The Chandrian

Up a frigid path

The fourth day of our party’s travels began frustratingly as their progress was slowed somewhat by steadily dwindling shoreline. The river continued its slow wind up into the mountain while being fed by smaller tributaries. The party found several dried up tributary carved-out wholes and over their lunch break decided to explore. Rollie was enlisted to climb the smooth walls of the feeder riverbank into the rock, and followed for close to 150 feet before the enclosure became too tight-fitting even for him. At the end of his climb however he found some faintly glowing rock in the roof of the crevice and was able to pick a fist-sized chunk free. Disgrim recognized the semi-precious stone as Dianite, a stone valued for it’s light capturing/reflecting properties. In it’s unprocessed form it’s less useful, but it still was able to be faintly visible in the collective travel light of the party.

Continuing onwards and upwards, the party came to the greatest waterfall of all. Over 100 feet in height and thundering downwards on a frosted, worn rocks, the waterfall had the party planning and discussing amongst each other until Marek quieted them all with a self-assured chuckle. Not wasting any time, he gathered a sufficient length of rope and cast a new spell. His form faded into a smoky ether and he smiled as he floated up the face of the fall. At the top he extended the rope down and the party climbed up comfortably.

All was not well at the top however. The lake or reservoir at the top of the water fall proved to be infested with gricks. Out of the dark but clear water, they pulled at the legs of the party trying to dislodge them and whisk them out into the middle depths. Titterwill fell prey to an early assault and was pulled under but was soon rescued by Benwen and Rollie. Marek was able to slow the Gricks with well-placed frostbolts. After the fight, Rollie was able to calm the tentative Titterwill and embolden him into swimming on into the lake. Little did little Titterwill know his fiercest battle was yet to come.

After resting, the next day’s travel proceed carefully as the party was sure to approach the embankment entrance to the Spire. The party sees three hulking humanoid figures hunched-over a carcass, eating with relish. Benwen creates an illusory draccus that scares one of the figures away. The other two however run up into the structure and have to be dealt with. Marek and Felvar open fire with flame and poison respectively and the Quaggoths waste no time trying to close the distance. The first of the pair falls under their assault and the wither smoldering husk litters the battlefield Waiting for the last one at the bottom of the winding stair however is Vrei, Benwen, and the duo of Rollie and Titterwill. Rollie deftly shimmies up the rockface and places himself behind the first of the Quaggoth. Attempting to aid his friend, Titterwill jumps into the fray only to find himself on the receiving end of the Qauggoths blood frenzied attacks. He’s nearly knocked unconscious before Benwen is able to pull him out of his pinned position. The Quaggoth falls to Rollie’s aerial assault soon after.

The party continues up the short ramped path as it doubles back-and-forth up the rockface. They see kill holes and obvious liquid drop paths on the way up and every step they’re thankful it’s not defended. At the top, they explore the passageways briefly to get the lay of the structure and when satisfied continue into the mountain. Here the passageway is free save for sediment and dust deposits and our party soon find themselves at the runic door leading into the T’lind Spire….

Following the winding river...

The party, recouping after the battle with Gricks and the pursuit of the Xorlarrin worshipping mage, finds themselves within the welcoming green walls of Graward Halls center chamber. The morning meal is fully prepared as they rouse themselves and meet the collection of gnomes. Early into the meal, Adoril, the leader of Graward Hall, expresses his delighted expectation that the party will be granted audience with an emissary from Blingdenstone, the chief gnome city in the surrounding area. The early meal and small demonstrations of finery are results of his expectation, and indeed it does seem the gnomes are more active than usual.

Shortly before lunch, the delegation arrives to much acclaim and motion among the gnomes. Adoril, after appropriate demonstrations of deference, introduces the premiere figure among the three gnomes to arrive. Despite the flowing light grey hair and obviously worn pale skin, the elderly gnome stands without a stoop letting his silver-stitched but not ostentatious robes fall to his sandal-clad feet. Adoril conveys his surprise and delight as he announces Grismorn Tohlindel, Leader of the Sverfneblin (Deep Gnomes) and Speaker for Blingdenstone. A brief exchange of pleasantries between the party and Grismorn proceeds.

