Campaign Journal Book Two
Table of Contents
Chapter One- The Clouds Break
Chapter Two- The Storm
Chapter Three- Battles and Blunders
Chapter Four- An Unexpected Journey
Chapter Five- The Past and the Present
Chapter Six- Diseases and Detainment
Bartarius of Outelion, a powerful barbarian. The leadership of the group has fallen to Bartarius, and he does his best to lead well. He is often, however, near to cracking under the strain.
Malcall, another powerful barbarian. Malcall is a ravager and a berserker who dismays people by his manners and appearance. His whole goal is to fight and collect "souvenirs."
Payn Ack-Arthur, a weathered outdoorsman. The strong, silent type, Payn's conscience would not let him rest if his sword was inactive while danger threatened his homeland.
Valanduil of House Cirana, a noble elf who is once again the companion and advisor of Bartarius. His life's doom is to seek the Elven artifact called the Stone of Silence.
Tharivol of House Meliane, an aloof Elven cleric. Charged by the Elvenking with helping his friend Valanduil in his quest for the Stone of Silence, Tharivol awaits the day when he can return to Elven lands.
Gilbert Ack-Keler, a devastatingly powerful professional soldier, is the quintessential warrior. Gilbert aided the group out of loyalty to his city, East-of-Sky, and to Baron Oliver, whom he views as a grandfather. He returned to East-of-Sky when it was attacked by Afej.
Rolindor Ack-Turpin, a battle mage and experienced tactician. Fleeing from the Ranulph Barony, which Afej recently conquered, Rolindor hoped to use the group to free his homeland. He currently serves as head of the Dragonspur battlemage college under Lord Yedus.
Fundin Northammer, a cautious Dwarven cleric who is no longer with the group. He aided them greatly, however, when the Lord of Envy attacked Dragonspur by bringing a force of dwarves to help.
Dralin, a powerful and greedy Dwarven cleric who is currently seeking the legendary Dwarf-hold Liferock in order to restore the Dwarves to their former glory. His whereabouts are unknown.
Ragnor Ack-Rohan, a half-elven cleric/mage. Ragnor is a no-nonsense, pragmatic type who gets the job done. He seems closer in heritage to his human rather than his elven ancestors in this respect.
Tili Deepdelver, a powerful Dwarven warrior, fell defending the heroes during their attack on the Winged One. He lies in a hallowed cairn deep beneath the Hilly Crags.
Belshrum Stoneaxe, a berserk and freakish Dwarven warrior, Belshrum's fondest wish was to die in battle. His wish was granted when he fell during the group's exploration of Karn Keller.
Chapter One- The Clouds Break
Unsure as to the proper course of action after losing the mirror, the heroes decide to head back to Dragonspur City. But first they stop by Green City on the way and get horses from Lord Preston Stautney. Stautney informs them that he will be sending troops to the aid of the city in two weeks time. The heroes set off for the city.
Upon arriving, the companions hear a loud fracas as of armed men. Bartarius and Malcall race across the river, with Ragnor casting a fly spell and going ahead to scout, while Fundin takes word to Naglor that the heroes have returned. Flying fast over the snow-covered field, Ragnor learns that a force of about 1500 spur elites is about to engage a force of 2500 orcs and 500 humans. Strangely enough, he also sees a large encampment of 2500 of Dragonspur's' Standing Battalion. These soldiers seem to be refusing to enter the battle! Ragnor unleashes a lightning bolt into the orc-horde and flies back to find Bartarius and Malcall.
Meanwhile, the two northmen have entered the camp of the Standing Battalion. Bartarius demands to see General Kurt Danthor, who leads them. He wants to know why the troops aren't attacking. The general inexplicably states that "the time is not right." Smelling something foul afoot, Bartarius curses and threatens General Danthor, then goes to join the Spur Elites. The companions are reunited just before the two forces meet in bloody melee. The two forces clash with the heroes in the vanguard. Some troll reavers immediately start devastating the forces of the city, but the heroes manage to slay them, although they are badly wounded. After a pitched day of battle, with the heroes leading regiments, the Spur Elites are driven back nearly to the walls of the city. Still the Standing Battalion has not entered the fray.
Frustrated and tired, Bartarius and Malcall choose to go and kidnap or kill Lord Turstan Quentin. They reason that Quentin is the reason that the Standing Battalion isn't attacking, since it is well-known throughout the city that Danthor is loyal to Quentin.
Since Ragnor refuses to go, Bartarius and Malcall attempt to infiltrate the manor of Quentin at 5:30 in the morning. Invading the house, the Northmen manage to kill 25+ of Quentin's Kalish mercenaries, as well as the mercenary leader Guibert de Dael. The two also discover that there is a priest of Grlarshh in residence, one Rotger Ack-Peter, whom they slay. On the priest, Bartarius discovers a letter from Afej addressed to him personally! The mission, although valuable in terms of information, is ultimately a failure, as Quentin escapes from the wrath of the angry warriors and flees into the city. Since the Orcish army is certainly going to attack come nightfall, the heroes devise a plan. Fundin wishes to seek out his people, who are once again refugees, and return with 300-400 Dwarven warriors as reinforcements. In return, he wishes a grant of land and military aid to the Dwarven Clan of Glitterjewels. The remaining three heroes decide to attempt to goad the Orcs into attacking the Standing Battalion. They figure that the Spur Elites can then attack from behind. During the battle, the heroes intend to sneak into the camp of the Standing Battalion and capture or kill Lord Quentin and/or General Danthor. They hope that thus leaderless, the Battalion will again swear allegiance to Naglor. The companions therefore send Ragnor with a note addressed to the leader of the Orcish regiment. The note states that the Standing Battalion wished to discuss terms of surrender. Ragnor delivers the missive; he barely escapes with his life, losing his magical mace in the process.
The heroes wait for the dark army to take the bait, but they do not appear to be doing so. Deciding to hurry the proceedings, the group takes several Elite soldiers, dresses in Standing Battalion colors, and makes multiple guerilla attacks against the Orcs in the name of the Standing Battalion. The heroes are noticed by the true Standing Battalion, however, and are intercepted by horsemen. They manage to convert these horsemen to the side of the Spur Elites. Eventually the Orcs take the lure and attack the Standing Battalion. The Elites close the trap and fierce and bloody battle is joined. The Orcs are caught in a pincer, however, and appear to be losing.
