Red Hand of Doom - Logs

Log 11, The Corrupted Druid

(Now in the heart of the Ghostlord’s domain, the group must bargain for their lives and cause.)

The dark figure rose before them, and the seeping chill clutched at their flesh. Twin blue flames burned where eyes should have been, and the stones under their feet trembled when he spoke. “Who… disturbs my meditation?”

The ghostlord was standoffish, but amused enough by the party to allow them to speak their piece, after he examined them with his magic to determine that they posed little threat to them. He hardly seemed irritated when the group mentioned having cut their way through the Red Hand on the way in, and close to jovial at the thought of Ulwai being beaten. Sorrow quickly overcame his mirth though, and the players soon learned that the lich was bound to a self imposed penance- to guard the Lion’s Heart eternally. The Heart was an artifact of immense power that the Ghostlord himself had created, able to amplify both the power and complexity of the spells a necromancer could cast greatly. It was created in hatred, and served the Ghostlord on his rise to power. The lich’s wrath had cooled in the past centuries though, with the decline and fall of the the empire he hated, and now the stone represented the humanity he gave up, and the evil he was once thrall to. The Heart could not be destroyed by any power the Ghostlord wields, so he pledged to guard it, preventing it from being used for further evil.

The Ghostlord then lived within the Thornwastes, at war within himself- the evil he sowed within himself to preserve his person, and the wise druid sorrowed by so much death. Corrupted druid that he was, all around him was doomed to blight and wither, his mere presence draining life and vitality. And so he remained, kept company only by the ghosts of the lions he once revered.

Until Ulwai snuck into his home and stole his phylactery as it hung on the twisted branches of his blighted shrine. He was distracted that day by a band of marauding hobgoblins. He dispatched them readily, but returned to his halls to find they were merely a distraction for the greater betrayal. Days later Ulwai returned to makes demands of him, coercing him into creating undead minions for Azarr Kul’s army. Unwillingly the lich agreed, knowing he could only continue his penance if he remained animate.

After hearing this, the party first appealed to the Ghostlord to betray the Red Hand on the basis of simple altruism, to protect the people of Elsir Vale. The Ghostlord had little concern for life beyond his domain though, and a great concern for being close to the Lion’s Heart. With no other choice the Intrepid Five admitted to their possession of the lich’s phylactery, and offered it in good faith, requesting the Ghostlord’s withdrawal of support from Azarr Kul’s armies. Intent on both freedom from service to Azarr Kul, and recovery of his phylactery the Ghostlord quickly acquiesced. The object of his desire back in his possession, the tortured creature withdrew once more to his meditations, leaving the group to make their way out of his dim halls.

The day was won and all was settled… Except for one thing: Beledar’s curiosity. One location in the temple was yet unexplored and stank of mystery. A smooth stone shaft dropped into darkness near the lich’s dissection tables, and Beledar was determined to know what lay at its end. To this end he quickly stripped away his armor and lowered himself by rope into the welcoming chasm. 70 feet down he arrived at the small chamber into which the chute terminated, magical illumination reflecting off still puddles dotting its floor. Seeing no danger Beledar dropped. And found himself engulfed by the massive grey ooze that was the floor of the chamber. Acidic to the touch, and determined to examine him thoroughly the massive beast pressed Beledar to the wall and began its slow digestion. Fortunately Beledar’s friends heard his shouts and rescue quickly came in the form of un-binding magic and wall climbing magic. With these Beledar was able to escape back up the shaft, his curiosity sated and his pants dissolved. The true casualty of the venture, however, was his divinely-bonded Longsword, which had been etched to a jagged stump by the potent acid of the ooze. Iomedae would require fasting and prayer before gracing him with her direct bond again.

The sun lay low on the barren horizon as the group walked between the paws of the stone behemoth once more. The Tiri Kitor’s owls huddled close by, and seemed relieved to leave behind the structure and the ghostly lions that circled it eternally.

Night found the five making camp in a small farmer’s house, abandoned as the previous occupants fled to safer territory. It seemed a snug place to spend the night, and several even made use of the straw-laden beds when laying out their sleeping rolls. Darkness was soon full, and all was still but the single cow in the fields beyond. All was still, that is, until Poppy’s proximity alarm woke them abruptly. No visible threat presented itself for several moments before the earth pitched upward in the center of the room and the first of several enormous Ankhegs crawled into the room. Each giant ant wasted no time spewing acid on all within range. One crashed through the front window and began to drag away a terrified owl. Though startled by the insectile foes, the five rallied quickly and worked together to dispatch the invaders. More lurked on the roof and outside, so the camp was broken as quickly as possible and the group chose another campsite, this time with rockier ground to spend the rest of their night.

-Game Master

Log 10, The Ghostlord and the Stormcaller

(The intrepid five face the wrath of the Ghostlord and his allies.)

Sun beat down on the party as they winged ever closer to the towering monolith that was the Ghostlord’s desert lair. Deep within the Thornwastes rose an enormous stone lion, composed of boulders fit together with a precision that boggled the mind. The huge creature snarled endlessly, oily black smoke rising from the flickering fires that burned within its eye sockets. Around it flitted the ghosts of long dead lions, torn to dim shreds and bound to the play by a force stronger than death. Nothing grew this close to the Ghostlord, his twisted druidic magic drained the life from all but a few of the wicked vines that give the Thornwastes its name. Between the lion’s two front limbs a dark stairway led to a set of stone doors.

The adventurers examined their target and without further ado strode through the front doors… only to be met by Varanthian, the many-legged Behir of Tiamat’s favor. She set upon them immediately, flinging lightning and bestowing curses of disease on those who dared approach the stronghold so blithely. The creature darted forward and swallowed Ricard, who was only able to save himself from a sticky dissolution by conjuring forth a fountain of water within the dragon-kith’s gizzard, forcing her to spew him out onto the silty flagstones. Only when critically wounded did she hurl a final obscenity and disappear into a shroud of magical darkness.

Oddly, the small chamber the creature had hidden within held no entrance to the lair proper, and the group was forced to climb up to the open maw of the stone lion to gain access to the inner rooms. Here they were met with what were clearly acolytes of the Red Hand- hooded monks that carried ensnaring flails. The adventurers fought their way through them and descended into the inner stone halls even as thunder rumbled from the cloudless sky outside the lion’s jaws.

As they reached the main level of the labyrinth however, thick mist coalesced from the very air, obscuring all but the closest objects in pale white. All was still for a moment until Bendar located a nearby door and stepped through. The reaction was immediate. The door slammed shut, cutting him off from the group, and the mist was suddenly filled with the wrath-filled baying of hell-hounds. Combat was a frenzy of confused battles, with spellcasters attempting to find targets for their spells, monks flinging binding chains here and there, and invisible forms causing mischief wherever possible. The enemy priests and monks flitted from spot to spot within the obscuring mist, rotating as each expended his spells and falling back to heal his brothers. Summoned creatures sprang from the shadows and Poppy’s fireballs burned goblin flesh and black robes. Bendar’s knives and Beledar’s blade flashed in the dimly lit caverns. Howl loosed arrows into the darkness, relying on his sharp hearing to locate targets. And suddenly there was a roaring wind. Above it, Ricard could be heard chanting, voice barely audible over the elemental force he was conjuring. In the distance, Howl muttered, “Anyway, here’s Windwall…” A fierce wind sprung from his hands and wove through the air in swirls, seeking out and dispelling the thick fog that was the enemy’s shield. A moment later the battlefield was clear and the party was free to turn their full might on the remaining Red Hand contingent.