After a short while, a shorter stouter leather clad figure interjects himself into the conversation gruffly, insisting that the party reach the point of the meeting. Risgrivar is then introduced as the leader of the Scree, the band of disowned previously captured gnomes. Grismorn is visibly uncomfortable with proximity to the younger, dark-haired gruff gnome, and seems to be actively avoiding looking in his general direction. Risgrivar takes this as invitation and lays his plans forth. He was hoping to convince the party to join his effort in assaults on the support line to the Keep at T’lindhet. The Scree take it upon themselves to raid outlying areas and rescue captive gnomes wherever possible. They haven’t risked open assault as yet, opting for covert rescues or small assaults against unarmed targets.

At this point the party asks for more information about the assaults and the surrounding areas. Grismorn gestures to the third party member, a younger figure with a large satchel full of tablets and several large worn leather-bound books. Felvar, the young attache of Grismorn, carefully hands over several tablets among them a map of the surrounding area. The map details the collection of gnome encampments, but more importantly shows the keep and its outlying areas. Benwen notices an outlying building north of the keep labeled T’lind Spire. At this prompting, Felvar becomes animated and goes into detail about the old religious implications of the spire for the Dwarves that lived there many years ago. The group however fixates on the fact that the Spire is probably the primary source of information for the Drow excursion as its upper level offers an unparalleled view of the surrounding area.

The group seizes on this as a good point of assault and begins formulating an attack plan. Slightly chagrined, Risgrivar expresses his frustration at being dragged away from his operations with nothing gained. The party empathizes but mollifies him by reminding him that they’re both fighting the same enemy. A strike against the Spire will divert attention from his rear-guard assaults.

Emboldened, the party begins planning and provisioning for the trip. Rollie approaches Felvar about accompanying them on the trip. He immediately demures and says his official capacity under Grismorn is too important and couldn’t be away from Blingdenstone for too long. Undeterred, Rollie asks Grismorn if he could part with Felvar for the expedition, and an amused Grismorn subtly deflects all Felvar’s equivocations. Before he knows it, Felvar is enlisted.

But he’s not the last enlisted. Black powder expert Disgrim is the first person from Graward Hall to join the party. After hearing of the plan, young Titterwill volunteers for the task as well. After an afternoon’s preparations, the party decides to embark the next morning.

All goes well for the party over their first day of travel. Mid-afternoon they climb a waterfall in the rock. After Rollie quickly prepares the path up the waterfall and secures the ropeline, all party members take to the climb deftly save Marek who delicately traverses the height.

After several more hours of travel they camp for the night at an intersection of feeder streams. Disgrim takes it upon himself to lay some traps at this confluence and the group settles over a small fire for the final meal. Vrei asks the party about his time trapped under the mage’s spell and if the noticed any change in his person. He seems shaken by the encounter and after that conversation recedes into sharpening his broadsword.

The party ventures onwards the next morning after a stew of Disgrim’s catch from last night. Around lunchtime, the party comes to a collections of unmolested fungi along the riverside. Seeing providence in the food source, the Benwen and Rollie start collecting some of the fungi they recognize. Benwen goes into the center of the fungus patch, and feels a sharp pain on his lower leg as he brushes up against something. Soon the patch of fungi is roiling with action as the fungi convene upon their prey Benwen. Melkor cleaves large swathes of the fungi away attempting to bulldoze a path to Benwen. Rollie and Marek choose closer assaults on the fungi as they attempt to swarm Benwen and thin the numbers. Benwen however is soon overwhelmed and his daring escape attempt is thwarted. He finds himself on the ground defending himself with his shield as the fungi hammer away. After clearing the path, the party dispatches the fungus ending with a triumphal “Bloodsport” stomp from Melkor on the last fungi.

The party bandages and takes a longer lunch before setting a slower pace for the rest of the day. The camp on the ever-thinning riverside and wait to embark the next morning.

Further into the encroaching dark.
Episode 1 (5e)

Our party awakens in an antechamber to the now ivy-coated meeting space of Graward Hall to welcoming smells of stews and heavily-salted meat and the sounds of Martiln, their recent gnome rescue, boasting loudly to the gathering. The party walks in to hear him espouse at length on the futility of the servitude to the drow and the need for revolt, but it’s obvious he’s being met with responses varying from cordial nods to disgruntled ignoring. He quickly joins the party as you sit for breakfast.

