Whispers of a Dead God

A Respite from Adventure
The heroes take advantage of some well-deserved down time

Cherrik and Maple

The day of celebration that marked Mistvale’s Festival of Election had ended, and as night fell, the citizens of the small farming town headed home in various states of inebriation. Just as with any other night, the Crimson Watchmen held a strict curfew, and any caught out and about without good reason past midnight would be taken into custody. Regardless of any curfew, the two halfling thieves Cherrik and Maple stole through the streets like a pair of shadows to meet the Valiant Crowned at Old Gran’s. Glen was eager to discuss how their services might benefit their adventuring party, especially when it came to ensuring that the Crimson Watchmen did not gain a stronger foothold in Mistvale by tampering with the election results. Although the hlaflings had been into the Crimson Watchmen barracks before, they were not willing to risk going directly against such a powerful and relentless foe. They referenced a traveling alchemist who had been caught selling fake healing potions and had lost a hand to the justice of the Watchmen. Without the support of a larger organization to rely on, Cherrick and Maple were not prepared to infiltrate the barracks where the election ballots were being held overnight. They did agree to sell Glen a map of the barracks from the last time the scouted the place out.

Despite the urgency of ensuring that Anders Leam did not get elected, and ensuring that the Crimson Watchmen did not alter the election results, Glen, Quincy, and Eight Thundercloud went to sleep – tired from a long day of festival competitions, feasting, and merry-making.

Election Results

The townsfolk gathered in the public square the next morning, eager to hear the results of the election. Popular favor had seemed to favor Timothy Burton the night before. Gaspard Dukaniel, the mage who had recently been rescued from the orcs by the Valiant Crowned, counted the ballots in full view of the public. The winner, by an astoundingly large margin, was Anders Leam.

The Valiant Crowned immediately suspected election fraud. How convenient that the candidate the Crimson Watchmen had so strongly supported was the winner, after they had held the ballot box in their barracks overnight for “safe keeping.” Commander Renly Davarros approached the group to gloat. They accused him of fraud, but lacked sufficient evidence to support their claims. Renly urged them to be cautious if they were to stay in Mistvale, for the eyes of the Crimson Watchmen were unblinking. He reiterated his commitment to honesty and justice, and left with a smirk.

Magical Modifications

The adventurers found themselves with some time to themselves for a change. There was no urgent need to embark on a rescue mission. With no pressing matters to attend to, Eight Thundercloud took up Gaspard’s offer to use his personal library. She had learned a great deal from the Covenant storm sorcerer Masughu about imbuing an object with lightning magic, and hoped to modify the magical dagger-producing gauntlet she had so that it would imbue the daggers with lightning energy. Using Gaspard’s library to research this porperty, she determined that her project would ultimately require blue dragon scales. Luckily, she was also able to determine from recent reports that a young blue dragon had been sighted in the Sea of Trees some miles north of Bloodfang Vale.

Eight Thundercloud needed to know more about this dragon before making attempt to collect it’s scales. To this end, she employed the stealthy halflings Cherrik and Maple to scout the dragon’s lair. They demanded a rather high price for such a task, but Eight Thundercloud was generous. After about a week, the pair of halflings returned, looking a bit worse for wear. They described everything they had seen. The reports of a blue dragon were true.

Sideshow Attractions

Quincy Maxwell Darcy Trump the Third was not one to sit around idly and let his charm and influence go to waste. He promptly decided to put his resources toward setting up a grassroots election fraud commision. For over a week, he met with local farmers and craftsmen, organizing them into the beginnings of a political resistance movement. The town had overwhelmingly supported Timothy Burton for leadership, not Anders Leam. So then how had Anders been elected. Fraud was the only answer.

In addition to his commitment to social justice, Quincy also set up a sideshow attraction – a magic act he titled “The Apprentice, Featuring Tim Burton.” He had convinced their ally, local shopkeeper and member of the Elder’s Council Timothy Burton, to be his apprentice in a magic show filled with illusions, such as Elder Burton getting sawed in half. This entertainment was a delight to the citizens of Mistvale, and brought in a wealth of gold for Quincy.

A Grand Erection

While Eight Thundercloud and Quincy were busy in Mistvale, Glen Weinstien had to see to his newly acquired castle. He invested a great sum of gold into hiring local workers from Mistvale and the surrounding areas to work on constructing a road to his castle and repairing the main parts of the castle itself. While not supervising the construction efforts, Glen returned to Mistvale to occasionally provide healing or other medical assistance, which garnered a small income.

Unrest

Aryn had not been idle while the rest of her group pursued their interests throughout Mistvale and the surrounding environments. Unable to find any sign of Rose in Tevemanthaur, she decided to narrow her focus on countering the threat presented by the Crimson Watchmen’s newly increased influence over Mistvale. First, Aryn traveled to the Lonely Goat Inn, where the proprietor Goren Balenon was very pleased to see her doing well. She did some business with him, selling some her loot and purchasing a few of his magical curiosities. She also invested in a disguise kit, with which she died her hair and masked her appearance.

Slipping into Mistvale, past the eyes of the Crimson Watchmen, was easy enough. The true test of her disguise came when she spent the evening at Old Gran’s, only a few tables away from her recent adventuring companions. They never even glanced her way twice. It was perfect. Working in secret, she made contacts with some of the shadier folk of Mistvale and set up a headquarters for her underworld organization in a small, abandoned barn at the outskirts of town. She described her goal – to incite a public uprising against the current leader of Mistvale, Anders Leam, as well as the Crimson Watchmen. She went as far as to found an organization known as the “People for Mistvale’s Freedom and Independence Movement,” or PMFIM for short.

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Return to Mistvale
Captives are rescued, a festival champion crowned

Secrets in the Sun

After defeating the Yuan-ti and rescuing Elanna Leam and Gaspard from their clutches, the adventurers retreated to the audience chamber to rest and recover. Once they had regained their strength, they set about exploring the temple ruins once more. Investigating the room where the prisoners had been held, Glen discovered a trap door carefully hidden at the center of a mosaic of the sun. He and Eight Thundercloud descended, hoping to find some long-forgotten elvish treasures. They were only met with dusty shelves holding rotten and rusted detritus. Behind one of the crumbling shelves, they discovered a narrow crevice that led out to the refuse pit where Rose had been last seen. There was still no sign of Rose, but at the first sight of a rust monster, Glen and Eight Thundercloud quickly retreated.