Soon all that remained was a tall, oddly handsome goblin woman who scowled at them as she slowly became visible. Clearly a caster, she wore many lighting-shaped charms from mithril jewelry and carried a whip that crackled with a flickering energy. Seeing no avenue of escape she surrendered her weapon and allowed herself to be bound in a set of manacles.

Ulwai Stormcaller was her name and she was stationed here with her contingent of Red Hand monks and priests to negotiate with the Ghostlord and oversee his completion of undead soldiers for Azarr Kul. In exchange for her continued life she shared what details she could about the plans of the Red Hand horde and the Ghostlord’s activities. She spoke of Azarr Kul’s base in the Giantshield Mountains, where he was gathering a second horde of giants and hobgoblins to sweep down upon Brindol in a pincer motion and she explained the nature of the bone drinkers which the Lich was being forced to create. After a brief conference, Beledar called upon Iomedae to bind Ulwai with a curse. Should Ulwai harm a good creature she would immediately be afflicted.

Bringing with them the bound Ulwai, the group struck out deeper into the heart of the lion. Dissection chambers and libraries lay in odd adjacency, but all bore the motif of lions, twisted and ravaged by rot and dark magic. The adventurers found the great hall, and found the bone drinkers lurking there. Though Ulwai attempted to command them to halt, they were not yet bound to her command and merely gibbered in hunger and wriggled their tentacles. Quick work was made of these fragile abominations, but to Bendar’s dismay, the single bite wound he sustained quickly blackened and drained him of vitality, sapping his strength.

Only after the last bone drinker lay still did they notice Ulwai’s absence. At first not troubled because of the lack of apparent exit routes, the group quickly discovered that she had vanished almost without trace. Only Howl’s keen tracking eyes led them to the secret door Ulwai had used to evade them. The footprints on the dust led them to a hidden chamber, wherein grew a dead tree. The trunk sprouted from desiccated roots and rose to lifeless limbs that reached across the ceiling. Corpses in goblin-made shrouds lay in the arid dirt beneath the tree and a single ghostly lion stood beneath the boughs, permitting no one to draw close. Ulwai’s tracks led around the edge of the chamber to another apparently bare wall. A second secret door was found there and the party filed into another narrow stone hallway, this time arriving at what must have been the Lich’s treasure store. It was in chaos, paintings destroyed and objects of value tossed here in there as if ransacked. The group stepped gently over the scattered riches and opened the yet-unexplored door. The temperature in the room dropped suddenly and the glinting of torchlight on gold seemed to dim. The room beyond was dark, save for the reflections on the mirror-polished floor. Narrow fingers of frost crept along the edges of the door frame and a voice no mortal chords could produce called forth- “Who… disturbs my meditation?”

-Game Master

Log 09, The Lair of the Lich

(The group parts ways with the elves and travels to the Thornwastes in search of the Lich's Lair)

Parting with the Tiri Kitor elves was sad. Behind them the group left both warm beds and good friends. For the first time since they set out at Undin's behest they had been able to rest well and spend time among friendly faces. Even in the midst of their battles Starsong Hill had been a sanctuary.

Now that warmth was behind them as they flew silently South, toward the Southern Plains and the Ghostlord whose phylactery they had plundered. The Lich was a powerful ally to the Red Hand, and if he could be persuaded to remove his support from their cause, it would be a great boon in the coming conflict. Through the power of his goddess, Ricard was able to scry the dark being, pacing and ruminating within the polished chambers of his hold. Did he yet know his most precious possession was no longer held by the Wyrmlords of the Red Hand?

Though their feathered mounts were swift, the distance to their destination was great, and stops were made along the way. The group flew by night and rested by day, allowing their owls to rest. The first such rest found them camped in the midst of raptor territory and the party was beset by the tiny predators, though Howl's tracking prowess averted true disaster by helping them avoid the larger cousins of the vicious creatures. The following night was brightening to morning and the group was seeking a campsite when a wisp of smoke along the road caught their attention. They drew nearer to find a small group of goblins beginning their day in the ruins of what must once have been a guarded cart. Eager for a fight, Bendar sprung from his owl in mid-flight to crash down atop an unsuspecting goblin, cutting into the rest as they sprung up in alarm. After a moment of hesitation, Beledar also rolled from his owl, free-falling thirty feet to flatten the first of two ettin brothers. Though not equal in aerial grace, the two warriors tore into the evil creatures with equal vigor.

The rest of the party made their way into battle more sedately, but no less lethal intent. The goblins quickly fell, but the pair of ettins took coordinated effort to subdue. Beledar provided distraction by riding the back of his target, allowing the casters to fire volleys from afar. Poppy wrapped up the combat with a concussive fireball, laying the remaining resistance to smoldering waste. While the bodies charred, the group examined the human-made cart and its partially melted cargo. The cart and its retinue (now absent) had apparently been payment on its way to the Hammefist Holds. A letter from Lord Jarmaath had accompanied the payment, and it requested the aid of the "Shining Axe Company" in the coming conflict.

The party gathered the letter and payment and set off once more toward the Ghostlord's lair. Soon the landscape began to shift and distort. Plants became less frequent and more sickly. Trees gave way to low the low, thorny vines that gave this region its name: The Thornwastes. The very ground appeared tortured and the desert-like plains were riddled with gnarled ravines and hollows. Were the group covering this ground by foot, the journey would be arduous indeed.

The final day of rest arrived with the stronghold of the lich on the horizon. A great stone lion, higher than the fortifications of Brindol, towered over the desolate wastes on a low hill. It's massive form left no doubt where the source of this land's evil and corruption resides. Even this far away, the ghostly forms of lions occasionally flitted at the edges of their sight.

Their final rest did not go undisturbed, and within moments of fitful sleep the group was woken by trembling earth. A creature burst from the ravine wall, showering rubble around the camp. In the harsh dawn light Howl was able to identify the creature even as he scrambled for the nearby owls. It was a bullete- a land shark. The battle was short but hard-fought. The bullete would spring from the earth and gouge at the closest combatant before rapidly digging back into the hard dirt. Several in the group sustained significant injuries before the creature could be killed. Ricard even summoned his own bullete to do combat with the native scourge. This final threat was enough to corner and kill the land shark, and the haggard party drifted a little way before making camp once more and resting through the rest of the bleak daylight hours…

-Game Master

Log 08, The Ruins of Rhest (Part 2)

(The group rousts the Red Hand from the Ruins of Rhest and gains the support of the Tiri Kitor)

All that remained of the Red Hand infestation lay within the old town hall. The party boated toward the building. Upon nearing the structure, they moored along its side. Their quiet approach was rewarded as they caught the Red Hand vanguard unaware. Several ogres were slain in their sleep before the alarm was raised. The group slowly fought their way through the building, facing ogres and even an enormous ettin. At one point Bendar was ignominiously thrown from the roof to land in the murky waters. When the chaos of battle settled, the heroes found themselves deep in the old building, no more enemies forthcoming. Cautiously they began exploring. When a nearby door creaked open of its own volition, the party paused before carefully advancing. Bendar moved through the shadows, checking for traps but finding none.