The breakfast is satisfying though the portions are small, and the party uses the time to take inventory of the assemble gnomes. They are largely a motley collection and few show signs of any military training. Rollie inspects the two score of troops, singling out three that look particularly hopeful. He chooses the nimblest and most stealthy of the trio thinking that staying hidden will be of the utmost importance. Titterwill, the chosen gnome, introduces himself to the party and brandishes his two daggers in a quick bow. As the party decides to venture forth for the day, the leave the remaining conscripts behind to set traps in the passage leading to Graward Hall.

Under the guidance of Rollie and Marek who are now familiar with the passage work north of Graward Hall, the party, Vrei Olrynn (the Deva Avenger and emissary of the Commonwealth) Titterwill and Martiln all find themselves in the outer halls of T’lindhet. They opt to return to the intersection they visited yesterday for some more thorough investigation. Nimbly avoiding the spider webs in the hallways, they explore two of the four adjoining chambers. Marek in particular takes interest in the writings of the rooms and is rewarded by retrieving a collection of thin but sturdy stone tablets on which lots Temic writing is collected. The tablets have more extensive writing on one-side and just a couple runes on the opposite side.

Happy with the find the group peers into the other two rooms with some trepidation as those two rooms are covered with dense spider webs. Indeed the spiderwebs in the area seem to emanate from them. Melkor and Titterwill begin to hack at the southern rooms webs while Rollie cautiously observes the northern room.

Incensed, spiders pour out of the rooms and immediately engage the party. While two are blocked by the stout shield of Melkor and the quick stabs of Titterwill at his side, the other room admits three spiders into the hallway. One immediately spits and leaps at Marek, but is rewarded with a quick misty step away. The others are engaged by Benwen and Rollie. Rollie deftly leaps in and out of the action, hamstringing and stabbing at will. Benwen, in an epic flourish, sheers the legs of a spider away from the wall and sends it spinning to the ground. On the upswing the magic of his sword carries him into the air and lets his purvey the battlefield floating 10 feet above the ground.

The spiders regroup and attempt to push out of the south room. Their desperate actions are turned away by Melkor however and he’s able to dispatch or pinion to the ground both spiders while Titterwill kills one. But Marek’s spider attacks Martiln and grievously injures him. Marek draws the attention of the spider with a magic missile, and evades the enraged charge deftly. At this time Rollie continues to dispatch the spiders and Benwen gives quick medical attention to Martiln and also hurling some cuttings words the spider doesn’t appear to understand.

In the connecting hallway though, Marek dispatches a spider in a conspicuous fashion, thunderwaving a triumphant call of “FREEDOM!” As the dust from the battle settles it seems the call is still reverberating in the stone halls. Wary, the group settles together around Benwen’s Song of Rest and patches themselves up. Vrei and Rollie head to the west hall taking up sentry points and are soon alarmed by the sounds of something strange coming.

Quickly the party splits into the four rooms waiting to ambush the coming party. Oddly though, only 6 or so foot-wide beetles scurry down the hall at first and briskly rush past the rooms with no attention spent. Footsteps follow however, and reveal a drow in long dark hooded robes with two small beetles scurrying at his side. Benwen quickly adopts a magical disguise and greets the drow cordially in Common. When he attempts to assure the drow that everything is under control here however, he mistakenly slips into Primordial alarming the drow. The drow waves his hands with a slightly underbreath utterance and disperses the magical disguise of Benwen.

While this is happening however, Melkor leaps from the connecting room and grips the mage firmly inhibiting motion. The mage tries to free himself, but ends up misty stepping away and disappearing. Emboldened by the fleeing drow, Benwen, Melkor, Martiln and Vrei leap out of the rooms and gather together to dispatch the beetle threat. Rollie keeps Titterwill under his wing in the dark of the room and Marek quickly casts an invisibility spell while emerging from his room.

Appearing with a smirk on his face, the mage appears and raises his hands filling the hall with a blast of freezing sleet and hail. The collected forces are knocked unconscious and frozen solid in the hall. While Rollie and Marek look on in horror, the mage collects his prizes and mentally controls the group to march down the adjoining hallway in quiet triumph. Buffeted by several remaining beetles, the prisoners march away vacantly at the drow’s behest…

Swiftly summoned into darkness (WIP)

Our party, still with heavy hearts at the passing of Morgoth, leaves the druid grove with the ominous words of Illithor still echoing in the quietude between them.

