Heroes of Khemer

The Outer Sanctum
A deal with the devil.

     The group takes a few moments to explore this chamber. Obviously a place of worship, the heroes are wary of traps and search for clues and passageways. Avarthel, in hawk form, flies up to the alcoves and discovers that some of them have passageways leading up through the rock of the mountain and to the outside. Moric uses a more mundane approach, rope and grappling hook, to search another alcove while Bertrem and Sir Atreus discuss the dangers of the statues of Tiamat flanking the altar and Thissag stands guard, when a secret passageway opens in the north wall. Into the chamber walks several hobgoblins, apparently priests of the Red Hand and combat is on. Thissag reacts quickly using his newly acquired hammer, Drongrund, to blast the hobs with rippling earth and stone, disorienting the majority of them and knocking them back along the wall. Avarthel transforms into bear form, and joins the fight as Moric, in a bold move, leaps from the twenty foot high balcony, impaling a hobgoblin before quickly regaining his feet and throwing his spear through another. Bertrem and Sir Atreus engage the creatures and the fight looks to be a rout, but the priests have a trick up their sleeve. The humanoid clerics use the divine magic of their goddess to turn Avarthel and Moric against the party, urging them to defend the hobs and attack their friends. Avarthel, uses his great bear form to try and block Bertrem from advancing on his new “friend” and Moric looks to waylay Sir Atreus, but his mind controlled movements are clunky and Sir Atreus easily deflects the attacks. Quickly, however, the hobgoblin clerics are slain and the heroes are released from their mental torment.
     Following the secret passage, the party finds themselves in an enormous natural cavern littered with stalagmites and stalactites, with several layers, leading deeper into the mountain. Making their way through the chamber, the groups hears a voice from their past, as none other than Jarett Nurth, the Asmodean priestess, call out to them from the shadows. “Ahh, Sir Atreus,” she purrs, “you have done well so far in your quest, tell me, where are Ian and Quinwynn? I should very much like to see them again.” she taunts. The heroes quickly strain their eyes, searching the darkness, but are unable locate the priestess, until Avarthel transforms into a wolf and uses his keen senses to notice her hiding behind a stalagmite and using magic to hide her form. Jarett then offers to parlay with the heroes. She tells them that they are doomed to fail their quest to stop the ritual without her help, pointing out that even the mighty Moric was unable to defeat Tiamat the last time he fought her. Jarett taunts Moric further, asking what happened to his friend and mentor, Sir Tren during that fight, reminding him that the once proud Kindred, now serves at the pleasure of Tiamat, and leads her armies into battle. Jarett tells the party that for a time, the interests of her dark lord aligned with that of the dragon queen, but no longer. She further tells the group that if they agree to retrieve an item from Azarr Kul’s treasure vault for her, she will give them an Orb of Dispelling, to use in their efforts to stop the ritual. The heroes ask what item she wants in return and she tells them that the item is called the Vallis Crystal, and is no bigger than her hand. As a token of faith, Jarett tells the party that in the upcoming chamber, are seven more hobgoblin clerics, but they are immersed in the ritual and that if they strike quickly, they will be able to slay the priests before they can react.
     Deciding to test her revelation, the party moves forward and discover that she was telling the truth. The heroes savagely attack, quickly felling several of the priests, but matters are complicated when four ghostly apparitions float through the very walls and join the fray. The fight is intense, but the heroes prevail, largely due to the magical power of Bertrem’s Mace of Disruption and Sir Atreus’ enchanted sword Cyfiawnder. Jarett follows the group into the halls and again asks if they have a deal. The heroes, feeling that they have bought themselves some time, tell her that they must discuss the situation privately and decide to take a short rest. Moric beseeches Sir Atreus to let him talk to the priestess, desperate to find any information on the fate of Sir Tren. Seeing no other way, the knight of the Kindred agrees and Moric returns to the cavern to seek her out, and makes a deal with the devil.
     Jarett tells Moric of another secret passage leading to Azarr Kul’s treasure room. She tells him of a dangerous trap guarding the chamber and the password to disarm it, and tells him to quickly kill the devil guarding the room. Armed with this knowledge Moric, joined by his loyal companions, search for and find the passage. Following the devilish priestesses instruction to the letter, they quickly disable the trap and engage the hideous barbed devil in combat. The devil fights fiercely, summoning two bearded devils as well, but the heroes are too powerful and too well prepared and the battle is short lived. In the chamber they find several treasure chests, each made of the bones of a different chromatic dragon. Inside they find gold, silver and gems and several magical items, but most importantly they find the Vallis Crystal.
     Unable to determine what the Vallis Crystal is, Sir Atreus reluctantly agrees to let Moric take the item to Jarett, who indeed gives the warrior an orb and then departs. The heroes, battered both physically and emotionally fall back to the entrance of the Fane to rest for the night, preparing themselves for the terror the next day will bring.

