Eoffram Troyas had called military ‘men’, mercenaries if you will, to Brindol. With the resurgent Red Hand decimating the city with terror attacks and the drums of war beating to the north Brindol, in Overlook, had found itself defenseless and the mercy of these hobgoblin raiders. Cicero Lycergus had come from the south seeking “shiny baubles”. His young hatchlings were pushing their mammoth father to acquire wealth and prestige enough for him to set up a keep of his own. The gigantic Dragonborn had long pledged his life to Kord, and had brought his word to the masses with his might. His spawn hadn’t ‘found’ Kord yet, in fact they were much more interested in material wealth. He worried that they might stray from ‘the path’, so to placate them he once again found himself marching off to some other land in pursuit of wealth to appease his daughters, Kord save them all…
On the road Cicero had met a fellow traveler and soldier for hire, Draken-Kor. While Cicero had hailed from the human dominated south, and had spent his life among them, Draken-Kor had just arrived from across a great inland sea to the east. The heavily armed warlord was much less boisterous than Cicero and seemed focused on the trip itself.
Draken-Kor didn’t need the half-elf or his city’s money. He needed the deed. With the implied shame upon his father, he had to reclaim his family’s honor. It had been almost 40 years since Balasar and a small contingent of his people’s best troops sojourned north to “The Shining City” of Crintesel. Balasar had answered the clarion call of both his king and of his former ally arch-magus Phineaus Has. His city was under siege by the foul followers and spawn of Orcus. Balasar and his allies never escaped what is now known as “The Sealed City”. In fact no one did, save one human acolyte. One lone member of The Knights of the Autumn Sword lived to tell the tale of the last days of Crintesel. Draken-Kor would hear this tale, restore his father’s honor, and build a name for himself greater than any of his clutch mates, then he would be able to take Kava’s hand in bonding.
The rabble had been even sparser and shiftier than the last lot that had “volunteered”, but after “The Burning Night” Eoffram would be forced to take what he could get. The two saving graces were the two Dragonborn that had arrived and the adventuring party that had slain so many invaders the night before. He awaited their arrival anxiously and prayed that they would prove themselves trustworthy.
The party arrived into the main council hall just before lunch to find Councilman Eoffram Troyas in conversation with two unknown Dragonborn. All were weary from the night before, but who could refuse the request of the ‘face of Brindol’? After pleasantries Eoffram offered the group & the Dragonborn the opportunity to be paid protectors of Brindol. The offer was quiet generous and was quickly accepted. He then proceeded to ask them some minor questions regarding their future plans in the city. The entire time Bernadette could not shake the feeling that they were being watched. In fact she felt the tingle of magic in the air. As the feeling continued to bother her, like an itch you cannot scratch, she simply blurted out her accusation to Councilman Troyas. A little surprised, but looking more disappointed he looked down quickly as the door opened and an elderly priest and four knights made their way into the room. The head knight introduced himself as Sir Taneth Bristol of the Order of the Silver Cross. Vanarr quickly explained that The Order was an arm of the Knights of the Autumn Sword, a much more religious sect. Drah quickly raised his hood as to obscure his face from view. Sir Bristol fixed his steely gaze upon adventurers as if testing their resolve. He then proceeded to inform that they had spoke truthfully, and dismissed the profusely sweating priest.
Sir Bristol paced back and forth before the assemblage of warriors before him, his four armed escorts eyes never left the companions weapons. Drah kept his eyes hidden beneath the veil of his hood. Vanarr began an attempt to explain herself to her superior within The Order, before she was curtly cut off. Sir Bristol gave a blistering account of his feelings toward the “taint blooded” brood before him, taking every opportunity to walk the line between veiled racial remark and out right antagonism. Finally, Steev intervened informing the Knights of the Order that he would brook no further insults to his companions. Bristol then begrudgingly came to his point, he wished to conscript the companions under Vanarr and the Knights of the Autumn Sword banner to make their way to Rivenroar, find the hostages, and return them along with the stolen trophies of the previous War of the Red Hand. He then expected the party to meet his retinue in nearby Overlook, claiming the “war drum beats strongest there”. The companions somewhat reluctantly agreed. Bristol and his cohorts took time to stop and refer to Drah as Ulver making him uneasy before taking their leave. Councilman Troyas apologized profusely after Sir Bristol left.
In the meantime Drah explained that his real name is Ulver. Being a cursed Half-Elf he had been pursued by members of The Order Of The Silver Cross. He’d had to slay two of them to avoid being hung. Now with the appearance of Sir Bristol, and his off-hand comment of referring to Drah as Ulver, Ulver knew the jig was up.