Song and Treasure

Singing the song of the elements once again in the audience chamber, the adventurers gained access to the orc warchief’s treasure hoard… or at least what was left of it. The largest room in the temple had four arches on raised platforms surrounding a central pedestal with slots to hold four elemental crystals. Gaspard, barely conscious from the beating and starvation inflicted upon him by his orc captors, indicated that this was a chamber where the Elves would have been able to use elemental crystals and some sort of song to open planar gates to the planes of earth, air, fire, or water.

Of interest to Glen and Eight Thundercloud were three wooden chests left behind by the orcs. Glen hastily ransacked two of them, but required some muscle from Captain Mattias and his warhammer to open the third, which was locked. Captain Mattias received nothing but a prick from a poisoned needle trap for his troubles, while Glen and Eight Thundercloud both received powerful magic items. Eight had finally found the Elven Chain armor she had been searching for, while Glen helped himself to a Robe of Useful Items, along with several spell scrolls and a hefty amount of coin.

Friendships Made

Their business in Tevemanthaur was finished, so the adventurers joined Captain Mattias and his crew aboard the Covenant airship Stormshadow once again. Eight Thundercloud spent the remainder of the evening getting to know the ship’s storm sorcerer Masughu better. They traded tips on constructing magical items, and before they parted the next day, each shared a piece of string from their ball of yarn with the other in a symbol of friendship. Captain Mattias was impressed with the way the adventurers had handled themselves, and invited them to join their crew. Unfortunately, they declined the invitation, but agreed to meet up again at Westwatch, where the ship would put into port for a time to resupply. The crew of the Stormshadow dropped the Valiant Crowned off on the outskirts of Mistvale with a fond farewell, and continued on their way.

Reunions in Mistvale

Two Crimson Watchmen immediately rode out to meet the Valiant Crowned after they had descended from the airship. They quickly took Elanna and Gaspard into town on their horses for medical treatment, and urged the adventurers to meet Commander Davarros at the barracks as soon as they could. On their way into town, Glen was stopped by the village leatherworker who had completed his custom order – a saddle for his mount, the wolf Grayfang.

At the barracks, they met with Commander Davarros and Anders Leam, who rewarded them handsomely for rescuing his wife. At last, Eric was reuinited with his mother and father together. Gaspard Dukaniel still had to rest and recover his strength, but invited Eight Thundercloud to come visit his library any time.

The Gang Meddles in an Election

The town was in high spirits that night – not just because two of their own had been rescued from the orcs, but because the next day was the Festival of Election. It was a day of celebration leading up to a vote to elect the new leader of the town from among the members of the Council of Elders. There were only three candidates at the time: Anders Leam, Old Gran, and Timothy Burton. After getting a feel for where the candidates stood on the Crimson Watchmen, they decided to try their best to get Anders Leam drunk and make a fool of him in order to harm his chances of winning the election. Glen and Senior Goat filled Anders up with plenty of liquor, then tied him to a statue in the public square before retiring for the night.

Festival Day

The next morning, the Festival of Election was in full swing. The adventurers decided to participate in the competitions held throughout the day, hoping to win glory and prizes. Glen wanted to enter the horse race, but only had Grayfang for a mount. He attempted to make up for the wolf’s short legs by casting a scroll of Expeditious Retreat on the animal. It amounted to little in the end, however, with Glen and Grayfang coming in second to last in a course that made a circuit around Mistvale.

After the horse race, Glen met Senior Goat at the Boulder Toss competition. They were matched up against some strong local lads and lasses, but Senior goat managed to throw a heavy stone over twice as far as anyone else, earning himself a crown of flowers, which he promptly devoured.

That afternoon, Senior Goat, Glen, and Eight Thundercloud all tried their hand at the archery competition. Firing three arrows from twenty-five paces, Senior Goat again came out the victor. Channeling his inner Ki, he was able to strike the bullseye, which earned him just one point more than Glen. But it was the only point he needed. He was awarded another crown of flowers, which again, he devoured.

The three adventurers also entered the performance competition that afternoon. Glen told a horrible story about a heroic dragon that fought off a band of adventurers that had come to steal his gold. Senior Goat performed a dance which he had perfected that night before on the tabletops in Old Gran’s. Eight Thundercloud sung a heroic ballad about their adventures in Tevemanthaur. Although their entries were good (except for Glen’s poorly told tale) they were beaten in the performance competition by a local bard jamming out on the lute.

The evening started off with a glorious feast. Roast boar, pig, and ox with stew, pies, and all manner of ales and wines flowing freely. During the feast, however, Glen felt a bump and noticed that one of his valuable potions had gone missing. He was unable to spot the pickpocket in the crowd and had to resign himself to his loss. As the people of the town ate, the Elders gave speeches. Old Gran’s speech was met with a smattering of polite applause, while Anders’ popularity had clearly suffered since the drunken events of the previous night. He received less than stellar applause. Then came time for Timothy Burton’s speech. The three members of the Valiant Crowned had decided that Elder Burton, a strong businessman would make the best leader for the town and threw in their support for him, leading the large round of applause after his speech promising to make Mistvale great again.

Following the speeches, Glen and Senior Goat entered a drinking contest. Here, Glen was finally able to score his first victory of the festival as Senior Goat passed out before even finishing his first drink. Glen eagerly accepted his crown of flowers. Meanwhile, Eight Thundercloud noticed that a few of her silver pieces had gone missing from her coinpurse, which had been slit with a small incision. She spotted a suspicious figure – either a young child or a halfling, but was unable to follow them through the crowds of merry makers.