“Cyphus bears the blue flame.
Stercus is in thrall of iron.
Ferule chill and dark of eye.
Usnea lives in nothing but decay.
Grey Dalcenti never speaks.
Pale Alenta brings the blight.
Last there is the lord of the seven:
Hated. Hopeless. Sleepless. Sane.
Alaxel bears the shadow’s hame.”

Though they foreswore not to utter any of names in the rhyme, they cannot help but speculate that they have experienced the charms of the Chandrian, or the Seven as Illithor referred to them, firsthand.

Returning to Albridge, they find the seat of the rebellion against the Iron Circle in cautious celebration. The collective revelry is tempered by the memory of the gruesome battle with the reptilian Reavers and the gradual re-assimilation of the repentant members of the Iron Circle. Durn, the lieutenant from Roseoak, and Ilyana, now assuming the role of town matron, together lead the recovery efforts and jointly taskmaster the Iron Law troops that made the march south with Durn and the local militia. Durn apparently has accepted a new commission to lead the reformation of the Iron Law contingent in the area and smiles saying that a hefty promotion comes along with the charge.

Having resolved the troubles of Harkenwold to their satisfaction and with the assertions of Ilyana that the people are in good hands, the party sets off for Roseoak. It’s nightfall when the party arrives, and the group checks in briefly with Nina at the constabulary. After warm greetings, she almost embarrassingly acknowledges that she’s acceded to Durn’s now vacant position though it is still yet unofficial despite the presence of Iron Law representatives in town. With that reminder, she says that the Iron Law representatives were looking for them. She says to keep an eye out for the duo, one a rather striking figure, a Goliath soldier with a somber personage, a tall “glowing Elfish person”, and another a “wizened, short self-important little troll” she offers saying the last is a generous description.

The party is knackered from a day of travelling and opts for rooms at the familiar local inn, the Apple Urn, and are greeted by Kahlin as if they never left. She says that the Draccus’ Blood brew they’ve created is quite the hit and responsible for increased patronage at her inn. Because of this, she’s unwilling to accept coin for their night’s stay as she does have two rooms available and it’s unlikely they’ll be filled this late into the evening. The scene at the bar is rowdier than usual with a generous representation of locals living it up in a group around the fire. At the center of the group is Halfrid (house- / groundskeeper and brewmaster extraordinare) recanting loudly some tale. He sees the party and stumbles sloppily across the hall. He’s hardly coherent but you gather from him that the business has been roaringly successful, as well as a good diversion to keep him out of his wife’s taskmistressing. The brew has even garnered interest from as far away as Imre. The Aoelian! The Aoelian! The excitement he can’t contain escapes as he repeats the name of the famous inn in Imre that’s order a charge of brew as soon as available. Halfrid admits that he’s uncomfortable making any long term agreements without them being present, but has arranged for a local shipper, Gery, to take a larger shipment down as the original cask he sent with the owner is running low.

The party settles in for the evening, as Halfrid grudgingly admits he should trudge home soon if he wants to be in his bed before his wife wakes. The party settles in for the night, save for Rollie and Benwen, who scope around the town. Benwen has his eyes for the residence of Toltyo Erladdin, mysterious sorceror and business man. Benwen sets and scurries around the corners of the residence, trying to spy what might be going on inside. Surprisingly rooms on multiple floors are alight and with the open windows on the balmy night the duo can barely make out a raised conversation happening on the second level. Avoiding the attentions of the guards at the front and back entrances, they sneak closer until Rollie is very close to the side of the house with Benwen looking out from the bushes. A sound from the duo does draw the attention of the guards though just as Rollie distinguishes the gist of the conversation (a shipment of some sorts). Thinking on his feet, Rollie quickly assumes the role of confused drunkard and talks his way out with guards as Benwen uses the diversion to sneak away.

The passing of a friend

The group opens at dusk, breaking over the path to Dardun to answer the call of the rangers located there. Grunch empowers the movements of the party with some raw sorcerous energy, befuddling Marek in the process. When the party approaches Dardun, the calls from the town fade and are called off. Mysteriously, the reavers are breaking into the woods despite the lack of moonlight for vision. The party scouts the town cautiously with Grunch scouting the surrounding habitation. Marek tries to glean whatever he can about the magical energy in this night, and in a moment of clarity happens upon a quote hidden away in the recesses of his mind, “There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”

Rollie enters the town and deftly talks his way into The Old Blood, the main human inn, and gets the innkeeper to send some of her workers out to scout the road for help. Marek opts to break into a nearby elven house and while he does alarm and offend the owner, he’s able to talk his way into confidence and get some information. Morgoth and Grunch are less successfull as Morgoth attempts to assist in the fire-fighting and manages to incite a riot of the townspeople through a series of bungled assistance attempts. Grunch offends a homeowner by chewing on a tree, only avoiding a fight on that front to save Morgoth from the townspeople.