The group where then given time to eat and relax, Councilman Troyas then led them to a lone Hobgoblin who had been captured during “The Burning Night”. The guards let it be known that violence against the prisoner would not be tolerated, as he would stand trial for his crimes against the people of Brindol. Eventually, the Hobgoblin gave in giving a detailed direction to Rivenroar, along with that he let the adventurers know that The Red Hand had allied itself with some “Deaders” that were the true owners of the Keep. Twenty-four hours later the group began it’s journey.
The first day of the trip was uneventful, as was the first part of the night. In the middle of the night though the silence was broken. A massive Cave Bear waded directly into the camp half-starved and ready for battle. Initially the party was completely caught off guard and was on the defensive, but eventually their numbers wore the foe down. The brutal melee prowess of Vanaar, Sequilum, Drakon-Kor, & Steev battered away at the enraged beast. Magic literally poured from Ulver & Cicero used the power of Kord to batter the bear and keep his new cohorts upright. All the Bernadette slyly took advantage of every opening. In the end the Cave Bear was no match for the fire and steel of the group from Brindol. Silence again reigned in the woods.
The group knew that they were now less than a day out from Rivenroar Keep. The road began to narrow and become rougher as they entered into a ravine, a perfect spot for an ambush. The farther down the road the party meandered the less wildlife they noticed, not to mention the ever-increasing silence. Bernadette noticed what appeared to be an animal den of some type of the road, as they came fifteen feet from it four Kruthiks burst from beneath them. The chattering of their carapace along with the sharp snap of their mandibles brought the silence to a cacophony. The two adult Kruthiks ambushed the flanks of the group attempting to grab with their mandibles, while the two hive-lords mauled into the front and back of the group pinning the group between them. The battle was short and brutal. With the help of the two new Dragonborn companions the sword might of the group had vastly improved, much to the chagrin of the Kruthiks, before to long all four beasts had been slain, and the party stood relatively unharmed.
As the group gathered themselves, arrow shots rang out from above, and the gleeful cackling of Gnolls penetrated the silence. Bernadette, Drakon-kor, Cicero, & Sequilum mounted a counter-offensive, as the rest of the companions recovered and began to explore the area.
Beneath Rivenroar Keep…OR…Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner…
As the slightly hobbled Vanarr, Ulver, & Steev recovered they thought they heard a faint cry for help. As they made their way over to one of the burrow holes, they saw that it lead down into the Kruthik nest. Eventually, Steev lowered himself in, and to his surprise among the refuse and bones found a very injured Eladrin. After helping him, and themselves, recover from their wounds the thankful Eladrin introduced himself as Phalen. Ingratiated to the group for saving him from being slowly devoured he decided to accompany them. A wizard by trade Phalen had come this way with a young adventuring party out for glory, instead they had been ambushed by Gnolls and left to be devoured by the Kruthiks. Phalen alone had survived his wounds and the Kruthiks. He didn’t know if any of his party that had been taken by the Gnolls still yet lived. Ulver could feel his blood boil at the thought of what the Gnolls would do to their captives. He argued that the group should try and catch up with their cohorts that pursued their Gnoll harassers, but was reminded by Vanarr and Steev that they had a job to do, and set off to Rivenroar.
The farther into the rough scrub brush Sequilum led Drakon-Kor, Cicero, & Bernadette in pursuit of the Gnoll snipers the more she began to regret her decision. What if it was a “divide & conquer” strategy, a trap, or goddess forgive a lone sniper who they just happened to run across? As the minutes turned into hours, and the brush and hills turned into forest the companions came to a clearing with a fire still smoldering. A crude alter had been constructed and on it laid what appeared to be the remains of a Halfling and a human, both had been butchered. Drakon-Kor helped Cicero pull the remains off the black alter, bury them, and let Cicero perform Kord’s last rights upon them. Sequilum and Bernadette ransacked the remains of the encampment, finding little of importance, as the Gnolls had left little evidence of their overall plan or even numbers. Drakon-Kor saw the slump in Sequilum’s shoulders as Bernadette let her know that there was just no trail, no trace to follow. Drakon-Kor had never faced Gnolls in battle, he only knew of them through tales he’d heard from other adventurers. Gazing upon the wanton slaughter he could feel his hand tighten around the hilt of his sword, these beasts would prove worthy, worthy of death at his hands.