The final event of the evening was a dance. Many young lads and lasses came to strut their stuff. Just after finishing his turn tearing up the dance floor, Senior Goat noticed that some of his gold had been lifted by a pickpocket. He managed to chase the culprit down and catch up to them behind the stage where the folk band was playing. It was a pair of halflings, Cherrick and Maple, who were stealing from festivalgoers in hopes of raising enough money to travel to Westwatch where they could join the thieves’ guild. Senior Goat agreed not to turn them in in exchange for half their ill-gotten goods. They reluctantly agreed. He also offered them a job if they would meet him and his associates at their room in Old Gran’s later that evening.

The Votes are Cast

At last, it had come time for the citizens of Mistvale to cast their votes for the town’s new leader. Four guards from the Crimson Watchmen stood vigilant as people came up to the ballot box to deposit their votes. Glen made a poor attempt to disguise himself with a fake mustache so he could cast a vote, but he was promptly stopped by the guard and escorted back to the Inn. Once all the votes had been entered, the Crimson Watchmen took the ballot box off to their barracks, where it would sit overnight for safe keeping before the votes were tallied and announced in the morning.

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Tevemanthaur
Exploring ancient Elven temple ruins

Secrets and Hidden Dangers

The ruins of Tevemanthaur held many secrets that proved to be quite dangerous. Exploring the dark corridors and hallways, Aryn Limlugeth came across a dead end. The smoothly carved white marble passageway ended abruptly at a black stone wall. She ran her hands along it, seeking some secret latch or mechanism betraying a hidden door, and was surprised when the stone wall itself moved back at her touch. The large room beyond was filled with similar square stone pillars. Interested in this strange room, Senior Goat walked right into the middle of it and was promptly ambushed by a squadron of orcs.

Using the moving stone blocks to their advantage, both the orcs and the adventuring party moved the battlefield, creating cover for themselves, opening up passageways to flank, and even crushing a hapless orc in between two of the blocks. After the dust settled, the adventurers searched the room and discovered another passageway hidden behind one of the stone blocks.

Grog Grog

Inside the hidden passageway was a sleeping orc who was shirking his duties. Captain Mattias noticed that his elemental crystal detector was going crazy around the orc, and they soon found out that this orc had somehow managed to eat the elemental crystal of air that the crew of the Stormshadow had been searching for. It was decided that due to this fact, they would have to bring the orc along and wait for the crystal to… pass. Thus, Grog Grog became a member of the group.

Poot

While searching what appeared to be a sleeping chamber, the adventurers found a small statuette carved in the likeness of Ilsensine. An odd thing to find in the ancient Elven ruins. They also encountered a goblin who had fled the fighting when the camp was first attacked and barricaded himself in a small room. Grog Grog was able to convince him to come along by stuffing the goblin, apparently named Poot, into his backpack.

Song of the Elements

It quickly became clear to the explorers that there was something more to this Temple than met the eye. Many hallways and chambers came to dead ends when logic dictated the presence of another room. A clue was discovered when the explorers entered an audience chamber. On the stage, was a message written in elvish that explained the necessary song that would cause the rooms themselves to rotate and open up to different passages when sung correctly. Singing the song caused the audience chamber to rotate, revealing an opening to a new passageway that was previously inaccessible.

Rescue

The new passageway led to a room where Elanna and Gaspard were held captive by a coupe of Yuan-ti slave traders. The adventurers briefly attempted to negotiate for their release, but the situation quickly turned to violence. After a short but brutal confrontation, the Yuan-ti lay dead and the prisoners were freed.

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Ascent & Descent
The heroes find new allies & begin a rescue mission

Everyone Almost Dies

Glen Weinstein, Aryn Limlugeth, Eight Thundercloud, Eric “Cupcake” Leam, and Senior Goat were resting and tending to their wounds in a small clearing within the Sea of Trees when they noticed the airship approaching. It descended to a low altitude, and two figures floated down toward the party. Apparently startled by this occurrence, Senior Goat hurled a stone at one of the figures as soon as they came within throwing distance. His stone hit its mark, provoking a violent response that nearly cost the adventurers their lives. One of the descending figures conjured a blazing fireball, engulfing the entire clearing in flame and rendering most of the party members unconscious or severely wounded. Eight Thundercloud and Aryn managed to fly up to the figures on Goldbeak‘s back as they retreated back up toward their airship. After a few tense moments of negotiation, they managed to convince the strangers that they were not hostile, despite Senior Goat’s rude actions. The strangers invited the adventurers aboard their airship so that they could discuss further.

The Covenant Stormshadow

The adventurers were soon introduced to the crew of the Covenant airship Stormshadow, including Captain Mattias Undvik, First Mate Kass Springpaw, and Storm Sorcerer Masughu. It was the first interaction they had had so far with the Covenant – an alliance of Dwarves and Tabaxians far to the north in Glacier Peak. The crew of the Stormshadow was searching for an elemental crystal that was needed to restore full power to their magical airship, and they believed they would find one in the Elven ruins below the destroyed Orc encampment. Captain Mattias proposed a mutually beneficial partnership with the adventurers. Since both groups were headed toward the same destination, they agreed to join forces against whatever unknown threats lay waiting in the Elven ruins.

Rust and Bones

The Stormshadow proved to be a comfortable, safe place to rest. Four powerful focus lenses, capable of blasting out bolts of lightning, helped defend the ship from the threats of the Sea of Trees, allowing the adventurers some respite while they rested, healed, and got to know the crew a bit more. The next day, the ship flew back toward the Orc camp, which was little more than a smoldering, smashed ruin. From the air, the camp appeared to have been abandoned except for two sentries guarding what the adventurers assumed was the entrance to the underground ruins. A blast of lightning from one of the focus lenses made short work of them, allowing Aryn, Eight Thundercloud, and Glen to float down safely, accompanied by Captain Mattias. Aryn urged them to first check out the pit that Rose Goodlight had fallen into, hoping that the halfling girl would still be alive. There was no sign of her at first, and upon descending into the pit, Aryn only discovered a skeleton. They were able to determine that the bones belonged to a humanoid of short stature, but were unable to learn anything more. As the group continued their observations, several rust monsters rushed out from crevices within the walls of the pit. Rather than risk having their metallic weapons and armor damaged by the creatures, the adventurers retreated, climbing back out of the refuse pit.