During the fray, the companions attempt to sneak into the camp of the battalion but are intercepted by guards. Not willing to spill Spurite blood (or be shot by Spurite arrows), the group turns back. Bartarius and Ragnor almost come to blows, but eventually the three decide to attack the sparsely guarded Orc camp in hopes of killing the leader. With 20 horsemen, the group breaks through the Orc guards into the camp. In a harrowing fight they manage to kill the leader of the Orc division, who turns out to be one Cpt. Richard Darellor, an ancient enemy of Bartarius'. Returning to the battle, the heroes find that the Orcs have been routed and are fleeing willy-nilly.
Next, Bartarius and Ragnor decide to attempt to abduct Lord Quentin from the middle of the Battalion. Under cover of invisibility and fly spells, the two sneak into the camp where Bartarius attacks General Danthor while Quentin attempts to flee. Ragnor ensorcells him in a hold spell and manages to use telekinesis to lift the frightened lord out of the camp. Bartarius slays general Danthor as well as the evil wizard Vagnar Malteran and makes a daring escape from the camp as well. Together they return Lord Quentin to the justice of Lord Mayor Naglor. Breathing a sigh of relief, the heroes congratulate each other on a job well done. There is another threat looming, however: the other half of the Orcish army is still encamped 60 miles to the East, the Afej barony seems to be threatening invasion, and the Lord of Lust may have been summoned to Farland once again. To make matters worse, Bartarius suspects that Afej is really the lich Jaef, whom Valanduil unknowingly freed 10 years ago. Awaiting the arrival of Fundin with Dwarven reinforcements, as well as cavalry and infantry from Green City, the three champions contemplate their next move.
Chapter Two- The Storm
Resting in their manor, Bartarius is awakened by a thief who is attempting to steal his blue dragon armor. The thief states, under duress, that the attempted theft is simply a distraction for the real incident, which is occurring at the Spur Fortress at that very moment. Rushing to the Fortress, the heroes find Lord Mayor Naglor Osbern under attack. They fell his attackers and follow the sound of battle further into the palace. They come upon a recent battle scene. It seems that unknown assailants have abducted their long-time ally Captain Brian Hightower. Returning to their house, the companions find a note on the door. The note is from the powerful rogue Corfin, with whom the group has had several run-ins in the past. The letter tells the companions that the leader of the Thieves' Guild in Dragonspur City (of which Corfin is second in command) is responsible for the abduction. Corfin indicates in the note that the Lalsthor Longcloak has ordered the kidnapping against the wishes of Corfin, and that if the heroes wish to rescue Hightower they should attack the guild and slay Longcloak.
Immediately the group sets off to find the guild. After some clandestine inquiries and one back-alley assault, the location of the guild is revealed. The heroes go there immediately and demand entry. But they have apparently gotten more than they bargained for as they find themselves in a full-out battle with powerful fighters while boiling oil rains down on their heads. But the group prevails and manages to defeat most of the members of the guild house, including six dopplegangers who are apparently guards of the place, although the heroes are severely wounded in the process. But the companions find out that Longcloak, who is rarely seen, lives in the sewers below the guild.
Descending into the sewers, the heroes find that there is an entire temple to Bel, the Lord Thief, below the guild. Although they are tricked by the priests of Bel into stumbling upon a powerful beats that nearly slays them, the group dispatches the east and returns to the temple to make short work of the clerics. They also encounter a wizard who works for the guild, but they manage to catch him flat-footed and dispatch him as well. Nearly unconscious from their injuries and from loss of blood, the heroes bed down in the temple of Bel after they barricade the doors. They hope that their rest, which is crucial to the recovery of their healing abilities, will not be disturbed.
Upon awakening, the group continues its search for Longcloak. After fighting past some oozes as well as many traps, the party finds the lair of Longcloak. The head of the Guild seems to be a mysterious being whose features are hidden under a voluminous cloak. He admits a palpable chill that causes the heroes' breath to plume from their mouths. Upon parlaying with the thief, the group learns that Longcloak has no idea about the kidnapping of Hightower, and apparently Corfin has tricked everyone for his own nefarious end, which is to become head of the Guild by having Longcloak killed. Bartarius is hesitant to be the pawn of Corfin by killing Longcloak, but Ragnor, who senses that the thief is undead, insists on attacking him. The companions fight the powerful specter, who drains each of them of a portion of their life force. Eventually, however, the group manages to kill the Guildmaster and his half-strength specter slave William the Sly. They loot the Guild's real treasure trove, which had been guarded by Longcloak, and emerge from the sewers with several powerful magical items. Returning to their manor house, they find a note from Corfin that says only "Thank you. ---C."
Annoyed, the heroes retire. But the next day they are summoned to Naglor. They are informed that the other half of the army of the Lord of Envy, led by Angus Neebrok, known simply as The General, is heading towards the Spur; since Brian Hightower has not been found Bartarius is offered the Captaincy of the Spurite forces. He eventually swears allegiance to Naglor and confers with the General of the Spurite forces on how best to defend the city. The army is there before the heroes can catch their breath, and fierce battle ensues. It seems that the Spurites might hold there own, except for a mysterious force that is striking fear into the troops of light. The heroes attempt to hunt down the evil force. As they near it, however, they hear horrid howling that chills even their bones and strikes fear into their hearts. The heroes flee back behind the lines, to wonder what the horrid howls represent and to await the next onslaught of the forces of evil. Meanwhile, the fate of Dragonspur and of the West hangs in the balance.
Recovering their wits, the group is preparing to rejoin the army when they get a note from one Sgt. Nigel, ostensibly of the city guard. The note asks the heroes to come immediately, as a party of orcs has apparently snuck into the city. Hurrying to the indicated spot, the heroes find themselves in an ambush. Twenty armed men threaten their lives. The group attempts to avoid conflict, but the thugs shoot at them with arrows, substantially wounding Bartarius. A strange rider enters the scene and observes the battle. At first the rider intends to avoid combat, but when the thugs threaten him, he chooses to respond in kind. Between Bartarius, Ragnor, Malcall, and the stranger, the thugs are quickly disposed of. The stranger turns out to be Payn Ack-Arthur, a member of the ranger group "The Woodsmen" from Bestraville, West of Dragonspur. It turns out that Payn is seeking the leaders of the army of Dragonspur to lend his sword to the defense of the land. Upon meeting the heroes, he pledges his aid to their cause. Ragnor, on the other hand, is impatient to set off on his pilgrimage for the Holy Month of Kalt. He is also somewhat at odds with Bartarius. He informs the group that he must set out after the outcome of the battle is concluded. Meanwhile, the party has captured one of the thugs. From this ruffian they learn that the trap was arranged by Corfin in order to get the heroes out of his way so that he can rebuild the Thieves' Guild. Bartarius curses the master thief and arranges to have the Inn where the thug was hired burnt down, ignoring the the ethical implications. The four men return to the battle-camp.