As Cicero finished, evening finally fell in the forest. The companions decided to rest for the night before attempting to catch up with their compatriots at Rivenroar. As they bedded down Bernadette couldn’t help but feel that she could hear the Gnolls out there among the trees, laughing at them. Laughing through blood stained teeth.
By the time Ulver, Steev, Vanarr, & their new companion Phalen reached the demolished doors of Rivenroar Keep the suns were beginning to set. Steev stalked through the remains of the keep as Vanaar & Phalen studied the map that Councilman Troyas had provided them. Eventually, Ulver found the entrance into the bowels of the Keep and the adventurers readied themselves for bloodshed.
The first set of stairs led them down to what looked to be an empty room with two enormous lit braziers in the back corners. As they group made their way down they heard the guttural grunts of Goblinoids, and battle was joined. The two Hobgoblin warriors drew steel but were no match for Vanarr & Steev. Phalen found himself very interested in his new companion Ulver as the half-elf freed magic fire from his fingers that both scorched the hobgoblin archer’s skin and minds leaving them dying, quivering masses. As quickly as the hobgoblins had appeared they were just as quickly dispatched by the companions.
The group then made their way through another set of stairs and hallways. Eventually, the came to a room where the majority of the room’s floor was covered in ruins that periodically would glow a sickly blue. As the party came to the entrance they noticed a haunting beating of wings in the corner rafters of the room. Ulver and Vanarr lit their sunrods and the party was beset upon by two swarms of needle Fang Drakes. The pigeon sized aggressors nipped and clawed at the group as they tried to regain their composure. Slowly Steev & Vanarr took point and began trying to wade through the annoying onslaught, but were attempting to refrain from stepping upon the ruins. As Phalen and Ulver entered a small humanoid materialized and slipped a knife right into Ulver’s side before phasing out from view again. The last of the Drakes finally fell, and the group placed itself on heavy alert. The Gnome skulk appeared again attacking from a distance with a hand crossbow. Vanarr sprinted across the room to attack just missing as it again dissipated before her very eyes. As Steev flanked the two spell slingers, Ulver stepped directly upon one of the ruined floor tiles a large bolt of power surged upward and through him sending him sprawling. Phalen and Steev tried to get to him while alternatively keeping their eyes peeled for their invisible stalker. In a blink the gnome appeared in front of Vanarr who unleashed a devastating attack upon it, hobbling it. The gnome returned the attack with vicious precision. The clang of steel was interrupted by a horrid cackle. All parties involved stopped to see one of the dropped sunrods roll across the floor to the corner where Ulver had landed in a heap. The laugh seemed to erupt from him in a convulsion; uncontrolled, pained, and vile as if he was vomiting a black laughter. Ulver’s features begin to rapidly change, become more canine like as the laughter went from a din to a roar. Vanarr ignored her Gnome opponent in an attempt to reach her ally only to be attacked again by her opportunistic gnome assailant. Steev and Phalen looked on in horror and disgust as the man they knew transformed before their vary eyes into a hyena like beast. The last vestiges of Ulver’s humanity screaming from his eyes as his mouth slavered for blood. Leaping he lashed out with ever growing claws at Steev missing, but hitting Phalen. Quickly, Steev gathered the shackles that Ulver had entrusted him with and attempted to subdue the beast. Vanarr feeling the desperation of the situation growing dire finally gave the gnome all of her “attention” rendering the attacker in twain in a bloody mist. Phalen attempted to help Steev restrain Ulver without becoming the focus of his unbridled rage. With the arrival of Vanarr the three companions where finally able to subdue Ulver. Vanarr’s devotion to Avandra allowed her to lay healing hands upon her maddened ally while Steev and Phalen attempted to heal his wounds as he began to transform back into his familiar form. Feeling exposed the group dragged the bound and exhausted Ulver into the next room where the discovered a prisoner. The town Alchemist bound in the corner. After gathering information from him and nourishing him it was time to discuss the next step. It was decided that Steev would take Ulver back out of the keep, half-bound, find a spot for him to hide, and then return.
As Steev carried Ulver out the exhausted Half-elf breathed shallowly still racked with pain from his transformation. Steev took a badly damaged large wagon and dragged it to the edge of the woods creating a makeshift shack. Using his knowledge of the flora and fauna Steev then crafted a crude façade around the bivouac. Securing Ulver into the hide place Steev left the key letting Ulver know to follow once he had significantly recovered. Upon Steev’s return the group decided to rest for the night, they barred the door to the room, and tried to sleep despite the rustling of things better left unseen from within the bowels of the catacombs.