorrow or the next day. The group is frustrated with this, but are left to sit and wait.
     The next day arrives, and the morning passes into afternoon with no word from the town council. Quinwyn spends his time outside the Old Toll House which serves as the town hall, courtroom, jail, and town guard headquarters, to keep an eye on things and impress upon the guards his skill with a blade. Atreus makes his way to Sterrel’s Provisioning to purchase a wagon and team, and sends Lady Lysa and his entourage to Brindol to warn Duke Jarmaath of the trouble facing the Vale. As the day passes into evening, the heroes still haven’t heard from the council and decide to approach them instead. At the door to the Toll House, the group is denied passage by Sergeant Hersk as the town council is in session. It was then that they hear the screams from the green.
     Rushing to the green, the heroes see a terrible sight, the green dragon Ozyrrandion strafing the green and using his caustic breath to murder the townsfolk within. Men, women and children died horrible deaths as their skin bubbled and peeled and their lungs burned from the inside out. The heroes engaged the dragon, who seemed different, with pulsing red claw marks and scars marking his body; it would seem the Red Hand Horde was not pleased with his failure at Skull Gorge Bridge. Quinwyn fired arrows, while Atreus ran to the stables to get his mount Tehnaver, Kishra, threw his arcane might at the beast and Ian his daggers, but the dragon was unfazed. Ozyrrandion used his mobility to stay out of harm’s reach and threaten the heroes with his breath weapon, and things looked dire for the party. The group needed a strategy, and decided to target the creature’s wings, trying to limit his mobility. Quinwyn expertly placed an arrow into the membrane of Ozryandion’s left wing, wounding and slowing the dragon down. Kishra, then taunted and enraged the dragon, who responded by landing and savagely tearing into the wizard, nearly killing him. The strategy proved successful, as it allowed Ian to get into reach and attack and injure the dragon’s other wing with his swords. The dragon’s counterattack was savage, as he tore into Ian with tooth and claw, swatted Kishra with his tail and blasted Atreus with his caustic breath before trying to fly away. The wounds to his wings only permitted the dragon a short glide, however, and this proved fatal, as the dragon landed within reach of Atreus’ mounted charge. Shouting a battle cry to the Lord of Light, the knight lowered his lance, empowered by the Light’s Fury, and struck the dragon a devastating blow severely wounding Ozyrrandion. The dragon was not done yet however, and as Quinwyn and Ian closed for melee the dragon blasted the elven warrior with his acidic breath dropping him and then attacked Ian with a fury nearly ripping the rogue limb from limb and leaving him laying in a puddle of his own gore. With two of his companions down, Atreus wheeled his mount around and charged again, slamming his lance into the dragon without mercy. The mighty dragon reared back in pain and looked to blast the knight with his breath weapon but before he could, Kishra took advantage of the situation. Gathering his eldritch might, the wizard let loose with a blast of magical force that shook the green and blasted the life from the dragon, and Ozyrrandion was no more.
     With the threat past, Brother Derny and his acolytes rushed to help and heal the heroes, but there was nothing to be done about the townsfolk the dragon attacked. Surveying the scene and noting the body count, an enraged Quinwyin savagely cut the head from the dragon and the heroes marched toward the town hall. Sergeant Hersk had the door open and the group was permitted to enter and found themselves facing the council of Drellin’s Ferry. The faces of the townsfolk were unreadable, and Atreus wondered if they had unknowingly entered another combat. Quinwyn callously tossed the dragon’s head on their table and a heated discussion ensued with the group trying to get the people of Drellin’s Ferry to flee to the east, but the town council had other ideas. Iormel Cowell, a wealthy landowner in town, argued for fighting the horde and making a stand, not willing to give up his life’s work. Kellin Shadowbanks, the owner of the Old Bridge Inn, proposed sending the horde some gold and trying to buy them off. The passionate pleas of the heroes was not to be ignored however, and in the end they convinced the townsfolk to begin their preparations. Lord Wiston asked the heroes for two more days, as it would be difficult to bring in the crops from the fields and gather the provisions needed for travel before then. The heroes agreed, and with the horde bearing down upon their town, they studied Wyrmlord Koth’s map to plan their next move.

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A New Hope For Elsir Vale
Return to Skull Gorge Bridge