Tevemanthaur

A quick search of the rest of the camp proved fruitless. The Fist of Baghtru tribe had left, but it was unclear where they had gone or if they planned to return. It was time to begin their descent into the Elven ruins. Eight Thundercloud shared some knowledge of the place that she had gleaned from studying books on the topic. These ruins were once known as “Tevemanthaur,” an Elven temple to the elements. Her books had also mentioned a relic within the temple that Eight Thundercloud was eager to recover. Proceeding with caution, the adventurers made their way through ancient rooms and hallways carved of fine marble and decorated with once-vibrant frescoes and paintings. The first large, circular room they came across was partially barricaded. Two orc sentries watched the entrance, but the adventurers made short work of them.

With the main entrance to the ruins clear, they were ready to begin their exploration, hoping to find an elemental crystal, an Elven relic, and some sign of their captive friends…

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Fire in the Sea of Trees
A disastrous assault leaves the Valiant Crowned broken and wounded

Leaving Mistvale

The Valiant Crowned had successfully reunited Cupcake with his family in Mistvale, but now they had been tasked with finding other survivors from the same orc raid. They rested for the night and gathered supplies for the journey in the morning. They hoped that they could convince Cupcake to accompany them on this quest to free his mother and his tutor, so Eight Thundercloud purchased a fancy leather-bound tome and engraved his name on it as a gift. It would serve as a proper spellbook, rather than the pile of loose notes he had previously compiled. Cupcake was eager to join them and greatly appreciated Eight Thundercloud’s gift. Glen had contracted with a local leatherworker to create a better saddle and reins for his wolf mount, Grayfang. Their last stop before leaving was to speak to Commander Davarros. They figured that if anyone knew where to begin their search for the orcs that had raided Mistvale, it would be him. Their interaction was less than friendly, but helping the Valiant Crowned in this matter also advanced his own political interests in Mistvale, so the Commander gave them the information they needed. The orcs belonged to a cunning tribe of warriors known as the Fist of Baghtru. Crimson Watchmen scouts had spotted signs of orc activity to the southeast, well into the dense and foreboding Sea of Trees.

The Hunter Becomes the Prey

After their first day of traveling, the group came upon a small clearing and decided to bed down for the night. As the sun set, and they were just about to drift off to sleep, a giant boar made its way into the clearing. It became clear that this was the boar’s territory when it charged at the intruders. The adventurers were further surprised when an orc hunter and his goblin servant, who apparently had been hiding in the trees above their heads the entire time, sprang into action, trying to drive off the intruders who had startled their prey. Narrowly avoiding the well-hidden traps that had been placed around the clearing, the Valiant Crowned managed to defeat the boar, kill the goblin, and capture the orc. After a short interrogation, they learned that the orc was a member of the Fist of Baghtru, the tribe they sought. It was all they needed to confirm that they were on the right course. They ended his life and dumped the orc’s corpse in a hole. The roasted boar was delicious.

Orc Encampment

The next day, Aryn scouted ahead along the coast and discovered the orcs’ encampment. It was much more than they were expecting. The large camp was ringed by a tall wooden palisade wall, and there was a large wooden tower with a ballista overlooking everything. She reported her findings to the rest of the group, and they spent some time deliberating the best way to approach the situation. Should they try an attack? Could they sneak in through a side entrance or via Lake Shimmerscale? Would it be possible to strike up a parley with the orcs? In the end, they decided to create a diversion at the front gate and try to sneak in through a side entrance. They busied themselves for a few days carving rough wooden mannequins in the forest, while Eight Thundercloud flew over the camp on Goldbeak for a bird’s eye view of the place. She could see many tents and much activity below, indicating a sizable force of orcs.

Senior Goat

While preparing for their attack, the group encountered a very strange goat man in the forest. He was praying over the corpse of their old ally, Ponyhater Skinny. this goat introduced himself as none other than Senior Goat, a skilled martial artist who wanted to join their cause in order to preach his holy word to the savage orc tribe. The Valiant Crowned were not really impressed with this stranger at first, but eventually they reluctantly agreed to let him join them for a trial membership.

Fire and Smoke

The time had come to put their plan into action. Casting a spell of fog cloud to obscure her approach, Aryn splashed oil on the wooden walls near the front gate and set them ablaze while the others set their wooden mannequins into the ground to create the illusion of an attacking force at the gate. Once the fire was set and the mannequins put into place, the group took off sprinting towards the side entrance. Unfortunately, the watchman atop the ballista tower was quick to spot them. He called out their position and successfully organized the confused orc troops below.

The (Almost) Great Goblin Rebellion

At the side gate, the adventurers found themselves face to face with a large assembly of goblin servants. With the orcs quickly closing in on them, the Valiant Crowned did their best to convince the goblins to aid them in overthrowing their orcish oppressors. The goblins were not one-hundred percent convinced, but managed to hold off the majority of the orcish forces for a few moments. This extra time was key to helping Aryn, Glen and Senior Goat defeat an ogre that was bearing down on them.

The Pit

With the orcish army closing in from all sides and little help from the goblins, Aryn and Rose knew that their best hope for the success of the mission would be to quickly find the captives and escape before they could be overwhelmed. In the goblin servants’ part of the camp was a large pit with a metal grate covering the top. It looked like the most obvious place to keep prisoners. Aryn and Rose rushed to examine the pit, but saw nothing but scraps of waste below. At that moment, a squadron of orcs had scattered the goblins holding one flank of the camp, and and orc was able to rush Rose and throw her down into the pit. It was all Aryn could do to toss down a rope to her before she was forced to flee, leaving the halfling girl behind to face whatever fate might befall her.