Return of the Light.
Hags, devils and dragonspawn.

     As the heroes prepare to enter the Fane, they hear a scraping and scratching noise coming from the ledge. To their surprise, a broken and bloody Sir Atreus pulls himself up to the top of the ravine. The group rushes to his side and administer healing, both mundane and magical to bring the warrior back from the brink of death. His magical sword, Cyfiawnder, which Moric swore was shattered as well, was whole and in his scabbard. When asked how he survived, or how he climbed up from the chasm, the knight had no answers, and only stated that his time was not done yet. With the paladin returned to them, Avarthel used his magical powers to heal Sir Atreus’s warhorse Majestic as well. With the afternoon shadows stretching across the mountain peaks, the heroes know that time is short and decide to press on into the cultist’s lair.
     To circumvent the trap on the front doors, Sir Atreus recalls Tyrgarun saying “Hail Tiamat, Devourer of Worlds and Scourge of Hell”, before opening the doors, and determines that it must be a passcode. With a quick prayer to the Lord of Light for blaspheming, the knight says the words and the heroes safely open the doors. Moric quickly retrieves an iron spike and hammers it into place to keep the doors from closing again. Making their way inside, the group finds that the hallway leads to a pair of locked iron doors engraved with Red Hand iconography. Moric tries to muscle the doors open, but to no avail, and the party decides that they need to find a key or another way in.
     Morphing into hawk form, Avarthel flies up to the dragon statue on the cliffside above, accompanied by Sir Atreus on his mount. Into the mouth of the blue dragon’s carved head they fly and discover a gigantic cave that appeared to by the lair of the dragons they have defeated so far. Inside they find several magical items including the legendary hammer and shield of Durgeddin the Black, most recently used by Lord Azgar Hammerburg of Clan Silverforge, and several thousand in coins, but they find no key.
     Below, Moric and Bertrem grow impatient and decide to open the doors with a hammer and spike. With a resounding clang, the door swings open, just as Sir Atreus and Avarthel return. Distracted by their friends arrival, Moric and Bertrem are surprised by a pair of blue guard drakes, dragonspawn serving as hounds for the Red Hand. Sir Atreus and Avarthel spring into action and the fight is over quickly. The heroes find themselves inside a chamber with an enchanted chandelier, crafted to appear as five different dragon heads spouting different colored flame. Several doors lead deeper into the Fane and the heroes set out to explore the complex.
     Making their way through a pair of double doors to the north, the group finds that the hallway continues for some time with several doors leading off to the east and west. Not wanting to leave an enemy at their backs, the party decides to try one of the side chambers and discover that the room serves as a kitchen for the Fane. Inside, they find a comely elf maiden, chained to the floor and obviously in fear for her life. She explains to the group that her name is Laryssa and that she and her entourage were captured in the nearby forest and while several of her kin were slain, the rest were brought here as prisoners to serve the Fane. Moric frees Laryssa from her bonds and he and Bertrem begin to calm her down while Thissag takes guard at the door. Avarthel, sensing that something was amiss, warns Sir Atreus that Laryssa was not being entirely truthful, furthermore, the stew she was making was filled with humanoid body parts.
     Thissag warns the group that footsteps were coming down the hallway, and then chaos breaks loose. Laryssa trying to use the distraction to her advantage, transforms into a loathsome hag, but stumbles as she attempts to move away from the party, falling to the floor and raising a clatter. The heroes react quickly slaying the monster, but out of the pantry a pair of bearded devils erupt and combat is on. To make matters worse, Thissag is holding the door as several sentries try to bash their way into the room from the hallway. Working as a team, the heroes quickly slay the devils and then Thissag allows the sentries into the chamber. The sentries, three dragon-looking men rush into to chamber, only to be ambushed by the party. Moric stabs one through the back, but nearly kills Bertrem as a result, as the dragonspawn’s acidic blood sprays at the priest who narrowly avoided the blast. In spite of the dangerous nature of their foes, the heroes defeat the sentries and continue their exploration of the Fane.
     Following the chambers to the east, the group finds several storerooms filled with mundane supplies and a couple of ornately furnished bedchambers, but do not encounter any foes. To the west they encounter another locked iron door, but are unable to open it and make their way to the north instead. Finding another western door, the heroes enter into a massive chamber that serves as a barracks for the Fane. Several cots, beds and tables line the walls of the room, but capturing the groups attention was the massive bronze dragon that was gutted and strung up on cruel barbed and hooked chains that littered the ceiling. Waiting for them in the chamber were three more of the black dragonspawn taking cover behind a table, and devilish figure wrapped in spiked chains and bleeding profusely, but with an evil glow in his eyes.
     Before the heroes can react, the dragonspawn breathe acid on the heroes and the devil, who uses his infernal magic to control the chains, rips the spear from Moric’s hand and the hammer and shield from Thissag, wounding both of them. The party springs into action and take the fight to their enemies. Moric, dauntless even unarmed, dives over the table and smashes his shield into one of the dragonspawn, knocking him backwards and causing the acid to spray the devil. Sir Atreus rushes forward and slams Cyfiawnder into the evil creature and wounds him badly, but the devil uses his supernatural chains to wrap and bind his wounds and then launches a counterattack, entangling Sir Atreus in deadly chains and dragging him to the ceiling. Avarthel morphs into his bear form and rips apart another of the dragonspawn as Bertem rushes forth to smite the chain devil, shaking the creature. With the devil stunned, Sir Atreus drops hard to the floor allowing Thissag to reach and heal the knight. Sir Atreus recovers enough to smite the infernal creature as well, but before his eyes, the devil regenerates again and the heroes know that they will need to do something else to defeat him. Rushing forth in bear form, Avarthel mauls the devil and grabs him in a massive bearhug while Bertrem retrieves a vial of holy water and pours it on the chain devil, finally defeating him.
     The heroes take a short rest to heal and continue to explore the Fane. Following a passageway to the north, the uncover a dungeon of sorts stocked with all manner of torture equipment. The gaoler, a fearsome looking bone devil, taunts the heroes and again combat is joined. Rushing forward to engage the devil, Sir Atreus and Moric are thwarted in their attempt as the devil conjures a barrier of ice, separating the heroes from their quarry and then summons several slug like lemurs to engage the party. Soon the party defeats the lesser devils and Moric smashes through the ice wall to threaten the bone devil, who calmly teleports away.
     Continuing the exploration of the Fane, the heroes uncover several spartan monastic chambers and a war room of sorts, but no other enemies at hand. Following their only course, the party follows the stairs down deeper into the Fane entering a massive temple room lit by hundreds of flickering candles. A massive altar awaits, flanked by a pair of statues of Tiamat, and five alcoves, twenty feet off the ground circling the chamber. Awed by the impressive shrine, the heroes contemplate their next move.