The scene and surrounding confusion is broken by the peal of screams from one of the scouts sent out by the innkeeper as he returns from the easterly road. He throws himself into the inn complaining about being attacked by a ranger. The innkeeper throws all the newcomers out onto the street to fend for themselves, her trust exhausted. In the dim light, the party sees a figure approaching at a casual walk from the east. Morgoth moves to intercede while the rest of the party gathers behind. The figure is indeed one of a ranger, but the eyes are completely jet black. The figure looks at Morgoth quizzically, but when impeded and questioned, he smiles widely and attacks, breaking into multiple copies of himself. Dark energy pulses off all the copies in tandem and lashes out at the surrouding targets. Quickly, Rollie and Morgoth find themselves on the back foot, fighting to stay alive. Marek, Tiarshus and the rangers join the fight a moment late, and Tiarshus screams “Face-Dancer” when he sees the figure and is momentarily overcome with his fear. Grunch and Marek however waste no time and unleash attacks from distance, damaging greatly one of the shades of the ranger. Upon being bloodied the copy is approaches the original ranger and his body cedes into the original, revitalizing it. It’s at this point that the ranger senses blood from the dwarf in front of him and focuses all the swiping blows on him. He’s beaten down once, only to be revived by the combined efforts of Rollie and Tiarshus. Confused upon seeing him arise again, the ranger engages Morgoth again. This time, through the blows and with exhaustion in his voice, Morgoth pleads with his party to retreat. The party prepares one final ranged assault in coordination to hopefully break the attack on their dwarf friend. The tactic falls short sadly and the dwarf is felled at the feet of the shade. During the retreat, the party sees the copies resorb into the original ranger as he kneels toward Morgoth and shoves a hand underneath a fold in the breastplate and into Morgoth’s abdomen. The features on the corpse blur and fade as the exterior of Morgoth seems to melt like old wax into the skeletal frame. The husk of the dwarf is left on the roadside as the figure casually walks on down the road to the west.

The party flees into the woods and finds a place nearby to rest for the night after the adrenaline subsides. In the morning, the party returns to bury and Morgoth and pay their last respects. Tiarshus is questioned about what he knows about “face-dancers” and the answer is apparently not very much and only from second hand accounts in books. The creatures are of Fae origin and only respond to the iron and particular the name of iron. Intrigued, the party questions Tiarshus about naming and, with some coaxing and an established trust in Rollie, reveals that Illithor, the leader of the druid grove, is indeed a namer and knows the name of stone. The party wastes no time in proceeding to the grove and upon arriving sees the shambles of the grove being mobilized. Everyone is in motion gathering belongings and shoring up from the most recent assault.

The party approaches Illithor after brief aside in which Tiarshus gives his account of the battle with the face-dancer and reveals his divulging the fact that Illithor is a namer. A unspoken rebuff passes between mentor and student, and Tiarshus retreats from the group. Illithor answers all question put before him quite openly. He says that he has no personal experience with skin- or face-dancers as he calls them, and admits that his knowledge of naming would not have helped in the battle much. Marek and Grunch press further for information about naming. Illithor responds opaquely that naming is an affinity or sympathy with an element, and that knowing the name will allow you to coopt it to your service. Grunch presses further gruffly, and Illithor, with a hint of amusement gives Grunch a demonstration with a nearby rock. He picks it up and into his right hand with his left positioned directly beneath the right. Leaning over his hand, he whispers gently with a voice that strangely carries beyond what volume should allow. The rock vaguely shimmers for a second, then relaxes into what looks like very fine but congealed sand as it passed between Illithor’s fingers to reform in the palm below. Grunch is visibly impressed, and Illithor’s gifts him the rock which he thoroughly inspects.