The Tower

Eight Thundercloud had entered battle mounted atop Goldbeak, which gave her an advantage over most of the orcs, but also made her a tempting target for the ballista tower. Fortunately, with some quick maneuvering and a few well-timed uses of the shatter spell, Eight was able to send the ballista tower crashing down, crushing part of what appeared to be the Warchief’s tent in the process. Eight was also concerned with finding the prisoners, and decided to land Goldbeak in order to check the tents on the high plateau in the middle of camp. She noticed a few snake-like yuan-ti emerge from once tent and disappear into the ruined remains of the Warchief’s tent. She checked the yuan-ti’s tent and found it empty. The warchief, however, was not about to let the destruction of the ballista tower go unanswered. He leapt through the rubble and cut down Goldbeak. He was about to bring down his axe to finish off the tabaxi as well, but she quickly revived Goldbeak with a potion of healing, and together they were able to fly upwards, out of reach of the Warchief.

Fly, You Fools!

The attack had quickly turned to disaster. The prisoners were nowhere to be found. The party was wounded, separated, and surrounded by squads of orcs. Half the camp was in flames, blocking the potential exit of the main door. Aryn had lost her squire, Rose, and saw escape as her only option. Taking the first opportunity to climb over the wooden wall, she made a beeline for the forest edge and hid there, leaving the rest of her companions to their fate as well. Glen, riding atop Grayfang, has managed to help take down the ogre, but was now surrounded by orcs. Barely surviving an encounter with an orc squad commander, Glen had no choice but to flee. He was almost in the clear when the orc Warchief caught up to him and Grayfang in a ridiculous burst of rage-fueled speed. The Warchief nearly cut the wolf in two, but Glen and Grayfang barely managed to get away, heading for the canoes on the shore of Lake Shimmerscale. Senior Goat and Cupcake had also gotten trapped against the wall, surrounded by orcs. One particularly brutish commander cut Cupcake down with a stroke of his axe and wounded Senior Goat. He was about to finish them both off, but Eight Thundercloud swooped down from the sky and blasted the commander’s head to bits with a well placed spell. This allowed Senior Goat to carry Cupcake’s unconscious form over the wall, where Eight Thundercloud revived him using her last healing potion.

The Battle Continues…

Aryn waits hidden on the north side of camp in the woods. Eight Thundercloud and Cupcake fly high over the southern side of the camp atop a wounded Goldbeak. Senior Goat is on his own at the south side of camp as well. Glen and Grayfang race desperately toward the shore, hoping to make a getaway on a boat before the bloodthirsty Warchief catches up to them.

And down below the action, wounded at the bottom of a filthy pit, Rose sees the glint of moonlight and firelight off of cold eyes watching her; hears the scuttle of chitinous feet; and screams. She is not alone.

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Fire in the Sea of Trees (Aryn's Diary Entry)

The plan was an awful mess. As we set up the decoy soldiers, veiled by darkness and fog, I had a pit in my stomach that only grew worse as I crept slowly to the wall. I tossed the oil and lit it, then bolted, listening for the guttural orc shouts that were sure to follow. We made for the side gate, and for a moment I looked back to see an orc squad and an ogre halt for a bare moment before running after us. I ran out of curses as we closed on the side gate with out foes in pursuit.

The Gate

With the side gate lay the success of our mission, or so I thought. I drew upon the verdant energy of my armor as we ran, casting myself through time and space and out on top of the palisade and into camp. Our new companion, the goat, climbed the wall as well and helped me throw aside the heavy wooden beam. Glen was quick to con the goblin servants to assist. A devious one, Glen; but a useful ally. With the pit in sight, and goblin tools to slow the enemy, our success and quick escape seemed inevitable.

I ordered Rose to check the pit. Poor fool.

As we fought the stinking ogre, the halfling was pushed into the pit by an orc foot soldier. I tasted iron in my mouth and a sudden surge of fiery rage roared over me. Without thinking, I dodged the ogre’s clumsy swing. I used the door frame for added height, leaping and kicking off before thrusting my blade up through the soft cavities to the back of the skull. With the ogre down, I left the remains to my comrades and rushed to the pit.

The Pit

As I arrived, I saw the goblins had already crumbled. About what i expected from them, really. I had only a moment to toss a rope into the pit before it was clear our attack had failed. Eight (Ape) had played her part well, dropping the ballista tower, but the orcs had rallied quickly. I ran to the wall and vaulted over to draw the attention of those orcs I could.

A Slow Collapse

It was time to cut and run. If victory was no longer possible, I realized, I must damage the orcs as much as possible. That is, without undue personal risk. The others would have to take care of themselves.

The orc squadron commander followed me into the woods, a fatal mistake. I vanished, merging with the flickering shadows from the flames engulfing camp, then struck. My rapier cut his hamstring, and I dodged his clumsy swing. From there my arrows ended his life.

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Journey to Mistvale
A happy reunion, a face from Aryn's past, and a new quest

Grayfang

Awaking the morning after celebrating the Valiant Crowned victory over the wolves, Glen and Rigel set off into the forest to hunt. Glen wanted a mount, and the wolves of Grimwarden Forest offered an enticing prospect. To catch and tame a wolf they would need meat. The kobold and the human spent the better part of the day tracking a deer and finally managed to bring it down. They butchered it and baited a live trap with a haunch of venison before retiring for the evening. When they came back to check on it, sure enough, a wolf had been trapped. Glen used the Ring of Animal Influence he had looted from the Wolfmother’s chamber to befriend and speak with the captive wolf. He learned that the wolf’s name was Grayfang. Over the next few days, they became fast friends, and with Rigel’s help eventually learned to ride him as a mount.

The Lonely Goat Inn

Cupcake was eager to get back home to Mistvale, but the rest of the group decided to go visit
Goren Balenonn at the Lonely Goat Inn first. On the way, Eight Thundercloud noticed that Cupcake was trying to assemble a spellbook of sorts from scraps of paper he had scavenged along their journeys. As an adept spellcaster, she helped give the boy a few pointers on spell casting and magic. Once they arrived, Aryn, and Eight Thundercloud went straight away to purchase magical items from Goren’s stash. Glen, meanwhile, haggled with the proprietor of the stable over a miniature saddle that was perfect for riding Grayfang. Rose took the opportunity to visit her father at Goodlight Farm, and the rest of the group stayed in the most luxurious rooms The Lonely Goat Inn had to offer.