Unfortunately, danger still lurked there in the form of the Mindbender Nurklenak. As soon as the majority of the party was within the room, the beguiler wrapped his web around their minds, trapping all but Beledar and Howl- these two gathered their mental fortitude and resisted his mental grasp. The others were cast into shifting purple sands. As they wandered they watched the barren land shift and ruins crumble, feeling the weariness of ages. And as they wandered Nurklenak whispered to them of rest and peace, if only they would not resist and simply sit down on the soft sand. When they sometimes paused to heed the whispers, the sands slowly rose around them.

Meanwhile Howl and Beledar fought the caster, trying to break his hold on their friends. Nurklenak sought to defend himself by fascinating Beledar but was thwarted by Howl’s quick thinking when he flung a nearby manacle at Beledar. The shock broke him out of the spell and the two quickly vanquished the goblin… Only to find that the creature’s death did not release their imprisoned friends! They were still being tempted with eternal peace and perfect rest. But the seeds of inspiration were there, and the trapped travellers slowly divined the key to escape. Their bonds with their friends were what tied them most firmly to this realm, beyond material wealth and glory. With this knowledge each was able to vanquish the whispers of the beguiler that held them imprisoned. Trellara struggled the longest- fighting within herself before realizing that sorrow and love for her brother were what drove her, not a true desire for revenge.

They woke in turn, starting and gasping as they returned to their physical forms, sand dusting their clothing. Nurklenak now truly defeated, the party raided his sanctum, taking special care to destroy the shimmering hourglasses filled with purple sand that stood upon an ornate shelf.

As they finished in Nurklenak’s torture chamber, the Wyrmlord burst from his quarters and rushed past them, sprinting for the open hole in the floor that led to the flooded catacombs beneath the town hall. None were quick enough to stop him, though Bendar flung himself off the hole’s edge after the goblin- only to find himself facing a rising dragon! Saarvith had been joined by his steed: Regiarix, the black dragon of Rhest. Saarvith and Regiarix burst from the pit and soared out through the rubble, the party rushing onto the roof after them. In desperation the Wyrmlord loosed the last of his pet razorfiends on the group, but even with the creature’s agile help the Wyrmlord knew the odds were against him. Ricard, seeing victory within grasp, conjured up fantastic beasts to his aid and Bendar mounted a griffin and took to the air. The two worked in tandem to force the goblin leader into close quarters combat, even as he flitted back and forth atop his winged ally. Beledar took the opportunity to drink a concoction that doubled his height and lumbered toward the razorfiend. Between Poppy’s magic, Howl’s arrows, and Beledar’s enormous blows, the twisted creature was soon crushed and lay cooking in its own acid.

Wyrmlord Saarvith had no sooner thought of escape when Bendar handily dispatched him, leaving his body to fall into the swirling black water below. A moment of elation gave way to terror as the dragon swooped down, now free of its rider. Regiarix strafed back and forth, showering the party in caustic acid, only to find them unharmed- Ricard had cleverly cast spells to protect the party from this danger. Confidence was once more at hand and the focused attention of the skilled combatants united was more than Regiarix had bargained for. Seeing this, the dragon dove once more and hid himself within the dark waters, slithering quickly away. Ricard conjured sea creatures to join the chase, but Regiarix was swift and silent, winding his way through the sunken ruins until he could take to the sky once more. Soon all that remained of him was a small silhouette against the dim horizon. The Ruins of Rhest were free of the Red Hand’s influence!

One final surprise lay in wait for the adventures as they searched Saarvith’s quarters. Within his belongings lay a small letter intimating the presence of a powerful talisman. Apparently Wyrmlord Saarvith had been entrusted with a phylactery belonging to the Ghostlord, a legendary lich that was said to live within the Thornwastes, south of the Dawn Way. It seems that High Wyrmlord Azarr Kul has conscripted the powerful undead druid to fight alongside him with the threat of destroying his phylactery. A search revealed the darkly magical object to be within Regiarix’s horde. Possession of this object now provided the party with an opportunity to deprive the Red Hand of a valuable ally.

The group’s return to Starsong Hill was thankfully uneventful, and they were ushered to Sellyria’s tent even as their boats rode up on the sandy shore. Waiting for them were the gathered elders of the Tiri Kitor. Trellara took her position among them, though not without receiving a piercing look from Sellyria.

Sellyria was seated upon the wicker seat of her office and the other three village heads now stood at her sides. Sellyria began to speak, first asking about the expedition to route the Red Hand. Satisfied with the traveller’s answers, she then held out a hand for silence. “You may be aware that first impressions are of utmost importance to the Tiri Kitor. A person’s treatment of strangers reveals a great deal about them. Interestingly, your weighty request of us is that we leave our home and protect those who are strangers to us. While it is true that we share this enemy with them, we seldom extend ourselves in a manner such as this. I have gathered the village heads to help me decide whether or not we will aid you, and the humans of the Vale. The impact you have had upon them, and on this community will decide our trust in you, and therefore our involvement in this conflict.”

Sellyria gestured forward Illian Snowmantle. He bowed slightly, “I find our guests unobjectionable. They have respected our traditions and our deities. Their cause is just.”

Illian stepped back and Sellyria gestured Killiar forward. Killiar spoke, “I support their request. I too have found them courteous and respectful. They have exhibited integrity in our dealings and have honored Lanikar by purging the land of the abominations that slew him. They are worthy hunters.”

Killiar nodded in the group’s direction seriously, but the edge of a smile was visible beneath his solemn expression. Trellara stepped forward, glancing back only briefly at Sellyria. “I also support them. They have shown me kindness, even when I was simply using them to serve my purposes.” She looked briefly embarrassed, but continues. “They have rid us of a great threat and are sincere in their request for aid.” Sellyria nodded and stood. “During your brief stay here, you have demonstrated generosity. Elebril tells me that you have broken the curse which he has lived with for many years, and the joy which you instilled in the stoic Galinael is a wonder to behold.” She smiles a little wryly, “Though I do not share your taste in poetry it seems.”

“For these reasons the council is in agreement. We will send aid to Brindol. We will do what we can to break the advance of the Red Hand and preserve the peoples of the Vale. In addition we pledge five owls to your use for as long as you need them. Treat them with the same respect that you have treated us and they will serve you faithfully.”

The party has gained the support of a powerful new ally, and learned of a new weakness within the ranks of the Red Hand of Doom. The tide may be turning for the citizens of Elsir Vale.

-Game Master

Log 07, The Ruins of Rhest (Part 1)

(The group begins their assault on the Red Hand stronghold within the Blackfens.)

The morning broke dim, grey, and damp- pretty much the same as each preceding morning in the Blackfens. After conferring briefly, the party agreed to let Trellara accompany them, though Beledar still held that her presence was inappropriate given her lust for revenge.

Poppy once more wove illusion around their crafts and they set off toward the ruins in which the Red Hand had taken residence. Approaching carefully from the south, they chose the mausoleum as their first target and quietly alighted on the shore next to it.

Ricard quietly used his magic to create a small tunnel and the party began to crawl through, only to be immediately beset by screeching ghouls. The stench of rotten flesh filled the air, and the darkness within the crypt was filled with malignant forms. Soon the adventurers had put the creatures to rest, though the exertion left Howl briefly paralyzed and several others covered in noxious effluent. Beledar stooped to pick up an object which had caught his eye. It was a shield boss, fallen from a nearby statue. It bore the holy symbol of Iomedae and shone with light when he held it. With a tiny hammer he carried in his pack, the former blacksmith affixed the boss to his own shield.