The Fane of Tiamat
Blue wyrms before knight fall.

     The group helps the men of Brindol clean up the aftermath of the battle while pondering their next move. The work is hard and sorrowful as countless dead must be taken to the graveyards and thousands of goblins are hauled outside of the city to be burned in the pyres. Avarthel leads the charge, directing the townsfolk and using his mighty bear form to pull the carts himself. Moric rushes over to the keep to check on the Lady Elisi, only to be rebuffed once again. Once things are underway, the heroes decide they must learn more about the massive cloud in the sky as fears of the unknown plague their minds.
     The group believes that the turmoil in the sky is somehow related to Tiamat and a portal into the Nine Hells. Moric tells the group that if Tiamat arrives in this world all is lost as he has been to Avernus and fought Tiamat herself, losing his companion Sir Tren in the battle. While this information startles the group. they quickly form a plan that sees Avarthel seeking out the Wizard, Immerstal the Red to see if he could shed some light on the mystical storm, while Bertrem and Sir Atreus look to their respective churches for answers. Thissag makes his way to the Brindol Academy to see what he can uncover on Tiamat, and Moric, finding no enemies he can fight, buries his head in a bottle to try and drown memories of the past.
     The party meets up at the end of the day at the Shining Citadel to relay their information. Avarthel reveals that he uncovered that the Wizard, Immerstal is in fact a dick that has no further information on the cloud, but promises to inform the party if he uncovers something and Sir Atreus sadly tells the group that he came up with nothing. Thissag reveals to the group that one of Tiamat’s domains is trickery and Bertrem finds that in order to open a permanent portal into Tiamat’s realm, a massive blood sacrifice would need to be performed. Putting the clues together, the party determines that the entire war may have been a ruse to bring an even bigger threat to Elsir Vale.
     With no further clues, and the heroes still needing answers, they party decides to question Archbishop Octagnius, the fallen priest that may have started this whole debacle and see what they could glean from him. Although the former archbishop was a proven heretic, Sir Atreus still remembered that he was once a good man, and a paladin of the Light and refused to allow an interrogation that would see Octagnius treated poorly. The rest of the group agrees and Bertrem and Thissag move down below the Shining Citadel and into the dungeons to question the fallen priest with Avarthel in tow to see if the priest was using any deceptive magic or lying, while Sir Atreus and Moric stay up above and discuss their mutual acquaintance, Sir Tren Duman.
     Thissag starts off the interrogation by slamming his hammer down into the table and striking fear into Octagnius before Bertrem steps in and appeals to the former archbishop’s humanity. Bertrem beseeches Octagnius to save his very soul, telling him that he was a pawn in Tiamat’s game and that there would be no immortality for him only death and destruction awaits if Tiamat wins. Octagnius admits that his soul is probably beyond saving, but he tells the group that Tiamat’s High Priest, Azar Kul was in his stronghold, the Fane of Tiamat, deep in the Wyrmsmoke Mountains performing the ritual to bring Tiamat out of Hell. To complicate matters, the heroes discover that they have but five days to stop the ritual.
     Quickly discussing their options, the party decides to travel to see Adranna, the druid of the Witchcross Circle and travel through the Crossroads to reach the Drellin’s Ferry Circle. From their they will make their way to Vraath Keep and follow the trail to the Fane of Tiamat. After making preparations for their journey, the group meets at Brindol Keep for a feast in their honor before they leave. During the celebration, Duke Kerden gives each of the heroes a special gift. To Thissag, he gives a carved minotaur horn capable of blasting his foes with sonic energy, to Avarthel he gives a pair of wolfskin boots that will allow him to move at great speeds, to Moric he give an amulet engraved with a cat’s eye allowing him to defy death, to Bertrem he gives a medal of honor that will strengthen the courage of the wearer, and to Sir Atreus he gives a magical saddle engraved with wings that allows the mount to fly as the pegasus.