Mistvale

Just outside of Mistvale, several riders approached the group. As they drew close, Aryn recognized their banner as that of the Crimson Watchmen – the household guard of House Davarros in Westwatch. She quickly hid herself in some bushes at the roadside. The soldiers had heard of the Valiant Crowned, but seemed unwilling to let them enter Mistvale. The adventurers learned that following the orc raid in which Cupcake had been kidnapped, the Crimson Watchmen had shown up to help protect the town as the survivors began to rebuild. The town was basically on lockdown, and the soldiers turned away any who did not have explicit business in Mistvale. It was only after explaining that the group was on their way to return Cupcake to his family that the guards agreed to escort them into town. Meanwhile, Aryn kept her distance. She would sneak into town another way.

A Secret

The guards escorted Eight Thundercloud and Glen to see their Commander, a stout halfling named Renly Davarros. Renly greeted the adventurers, explaining that he had heard of their deeds throughout Western Nymeria. He was curious to know where the other member of their group, Aryn Limlugeth, was. He explained that she was wanted for murder in Westwatch, and that there was a sizable bounty on her head. This information peaked Glen’s interest. Commander Davarros put them up at a nearby inn known as Old Gran’s Tavern, and they went there to drop off their supplies before taking Cupcake to see his family. It was there that Aryn managed to rejoin them by sneaking up to the roof and dropping in through a skylight. As night fell, they made their way through town toward a tower where the Council of Elders was meeting. Anders Leam, Cupcake’s father, was one of the few surviving elders. He was overjoyed to see his son again, and richly rewarded the adventurers for safely returning him.

A Quest

At the council meeting, the adventurers learned that Cupcake was not the only person who had been taken by the orcs during the raid. Cupcake’s mother, Elanna Leam, and his wizard tutor Gaspard Dukaniel were also taken. Anders implored the adventurers to track down the orcs and find out what had happened to them. He offered a reward of 2,000 gold pieces.

Small-Town Politics

To Aryn’s mind, something slightly sinister seemed to be going on in Mistvale. She was wise to the cunning ways of House Davarros, and didn’t believe for a minute that the Crimson Watchmen were only here to help provide security and restore order. The town was preparing to elect a new leader from among the council of elders, and it was clear that House Davarros stood to gain influence over the region by helping a strong ally get elected. Anders Leam just so happened to have a very high opinion of the Crimson Watchmen, and Commander Renly Davarrros was fully prepared to lend him support. Even the quest they had agreed to undertake, rescuing Elanna Leam and Gaspard Dukaniel, would bolster Anders and make him seem like a more capable leader. It was clear that the Valiant Crowned, and Aryn especially, would have to tread carefully in Mistvale.

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Wolfmother, Part 2
A descent into the wolfs' lair proves dangerous...

Of Wolves and Men

After battling through an initial ambush at the mouth of the cave leading into the wolfs’ den, Glen Weinstein, Eight Thundercloud, and Aryn Limlugeth decided to press on. They entered the cave to find the bones and discarded remnants of the wolf pack’s previous kills strewn about the stone floor. Despite their best attempts to conceal themselves and explore the lair stealthily, the adventurers were on the wolves’ home turf, and they were quickly discovered. The ensuing battle pitched them against not only massive and deadly dire wolves, but also druids who fought back just as fiercely. It was clear that the threat to the balance of nature in Grimwarden Forest went beyond the stray wolf pack.

A Stroke of Luck

In the ensuing battle, the heroes were brought to the edge of death’s door more than once. It was only through a stoke of luck that they did not meet their ultimate end within the walls of that cavern. Lurog of Clan Blacktooth, the orc who the group had befriended at the Lonely Goat Inn, had followed them to into the forest. His mistrust of dwarves made him wary that the adventurers might find themselves in trouble as they had originally left the inn in the company of Craghand Irondelve, the dwarven bounty hunter. Luckily, Lurog had heard the cries of battle echoing from the cave and charged in just in time to help his allies.
One druid, who was gravely injured, managed to slink away in the confusion of battle. After taking a moment to mend their wounds, the heroes set off in search of him, intent on finding some answers. Lurog, though he had business elsewhere in the Greatspire Mountains, agreed to accompany the adventurers as they made their way through the cave.

Following the Trail

The trail of blood left behind by the injured druid led them deeper into the cave. Beyond the initial few caverns, it was clear that the stonework was carved and shaped into hallways, rooms, and passages fit to accommodate humanoid forms. After following a very long tunnel that wound downwards for what seemed like miles below the forest, the Valiant Crowned finally caught up with the fleeing druid. He was kneeling before an altar of some kind on a ledge overlooking a vast, deep chasm. Fresh blood, presumably the druid’s own, pooled on the altar’s surface and ran over the ledge into the chasm via a series of channels carved into the stone floor. Whatever dark ritual the druid had performed had healed him, and he was ready to face battle once again.
Unfortunately for him, Aryn was a quick thinker. Taking advantage of the hazard posed by the ledge, she summoned up a gust of wind with her magical cloak and sent the druid tumbling backward into the abyss. However, he appeared only moments later, riding on the back of some great foul worm-like creature that had climbed up the sheer side of the cliff. Despite the monster’s horrifying appearance, Aryn and the others were able to send it and the druid toppling back into the abyss for good. Looking down, they could see a great pool of water at the bottom, with rivulets of water flowing upwards into the roof of the cavern. They deduced that they were beneath the Moonpool, and that this must be it’s source.

Secrets

The group had dispatched all present danger, so they decided to take a look around and explore this area hidden deep beneath the Moonpool. They discovered an ancient armory, from which Cupcake armed himself with a shortsword and Rose took a suit of chain-link armor. Beyond another passage, Eight Thundercloud and Aryn discovered a curiously foreboding statue carved of wood. It resembled a humanoid figure, yet the head seemed to sprout tentacles where the mouth should be. It closely resembled the symbol portrayed on the jeweled amulet Glen had taken from Kristoff‘s body. It stood in the same chamber as two locked doors. Despite her proficiency with thieve’s tools, Aryn was unable to pick the locks on these doors. Yet when Glen tried them, the doors opened effortlessly.