A brief meeting ensued during which it was decided that stealth was of utmost importance. The band decides to cast spells to allow them to breathe water and then march along the sunken streets of Rhestilor to lay siege to the bell tower. The spells were prepared and the party swam to the slime-laden cobblestones below. Their travel was fitful, as they often became entangled in twisted wreckage, remnants from the life that once walked those streets. They met several of the denizens of that place, a man sized clump of jelly, and an enormous crocodile. The jelly was too slow to pursue them, but the crocodile posed a real threat. Fortunately Howl spoke with the creature and assured it that not only was the party particularly flavorless, but that they would soon be throwing other, tastier, creatures down from the bell tower. This placated the toothy beast, and it swam slowly into the silty distance.

Their subterfuge was successful, and their arrival at the bell tower was silent and unnoticed. Bendar suggested reusing a familiar trick, and after disguising himself as a goblin, strolled up into the tower to offer the guards a drink. One guard was lowered below, where Ricard used enchantment to take his face and wear it for his own. Thus disguised, Bendar quickly taught Ricard a few phrases drunken goblins might employ, and the two lured the remaining guards to a quick dispatch. The tower itself cleared, the party quickly secured the adjacent barracks, with the exception of a single goblin, who fled through a window. The chase was joined and when the goblin consumed a potion that gave him flight, all seemed lost. Fortunately Poppy's quick thinking saved them- she handily dispelled the magical flight, leaving the goblin to plummet straight into the waiting jaws of the giant crocodile! The party began to relax, but suddenly the water bubbled and a large shape burst forth. It was the crocodile, apparently having consumed the fleeing goblin's remaining potions of flight. The ponderous beast seemed to revel in its newfound freedom and drifted about the area, snacking on the goblin corpses the party had left scattered about.

Two structures cleared, the final and largest Red Hand stronghold awaits the group- the ancient Town Hall ofRhestilor's Eastern District.

-Game Master

Log 06, The Tiri Kitor

(The group meets the Tiri Kitor, attend an elven funeral, scout the ruins, and fight swamp creatures.)

Standing beside the fallen Great Owl, the party was suddenly surrounded by elves mounted on more of the feathery steads. They swirled silently for a moment before alighting softly around the group. Their leader dismounted and stepped forward, “What are you doing in our lands?” The elf’s face was remained set as the group explained their purpose and what they had stumbled upon on the small islet they stood upon. The corpse of the owl and the vile creature that had killed it. The elf listened in silence, only interrupting to ask if the adventurers had found a jade band.

They had indeed. The owl had born a thick jade band inscribed with the name ‘Lanikar’. The elf’s face fell, but he accepted the band gratefully, then turned to the draconic creature. Noticing it was already partially dissected he asked about an obsidian ring. This too the group had found and their examination and gladly provided. Satisfied that he had recovered his comrade’s possessions, the elf paused to collect several of Lanikar’s bones before turning to the group once more.

“Your presence here is suspect, but also fortuitous. I would ask that you accompany me back to my camp and speak with our speaker. You may ride our owls- it is far quicker than travelling by foot.”

The party accepted the invitation and were soon winging their way above the still marshes. The owl’s wings made muted beats against the thick air and the marshes swept below as the sun sank to the horizon. Finally, as the lower edge disappeared behind the Wyrmsmoke Mountains the owls drew close to a shallow island. The island was Starsong Hill, the main encampment of the Tiri Kitor.

After landing the lead hunter, called Killian Arroswift, took them to a large pavilion. Next to the pavilion was a deep pool, and howl sensed that within it lurked a large creature.

The group was greeted by Sellyria Starsinger, Speaker for the Tiri Kitor. She welcomed the group and after questioning them, thanked them for providing closure regarding Lanikar's unfortunate death. She shared her concerns about the growing evil within her borders and was pleased to hear that the group intended to remove it. She promised what aid she could spare, noting that the great owls were needed to defend the encampment. If the party were to free her homeland, she hinted that the elves might be willing to send a contingent to aid the rest of the Vale. Finally, she also invited the party to Lanikar's funeral the following morning.

The party spent the night comfortably in tents cleared for them, some partaking in the feast Ricard conjured at Poppy's insistance when she realized that the elves only provided greens for dinner.

Waking refreshed the group were led by Killiar to the Tree of Ancestors, pausing to purchase adornments appropriate for mourning. The ceremony consisted of Lanikar's remains being burned and his ashes sequestered within the Hall of Memories. Throughout the process songs were sung, impromptu, commemorating Lanikar’s life and deeds. Bendar was able to work with one elf to compose a short piece and contributed to the songs himself. Others in the group attempted to participate and were less lauded, but tolerated.

After Lanikar’s funeral, the group spent time perusing the local shops, making small purchases and emptying poor Galinael’s pockets by selling him a pile of weapons taller than he! Thus equipped the party resolved to scout out the Red Hand’s stronghold. As they prepare to leave they were approached by Trellara Nightshadow. Trellara was Lanikar’s sister, and had led his funeral song just this morning. Hesitantly at first, but with growing certainty, she confides in the group. She says that she desires vengeance and would like to join them as they fight the Red Hand to she can kill some of those who were responsible for her brother’s death. Howl, knowing the codes of peace kept by elves, cautioned her and suggested she allow the party to take vengeance on her behalf, but Trellara would not be swayed. The group conferred and finally asked Trellara to wait. Today they would scout, and tomorrow, perhaps she could join them in their assault.

Two elven boats were fitted and the five were soon paddling towards the ruins of Rhest. Through Poppy’s illusory camouflage and careful reconnaissance, they found that two buildings within the ruins were held by the Red Hand.

Satisfied the boats were turned and carefully withdrawn from the fringes of Red Hand territory. Darkness was falling and storm clouds gathered above. Tendrils of lightning soon provided extra light to the party. In a sudden silence the group heard groaning from among the reeds to their left. Choosing to try and aid (agains Bendar's protestations) the group slowly drew closer, following the cries for help and the light of a lantern. Drawing closer, Howl spoke with a snake and bade it scout ahead. When it returned the snake spoke briefly only of the light before slithering into the darkness. Heartened, the party approached- only to be confronted by a trick. A Will o’the Wisp driving before it two massive shambling mounds. A long and ignominious battle ensued, during which the Will o’the Wisp cackled insults and goaded his vegetative minions. Bendar valiantly clambered atop one mound, even going to far as to douse it in alchemist’s fire before leaping to safety. Beledar grew so irritated that he finally leapt and caught the Will o’the Wisp- crushing the life from it with his bare hands. Boats now filled with damp, and each covered in mud, the party slowly made their way back to camp. A long rest was in order before they tackled the next challenge, and drinks on Beledar for his suggestion to follow the false light!

-Game Master

Log 05, The Blockade

(The group travels to the Blackfens, finds a spy, clears the Blockade, finds a deadly new foe, and a possible ally.)

Once the evacuation of Drellin’s Ferry was well under way, the party commandeered a small skiff and set out North along the Rhestwash. This tributary was their path to Lake Rhestin, beside which lay the blockade that prevented escape from the Vale, as well as cut off help from the North. This and the source of the reinforcements that lays somewhere beyond it were the group’s goal.

Several days passed uneventfully as the small watercraft was poled upstream against the sluggish current of the Rhestwash. Fishing and napping provided a pleasant counterpoint to the hurried pace of their recent adventures, and the rest supplied them with fresh vigor.