A pale cold voice on the wind blows over the party in Morgoth’s memory and the party decides to ask Illithor what he knows of the Chandrian. His response is delayed as he collects his thoughts. Before proceeding, he secures a cryptic promise from the party that they will in no way vocally repeat the information they are about to hear for 100 days. The party nods gravely and leans in. Illithor responds that The Seven are known by many names throughout the lands, but that the truest account of them and their sings is the following:

Cyphus bears the blue flame.
Stercus is in thrall of iron.
Ferule chill and dark of eye.
Usnea lives in nothing but decay.
Grey Dalcenti never speaks.
Pale Alenta brings the blight.
Last there is the lord of the seven:
Hated. Hopeless. Sleepless. Sane.
Alaxel bears the shadow’s hame.

And with that he recedes from the party, requesting their leave. During the conversation the grove successfully gathered all their belongings and assembled at the waystone. Turning back to the party, he asks that they not repeat what they are about to see here, and walks to the gate speaking softly in a similar fashion as with the rock. Several runes on waystone shimmer and vaguely glow as they hum in resonance, and a sheen of slowly undulating light passes between the arches of the gate. The residents of the druid grove pass through the gate solemnly and their forms disappear in the slow wafting waves of transparent light.

The swashbuckle commences!

Our heroes leap into action in dispatching the smattering of troops still stationed in the Keep. After managing to get the full party up into the keep, they don’t have too hard of a time managing the forces by carefully using line of sight and the height granted them by the balustrade. The only casualties suffered on the friendly side are the rangers that rescued Morgoth from his entrapment.

They aren’t given time to rest though as the secretary to Nazrim Redthorn appears up the ramp with collection of well-geared Iron Circle troops. A quick and brutal fight ensues in which our already primed party quickly gets the advantage through some deft focused fire. Sensing the possibility of defeat, the Secretary positions himself in front of one central building and sends two soldiers down into the building with the hurried commands “Secure the door! Make sure he’s safe!” Fighting valiantly he’s able to keep our party away from the inner area and is rejoined with the soldiers. They spend their last moments defending the area.

Upon dying, the guise of the secretary recedes revealing pale purple skin turning fallow in death and extended talon-like fingers. Disproportionately large and tall jet black eyes and forward-set into the face now frozen into a rictus snarl. The party is taken aback by this reveal and cautiously proceeds to check the building and surrounding upper level. They find an armory with some gear in various stages of ill-repair and get a better sense of the layout. Collectively, the party decides it prudent to not delve into the lower level that the since-secretary was defending.

But after several moments’ respite, the ground opens up beneath them and a terrible slavering mawbeast breaks through the dirt floor of the courtyard. The beast is at least ten feet long including the two prominent front clawed obsidian-black and obsidian-sharp feet. The writhing armored worm-like front section attaches to a pair of disproportionately large human haunches, a set of now vestigial and wither human arm and a disheveled head frozen in some expression between pain and ecstacy.

In the next episode the battle with the mawbeast commences. Luckily for the party, Marek returns during the engagement to lend support with his disembodied hand and also land attacks from above. The fight is long and involved with sharp blows landed on both sides. Benwen mid battle lands a clean strike to the beast and severs the human head from the haunches. The fight for the mawbeast goes quickly downhill from there and Rollie lands the final blow under the chin of the creature and wedges free a pair of teeth fashionable as daggers.

Not soon after the fight finishes, the surrounding forestry is filled with terrible keening calls. Waves upon waves of half-feral hound half-scaled reptilian beast pour out of the forest and rage through the town. Not knowing initially the source of the noise, our party hides in the already explored wings of the keep. A contingent of reavers comes into the keep and inspects the fallen mawbeast and human soldiers. At seeing the beast, most of the reavers let out a terrible cry into the air which is answered in the distance by others. Most of the reavers leave the keep, but some stay to feast of the bodies strewn about the courtyard.

Our heroes leap out and dispatch the reavers quickly and secure the gate against any more reavers. Feeling secure in the keep now, our party looks at the chaos of the surrounding town. Reavers are ravaging the town relatively unchecked. Townspeople are holing up into their houses when possible but too many are being caught unawares and taken.

The Iron Circle army assembled to the north of the town returns and tries to fight back in some urban warfare, but doesn’t maintain discipline. From the keep, our heroes see the troops in the distance swarmed on all sides and suffering heavy losses. They concoct a plan to rappel down the way they entered the keep and rescue whoever they can near the base of the keep (especially the elderly brewer couple).