There he learns that another attack by the Orcs is sure to come at dusk. The party devises a plan. While Ragnor stays behind in capacity of commander, Bartarius, Malcall, and Payne will attempt to infiltrate the camp of The General during the battle and slay him. They reason that it worked well against Cpt. Darellor, so The General might fall for it as well. Embarking under cover of night, and right in the middle of the battle field, the heroes are traveling invisible across the field when they see a party of 500 Orcish commandos attempting to cross the field unobserved and enter the camp of the Spurites. Malcall and Payn continue forward after avoiding the troops, while Bartarius returns to warn the army. After slaying several orcs, he then rejoins his companions who have made it inside the enemy entrenchments. The heroes assault the tent of The General, but find out that he has anticipated this move and laid a trap. The three warriors barely escape, pursued by orcs and ogres.
Returning to the battle, they find that the Army of the city is pushed back nearly into the wall, and is almost ready to flee. The savage and fearful howling and barking is still present on the field, and is not helping the morale of the defenders. Finally Malcall spots the source: a pack of five shadowy hounds. The fighters attempt to attack the pack, but Bartarius again flees. Malcall and Payn are left to fight the hounds themselves. Payn is dragged down and mauled by the pack, but eventually regains his feet. Malcall and Payn finally manage to slay the hounds just as Bartarius returns. The three fight their way back to the camp of the defenders. The humans manage to stave off the attack until the dawn, but their prospects of lasting through the next night look bleak.
|6th of Nelt, 8170|
At that moment, however, the heroes receive word that the reinforcements from Green City are within one day's march and should be here by dusk. Bartarius leaves orders with Ragnor, who stays with the defenders, and the three fighters set off to meet the reinforcements. When they arrive, Bartarius orders the Green City troops to split and attack the Orcish army from the North and East, while the defenders attack from the West. As night falls, the battle begins. The orcs, by order of the crafty General, stay behind their fortifications to meet this new threat. The attacking forces of light are now in the role of the besiegers. The battle hangs in the balance, with much losses on both sides, when suddenly there is word from a scout. The dwarves of the Glitterjewel clan have arrived and are advancing rapidly from the South! Led by Fundin Northammer, the 300 dwarves are clad in frightening dragon masks and bear great war-axes and shields. In tight formation, the dwarves throw down the orc's southern fortifications, their armor turning aside nearly all blows. The humans attack with renewed vigor. Caught between this four-pronged attack, the Orcish army is crushed. A scant 500 break through the lines and flee West. Rejoicing, the human and dwarves count their dead. There are many losses, but the city is safe-- for now. The Spurites have won what will come to be called the Battle of King's Field
Chapter Three- Battles and Blunders
With some time to catch their breath and nothing about to attack Dragonspur in the near future, the four companions return to their manor. There they find a note from Corfin to Bartarius, suggesting that Bartarius is unethical for burning down the Naughty Mermaid Inn. Bartarius is guilt-stricken and pays the wage of the Innkeeper for the rest of the Innkeeper's life. Then the group spends a week organizing their three properties. Within that time, Payn is Knighted by Lord High Mayor Naglor. Ragnor also bids the group farewell, telling them that he is going on a pilgrimage, and when he returns he is going to attempt to refound the destroyed town of Wotun. He tells the heroes to call on him if he can be of assistance in the future. Fundin also returns and spends a happy night drinking with Malcall. Naglor gifts land to the Dwarves of Clan Glitterjewels so they may settle there. The heroes are debriefed and informed of the situation that faces the city. The land is poor, because the old Kingdom of Daven to the south is quickly becoming deserted, with all the refugees fleeing to Kale. The Afej Barony blocks trade with Kale, and the lands to the East are all occupied. Thus Dragonspur is isolated. Moreover, there is still some 10,000 or more troops that remain in Orland. And the armies of Afej were thwarted from sailing across the Lake of the Sky by the weather and the season, but they will surely embark soon enough. Naglor states that punitive expeditions will have to be made against Wyvernia, and all the other neighboring towns who aren't allies will have to be forced to re-enter the feudal pacts they agreed to of old. Finally, they learn that no word has been received from the allied Oliver Barony to the West for about a month. Even 20 soldiers who ere sent never returned. The heroes vow to discover the cause of the communication rift.
Setting off down the Overway, the group soon comes up a queer sign in the Wilderness. following the sign, they discover a familiar black crypt. It proves to be the dwelling of The Fiend, the powerful and enigmatic vampire who only talk in rhymes. The fiend intimates that he is one of the first, if not The first vampire, and he has been cursed with this punishment because he helped to bring something called "The Book of Seven" into existence. It seems that this book may have had something to do with the Dark Conquest. the Fiend wishes to send the heroes to "the dreamtime," to show them valuable information. In return he merely wishes for them to compose a poem for him. Unfortunately, Bartarius creates an insulting poem; the Fiend replies, "Your rudeness now I will reward/ Don't try to resist me with a sword/ It will do you o good at all/ So be a good boy and fall!" With this he pummels Bartarius and expels the heroes from his crypt. Crestfallen, the group travels on through the newly fallen snow.
Traveling through Hometon, and Mistburg the three warriors come upon a blockade. Two hillgiants and an ogre are camped near the road, waylaying all travelers. Sneaking up, the heroes hear the group speak of a "dark will" that is driving them out into the cold to molest wayfarers. They also speak of a fort where they live. In a hard-fought battle, the fighters slay the creatures but re severely wounded by their tree-trunk clubs. The group decides to travel to East-of-Sky to get healing.