Near to Lake Rhestin, the group found themselves hailed by the priests of a river-side temple. The holy place belonged to Sarenrae, and was visited by many who sought healing at its sun-bathed springs. News of the oncoming war, as well as worrisome rumors from just a few miles north had caused panic. The priests Tayva and Sayvon requested the travellers’ aid in evacuating their patients. The party acquiesced and began the process of organizing a safe exit for the elderly and infirm. Ricard, inspired by the healing work of Tayva and his brothers, called upon Sarenrae Herself and created a sigil of healing in the temple. For a short time any pilgrim that walked through its glowing column would be healed of diseases, weariness, and worry. This sped the evacuation as many who had not walked unaided in years could miraculously walk once more.

During the hustle and bustle of the evacuation, Howl approached a pretty red haired maiden. She had a broken arm, from a scuffle with the goblins in the North. After ascertaining that the groups plan was to route these very same creatures, Miha asked to join the group. Howl’s handsome visage and jaunty eyebrows had nothing to do with this decision of course. Probably.

Beledar alone saw Miha’s true nature. He sensed a hidden evil within her, and though he questioned her as closely as he dared, he sensed no overt duplicity in her answers.

Their group bolstered with a new recruit, they set out once more by boat. Howl was able to show off for his new admirer that very evening when the group was ambushed by dangerous plant life. Howl quickly and accurately identified the foe as the same species of assassin vines that group had encountered in the southern Witchwood. With this insight the battle was swift and decisive, leaving the creeping flora in floating remains, and Miha’s head on Howl’s shoulder.

As the sun rose, the boat drew to the shore. The blockade was only a short distance away and the party convened to determine the wisest plan of assault. After scouting out the heavy palisade, the group settled on subterfuge. Bendar and Beledar would disguise themselves as a goblin emissary and cargo in an abandoned wagon and try to infiltrate the fortification while the others crept up the rear face and prepared to drop into the fray. Beledar was soon covered in hay and small flasks of goblin ale. A successful bluff later the goblins eagerly welcomed them in. The illusion broke only when a large ogre sniffed out the taint of human beneath the disguising mud. In rage he threw his drink aside, splattering the alchemist’s fire that Bendar had provided for him across the wooden wall. Flames dripped from the walls and combat was joined within the palisade. At the same time Ricard sprung into action on the roof. Poppy had spelled him into invisibility, and upon hearing fighting below he quietly slit the throats of the sentries on the roof- the enemy below would have no reinforcements! The fighting was fierce but soon the goblin contingent was ousted. The two large ogres proved to be a larger challenge. Flaming and mortally wounded they fought on- stumbling forward with such tenacity that the adventurers paused in their furious onslaught to check for necromantic interference. Finding none they resolutely burned and pummeled the lumbering creatures into the dust. When every goblin and ogre was still the party finally breathed a sigh of relief.

Looking around at the carnage, Ricard suggested that the group clear and consecrate the site, making it a sanctuary from evil for all the travellers on the Old North Road. This plan was agreed on and the corpses piled to be burned. As Ricard began inscribing the front walls of the blockade with ornate windows of chalk, Miha quietly slipped out the back door. Noticing her departure, Howl strode after her, asking if she was alright. Instead of answering, she whispered a spell than compelled Howl to let her escape. Unfortunately her flight had already been noticed, and all but Ricard were soon rushing to see what was going on. Opening the doors revealed not only Miha’s quick flight, but also that she had transformed into a monstrous half-spider form Howl was made one final attempt to stop his newfound love from fleeing, but she once more stymied him by gently freezing him in place as she scuttled into the edge of the forest, sadly informing him that her loyalties lay elsewhere. Her many legs made her swift and, glancing back at Howl only once, she ran. Only the magically hastened Beledar could follow and Miha led him on a merry chase, flitting from tree trunk to tree canopy with Beledar close behind until she finally cast magic one final time and drifted into the sky beyond Beledar’s reach. All that was left of their brief associate was a tiny scroll, fallen from her pack as she hastened into the night. The scroll contained detailed notes on the group’s activities as well as records of what future plans they had recently discussed. A spy had been in their midst?

Ricard finished his spell-work, and the vaulted windows glowed, turning from chalk into true stained glass in the palisade’s wall. The party slept that night in the newly hallowed building.

The following morning birds of carrion caught their eye as they turned toward the ruins. Atop a small hill the corpse of a huge owl lay, partially consumed and dappled with splashes of smoking acid. As the group examined the slain bird, its attacker sprang from the bushes. A draconic lizard with small wings and powerful legs, it lept about, never staying in one place. Its acid breath bathed the adventurers, working to dissolve them as they tried to snag the nimble beast. Bendar even went so far as to snag the beast with a dagger and try to ride it as it passed, though it wriggled free. Poppy came to the rescue with fire and magic, frying the beast at range until it could no longer harry them.

Weary once more the group examined the abomination before them. It wasn’t a true dragon, though it clearly had some draconic taint. As they examined the novel creature’s corpse, wing-beats were heard overhead and the party was suddenly surrounded by the Tiri Kitor- the owl riding elves. A moment of silence passed before one of the elves called out. “What are you doing in our lands!?”

-Game Master

  • The Gleeman's Account:

  • The mornings of the next ten days started after spending the nights uncomfortably, sleeping on the hard logs of a boat floating up the Rhestwash. Bendar and the party had procured a small barge from the denizens of Drellins Ferry to travel up through the Witchwood to the Lake of Rhestin. The days were long and slow, but the party used the time to practice their arts, ranging from the bow and the arcane to the swift dagger thrusts and long slicing blows of a longsword. After what seemed ages, the party arrived at a beautiful bustling Church of Sarenrae hanging over the river to see if they can help with whatever trouble they seemed to have. The party's own Sarenrae follower and devout cleric Ricard quickly spoke to the elder and found they needed help calming the aged people evacuating due to the overcoming goblin horde. Through the use of ballad and song accompanied with divine calming and healing, the party got the church body on their way in a timely fashion. In the process, the elvish ranger Howl became a enamoured with a young, auburn haired lass named Miha Serani. Despite the paladin's suspicions of foul play with the woman, the party invited her to join them on their journey.

  • The party trudged on through the swampy marshes of the Blackfens, killing several dangerous swamp creatures on the way. Finally the party reached their first stop, the blockade of the old North road that had been ambushing travelers throughout the area. Deciding on stealth and deception after Bendar masterfully scouted the wooden gatehouse spying a company of goblins and at least one ogre. As the group of heroes made their way around to climb the ramparts of the structure, Bendar the Gleeman walked straight up to the gates dressed up as a goblin, with Beladar in tow hidden in a cart. After convincing the oafish goblins to open the gates with promise to share with them his cart of “liquor and spirits”. Little did they know a full paladin of Iomedae awaited instead. After settling in and allowing the enemy to relax a bit, the plan was sprung. The ranged attackers of the party quickly took the roof of the garrison and begun raining both holyfire and hellfire, along with a volley of arrows at one of the ogres and several goblins. Meanwhile inside, Bendar and Beladar, gracefully sliced and dodged, and smashed and blocked, greatly outnumbered. Bendar singlehandedly slew the giant ogre having him smash down to the ground while Beladar destroyed half the goblins smiting them with his holy blade. Within seconds, the battle was over with the ever gleeful Gleeman struggling to stand after being hammered by the now dead ogre. Thankfully, due to his divine friends, he soon was as fit as a fiddle, or better yet, as fit as the polished lute set on his own back.