     The next morning, Avarthel transforms into a hawk and flies to the Witchcross Circle to make the arrangements, while the rest of the group follows. Soon they meet up and begin the ritual to open the gate between groves and convince the spirit guardian to let them cross. The party pushes their mounts and press on knowing that time is short and soon they find themselves entering the the foothills of the Wyrmsmoke Mountains and losing Thissag’s pack mule to exhaustion in the process. They continue on, winding their way deeper into the mountains looking for the Fane of Tiamat, when a winding ledge along the face of a sheer cliff rounds a corner, and suddenly the vista is one of terrifying beauty. The ledge leads over a ten-foot wide natural bridge and then continues to wind up the face of the cliff on the other side to a large, flat ledge. The cliff side soars several hundred feet up from this ledge. This vista is dominated by the lifelike rendition of a five-headed dragon carved out of the stone of the cliff face, they have found their goal.
     The dragon is massive­—easily a hundred feet tall—and carved to look as if it were perched upon the wide ledge and emerging from the stone itself. The dragon’s five serpentine necks arch up and then back down. The heads protrude from the cliff side, each leering down as if to challenge any who dare to approach. Each head is that of a different dragon, and each has a mouth agape in an eternal roar. At the base of the cliff, under the dragon’s belly, a huge pair of closed stone double doors are set into the cliff. Each door is six feet wide and twelve feet tall. The motif of the five-headed dragon is repeated here, although this time only the dragon’s necks and heads reach out from around the door’s frame. Each of these heads seems crafted from a different type of stone—obsidian, alabaster, soapstone, malachite, and marble—corresponding to the coloration of each head. As the party attempts to cross the bridge, a terrifying voice rings out from the stone dragon, demanding they give tribute and leave or lose their lives. The group realizes that the voice is not coming from the carving itself, but rather from inside the statue and rebuking the offer make their way across the ledge.
     Bursting out of the mouth of the blue dragon’s carved head, is a real blue wyrm taking flight and engaging the heroes by blasting them with its lightning breath. Avarthel and Moric make their way across the chasm while Bertrem uses his crossbow to cover them. Sir Atreus takes flight and charges bringing the fight to the dragon. The beast’s flight and mobility prove to be a massive challenge for the party and they quickly decide to try and reach the doorway for cover, while Sir Atreus engages the dragon in an aerial battle. The monster is ready however and blasts the knight out of the sky with his terrible breath weapon. Somehow, Sir Atreus survives the fall and the group makes their way for the door. The dragon gives chase, taunting them as they run, “Yes! Flee from Tyrgarun like mice, flee toward my son and he will destroy you all!”
     Avarthel is the first to reach the massive stone door and heaves it open, in doing so, falling prey to a terrible trap as the five heads breathe their various energies down on the druid, severely wounding him. The party makes their way inside and are quickly enclosed in darkness, but the dragon has other plans. Landing, the wyrm rips the door open and blasts at the party with his lightning breath again and again.
     Realizing that this is their chance, Sir Atreus and Moric engage the wyrm in combat urging their allies to join the fight. Avarthel makes his way toward the doorway but has no room to transform into his monstrous bear form, and the dragon savagely attacks the party with tooth, claw and tail. Sir Atreus moves around the dragon to flank and make room for Avarthel, but is caught near the ledge when he is struck with Tyrgarun’s massive tail sending him flying off the cliff to the chasm below. The party rallies, with Thissag and Bertrem using their magic to weaken the dragon and Avarthel, finally in bear form tearing into the dragon wounding him badly. Moric, enraged by the loss off his friend, screams for the Light to guide his blade and the warrior strikes true, slaying the beast.
     Peering over the ledge, the heroes see the broken body, and broken blade of their ally lying at the bottom of the cliff. With nothing left to do but press on, the group gathers their supplies and prepares to enter the Fane of Tiamat.