Arriving at the fishing town, the party buys healing potions and return to the road. But they are ambushed by Warg wolves who seem to be hunting them. Bartarius' shoulder is badly wounded and they return to East-of-Sky. The next day they travel back to the blockade site, where they find two more hill giants and another ogre, crouched shivering under piles of leaves. They are crudely hidden, either trying to surprise the ambushers of their companions or hiding from them. The group slays the three, but is again wounded and returns to East-of-Sky in preparation for an assault on the fort.
|19th of Nelt, 8170|
On the way back, the group meets an ominous looking horseman. This dark, hulking figure turns out to be one Cpt. Gilbert Ack-Keler. Gilbert has been sent by Baron Oliver to repay Bartarius and the group for rescuing him from his own dungeon. East-of-Sky's best fighter and friends with the former Hamo, Gilbert is well-prepared to help the heroes and is gladly welcomed aboard.
Returning to the city, the group determines that they will pose as a supply caravan and draw the attacks of the Giants. They hire a priest of Kantor, young Walter, as a medic. Traveling to the ambush spot, the group is again attacked by Worgs. But this time they are more prepared and easily dispatch the foul beasts. Indeed, so powerful is the group that they slay two more hill giants and three ogres who try to ambush them. But the group is spotted by an ogre who returns back to the giants' hill fort to warn them. Payn goes to scout out the fort and finds out that, besides the 18 foot high front door, there is a 14 foot high back door to the cave fort from which a hidden road leads. Payn barely escapes from this scouting mission after he is attacked by three worgs.
The group decides to find out where the road leads, reasoning that it must be the route whereby the fell giants get their supplies; creatures that large, Bartarius thinks, must take much food. Following the road, they come upon a supply train of 40 lightly armed but heavily laden orcs. These orcs are being driven with whips by four Uruk-Hai. Dispatching the Uruks and capturing one, the heroes drive the surviving orcs into the wilderness. They learn from the captured Uruk that the orcs were heading toward the Hill Giants' Cave fort with supplies. Apparently they are being supplied by Lust Fort. It seems that although many if not most of the orcs in Lustfort fled after the death of The Winged One, a Uruk named Xaort assumed control of the fort and is obeying "the dark will," which has commanded him to "prepare for its return." Fearing that this dark will is actually the Lord of Lust returned, Bartarius sends the captured Uruk back to Lustfort with the message that Bartarius means to kill Xaort.
Not knowing the numbers of giants within the fort and intimidated about attacking it, the warriors sit down to plan the best method of assaulting it. It must be one that limits the chance of any of the group dying, while keeping the much needed soldiers of Dragonspur and East-of-Sky in their respective cities where they can prepare for the coming wars. Bartarius, Malcall, Payne, and Gilbert are unsure as to the best course of action.
Deciding to return to East-of-Sky and recruit a wizard or more powerful cleric to help them, the heroes set off down the Overway. But they have only traveled a few miles when they meet a strange and mysterious older man. The man turns out to be Rolindor Ack-Turpin, a battlemage and a refuge from West-of-sky. He is fleeing the fallen Barony, hoping to travel to Dragonspur City and find or offer aid to destroy his now mortal enemy Afej. Proving to the group that he is indeed a powerful wizard, they accept him into the fold, although there is mutual suspicion all around.
The party then assaults the fort of the giants after slaying several more hillgiant guards. Hearing the sound of some sort of a celebration or funeral dirge, the group manages to enter the foyer of the cave-fort without being observed. Payn then clandestinely scouts, under cover of invisibility, the main area of the fort. There he discovers 3 more hill giants and a stone giant, their leader! He also hears the sounds of Ogre voices behind a nearby door. Thinking quickly, the party decides upon a plan. Malcall gives Payn a potion of madness, which he has been saving for just this occasion. Pan invisibly creeps into the large cavern and, although he is nearly caught several times, secretly pours the potion into the large mug of one of the hill giants. The plan is an unprecedented success! The hill giant falls under the influence of the potion and begins attacking his comrades, who fight back with lethal force. The stone giant, a smarter creature, attempts to resolve the dispute, but he enters into it when he is struck by the insane giant's club. The three giants kill their insane friend, although they are sorely wounded.
As the battle ends, the heroes take this opportunity to attack the giants. But three wounded and surprised giants are still no easy prey, especially when they are reinforced by four ogres, as subsequently happens. The battle is fierce and terrible. The swords of Malcall and Bartarius are flashing, the bow of Payn is singing, the axe of Gilbert is lying, and the spells of Rolindor are bursting. Unfortunately Gilbert is struck down during the fight, but he is saved by the quick actions of Rolindor. The group is victorious, and the cavern-fort is freed of giants, ogres, and worgs (although Bartarius lets the stone giant mate of the stone giant leader flee to the north).
The party is left to sort out the considerable pile of treasure that the giants have accumulated during their blockade of the Overway. They find many useful items. But two things disturb Payn. He finds an enruned, gold-chased longsword that says "Heart of the Forest" on the blade. He recognizes this weapon as the brand of his former friend and master Taren, the leader of The Woodsmen. He also finds a sacred tapestry depicting the goddess Bestra cultivating a golden field. This item once hung in the temple of Bestra in his home town of Bestraville. Fearing for the safety of the town, Payn immediately tells Bartarius that he must return to Bestraville. Bartarius is reluctant to leave the fort, as it is a strategic location and could be reoccupied, but Payn is insistent. Finally they comprise; Bartarius burns all of the gigantic and well-constructed wooden doors of the fort, leaving wide open. They then prepare to set off on the journey to Bestraville.
Chapter Four- An Unexpected Journey
Traveling to Bestraville by the hidden orc-path, Payn notes from a distance that the ever-burning "Flame of Bestra" in the Church Tower is out! Sensing something amiss, the company sends Payn to scout ahead. He travels clandestinely to Woodhall, the home of his friend Taren and the meeting place of the rangers. But the place is occupied-- by two looting orcs! Payn stalks the orcs, trying to determine what they seek. Finally he slays them and returns to the group. On his way, however, the ranger hears voices in the wind, calling, "Payn, help us." Chills run down his spine. He tells the group of his findings. Suspicious, Bartarius climbs a tree for a better look. The town looks deserted, but on the way down Bartarius feels a very palpable push from some unseen attacker. He almost falls from the tree but catches himself.