  • Shortly after the battle, Ricard started using his power to hallow this dark site so when evil creatures approach they must flee when suddenly Miha, the party’s newest companion and Howls most beloved begun fleeing. In the process of fleeing, Miha Serani gained her true form, a drider, an abomination with a human female upper body, and the lower body of a giant spider. The party was torn on how to react. Does one kill the most cherished of Howl? She had done nothing to harm them, but she had shown her true colors as an evil soul, and thus the paladin acted thusly. A chase ensued and soon after reaching the treeline of the witchwood, the drider vanished, but not without leaving notes of spying for the Red Hand and a broken heart.

  • The campfire was quiet that night as the party contemplated the events of the day, both the victory and the defeat. The next morning they decided to advance up the hill outside the garrison after hearing some sounds and smells earlier that morning. On top of the hill next to an old ruined statue of a bygone age was a corpse of a giant owl. Poppy and Howl came to the conclusion that it was an elvish riding owl, possibly used by the local tribe nearby in the Blackfens and ruins of the ancient city of Rhest. Everybody was distracted when the party was silenced by a sudden roar and a Greenspawn Razorfiend, a large land lizard of the dragon family with large sharp claws jumped out, obviously the hunter of the dead owl. After a quick but deadly encounter with the Razorfiend, the party stood over its corpse. With careful examination of his digestive system, an elf skull was found. The conclusion of the owl being an elvish riding beast seemed to be accurate. When suddenly large flapping all around was heard and a large group of Elvish rangers appeared with bows drawn riding atop more of the owls. The party was surrounded, what will happen…??

  • -Bendar the Gleeman

Log 04, Ill Tidings

(The group aids in the evacuation of Drellin’s Ferry and learns of another Red Hand contingent to the North.)

The party woke to find a response from Undin waiting for them. In it he indicates a desire to aid them, but informs them that the Hammerfist Holds are experiencing civil unrest. The dwarves can provide no aid to the people of Elsir Vale.

Putting this bad news aside, the group worked to speed the evacuation of the people of Drellin’s Ferry. Some helped villagers pack, while others organized the militia and town guard to best defend the retreating populace.

Pausing only to deal with the cantankerous Iormel, who was attempting to drag all his worldly possessions out of the town on a towering wagon (using two horse ‘requisitioned’ from Delora), the party diligently worked through the day. Night fell and the group bedded down, only to be woken in the middle of the night by cries of ‘fire!’

Stumbling from the dark inn, the adventurers found that several houses on the west side of the river had been set alight. After rushing to the ferry, they found Sorana there already, organizing the hitching of the ferry mules to their hawsers. Once the ferry was functional, the group crossed the river and split up- Sorana heading southwest, while the adventurers headed northeast. The party quickly came upon the source of the mayhem. Three worg riders and a handful of goblins prowled the streets, hurling torches into whatever they thought might burn. The party divided their attention between routing the harrowing party and pulling villagers from the burning homes.

Ricard, spying a small watering hole nearby, cast spells and drove the water out of its bed and into the air above the burning homes, even going so far as to ride the wave into battle. Though the massive wave successfully doused the flames, Ricard’s enthusiastic magic also crushed what remained of the flimsy structures. Fortunately the team was able to swiftly defeat the raiding party and help the beleaguered villagers to the ferry. Beledar once more demonstrated his power as he withstood the rage of the enemy caster, weathering a lightning bolt as if it were a light breeze and dividing the caster in two with his glowing sword. Poppy and Howl alternated between providing a distraction and helping villagers escape the scuffle. Once the west bank was silent again, the weary combatants returned to their beds to rest until the morning.

The following day carried on much as the previous, and soon the town began to develop the eerie emptiness that only a recently abandoned town can. At noon, the tentative peace was broken a woman rode into the town square on a haggard horse. The woman bore the raiment of the Lions of Brindol, and looked no more rested than her stead. Calling for the town speaker, she seated herself at the bar near the travelers. When Norro Winston arrived she introduced herself as Teyani Sura, and tersely related that her company had discovered a blockade on the north road- guarded by ogres and goblins. She has ridden with her compatriots to warn the various towns and hamlets not to send travelers or traders by the north road, lest they waylaid. The party and the town speaker shared with her the unfortunate news that the Red Hand proper is also on the move, this being the reason for the evacuation of the city. Shaken, Teyani soon excused herself to ride once more, this time directly to Brindol to inform Lord Jarmaath of this dire news.

As the days wears on, the town square, unusually quiet, erupted into shouts and screams. A chimera had dropped from the sky and was harrying the remaining townsfolk. Reacting swiftly the party quickly cast spells and worked magics to surround the beast both in the air and on the ground. With no escape the chimera could only lash out once more against the villagers before it was destroyed- its falling body crushing an abandoned market stall.

Finally the town stood empty. The adventurers gathered a final time with the town council, discussing how to proceed. After discussing several options, the settling on boating up the Rhest Wash to route whatever contingent of the Red Hand lurks beyond the blockade, hopefully stemming the tide reinforcements.

-Game Master

Log 03, Skull Gorge Bridge

(The group clears and destroys Skull Gorge Bridge, and convinces the council of Drellin’s Ferry to evacuate the city.)

Beledar dispatched, the group gathered Jorr and retired to Vraath Keep’s Treasure chamber for a safe night’s sleep. In the morning they set out for Skull Gorge Bridge, intent on scouting out the potential bottleneck.

After several hours of walking in the rain, Bendar came across a tattered effigy beside the trail. This effigy represented the abandoned homestead of the very Twist-tusk giants Vraath Amery himself once drove into the Wyrmsmoke Mountains. In the ruins of this forgotten village, the party found Old Warklegnaw, the last Bald Hill giant in the area. Though Warklegnaw was fearsome, he was aged and diseased, and the party befriended him by curing his debilitating case of Red Ache. Over a hearty shared meal, the unlikely group discussed the oncoming menace of the Red Hand. Upon hearing of the impending invasion, Old Warklegnaw volunteered to rally his daughters, who live in the Wyrmsmoke Mountains and with them harry and hamper the horde’s progress. To bolster the old giant’s courage and resolve, Ricard spoke a blessing and spell over the ancient effigy and caused it to be both repaired and infused with a subtle glow. This cheered Warklegnaw and the party left him determined to aid the cause against the foe.

Meanwhile in Drellin’s Ferry, Beledar spoke briefly but urgently with Norro Winston and Sorana, attempting to impress upon them the dire nature of the situation. Though receptive to his warnings, the pair concluded that preparations could be made to stave off any such wandering group of goblins and Beledar rode once more to meet his companions, this time on a borrowed mare named Butterscotch (his scroll of Mount being expended).

The party was reunited as they neared the Skull Gorge Bridge, which they approached cautiously. Scouting revealed that the bridge was guarded by both goblin archers and what appeared to be a juvenile green dragon. A planning session was had, and a daring plan was hatched. Acting quickly in the dying light, Poppy snuck forward and enchanted the forest on the far side of the bridge to appear as though adventurers were gathering there to attack. The deception thus laid, she cast a fireball into the enemy’s camp, as if the illusory mages had begun their attack. The enemy was thrown into disarray, all but the keen-eyed young dragon turning to meet the foe they thought was flanking them. In the confusion the adventurers sprang into action and dealt swiftly with the closest archers. The false army continued to harry the goblins and their attention remained divided, even as their soldiers fell.