The Final Push
A new mystery.

     As the ghostly bugbears charge at the heroes, brandishing axes and thirsty for blood, Avarthel the druid, transforms from bear form back into his natural state, and soon his injuries overwhelm him. Luckily for the group however, Thissag has made his way to the barricade to rejoin his comrades. The fight is intense, but the heroes are up to the task, and they soon find out that the ghostly apparitions are but mortal beasts, painted white to put fear into their enemies. The party prevails and soon they are relieved from their post by men from Brindol and called back to the Shining Citadel, as it seems Wyrmlord Kharn and his forces, have personally besieged the north gate of the city. and broken through. The fighting in the city has slowed somewhat as the Red Hand Horde has spread out, consolidating its gains and regrouping in the marketplace.
     As the group approaches Cathedral Square they hear outcries of alarm, screaming, and the sound of dozens of armored soldiers running. They find the place in chaos as soldiers scramble toward the Shining Citadel, as if fleeing from some invisible army. After questioning the retreating soldiers, the heroes find that Duke Kerden has just fallen to sniper’s arrow, fired from somewhere on the western side of Cathedral Square. Three more of his soldiers and aides fell to the sniper’s shots before the rest managed to reach safety on the opposite side of the square, dragging their fallen leader with them.
     The group quickly comes up with a plan that sees Sir Atreus riding his steed across the square to draw the fire from the sniper, while Bertrem, Moric, Thissag and Sergeant Hersk ready bows and crossbows looking to take out the deadly assassin. The plan works perfectly, and while there were some close calls with Sir Atreus and Moric taking hits, the group shakes off the damage and charges into what appears to be a coffin maker’s shop to find and take out the Red Hand agent. Busting through the front door turns out to be perilous as Sir Atreus soon finds out by taking a pair of twin lightning bolt blasts from hobgoblin sorcerers as he enters the building. However Thissag is soon there to heal his wounds and Bertrem and Moric join the fight as well.
     With Sir Atreus and Bertrem slaying the Red Hand sorcerers, Moric decides to find and deal with the sniper by having his warhorse rear and knock down the door leading to the second level of the shop. The assassin, a duergar mercenary, was ready however and fires a crossbow bolt striking Moric in the head, nearly penetrating his great helm, and knocking him unconscious. Again Thissag is there with the powerful healing runes of his ancestors, and gets the warrior back into the fight.
     Realizing they need to deal with the threat quickly, Bertrem and Sir Atreus form a plan and move up the stairs to confront the duergar, but it seems the sniper has another trick to play. As Sir Atreus leads the charge into the room, the assassin, now invisible, side steps and shoots Bertrem who had been the only one of the two to detect his presence and drops the mighty Lightbringer. This time it is Moric’s turn to play healer and rushes to the priest’s side with a healing potion while Thissag and Sir Atreus search for the invisible gray dwarf. Once Bertrem is back on his feet, the party attempts to corner the duergar, while Bertrem uses a scroll to dispel the assassin’s magic. Realizing the jig was up, the cowardly dark dwarf calmly takes one more shot at Moric and flees out the window.
     With the sniper defeated, the party returns to the Shining Citadel to find Duke Kerden still incapacitated and Bertrem uses the powers of the Lord of Light to remove the poison from his system and return the Duke to health. With the battle seemingly quiet and dawn approaching, the heroes take the opportunity to rest and recuperate in the fortress before the Red Hand Doom launches the next attack.