Now absolutely certain that something is wrong, the heroes travel down into the town. They note the complete lack of inhabitants, indeed the complete lack of anything alive. There aren't even stray dogs around! The party thinks the church will be a good place to start looking for clues. Suddenly they all hear voices saying, "help us!" Another more ominous voice also says, "you will die!" The voices again seem to come from the wind itself. Instantly the party is attacked by a hideous eight-foot tall spider that appears from nowhere. The group manages to wound the spider, but it disappears again.
Breaking into the church, the heroes discover nothing amiss. They relight the Flame of Bestra and rest for a few minutes. Finally, the company determines that the rectory is the next best place to investigate. The heroes make it into the rectory, although they are again attacked by the hideous evil spider-beast. In the rectory, things are very amiss! Upstairs the party finds the dead body of The High Priestess Sybil, the body of a dead watchman, and the dead body of the outcast cleric-Sorcerer Nevel. The bodies of the guard and Sybil bear marks of spider bites and burns, but Nevel apparently died of a sword wound. Moreover, clutched to his chest, the strange sorcerer has the Relic of Bestra, an enruned scepter made of petrified black wood. Stooping to retrieve it, Payn triggers something entirely unexpected. There is a flash and the walls, ceilings, floors, dead bodies, and even the live body of the priest Walter are all turned into mist! The party is the only thing solid-- except for a giant Phase Spider and a hideous apparition! The spirit of Nevel is standing near the group. When he looks at the party, they are struck with fear, as his features die and rot before their eyes. Nevertheless they manage to "slay" the ghost and drive off the spider, which turns misty. Then Walter sees it and he runs away. The party tries to contact Walter, but they have to scream at the top of their lungs to be heard-- it seems their voices sound like the wind. Walter's voice, from the "other side" also sounds faint and windy. The party directs Walter to go touch the Relic, and finally he joins the company on the other side, in the Misty Realm.
Reasoning correctly that this is where the townspeople are, the heroes travel back to the misty church. They find they can pass through walls and solid objects, so it is a short journey. There they find the rest of the townspeople, including Taren. The ranger was wounded, however, fighting the ghost of Nevel. He says he managed to slay it, although the ranger Hugh, Payn's friend, fell in the fight. Each night the spiders and the ghost harass the people again. Taren goes on to tell the story of the last week's events to the heroes. It seems that Nevel, once a priest of Heshtail, was cast out from the church for practicing dark magic. One morning, Taren saw Nevel lurking about the rectory. Sensing that he was up to no good, Taren tracked the dark figure into the room of the high priestess of Bestra, Sybil. A watchman also saw Nevel go in and ran in after him, right in front of Taren. Nevel attacked Sybil and the guard, and with he help of his mysterious spider servants, surprised and killed the Priestess as well as the guard. The dark figure grabbed the holy relic from its case just as Taren slew him. With his dying breath, Nevel uttered a curse: "May this entire town share my fate." Suddenly Taren found himself, with all the townspeople, in the misty realm. He isn't sure how he got there. Another cleric of Bestra, Isabella, is able to fill in the blanks. She explains that the relic's power is to grant three requests. One request was used in the hallowing of the land and the building of the church. The second request must have been triggered by Nevel's curse, and the townspeople thus ended up in the gray world. Moreover, Isabella explains that there is only a limited amount of food, only what the clerics can create and what people were carrying when they were transported to the ethereal plane. Reasoning that Bestra may be able to provide some aid, the heroes request that the clerics commune with their god for advice on how to get out of this situation.
The answer comes back, "seek the winged sage who lives 20 leagues down." Puzzled, the group splits up. Bartarius journeys 20 leagues south, but after several encounters, finds nothing. Malcall and Rolindor, taking advantage of the strange nature of the place, journey down through the ground. At first all is completely black for two hours, but finally, the two men come out in a new world, one similar to Kelerak, but strangely different. Reasoning that this is what the goddess meant, they return to the misty Kelerak.
Collecting the rest of the group, they return to the other world. Journeying two leagues down (which somehow becomes horizontal to the group), they come upon a huge cave. In the cave they encounter a huge female sphinx. The sphinx knows what they have come for and agrees to help them... if they can answer three riddles. For each riddle they get wrong, she says, they owe her a magical item. She asks the riddles and miraculously the party answers all three correctly! The sphinx, happy to be entertained, tells the party that their way home lies in the Astral Shard, a powerful item that can send whoever touches it to any place of which they are thinking. The catch, however, is this: the Shard is guarded by the Githyanki, a race of "astral pirates and warriors" that has a tower outpost on the ethereal plane. The heroes agree that this is their only way.
Traveling to the tower, which is solid and not misty, Rolindor senses a magical trap on the gate. In the greatest test of wills of his life, the wizard dispels it. Bartarius rashly bangs on the steal door of the tower. The door opens and fierce battle is joined when 5 githyanki guards and a wizard burst forth. But the group manages to slay them. Figuring that the shard is at the top of the tower, the heroes sprint for the stairs, past two stone golems! Running,up the stairs, the party encounters 7 more githyanki, who give chase. Unfortunately, they find a locked steel trapdoor at the top. Payn, Bartarius, Malcall (and Walter) hold off the 7 githyanki, while Rolindor and Gilbert use a spell to get to the other side of the door. There they find two githyanki warriors and (eventually) an invisible wizard, as well as the huge chunk of crystal that is the Astral Shard. The two Kelerites manage to slay the guards and open the door, just as the heroes still left below slay the last of the githyanki pursuers. Finally and at long last, the group simultaneously touches the Shard while thinking of Bestraville and find themselves... outside of Woodhall in the town! Nothing is misty, and they are back. But there is still the matter of the ghost and the spiders to deal with, as well as the trapped townspeople. Time is ticking!