When they go into town, they recognize Grunch in the distance and amazed as in his battelfury levels several swaths of reavers. The townspeople he was rescuing join up with the party and together they manage to make it to the home of the brewers and rescue the couple.

At this point it’s obvious that the fight isn’t going well for the Iron Circle troops. The party calls out to the troops and gestures for them to make for the keep. Providing covering fire, the party pushes back the swarms of reavers and lofts the townsfolk and the Iron Circle troops into the Keep.

And that’s where we begin our next chapter.

... and braces for impact.

Our heroes Morgoth, Amiss, and Benwen awaken bruised by the previous night’s ambush, but far from beaten. They venture out in the morning and secure the assistance of the rangers Calatar and Vanwe to investigate last night’s ambush. Upon arriving at the scene, Vanwe takes charge of the investigation and party tracks the trail of the ambushers towards the stone road to Harkenwold. Nearing the main road, the party gives up on the trail and doubles back towards Marl.

Now that it’s well past lunchtime, the party opts for lunch at a local establishment named “Betty’s” and upon entering find Dagmar speaking to an energized crowd of bystanders. Taking up right on cue, the party pitches the crowd to uproar playing on their emotions deftly. They end the speech drawing the crowd in and designing plans for the coming days. The ranchers make plans to draw up to Albridge the next day after preparing their herds. Content with their afternoon’s work, the party returns to Albridge and promptly falls asleep.

That is, until a loud explosion jolts everyone awake. Wasting no time, Amiss dashes out in pursuit of the explosion while Morgoth and Benwen change out of their nighties (I jest, I jest…). Amiss weaves in and out of the streets with the help of some other rangers, while approaching the base of the large smoke cloud. They find one body, seemingly unconscious, sprawled out near an exploded cart. Amiss approaches, reaches down to help the person, and deftly jumps out of the way of a dagger strike. The other rangers jump on the cloaked figure and subdue him. He’s packaged up and taken back to the north side of the river where Benwen and Morgoth improvise a jail in the old constabulary.

Quickly into the interrogation, it looks like the scout isn’t going to give them any information, and Morgoth flies off into a fit of rage. He grasps the perpetrator’s pinky and threatens one more time. When the scout defies him one more time, he snaps the finger back, cleanly breaking it. The interrogation procedes much differently after Morgoth’s demonstration. He admits to being just one of a party of 5 scouts sent out to investigate Albridge. The party wastes no time and sends an animal messenger to the ranger scouts along the road to look out for a suspicious party of four moving towards Harkenwold in the night.

The party identifies the scout as Ilyana’s first-born son, Jarek. They pilfer a small supply of denner resin on his person and use it in the ensuing interrogations as well as noting that withdrawal symptoms will be quick in coming.

The following morning, the party receives an animal message back that the scouts approached the party in question and subdued (killed) all but one of the Iron Circle scouts in the ensuing skirmish. The party decides to message Durn to update him as to their situation. While this is happening, Benwen uses his Fluted Longsword of Wonder to spy on Ilyana’s first conversation with Jarek. Ilyana fully brings her son to account for his actions and converts him fully to their cause. The get the full cooperation of Jarek and with it a more detailed account of the forces at the Iron Circle’s disposal. With that they formulate a battle plan for the coming engagement and leave it with Ilyana for execution.

The big question remaining to the party is what to do next. Do they stay with the local forces and coordinate the defense? Do they head south and scout Harkenwold, perhaps harrying the forces as they approach? Or do they go to Harkenwold to attempt to infiltrate the Keep after the forces leave to attack? You decide!

An emergent uprising...

Our heroes begin their adventure in the home of Ilyana, who they just recently saved from what they learned was a tribute party of the Iron Circle. These tribute parties would venture out and demand money from the villagers in return for protection from the “reavers”, ravenous reptilian/gnollish creatures emanating from the wood beyond Harkenwold. Ilyana and son Jarl, obviously on hard times, were unable to pay and more than a bit indignant as Ilyana’s first-born son Jarek joined the Iron Circle six months ago. They haven’t heard from or of him since.

Sensing their situation is dire, our heroes explain they are emissaries of the Iron Law set to reestablish law and order in Harken. Ilyana seems somewhat relieved but decides it’s better to vacate the house and go into hiding with her friend Dar Gremath in Albridge. The party makes the trek to Albridge and enters Dar’s tavern, the Apple Urn, affectionately known as the “Stinkin’ Urn”. The party however is recognized by the same defeated tribute party and their commanding officers. A back-and-forth battle ensues but the tide is turned when a quick-footed halfling rogue engages the Iron Circle fighters.