     Several hours later, the group’s relaxation comes to an end, as the next wave of battle is upon them, and they hear that Wyrmlord Kharn was leading his forces toward the Shining Citadel. The heroes, along with the men of the Vale, solemnly march out to meet them as a sense of dread or finality, settles over the city. The advancing horde is heard minutes before it is seen. Horrifying howls, gutteral roars, and dragonbone horns announce their arrival. When the hobgoblin army arrives, it does so from several angles at once out of the darkened shadows of rubble strewn streets. The soldiers in the square brace for the impact, and in only a few seconds the open area before the cathedral is a battlefield. Wymlord Kharn himself strides out of the chaos, his pathway cleared by a pair of hill giants and four mighty ogres that casually fling aside defenders with great sweeps of their weaponry, and by Wyrmlord Ulwai Stormcaller, riding the winds, and blasting the men of Brindol with powerful lightning bolts and deafening thunderclaps. Kharn, the hobgoblin general, is an imposing figure towering nearly seven feet tall, dressed in full plate armor made from the scales of a red dragon and wielding a blood-covered, multi-headed flail, he calls out a challenge to the group in a voice hoarse with rage.
     The heroes ready themselves into two groups to meet the charge, that finds Moric and Thissag on one side, Sir Atreus, Sergeant Hersk and some men of the vale on the other, while the Lightbringer placed himself in the middle, calling out to the Lord of Light to bless them and see them to victory. Not to be outdone, Thissag uses his mighty Wand of Heroes to further enhance the party and prepare them for the coming onslaught.
     The fighting is hot and heavy, and the heroes hold their own against the powerful giants and ogres, while Ulwai uses her spells to empower Wymrlord Kharn. A great cheer rises from the group when Moric fells the first giant, but the forces of the Red Hand are not done yet and the second giant smashes Sir Atreus’s soldiers, including Sergeant Hersk with one mighty swing of his club. Moric and Thissag rally, slaying two of the monstrous ogres, while Bertrem and Sir Atreus do the same on the other end of the battlefield. The final giant hammers away at Bertrem and Sir Atreus, severely wounding the holy warriors and Thissag rushes over to help, leaving Moric to face the ensorcelled Wyrmlord Kharn in single combat.
     And then Wyrmlord Ulwai makes a fatal mistake. The hobgoblin enchantress, with her flight spell ending, lands in the square thinking that her foes were out of range or otherwise occupied. Sir Atreus disabused her of this notion as he charged forth, urging his mount for more speed and drove his lance through the hobgoblin sorceress’s heart, and ending her empowering spells on both the giant and Wyrlord Kharn. Emboldened by the knight’s charge, Bertrem and Thissag hammer away at the giant and fell the creature as well, leaving only Moric and Wyrmlord Kharn. The two warriors warily circle each other testing the other’s defenses. Wyrmlord Kharn attacks, swinging his monstrous flail wildly, but Moric deflects the attack with his shield and slams Woundhealer deep into the chest of Kharn, striking a mortal blow.
     Moric stares defiantly into the eyes of the Wyrmlord and says “I told you this day would see you dead!”, but Kharn surprises the mighty warrior by laughing in the face of death and pulling Moric’s sword deeper into his chest. “Look above you whelp” the Wyrmlord snarls, “even in victory you find defeat…my Queen comes!”
     It is then that the heroes look to the sky to see a massive cloud forming above the beleaguered city. Six miles wide, and composed of noxious vapors, lightning and ice storms, and flashes of hellfire swirling and mixing together, the terrible cloud looms above, and the heroes realize that the battle is not yet won.

Abithriax's Rampage
A costly victory.