Suddenly and without warning, Gilbert attempts to attack Bartarius. With lightning speed, Payn intercepts him and the two start to duel. Unsure of what is happening, the rest of the party try to separate the two, but Gilbert seems to be in a murderous rage. Malcall ducks under his ravenous axe and tackles him to the ground, relieving Payn who is already bleeding from numerous wounds. While Malcall holds him down, Bartarius knocks Gilbert unconscious with the hilt of his sword. But then Payn goes on a rampage! Malcall and Bartarius manage to subdue him, with the help of a Hold spell from Walter the cleric. At this point, Rolindor figures that the ghost of Nevel must be possessing his friends and uses a spell to transport himself into Sybil the late cleric's bedroom to retrieve the sacred relic of Bestraville. But there he is assaulted by a marauding phase spider. He barely manages to escape with the relic; however, upon returning to Woodhall, he sees that Malcall has also been possessed! He uses the relic to reverse the evil wish of Nevel. Before they can reap the rewards of their success, however, the party must defeat the two phase spiders and the ghost of Nevel, which suddenly appear before them. With some judicious healing, the party kills both spiders. GIlbert, who has regained consciousness, sweeps of the head of the ghost of Nevel with one mighty swing from his magical axe and the town is free from his evil influence forever.
|15th of Thros, 8170|
The party rests in the town and contemplates its next move while supplies are sent for from Mistburg. They search the home of Nevel, finding signs that he was insane. They also find signs that he was in contact with "The Dark Will" and that his attack on Bestraville served the plan of this Will, perhaps as a distraction. Walter leaves the party, accusing Bartarius and Gilbert of mistreating him, but the heroes manage to convince a new cleric of Heshtail, one Herbert, to accompany them. It seems that Hammond feels he has a holy calling to adventure and help rid the world of evil.Finally, toying with the idea of going to Orland and taking on the Lord of Envy, the party begins the journey back to Dragonspur City. But they have hardly left town when they are called back by a giant explosion. It seems that a party of Githyanki has tracked the heroes down! The 6 githyanki accuse the heroes of being spies and coming to their tower to spy on their race and learn their secrets. Although the party denies this, the GIthyanki open the attack with a raging fireball, which slays the horses of the heroes and knocks the party's new cleric Hammond unconscious. But after a fierce combat, wherein Gilbert is levitated up 40 feet and dropped, the party slays the Githyanki and takes their silver greatswords.
The companions travel to Mistburg, where they are snowed in by a great storm. Malcall brawls with Bartarius, still angry over the time that Bartarius forced him to bathe. The two are kicked out of the inn and forced to find a new one in the middle of the storm. When the weather breaks, the party makes it back to the Spur, where they see on their properties. Rolindor seeks out Yedus the mage, and the two become friends and exchange spells.
Chapter Five- The Past and the Present
Naglor calls a war council and invites all of the heroes. He asks them for a recommended course of action, informing them that the armies of the Lord of Envy seem to be defeated for now. However, the armies of the Lord of Sloth are massing to the East, possibly at the behest of The Lord of Lust; the two have long been political allies. Moreover, the army of Afej the black is preparing to invade East-of-Sky. Naglor states that the Spur, although it is levying a citizen militia, will never be able to hold out unless the ancient feudal loyalties to the Green Throne of Dragonspur City are renewed and the independent baronies are "persuaded" to come back under the sway of the City. Bartarius and the group decide they will journey to Wyvernia to attempt to convince them to renew their ancient feudal obligations and provide troops to Dragonspur so that the Kingdom can be refounded. The group prepares to set off to the North.
Before they leave, the party speaks to Yedus about the mysterious silver greatswords of the GIthyanki. Yedus alarmingly informs them that he has found something about these swords in the research of the archmage Keler himself. Yedus says that the GIthyanki relentlessly seek anyone who has a silver sword and will never stop. Immediately the heroes melt down one of the swords they possess and pitch the other one into the Liferock River. It then occurs to them that they left the other swords with the townsfolk of Bestraville, having given the swords to them to increase the town's armament. Payn sends an animal messenger to the town to ask if there has been any trouble. The response arrives 5 days later-- the GIthyanki have attacked the town and killed 15 townsfolk and 5 Woodsmen rangers. The party leaves immediately, leaving Gilbert, who is ill, behind.
On the way to Woodtown, the group is ambushed by four winterwolves, who are defeated with some trouble. The party notes that something strange must be afoot, since winterwolves are rarely found this far south. Yet they push on to Bestraville. There they learn that a party of 10 Githyanki has been attacking the town and have barely been held at bay by the efforts of Taren and the Woodsmen. Payn and the rest of the party track the Githyanki to their camp under cover of invisibility, but are discovered nonetheless. They begin to retreat but are pursued and attacked by the Githyanki. The party offers to give all the swords back, but the Githyanki inform them that they are considered spies and are slated for death. Rolindor raises a protective sphere of ice in preparation for the extra-planar beings' attack.
And the attack comes with a vengeance. The party's cleric Herbert falls in the first onslaught and dies. The rest of the party is nearly slain as well by the psychic power and magic of the Githyanki, but they defeat the raiding band (except for one Githyanki wizard, who escapes). Ruing the fact of the creature's escape, the heroes check on the town and head to Wyvernia, meeting up with 250 infantry troops from Dragonspur, which Bartarius has commanded to accompany him to Wyvernia. The threat of imminent attack by the forces of Afej and the Lord of Lust looms large, and the resumption of Wyvernia's ancient feudal bonds is extremely important.
|1st of Besel, 8170|
When the force, accompanied by the heroes, reach Wyvernia, they are met by 500 of the city's troops. The leader of these troops, one Otto, demands to know why these forces are marching on Wyvernia. Bartarius attempts to be diplomatic, but lets the Captain know in no uncertain terms that Wyvernia must renew its feudal duties because of the threat of invasion of the kingdom. Otto states that the new lord of the city, Damion Felmund, wants Bartarius to enter the city unarmed to discuss the matter. Bartarius knows that he is wanted in the city because the party slew the last Lord, Drake Rose, and he asks Otto to confirm this. Otto does so, but expresses the view that he believes Bartarius' group was justified in slaying the formal lord, as he had become a patsy to The Eye and thus a thrall to darkness. Otto suggests that Bartarius pay a wergild on Rose's life and perhaps the crime will be forgiven by the new lord.
Meanwhile, Rolindor mentions in conversation that he hates one Maximus Fury, who recently passed through West-of-Sky with a dragon's hoard and slew thirty of the city's best soldiers to avoid paying a tax on the money. Rolindor states that he thinks this act was despicable, and those soldiers may have come in handy when the city was attacked by the forces of Afej and subsequently fell. Bartarius and Malcall are very disturbed by this, since they know that maximus Fury was indeed Bartarius! He slew the soldiers to get the money intact to Dragonspur in order to help with the war effort. The two Northmen say nothing of this to Rolindor.