Wolfmother

The chamber beyond seemed to be a large dining hall of sorts. Upon entering, however, Glen, Aryn, and Eight Thundercloud heard a chime of some sort go off in another adjoining room. Expecting an imminent attack from whatever had just been alerted to their presence, they tried to quickly push the long wooden table over as a sort of makeshift barricade. There was barely enough time to upend the heavy table before an old, gray-haired woman entered the room, flanked by a pair of wolves. She was displeased with the intruders who had disrupted what she called “the will of Ilsensine”, and any hope for a peaceful resolution to the situation quickly dissolved into chaos. She revealed herself to be more than just a druid. Her form stretched and twisted as her hair grew over her body and her teeth enlarged into fangs. She was a werewolf, and she was intent on destroying the adventurers who had wrought havoc in her lair.
The battle was fierce and quick. Lurog dealt with the wolves, while the rest of the group focused on defeating the Wolfmother. In the fighting, Eight Thundercloud was severely bitten, but they were able to destroy the werewolf and put an end to the vicious wolf attacks in Grimwarden Forest once and for all.

A Smashing Good Time

Satisfied that their work here was done, the adventurers returned to the surface, but not before having Lurog smash the stone altar that seemed to be allowing the druids here to taint the Moonpool source with blood sacrifices.
Their return to Kala’s Grove was a joyous one. As promised, Rigel had prepared a hero’s feast for their arrival. Kara Greentree was happy to have the natural order restored once again in the forest and rewarded each adventurer with a valuable (and heavy) bar of silver. She also seemed to sense that something wasn’t quite right with Eight Thundercloud. Indeed, it was determined that the tabaxi had become afflicted with lycanthropy as a result of the bite wounds suffered during the fight with the Wolfmother. Fortunately, the wholesome effects of the hero’s feast prepared for them were potent enough to cure any disease.
It was a difficult decision for Eight Thundercloud. If she chose to embrace lycanthropy, she would become stronger in ways that were difficult to imagine. Yet there would be consequences, as well. She determined in the end to partake of the feast and forgo any chance of losing the best part of herself, her keen mind and curious personality, in exchange for the bestial powers of a werewolf.

Feast, Festivity, and Dreams…

There was much merriment, song, and drink during the feast. Cupcake and Rose, having been through several dangerous adventures together, seemed to be forming a bond of friendship.
That night, Lurog bid the Valiant Crowned farewell. He had to leave to continue pursuing his own quest for vengeance, but he wished them luck and hoped to see them again one day.
As the festivities wound down and the adventurers headed off to their well deserved rest for the night, Glen drifted off into a restless sleep.
He dreamed of a darkness filled with eyes, and a wide, tooth-filled mouth opening wide to devour him…
The next morning, they would set off on a new adventure. But it seemed clear that something was now in motion that was beyond their power to yet comprehend… something connected to that rough wooden statue beneath the Moonpool, and Glen’s amulet.
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Wolfmother, Part 1

“Beware Grimwarden Forest, friends.
If half the tales be true,
You’ll meet your most untimely ends
As wolves tear you in two.”
- Nymerian Folk Song

In Squirrel’s Clothing

Glen and Aryn had met up with their comrade in arms, Eight Thundercloud, who arrived on the back of her tamed hippogriff Goldbeak at Glen’s newly acquired castle in Grimwarden Forest. As the trio caught up on their recent adventures, their attention was drawn to a commotion at the edge of the woods. Rushing to investigate, Aryn, Glen, and Eight Thundercloud saw a lanky human boy being pursued by a pack of hungry wolves. To their astonishment, the boy leaped through the air – transforming into a squirrel mid-leap and hastily scrambling up the side of the stone wall surrounding the castle. The trio of adventurers culled the bloodthirsty wolves before addressing the new visitor.

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Over the Moonpool and Through the Woods

The squirrel-boy had transformed back into a boy again, and introduced himself as Rigel Greentree. He implored the adventurers for help, explaining that his druid circle in Grimwarden Forest needed the aid of brave adventurers. He implored them to follow him back to his grove and speak with his mother, the leader of the druid circle. The group reluctantly agreed. Trekking eastward through the dense forest, they soon came upon a shimmering pond ringed with tall standing stones. This, Rigel explained, was the Moonpool. It had once held great magical healing properties for those worthy who drank from its waters, but recently those powers had faded. Not even thirsty animals could be seen to drink from the Moonpool as of late. Something sinister was tainting the water. Unable to discover much more from examining the water and the standing stones, the adventurers followed Rigel the rest of the way to the druid encampent in Kala’s Grove.

kalas_grove.jpg

What Hangs in the Balance

Rigel introduced Glen, Aryn, and Eight Thundercould to his mother, Kara Greentree. She appeared to be an ancient druid woman creased and wrinkled by the ages. She arrogantly denied that anything was wrong with the Moonpool, but was eager to ask the adventurers for help once they had introduced themselves as the Valiant Crowned. She explained that, for reasons beyond her knowledge, the balance of nature within Grimwarden Forest had become disrupted. The wolves in the forest had always been dangerous, but had recently become more disturbed and vicious than ever. They had even attacked members of the druid grove and had ventured outside the forest to attack nearby settlements or travelers along the roads.

She promised a handsome reward if the adventurers could investigate the cause of this. The numbers of her druid circle had grown smaller and smaller over the years, and they could not spare the manpower for such a mission. Glen, Aryn, and Eight Thundercloud agreed to help. Unexpectedly, their ally Ponyhater Skinny, a bugbear, showed up.