     Gearing up with potions of healing from Sir Lars, the Heroes of the Vale make their way toward the southern gate where the dragon Abithriax was terrorizing the city. The party is joined by Avarthel, the druid from Drellin’s Ferry as Thissag stays behind to tend to the many wounded in battle. Fighting their way through the throng of fleeing soldiers, the party finds themselves in a deserted section of Brindol with the dragon flying overhead.
     The party quickly forms a strategy that has Avarthel, Sir Atreus and Kishra taking shelter behind houses and in alleyways, while Moric stands in the center of the street and calls the dragon out. “You are right to fear me wyrm!” the warrior shouts and he tosses down a white dragon’s tooth and a blue dragon’s horn, the trophies of his previous dragon battles. “See me and gaze upon death!” Moric shouts. Abithriax, a veteran of many human battles, does not fall for the ploy and laughs at the warrior. “I have killed many of your kind, mortal, I am death” the dragon sneers, “why should I care about those too weak to defeat you!”
     With the beast unwilling to cooperate with the party’s plan, the heroes turn to plan B. After the group survives several strafing runs, Kishra taunts Abithriax while Moric and Sir Atreus, hunkering down behind their shields, provide willing targets for the dragon’s breath weapon. Once the Abithriax is close enough, Kishra unleashes his wand of web and entangles both of the dragon’s powerful wings, sending the wyrm crashing to the city streets. The heroes rush to engage in melee, but the enraged dragon breaks free and takes flight again.
     Abithriax circles twice more, breathing fire and setting Moric aflame. Even more worrisome is that he succeeds in splitting up the group and catching Kishra all alone. The dragon lands and tears into the wizard with tooth and claw, and the heroic elf is torn apart before his friend’s very eyes. Too late but to avenge their companion, Sir Atreus and Moric rush to engage the beast. Sir Atreus strikes a mighty blow wounding the dragon again, but Abithriax counter attacks and smashes Sir Atreus and Moric both with one mighty swipe of his tail, severely wounding Sir Atreus and felling Moric. Abithriax takes flight again, and Avarthel quickly rushes to Moric’s aid heals him.
     The party had taken a beating and already lost one of their team, and they needed a plan. Avarthel tells Moric to draw the dragon’s ire again while Sir Atreus rushes over to his faithful steed. Once more Abithriax descends, ready to breath fire on the waiting warrior, but this time Avarthel is ready. Having rushed up to the second story of an inn, the druid uses his mighty magic to cause the earth itself to erupt into the sky and wrap Abithriax in roots before he could unleash his fiery breath. Again the dragon crashes down to the city streets. Moric rushes toward the beast and with a mighty leap, slams his sword into the wyrm’s hide, severely wounding Abithriax, but the dragon was still alive. Sir Atreus, sends a prayer to the Lord of Light, and as the sun rises over Brindol, the knight charges forward on his mount and slams his sword into the Abithriax’s throat, slaying the mighty red dragon. The hobgoblin horde and the men of the Vale both watched in stunned silence, before a thunderous cheer rose from the humans, sending the goblins retreating back for the day.
     Avarthel gathers what he can of Kishra, while Moric collects his trophies and weapons, and perhaps overcome with rage for his fallen friend, Sir Atreus uncharacteristically challenges the retreating horde. “Who’s next!?” the paladin screams at the retreating goblins, but there was no answer. The group makes their way back to the city square and again are greeted by a thunderous cheer from the soldiers of Brindol. Duke Kerden and Sir Lars approach and thank the heroes for their help and encourage them to get some rest before the next night’s attack.
     The group makes their way to the House of the Radian Sun, intending to inter Kishra until they can take him to a druidic grove, when Moric sees a familiar face. His old traveling companion, Bertrem, a Lightbringer, was standing before the church. After an awkward greeting, remembering their trials in the dungeon of Thankendar, Bertrem agrees to help the heroes with the rest of the battle for Brindol.
     After a few hours rest, the heroes are approached by a squire for Sir Lars, who states that the attacks have started again at the outer barricades and the heroes are to make their stand on the Dawn Way. Sergeant Hersk and a retinue of Drellin’s Ferry men reunite with Sir Atreus, along with Jorr Natherson. Jorr pledges his bow to the fight, and after Sir Atreus confirms that the archer can follow orders this time, the knight welcomes Jorr to the group.
     The heroes man the barricades and soon the battle is upon them. The goblins come in waves, the first of which is some goblin worg riders supported by a flying manticore, but the heroes make short work of the monsters. The second wave turns out to be much more difficult. An organized squad of hobgoblin warriors and archers, supported by a Doom Hand cleric of Tiamat, clashes with the heroes and the butcher’s bill was costly on both sides. Although the heroes prevail, all of the Drellin’s Ferry men, save for Sergeant Hersk, but including Jorr fall to the goblins. Spread out and heavily wounded, the heroes hear ghostly howls emanating from the west as five bugbears, glowing white in the torchlight charge towards the heroes. Resignedly the group readies their weapons for the next wave of the attack.

The Battle of Brindol
A test of true heroism.