Bartarius gets ready to go to Dragonspur City and borrow the money from Naglor for the war effort. He travels back to Dragonspur, where he picks up the now recovered Gilbert. Bartarius informs Naglor of his sticky situation and asks to borrow 200 silvers. He agrees to pay back 100 silvers, stating that the other 100 are necessary for the war effort. Naglor agrees. Desperate for horses, Bartarius also borrows 160 sp from Eric, a famous stable master in Dragonspur. He uses his newly acquired bardic abilities to convince the stable master. Then he and Gilbert set forth to rejoin the army encamped outside Wyvernia.
Bartarius prepares to go into the city to pay the wergild. Yet his mind is in turmoil; his uncertainty about the safety of this course of action, coupled with the new threat to party loyalty from Rolindor, makes him hesitate. "What should I do?" he asks himself. Finally he decides to meet Lord Damion Felmund outside the city. Felmund agrees and Bartarius pays him the wergild. He then states that he must reinstate the ancient feudal rule of Dragonspur over Wyvernia. Bartarius explains that Wyvernia will be required to pay part of its taxes to the Spur as well as contribute troops to the war effort. In return, Dragonspur will come to Wyvernia's aid should it be attacked by the looming armies of darkness. Lord Felmund says that he needs to discuss the terms with the council of nobles and wishes the heroes to present their terms to the nobles. He vouchsafes Bartarius' safe return.
Reluctantly, the group enters the city that was formerly the scene of such trouble for them. They are conducted to the palace, where they meet a group of nobles. Unfortunately, Lady Elizabeth Rose, wife of the slain drake Rose, is present. She refuses to accept the authenticity of the wergild and demands that Bartarius and the heroes be tried and hanged as murderers. But one Lord Russell Starsul, apparently a man of some influence in the city, comes to the group's defense. He sees the wisdom of Bartarius' proposition and convinces the nobles to accept the wergild and here the heroes. But the condition on which the nobles will listen is this: the group must undertake a good faith mission on behalf of Wyvernia. The party accepts. Lord Starsul informs them that there has been a rash of mysterious killings in one of his holdings ten miles to the north, in the hamlet of Frankford-on-Liferock. The group sets out for the small town.
Chapter Six-- Diseases and Detainment
|11th of Besel, 8170|
The company arrives in the hamlet and seeks advice from the Innkeeper, who lost an apprentice to the mysterious killers. The heroes stay in the inn, determined to find out more on the morrow. But the mystery comes to them! They are awakened at dawn to the sound of shouts and horns. It seems there has been another killing at the country estate of Lord Starsul. The heroes rush to investigate but are themselves taken for the killers when they blunder, heavily armed strangers, into the investigation. They are forced to knock the town watch unconscious avoiding arrest. But they know that they can't reenter the town. Their only hope is to solve the mystery. Luckily some booted tracks, apparently Orcish, can be found leaving the scene of the killing.
The group follows the tracks deep into the forest. Encountering some trolls, who are muttering about the "dark will," they engage in combat and dispatch the beasts with some trouble. While the party rests, Payn and Malcall forge ahead, following the tracks. But they come upon several large wolves and are obliged to flee to avoid detection.
But it seems the wolves have picked up their scent after all. Sleeping in the small troll cave, the heroes are awakened by Malcall the watchman, who hears the soft pad of wolf paws. To make matters worse, large black arrows that buzz and sting from the darkness attack the heroes. Rushing out to engage the hidden foe, the company finds that they are being assaulted by uruk orcs. These formidable warriors, however, soon reveal themselves as something more ominous. They metamorphose into huge wolf-orc hybrids! The companions defeat the werewolf-orcs and now know the nature of their foes. But they are reluctant to advance because the insidious curse of lycanthropy awaits them ahead in the heart of the dark forest.
Conquering their trepidation, the party follows the trail that Payn and Malcall had discovered the previous day, avoiding several traps in the process. They discover an old temple that lies in the heart of an evergreen grove. Upon approaching the building, however, the campaigners spot several guards lying in ambush; apparently the orc-wolves are expecting them. They attack the guards but find that the resistance is stiffer and more determined than they anticipated. There is support from archers, a cleric, and even a human sorcerer, who all fire their volleys from the cover of the second floor windows of the building. The heroes manage to slay the guards but are forced to seek cover within the gaping doors of the church itself, for the sorcerer is still bombarding them with spells from the upper level.
When they enter the temple, though, they find that they have thus far only encountered the vanguard to the true resistance of the oluk orc-lycanthrope platoon. The orc-wolves attack them from a balcony that lines the walls of the main room, and the greased stairs make it hard to reach their attackers. The party surmounts this obstacle eventually, however, and slays the remainder of the attackers. Searching the building, they find a note addressed to one Ishmael, ordering him to take a platoon of Oluk orcs and invade Lustland (or Kelerak) based on orders from "Gurz-Goi" and one Hoth Pirg. Bartarius and the rest of the group are unsure who or what the last two terms signify, but they figure that the letter implicates the orcs in a larger conspiracy that is designed to distract any would-be protectors of Kelerak while it is invaded. Whether or not the conspiracy is on behalf of Wyvernia or the forces of darkness is also unclear. The group vows to return to Wyvernia for a reckoning, but before they can they meet the last attack of the platoon, led by the sorcerer Ishmael. This battle proves to be the hardest yet, as Malcall is almost slain. But the heroes triumph once again and rest in preparation of the next chapter in their perilous saga.
The defenders of Dragonspur, led by Bartarius, vow to head to Wyvernia to solve this problem and bring those accountable for the apparent deception to justice. But there is one problem: Rolindor, with his knowledge of alchemy, determines that Payn has been infected with the dreaded disease of lycanthropy- and the full moon is only one day away! The heroes take desperate measures, asking Payn to wear a cursed ring of weakness to counteract the might he will gain when he turns into a blood-thirsty, ravenous killing machine. Payn agrees.
The heroes skirt the town of Frankfort-on-Liferock and arrive at Wyvernia before the full moon. Bartarius, eager to bring Lord Russell Starsul to a reckoning, sends the rest of the group ahead to the Spur, while he arranges a meeting with Starsul. Traveling ahead, Rolindor, Malcall, and Gilbert are caught between the two cities when the full moon rises and Payn turns into a gigantic wolf hybrid. The heroes are not, however, caught unaware, and have made contingencies for just this situation. Payn has been bound and with the ring of weakness, the hybrid is unable to break his bonds. Gilbert and Malcall knock the wolf-man unconscious using magic weapons. They finish their journey to Dragonspur and seek help with the most powerful cleric they can find, who happens to be Yuri Ack-Sembar, the high priest of the temple of Kantor.