During the scrum, Bendar came upon one of the archers unawares and unceremoniously threw him from the top of his tower. Though the forty foot drop didn’t finish him, Beledar soon did. The goblins fell, and soon only the Dragon Ozyrrandion remained. Seeing his minions felled, Ozyrrandion shrouded himself in invisibility to make a final attempt to drive off the party, but his cover was summarily removed when Poppy cleverly noted his position and dispelled his enchantment. Thus revealed, the team focused their attention on the creature and finally Howl was able to score a winning shot that found him plummeting to his doom in the glacial rapids below.

The bridge then lay un-defended, and the party crossed it to seek the true nature of the horde. In the interest of speed, Beledar and trusty Butterscotch set forth alone to scout ahead. As they approached Cinder Hill, the din of many voices and tools filled the air and as the adventurers crested the low embankment the full extent of the Red Hand was revealed. Thousands of foot soldiers marched about, drilling in the evening drizzle, interspersed with trundling giants. Siege machines dotted the hill and hundreds of tents studded its surface. Wargs and their riders patrolled the edges of the armies and a single, red dragon soared lazily overhead. Noting the various details of the army, Beledar somberly returned to his companions.

To delay the Red Hand, the group determined to destroy the bridge, depriving the horde of the only easy crossing of the Gorge. To this end they carefully inspected the structure and once the weakest portion of the span was discerned, Ricard was enchanted to fly and the span cleared of companions. Alone over the depths Ricard worked his magic against the ancient stones of the dwarven bridge, removing material bit by bit until he had opened a seam in the arch. With his final arcane incision the bridge began to crumble, stones unmoved for millennia parting ways to fall into the chasm below. As the span fell, the towers shook, and a lone lookout slowly toppled, nearly crushing the remaining party. As the dust settled, Ricard gently drifted to the ground. The Dawn Way was broken; no longer was there a path across Skull Gorge.

A day’s travel later, the group reached Drellin’s Ferry and gathered the council for an emergency meeting. After outlining their encounters, the council was stymied. Iormal, a local businessman, advocated staying and fortifying, while the level-headed Delora and Sorana both argued for evacuating immediately. The optimistic Kellin suggested bartering with or bribing the warlord leading the horde, though the party quickly convinced him this plan was doomed for failure. Norro himself was torn, unprepared for the trials of leading a city besieged. In a stroke of inspiration Ricard suggested a method of truly conveying the severity of the threat. After consulting with Sertieren, the council agreed to let Ricard pass to them a memory- the recollection of the army they faced, plucked from Beledar’s very mind.

Iormel was the first to see the vision, and though he was resolved to further discount the threat, the sight left him shaken and finally convinced of the need to flee. The others each saw in turn, and the council unanimously agreed that flight was the only option. Poor Norro fared the worst of the council and collapsed when faced with the horror of the Red Hand. A hip flask of courage later he set to getting the word to the other heads of the village, preparing to begin a full scale evacuation in the morning.

Their dire message received, the party headed toward a much-needed night of sleep, pausing only to pen a letter to their patron, Undin, telling him of their surprising adventures and trials.

-Game Master

Log 02, The Witchwood

(The party travelled to Vraath keep and defeated the Wyrmlord Koth and his minions. They uncovered a plot by a large goblin horde to overtake the whole of Elsir Vale in the coming weeks.)

After being joined by Ricard, the party gathered potions and scrolls from the wizard Sertieren the Wise, and Avarthel of the Old Ones, both of whom provided as much aid as they were able to the heroes as they set out to rid Vraath Keep of its goblin infestation.

At Sorana’s suggestion they then followed the Witch Trails into the Witchwood in search of Jorr Natherson, a woodsman of some repute whose knowledge of the Witchwood would come in handy. Though hampered by the savage flora of the Wood, the group arrived at Jorr’s doorstep largely unscathed.

Due in large part to Howl’s kind treatment of his dogs, Jorr committed to guiding the group- though he indicated a desire to avoid combat himself. His hatred of goblin-kind proved enough to overcome his dislike of danger and strangers. Through his knowledge of the Witchwood, the group soon made it back to the Dawn Way road and began to march to Vraath Keep.

Their journey was rudely interrupted as they attempted to cross the Blackwater Causeway, however, when a hydra burst from the murky water. The six-headed beast snapped and roared, but was no match for the party and soon lay defeated in the shallow bog. Ricard happily indulged his love of cooking when he butchered a section of the exotic beast and stowed away several steaks of the most tender hydra meat for a later date.

Throughout the combat, Jorr held back, behaving oddly. Howl noted specifically that he seemed flushed and particularly… hairy when under stress. When questioned he avoided the subject, but voiced concerns about the hydra, indicating that the beasts usually prowled closer to Cinder Hill, and never travelled this far from Wyrmsmoke Mountains. Jorr opted to remain behind and set up camp as the group began their assault of Vraath keep.

When Vraath keep finally loomed before the group, they opted to approach quietly, even sending Bendar to scout the entire perimeter before approaching. Safe in the knowledge that no creature stirred within the courtyard or atop the parapet, the group entered through the front gate.

The peace was soon shattered when Beledar boldly smashed through the door of the barracks and brought upon himself the ire of the two worg riders within. At this Ricard quickly entered the fray by summarily greeting the remaining combatants in the largest structure. Battle was joined and spells flew. Blankets of darkness and spheres of fire rolled across the courtyard as goblins and hobgoblins darted here and there. The minotaur Karkilan towered above the combat wielding a giant battle axe, and a bemused manticore watched from the rooftops before being drawn into combat himself. As the dust settled, only the minotaur and Karkilan remained, and soon Karkilan was thoroughly dispatched by Ricard. As the battle wore on, the paladin Beledar could sense that a final evil still lurked with the single, ruined tower of Vraath keep. Charging up the stairs, Beledar surprised Wyrmlord Koth himself as the hobgoblin sorcerer was casting his battle enchantments. In response Koth finished his castings and fled to the courtyard with his newly cast Fly and Invisibility spells. Hovering above, Koth attempted to bend the will of those below with no success, and was soon confronted by the horrifying visage of the armored Beledar, also in flying pursuit.

After a few attempts to blast the intruders, during which he was knocked from the sky, Koth felt his odds were thinning and cast his flight enchantment once more to flee. Though he nearly escaped, a superb shot from the pursing angel of Iomedae smote him with the finality of a god’s wrath, dropping him from the sky. Though Koth’s body was unrecoverable, the party did find his satchel.

The Keep successfully cleared, the party then set to their original task of looting the hidden treasure store. The hidden room did indeed contain the wealth of the lord of Vraath keep, as well as his desiccated corpse. The group gathered the coins, arcane artifacts, and trophies before returning above ground.

The most interesting find of the day proved to be Koth’s war-map which contained details of the coming onslaught of the Red Hand. The map detailed a massing of troops at Cinder Hill and a general timeline of the horde’s intended progress. To the dismay of the party, Drellin’s Ferry was listed to be overrun in a scant few days. One final notable detail was a possible vulnerability in the Red Hand’s approach- Skull Gorge Bridge. This bridge is the single passage across the Gorge, a deep ravine with a swift river at the bottom. Were the bridge to be destroyed, the horde would likely be delayed as they marches miles to the east or west to find another way across.

With this knowledge the group dispatched Beledar, who needs no sleep, to ride upon Koth’s mount to Drellin’s Ferry and warn them of the oncoming onslaught. They set up camp with plans to set out for Skull Gorge Bridge in the morning.