The commanding officers manage to get away however when reinforcements of their own lay down oppressive fire, subduing both Morgoth and Benwen when they leap out of the tavern. The second in command takes Ilyana hostage and manages to escape out a back-alley entrance.

Only after the fighting is over does the party realize what they’ve done. Dar Gremath lets them know that the leader of the party they fought was the second in command of the Iron Circle, Lieutenant Luronk, the first officer to Nazrim Redthorn. The party holes up for the night after newcomer rogue, Rollie Lightfinger, secures the entrances with some traps.

The next morning, the party convinces Dar Gremath to prepare Albridge for the battle that’s about to come. The party sets of that morning to galvanize the town against the backlash. The morning starts with a rousing speech by Benwen marshaling the town to action. Morgoth and Amiss procure some assistance in fortifying the riverfront from crossing. Rollie pulls double-duty and not only plants numerous traps on the south side of the river, but also secures a boat for travel to the Druid Grove east of the town along the river.

It’s after the whirlwind morning of preparations where we pick up with our heroes next time…

Totals: 11750xp (including 300xp for the quest to investigate for Durn and checking in with him), 50g each, and one LVL 9! (not 4) Unraveling Weapon PHB3 p.202 (Amiss talk to me about how we’ll tweek this weapon as it’s too particular right now).

Distant disturbance

Just a brief recap and exposition from last time.

Our party vanquished the red-backed draccus and divvied up its nether regions. Morgoth cleans the hide of the most pristine scales, while Marek and Benwen pilfer some interesting glands they discover deep in the draccus’s throat.

Upon arriving home, Jak is much more comfortable in his home element working the bellows and quickly produces the promised shield for Morgoth. Marek and Benwen check in on Halfrid, the housekeeper for the estate, and their blossoming brewery. Left to his own devices, Halfrid has set up quite a spread in the guest estate, expanding it so different rooms are brewing different sets of ale. Upon tasting the secretions from the still vaguely warm and pulsing dragon gland, he formulates some plans to incorporate that into a brew or two.

Time passes and the group continues in training the troops (all except for Khalial who appears to be primarily interested in training Nina afterhours in his room at the inn). Durn approaches the group after an interval with some startling news. It turns out the gear from the raiding party was from Harkenwold, an Iron Law outpost farther south in the Commonwealth. Durn assigns the party to investigate the area as they haven’t received correspondence from the province of Harken for sometime.

The party gathers themselves and heads south to their destination. The trip is relatively uneventful until just inside the province of Harken, they happen upon and break up some aggressive questioning at a woman’s farmstead.

We join our heroes right after this fight…

... lead to the mouth of the...

Morgoth and Marek awaken the next morning and deal with the detained dwarfs deftly despite Jaks daft interrogations. They play one dwarf off against the other and end up breaking the lesser dwarf, turning him against the leader. The party learns that the dwarfs are drug-runners bringing a backpack full of tunnel resin into the south. They interrogate the dwarfs on all manner of things such as their tattoos, but aren’t able to get particulars about their operation from the leader.

They take the dwarfs back to Garrek and have him take the dwarfs back to Roseoak constabulary, leaving him a ritual scroll of sending to make sure everything goes as planned. That having been dealt with the duo heads back into the woods and spends several days checking for signs of the draccus. The first day passes uneventfully as the duo gets a feel for their surroundings. Under the full moon that night, Marek attempts to lure a draccus by firing a gout of flame over the lake. In seeming response, a single sparkling purplish flare spell is cast from the opposite side of the lake. They investigate, firing off other spells, but don’t get a reply or signs of a party besides some wagon tracks. During next day of scouring the woods they happen upon some suspicious deciduous trees cleft from the root system to the east. They follow along the river and discover more cleft trees and an extensive cave system near the river.

As the sun sets, Marek fires off another flare of warning, but gets an unexpected response as wyrmlings start pouring out of the caves north of the river. They best a pack of several trying to keep Jak alive at the same time, but are beginning to become overrun when a guttural growl comes from the largest cave entrance. The wyrmlings hesitate and disengage the party for second, but soon swaths of flame pour out of the hole and party comes face-to-face with a red-backed draccus….


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