     Arriving in Brindol, the heroes find that the city has made preparations for war. Soldiers toil in what only a few weeks ago were idyllic orchards and productive farms, digging trenches, raising watchtowers, and securing wooden palisades, and despite the size of the city, the group finds that the streets are strangely silent and empty, save for patrols of soldiers marching.
     Sir Atreus and his companions are easily recognized by virtue of their exploits and soldiers hail them and let them know that Duke Kerden eagerly awaits them in the Keep. The heroes make their way and are swiftly ushered into the great hall of the fortress. Inside the hall, Duke Kerden and several nobles of Elsir Vale, counts, barons and various other lords and ladies, crowd the chamber that has been turned into a war room; a single long table dominating the chamber is covered with books, maps, sketches and plates of half-eaten food. The low murmur of dozens of muted conversations falls silent as the party enter.
     Duke Kerden asks the party to tell of their travels to the Thornwaste and the results of their encounter with the Ghostlord. Sir Atreus tells their tale of great victory and tragic loss at defeating the Ghostlord, but at the cost of the lives of Quinwyn and Ian and the jovial news of defeating the liche quickly turns sour. Moric is greeted somewhat awkwardly by Duke Kerden, but in the end, the duke welcomes his blade to the battles to come. Thissag, meeting the duke for the first time, informs him that if the city can but hold out for a few days, they will be reinforced by King Othrek Orcbane and the dwarves of the Hammerfist Holds, and the news brings some relief the the beleaguered humans.
     With no time to waste on sadness, the nobles of the Vale turn to the heroes to try and help them with the plans of the city’s defense. A council, consisting mostly of Duke Kerden, Lady Kaal, Sir Lars, and Prelate Tredora discuss the strategies at hand, and the heroes are instrumental in getting the deadlocked nobles to agree on a course of action. A night of planning sees the defenses arranged around the four gates of the city with Sir Atreus commanding the armies of the southern gate. With a stroke of genius, Kishra engages the less reputable members of society and arranges the thieve’s guild to carry messages between the four armies and aid with communication. With nothing left to do but wait, the heroes take their posts on the city walls.
     Two days later, the armies of the Red Hand of Doom march and encircle the city of Brindol, the cookfires of the goblins creating an eerie glow, like thousands of fireflies in the night sky. For another two days the hobgoblin horde camps outside the city walls and while no attack came, the will of the defenders of the Vale was severely tested. And then it came.
     En masse, thousands of screaming goblinoids charged the city on all fronts, emboldened by their companions, bugbears and ogres and gigantic hill giants throwing boulders and acting as living siege weapons. The horde rushed to the city walls quickly putting up siege ladders and using battering rams to try and smash down the gates to the city.
     For three nights the assault came and thousands died on both sides. For the heroes, it was time to be heroic. Sir Atreus calmly entrenched on his noble steed, shouted commands to the frightened soldiers of the Vale, while Moric was a living weapon, slaying anyone or anything that came before him. Kishra awed the humans as much as the goblins, throwing balls of fire and calling down lightning and thunder into the horde in a dazzling display of eldritch might, and Thissag called out to his ancestors, using his Holy powers to heal and bolster his allies and the men of Brindol.
     While the heroes held their own at the south gate, things were getting grim at the west where most of the Red Hand horde was assaulting, but on the morning of the fourth day the tide of the battle started to turn. The war drums and horns of the dwarves sounded from the west as the armies of the Hammerfist Holds joined the battle, and they were not alone! Men of Ellisfield and Rossmoor, initially content to hunker down in the south and wait for the battle to come to them, were inspired by the marching dwarves and joined the battle as well. The Red Hand counterattack was brutal however, while winged wyverns, manticores and chimera swooped in and attacked killing thousands, the hill giants bombarded the western gates and finally broke through.
     Realizing that he could not hold the gates any longer, Duke Kerden calls for the armies of the Vale to fall back and regroup around the keep and the House of the Radiant Sun in the center of Brindol. Thousands of goblinoids poured into the city proper and thousands of men lost their lives, but when things looked most grim, the heroes rallied. Sir Atreus, Moric, and Thissag led counterattacks with sword and steel, while Kishra struck with his arcane magics, slaying the horde’s winged monsters, where normal arrows failed. The battle had turned once again and things looked good for the forces of light as the Red Hand of Doom started to fall back…until Abithriax joined the fight.
     Near the southern gate, the mighty red dragon was slaying the troops of the Vale by the score. Where Abithriax breathed, men died. And worse, the flames of the red wrym, threatened the very foundations of the city itself. Sir Lars called out to the heroes, pleading with them to destroy the dragon as once again, the fate of Brindol rested upon the heroes’ shoulders.

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.

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.

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.

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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