Returning Vraath’s spoils to Undin will have to wait. The whole Vale is threatened by the Red Hand, and these five adventurers are uniquely placed to affect the coming onslaught.

-Game Master

Interlude, Ricard's Journey

(A day behind the rest of the group, Ricard had his own adventure.)

The summer solstice dawned three days ago, and with it the Sunwrought Festival. This festival celebrates the goddess of the sun herself- Sarenrae, who is said to be especially close to her devotees on this day when her sun hangs longest in the sky. The celebration lasts a full day and is filled with dancing and the flying of paper kites.

As a cleric of Sarenrae, Ricard has made a pilgrimage each year to this festival to participate, and to tell the story of Sarenrae’s great defeat of the evil god Rovagug. The festival is held in numerous locations, but the closest major gathering to the Hammerfist Holds was a nearly four day walk, in the large city of Brindol.

Knowing of this yearly occurrence, the adventurer’s patron Undin scheduled their next quest after Ricard’s trip. Ricard was to make his way to Brindol, participate in the religious holiday, then travel west directly to Drellin’s ferry to meet with his fellows.

The festival went off without a hitch. For a single day all of Brindol was transformed into a bright, sun-lit carnival. Goodwill and generosity were extended to travelers, the poor, and rich alike. Kites were flown and many spirited reenactments of Sarenrae’s legendary combat were fought, not only by performers but also the city’s giddy youth. Gifts were exchanged and the day wound down to raucous applause as fireworks were set off in the town square.

Ricard worked diligently during the festival to help the needy and share the word of Sarenrae. For his attentive and honorable service the goddess herself awarded him with experience and insight into his holy craft (equivalent to 17140xp).

The following morning Ricard began his journey to Drellin’s Ferry, hitching rides with farmers when possible to rest his tired feet. On the second day of travel, Ricard found himself travelling with another cleric of Sarenrae, a man called Brother Derny. Riding with Derny and his acolyte in their small donkey cart, Ricard discovered that Derny was in fact the resident priest of Drellin’s Ferry. Upon the revelation of their shared destination, the pair spent the next two days pleasantly, enjoying their leisurely travel.

-Game Master

Log 01, Drellin's Ferry

(The party began their journey from the Hammerfist Hold to Drellin's Ferry at the behest of their dwarven patron Undin.)

The small city of Drellin's Ferry is the closest bit of civilization to the forbidding Witchwood, in which lies the goal of their expedition. Undin has learned of a possible cache of treasure, having found an odd work order for a secret chamber deep beneath the now-ruined Vraath Keep. Vraath Keep once towered above the Witchwood, a bastion against its threats, but has since succumbed to the encroaching wilds and now lies ruined, free to be explored and looted.

The party set out, only lacking their cleric, Ricard, who was on another task from their master and would follow them a day later.

This log begins on the final day of the journey, mere hours from Drellin's Ferry. As the party reached a shallow depression, hemmed in by thick undergrowth, Bendar the gleeman sensed something amiss. At this Howl, the group's ranger, exmined the dirt and found the footprints of numerous goblinoids. As the party paused the trap was sprung and six hobgoblin archers sprung from the bushes.

Though the archers were poor, and could not much damage the armored party, they were quickly joined by six hobgoblin bearing longswords, and soon thereafter by three dualweilding goblins and their cleric. Finally two hell hounds bounded out and the enemies were fully committed. Poppy, the groups sorcerer, weilded balls of flame, devouring goblins and lighting the surrounding bushes on fire. Howl fired into the fray from a distance, only pausing to dispatch a more intrepid goblin who engaged him directly. Though he struggled somewhat with the aim of his bow in this battle, he nevertheless made his comrades' attacks all the more effective by sharing his deep knowledge of goblin-kind.

The fight was close, and seemed lost when Bendar fell unconscious after drawing many foes to himself. The paladin Beledar was able to revive him though, and the group rallied enough to destroy all but two of the hobgoblins, binding the remnant to be questioned.

From the prisoners the party learned that the enemies were of the 'Red Hand' and were sent forth from Vraath Keep by 'Warlord Koth' with more of their brethren. Their goal was to harry travellers and destroy as many non-goblins as possible. They worshipped their dragon goddess Tiamat (who their priest served).

Beledar warped and purified the holy symbol of Tiamat found on their cleric and now wears it as a token of her servants' defeat. Though his ministrations were no doubt fated to last only a short while at best, he also succeeded in rehabilitating a defeated hobgoblin, rather than causing more bloodshed.

After their battle the group arrived at Drellin's ferry, exploring the town and finding rooms at two of the local inns. The town speaker Norro Winston sought them out that evening along with the captain of the guard Sorana Anita, begging the group to aid them against the unusually organized goblins. The group agreed for a nominal fee of 500gp each, as the quest coincided with their goal to approach and overcome Vraath Keep. Norro promised the services of the local wizard Sertieren the Wise, who agreed to provide 600gp worth of scroll or potions by the following morning. Sertien also worked with the local weaponsmith the provide two +1 daggers to Bendar, in exchange for two +1 short swords looted from the hobgoblins.

Norro advised the party to enlist the aid of one Jorr Natherson as a guide. Old Jorr lives alone in the Witchwood and knows it well.

The party now rests in preparation for the coming day, when they will be joined by their fifth member and enter the Witchwood to find Jorr.

-Game Master

  • The Gleeman's Account:

  • The combat started quickly with Bendar stabbing from the darkness, eviscerating one of the evil archers with his nimble blades. Soon he was dancing through combat singing of his prowess as he dodged, ducked, and decapitated. He tumbled and flipped across the battlefield to help his holy bodyguard of Imodeae take on the hounds of hell, and with his expertise the party was successful in ending the goblin threat. With two goblin captives in tow, cowwed into submission by the utter effectiveness of the party, and twirling daggers of Bendar the Gleeman, the party arrived at Drellins Ferry.

  • The townsfolks happily greeted the famed entertainer, as he brought with him gifts of armaments to add to their lacking armory, already emptied to equip the militia fighting the rising goblin threat. He was asked to help the towns problem and happily agreed to push the goblin threat, only asking to be able to put the deeds he was to accomplish to song. That evening, Bendar graced the common room of the Green Apple Inn with his stories, songs, and seranades appeasing the common and Noble folk alike.

  • Bendar made sure to get a decent rest that night though, as he would be fighting for glory and honor the next morn.

  • -Bendar the Gleeman

Log 00, Character Creation

(Characters were created and setting established.)

Takes place in Elsir vale, and arid, subtropical land. To the North are the dry ‘Endless Plains’ and to the Northwest the settled lands and large cities of this continent. To the South are The Wyvernwatch Mountains and the Hammerfist Dwarven Holds. To the West lies civilization beyond the Westdeep, and to the East the warm Golden Plains and the exotic kingdoms.

The Dawn Way is the single thoroughfare that connects the exotic kingdoms and the settle northern lands. Built by a long forgotten dwarf kingdom, their handiwork lives on to ferry humans in pursuit of trade from one side of Elsir Vale to the other. Though the area was once ruled from the city of Rhest, the kingdom or Rhestilon fell several centuries ago, destroyed by the local goblin hordes and the local towns have looked after themselves ever since.

You have spent your time recently doing adventuresome tasks for your patron, a wealthy dwarf lord named Undin. He recently acquired a Tattered Work Order which implies that a secret treasure cache exists under Vraath keep. He has sent you to unearth what riches exist there.

-Game Master