Upon coming to the temple, however, they discover that Ragnor Ack-Rohan is back from his pilgrimage to the Lake of the Moon. Malcall begs Ragnor to help them again, as they have been in dire need of powerful magic, especially healing, ever since Ragnor left. Ragnor accepts, which is timely, because Rolindor decides to stay in Dragonspur City and train apprentices at Yedus Anglarond's mage college. As Ragnor, Malcall, Payn, and Gilbert prepare to leave, the heroes receive word that East-of-Sky has been invaded by the forces of Afej. Gilbert immediately rushes off to see if he can aid his hometown and his beloved Baron Oliver. The remaining companions bid him farewell and start the journey back to Wyvernia.
|13th of Besel, 8170|
Meanwhile, Bartarius has entered the city to meet with Lord Russell Starsul. The Captain of the watch, Halton Ack-Baldwin, escorts Bartarius to Starsul's manor, leaving a gigantic but stupid berserker named Tollem to guard the Northman. Bartarius sits down to a meal with Starsul, intending to get to the bottom of the strange matter that he discovered in Frankfort. But Bartarius feels a wrenching pain in his gut when he eats the food and realizes he has been poisoned. Yet the sturdy outlander shows no sign of the poisoning. Instead, he reacts with blinding speed and attacks the huge guardsmen. The five remaining guards leap to the attack and Starsul flees from the scene. Bartarius fears that he may be in over his head; nonetheless, he manages to slay Tollem the berserker and escape from the manor house using his magical ring of chameleon power. Yet Outelion makes a fatal mistake by distracting the gate-guards, lifting the huge bar, and leaping through the gate right into the midst of the encamped regiment of Wyvernia, 800 strong. Bartarius is captured, his weapons, and belongings stripped from him, and he is thrown into a dingy cell, chained hand and foot.
When the remaining defenders of the Spur return to Wyvernia, they discover the plight of their leader. Ragnor, using natural charisma, undertakes to bargain with the city's representative, Lord Diplomat Cornelius Warrington. Ragnor manages to get Bartarius' magical sword back, but he finds that Wyvernia's terms are unyielding: they demand that the 200 troops that Bartarius brought to Wyvernia to reinstitute the ancient feudal rule of Dragonspur over Wyvernia be withdrawn. They also demand that Dragonspur sign a treaty declaring Wyvernia a sovereign city in perpetuity. If these demands are met, Bartarius will be released; otherwise, he is set to be tried in five days, and the heroes are certain that the outcome of this prospective trial will be bleak. Caught between the proverbial rock and hard place, the companions contemplate their options with trepidation as the date of the trail approaches. Ragnor decides to journey back to Dragonspur to seek diplomats that are authorized to bargain under such high stakes.
Soon a diplomat, Lord Rowland White, arrives at Wyvernia. He has his personal guard, yet he is traveling with two heavily cloaked figures. The first mysterious stranger reveals himself as the long lost elf and old friend of Bartarius, Valanduil of House Cirana. Valanduil it seems has been seeking Bartarius and was in Dragonspur city with Lord Mayor Naglor when Ragnor arrived. (Ragnor has stayed in Dragonspur to aid the church of Kantor in preparation for the imminent invasions.) The second stranger is Valanduil's companion, the elven cleric Tharivol of House Meliane. Valanduil swears to free Bartarius, and quickly befriends Malcall and Payn. The four heroes then spend a great deal of time attempting to concoct a plan to rescue Bartarius. After trying to pull strings diplomatically with the lesser lords of the city and failing, the companions attempt a raid into the hostile city to uncover Bartarius' whereabouts and perhaps free him. They discover that the city is too heavily patrolled, however, and escape after being hunted by city guardsmen.
|21st of Besel, 8170|
The four decide that they must see how the trial goes. Valanduil, Tharivol, and Lord White are allowed access to the trial as Dragonspur diplomats, while Payn and Malcall sneak in and hide in the crowd that will watch the trial. Immediately the trial does not go well. Lord Starsul speaks out, demanding Bartarius' death. Bartarius' defiant attitude does not make him popular with the crowd. Despite Lord White's elegant entreaties to spare him (these speeches are prompted and directed by Valanduil, who is not allowed to speak himself), Bartarius is sentenced to death. As the Lords leave the trial and the guards are surrounding Bartarius, Malcall and Payn take the opportunity to cause a riot in the crowd.
As some of the guards are distracted attempting to disperse the crowd, Valanduil, Malcall, Payn, and Tharivol attack the guards in an attempt to free Bartarius from the stake to which he is chained. It seems, however, that they have bitten off more than they can chew, as they encounter numerous guards, a wizard, and a powerful Wyvernian Pikeman. They also have a great deal of trouble freeing Bartarius from the stake. Finally, however, the tide of battle turns, Bartarius is freed and given his sword, and the wizard and Pikeman flee. The heavily wounded heroes, under cover of magical fog, are forced to climb to refuge in an extradimensional space using the spell Rope Trick. Eventually the heroes manage to escape the perilous city under cover of darkness and after lighting several buildings on fire as a distraction. Bartarius, however, is without any of his equipment except his sword and one magical ring. He rashly wants to return to the city to take revenge on Starsul and recover his gear and armor, but his companions restrain him.
Valanduil reveals to the group his doom and mission: to seek the Stone of Silence, a tear-shaped obsidian artifact made by the elves. The Stone makes it virtually impossible for an army to succeed in an attack against an opposing army that holds the Stone. The Stone can never be used for attack, however, or it will magically disappear. After describing the Stone, the group is in for a shock: Malcall recalls that the old Soothsayer in his Northern Barbarian village of Svenheim used to tell stories of just such a stone. It seems that the artifact was possessed by the Anar of Svenhiem for many years, but was captured during a raid by Jotun, or Giants. Malcall believes that Grunnar the Soothsayer can offer more clues as to the Stone's whereabouts. Sensing that a powerful tool for defeating evil is nearly within their grasp, the group prepares to travel to the lands of the Barbarian Northmen, the land of Malcall and Bartarius, to seek the item.