Potions for Gemstones

The druid circle at Kala’s Grove was small, yet eclectic. Several different races were represented. There were humans, such as Kara and Rigel, half orcs, goblins, and even a dwarf. The adventurers quickly made the acquaintance of the dwarf, Ben Willowsnap, who was the grove’s resident alchemist and cook. He offered to trade some of his goods – potions, simple wooden weapons, and leather armor – in exchange for gemstones or other gear. While most of the group traded gemstones and goods for the dwarf’s valuable potions, Ponyhater Skinny, who had very little material wealth, tried to offer her body in exchange for a potion. Her allies intervened and convinced the dwarf to cut a deal with her.

The Den

That night, they slept soundly in a treehouse above the druid grove. In the morning, Rigel led them toward the location of the wolf den where it was presumed most of the trouble was originating from. Sensing Glen’s hesitation to approach what was obviously the setup for an ambush, Aryn used her newly developing psyonic powers to cause a delusion of gold coins at the mouth of the wolf den to appear inside Glen’s mind. He went sprinting for the entrance to the cave, only to get himself and the rest of the adventuring party caught in an ambush. A druid who had been keeping watch from the limbs of a nearby tree gave a howl, summoning several fierce wolves from the cave. In the ensuing attack, Eight Thundercloud showed off her magical prowess by practically disintegrating most of the attacking wolves, while Ponyhater, Aryn, and Glen took care of the druid.

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After the battle outside the mouth of the cave was over, Rigel explained that he had recognized the enemy druid. He had once been of the Circle of the Tree, a peaceful group in Grimwarden Forest. Despite pressure from the adventurers, Rigel decided to part ways with them rather than follow them into the wolf den. He gathered the pelts and meat from the slain wolves and promised to prepare a feast for them when they returned to Kala’s Grove.

In the meantime, Glen, Aryn, and Eight Thundercloud prepared to enter the cavernous wolf den…

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Into The Woods
An unlikely alliance leads to a thief's treasure, and more...

The Morning After

Waking up in the Lonely Goat Inn the next morning after solving Bealzethor‘s challenge, Aryn, Glen, and Crying Storm were confronted by Craghand Irondelve with an interesting proposition. It seemed that the elf, De’Naryn Sparrowsong, who had stolen a good sum of gold from House Limlugeth, had high-tailed it out of town early that morning headed for Grimwarden Forest. They were wary to agree at first, but saw value in having the dwarf on their side.
Aryn had convinced Rose Goodlight, the halfling lass from the nearby Goodlight Farm to accompany her as a squire. Rose said her goodbyes to her father and gathered a few belongings from her home before joining Aryn on horseback to meet up with the rest of the group at the stables.

Wolf Pack

Crying Storm and Craghand tracked De’Naryn’s trail into the forest, but the party was in such a rush to hunt down the thief, they didn’t notice the pack of wolves circling about for an attack. Rose, in her first taste of real danger, was gravely wounded and dragged into the woods by a wolf. Aryn quickly rushed to her aid, while Glen, Crying Storm, and Craghand fought off the rest of the pack.
The battle left them weary, but nevertheless, they pressed on deeper into the forest, closely following De’Naryn’s trail until it ended at the base of a large tree on a slight hill. Upon closer inspection, they discovered a small hole hidden between the tree’s roots that led to a cave system under the hill.

Descent

It was immediately apparent that the cave was not abandoned as the group squeezed inside. Spider webs covered the place, and soon enough, the adventurers found themselves faced with spider swarms crawling over their bodies. Through magic and some quick thinking, they were able to dispatch the swarms and continue deeper into the cave in search of the elf and his stolen treasure.
One side passage was partially flooded with water, and Glen and Aryn ordered Cupcake to dive down and see where it lead, despite the fact that the pitiful lad could not see anything in that darkness and had no skill in swimming. Minutes passed, and Glen decided to go in after him. The long, narrow, underwater passage was even a challenge for the kobold, who was at his last desperate bit of air by the time he reached the other side. There, he found Cupcake’s unconscious form floating face down in the water. They appeared to be at the bottom of some sort of deep hole. Unfortunately, their splashing attracted both friends… and foes… the passage above was home to a couple of hungry giant spiders.

A Battle for Their Lives

Crying Storm, Aryn, Rose, and Craghand heard the sounds of their friends in distress from deeper in the caves, and arrived to see a battle with giant spiders well underway. They leaped into action.
A thrilling battle ensued. Glen and Cupcake in their vulnerable position at the bottom of the water-filled hole, struggled to fend off one hungry spider while the other matched Aryn and Craghand. Crying Storm and Rose hung back, making sure nothing would surprise the group from the rear.
Eventually, they won the day, slaying both spiders and rescuing Glen and Cupcake from certain death. The unconscious body of De’Naryn Sparrowsong lay near a couple of wooden chests containing stolen Limlugeth gold, which Aryn was able to unlock and recover.

Aftermath

Craghand was mostly interested in capturing the elf alive so that he could bring him in for a lucrative bounty. He rested up and healed his wounds with the rest of the party before clapping the elf in irons and leading him back to Westwatch in order to claim the reward.
Glen and Aryn discovered another small area of the cave that contained the cocooned corpses of what appeared to be human druids. Among their possessions was a fine leather helm set with a pair of deer antlers, as well as a masterfully crafted wooden spear and a few potions of healing.
It was at this time that Glen decided to more carefully examine the strange amulet he had recovered from Kristoff Anderson’s body. It was inlaid with a carved green jewel in a strange shape that Glen could not recognize, for he had never seen it before. But he could tell that it held some sort of religious significance.
The group cleared out of the caves and parted ways with Craghand and De’Naryn. While the dwarf and his prisoner were headed back to Westwatch, Glen and Aryn were determined to push deeper into Grimwarden forest. Glen had won the deed to a castle from Baelzethor, and he intended to claim it.

A Castle Reclaimed

The castle was not too much farther into the woods, but once they arrived, it was clear that the structure was not in great condition. The first floor was in serviceable shape, but the upper floors and some of the outbuildings had decayed with time and become unusable. It was clear that repairs, time, and money would be needed in order to restore this castle to glory.
Seeing the ever more pressing need for funds, Glen and Aryn made a plan to set off for Mistvale, Cupcake’s home town. Surely his family would pay a handsome reward for his safe return.

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