     Ian had just finished his third pint of manticore mead at The Laughing Manticore taproom, when his table rattled from the weight of the battle axe dropped upon it. Looking up a little bleary eyed, Ian took notice of the dour faced dwarf staring back at him. “Brule…right?” Ian asked, and then looking behind the dwarf the young rogue noticed two stern-faced elves with their noses in the air, in the way only elves can, and said “Strange company your keeping these days.” Brule Klang of Clan Ironfist, gave the rogue a hearty pat on the back, nearly knocking him out of his chair, and said “These two fine fellows, for elves, are looking for your friends. In particular Hedrid, they claim they’re from the Tower.” Ian sat for a moment trying to organize his thoughts clouded by the pale red drink of honey and spices he had been imbibing. “Oh yeah, them. I had been meaning to catch up with them. They headed west to Drellin’s Ferry a couple days ago.” With that, Ian set out on the road along with the dwarf and the two elves, who introduced themselves as Quinwyn, a swordsman, and Kishra, a Wizard of the Crystal Tower.
     Arriving in Drellin’s Ferry four days later, the group discovers that their companions, Atreus, Azgar, Mithon and Hedrid had headed deep into the Witchwood to look into a growing goblin menace that may be using Vraath Keep, the fortress promised to Atreus, as a base of operations. They decided to follow and hired a guide by the name of Jorr Natherson to lead the way. After spending most of the day traveling through the woods, they arrived at the keep to discover it was indeed occupied by hobgoblins. While doing some reconnaissance, they overheard some talk that a group of prisoners would be coming in soon, and decided to set an ambush as the monstrous humanoids were crossing Cold Creek, about a mile to the north. Laying in wait, the heroes executed a perfect ambush with Quinwyn and Jorr firing their bows, Brule his crossbow, and Kishra flinging deadly magic spells. In no time at all, the goblins were dead or chased off and the group had rescued Atreus and his squire Edward. Atreus told them that the goblins and a green dragon named Ozyrrandion had set an encampment on Skull Gorge Bridge about a dozen miles north along the Dawn Way, and that they had killed Hedrid, Mithon and Azgar.
     Set for revenge, the new group of heroes made their way north through the Witchwood when they came upon a strange effigy, humanoid in shape and standing fifteen feet tall marking another trail. They determined that it was a marker of the Twistusk tribe of hill giants that had gone to war with Amery Vraath a century ago. Having recovered a giant spiked gauntlet, from his first foray into Vraath Keep, Atreus saw a way to make an ally and they followed the trail. There they found a giant beside a fire, easily 10 feet tall…while sitting down. A quick parley avoids a combat, and Old Warklegnaw, the giant, thankful for the group returning his kin’s property agrees to help the heroes against the goblins.
     The group makes their way to the gorge and formulate a plan of attack. Ian sneaks up on the guard tower and silently takes out two hobgoblin archers and the battle is on. Quinnyn takes out a goblin and his worg, while Brule uses his crossbow to take out the other hobgoblin archers. Kishra launches a fireball against the advancing hobgoblin troops before Atreus and Edward charge into the fray from the backs of their mounts. The dragon Ozyrrandion makes several strafing runs, but the heroes are prepared and avoid taking damage from his toxic breath. Quickly the battle turns against the hobgoblins and Ozyrrandion, seeing that the battle was lost, takes flight to the north, but not before making a flyby attack against the heroes on the bridge, knocking Warklegnaw and Edward to their deaths.
     The heroes press on to the north, eager to see the size of the supposed force of goblinoids and upon arriving at Cinder Hill they see a force to be reckoned with. They can easily make out hundreds of warriors in view at any given time. Bands of goblin worg riders patrol the camp’s outskirts, battalions of fierce hobgoblins engage in mock battles with martial shouts and the clang of steel on steel, hulking giants plod from place to place, and they even see a scarlet-colored dragon lazily circling overhead. This is the camp of an army numbering in the thousands.
     Awed by the size of the opposing force, they heroes make haste back to Skull Gorge Bridge with the intent to destroy it, figuring that it would be the only way to slow the horde down and by time for Drellin’s Ferry. Quinnwyn and Brule look for a weak spot of this piece of dwarves master craftsmanship and after some time point it out to Kishra who unleashes his mighty magic to topple the stone causeway. With the bridge destroyed and thousands of monsters preparing to march, the group is left to ponder their next move.

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Skull Gorge Bridge
Well, that didn't go as planned....

     The heroes decide to make their way north along the Dawn Way to scout the enemy forces and see exactly what they are dealing with. After a couple of hours the forest grows more ominous as the road winds its way through the trees, when the group comes across a wide track heading west off of the main path, marked by a massive effigy of some kind, a fifteen foot tall humanoid shape made from a sagging moss covered frame. The party determines that this must be a holdover from the giant tribes that once made this area their home and move on.
     Shortly thereafter, Mithon, who had been scouting ahead returns to the group stating that an enormous stone bridge lies before them crossing the gorge. He tells the group that hobgoblin sentries man the watchtowers, and although he was able to eliminate one and get back unseen, it wouldn’t take long for the hobs to discover their fallen comrade. The group quickly makes a plan and begins to move toward the bridge when an enormous shadow darkens the sky above them. Looking to the heavens they see a dragon, emerald scales gleaming in the sunlight, bank and swoop down behind them unleashing a cloud of toxic vapor from its throat.
     Only the quick thinking of the heroes save them from the terrible wyrm, but the beast did serve to scatter their mounts and ruin the surprise. Breaking out of the forest and into the open, the party is assaulted by a hail of arrows from the hobgoblin archers and hear the telling sounds of hobgoblin troops on the march across the bridge.
     The valiant heroes try to mount a defense but their lines are harassed by massive dogs covered with flame. Azgar and Atreus take out the hell hounds while Mithon duels the hobgoblin archers on the bridge towers. Hedrid tries to slow the advance of the hobgoblin soldiers by throwing an incredible ball of fire into their ranks, but the troops are well trained and get their shields up in unison, surviving the attack with few casualties.
     By now, the dragon has entered the fray and is confronted by Atreus and Azgar. The hob archers take advantage and strike the heroes from behind felling Edward and seriously wounding Atreus. Hedrid readies another spell but is taken down by spears thrown from the hob soldiers. Mithon’s deadly accuracy takes out a couple of archers, but the dragon, Ozyrrandion, strikes Atreus with a swipe of his massive tail, sending the knight flying off his horse and removing him from the battle. Not content with his work, the dragon rears back and sinks his teeth deep into the mighty dwarf Azgar, crushing the fight out of the dwarf with his powerful jaws. Mithon, not one to give up and leave his friends behind tries to mount a run and shoot war against the enemy but the numbers are against him and soon Ozzyrandion lands before him. The last thing the elf sees, are the yellow teeth of the dragon snapping down towards him.

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