Princes of the Apocalypse

Idra's Heroic Deeds

Idra awoke and rubbed the sleep from his eyes as the high sun shone brightly through his window. He'd never been one for curtains, not since he and his gang almost died in the garment district of Waterdeep trying to sneak through an upstairs window. Merrick and that damn torch of his. Who knew all those textiles were so flammable?

He glanced out the window looking down on the stable. He thought it was a good idea to put the stable and horse yard next to the outdoor eating area of the inn. The patrons of GriffonBane's -The Tavern didn't seem to see the allure of being so close to the namesake of the place but he had kept it anyway. His tavern – his money, and GriffonBane was family. No one needed to know that this was the 6th steed called GriffinBane. He filled his chamberpot then quickly emptied it out his window almost perfectly hitting some of GriffonBane's refuse and missing the eating area by at least 2 feet. His aim was getting good.

"Ow"

Idra threw on some clothes and headed downstairs to the kitchens of the tavern. Life was good he thought. After adventuring he returned to Belliard to put down his roots. He became sheriff, the best they have ever had by all reports. Then mayor, once again reportedly the best they had in their long illustrious history. Beliard and Idra were experiencing a golden age together, feeding off of each other's success… but mainly because of Idra he knew.

"Ow"

He walked to the back office where his son, Idra the Lesser, was pouring over the books. The gilded sign above the desk stating "All undead must be escorted from the premises prior to Idra's waking hour of high noon". His son was an odd character, looking and acting much like his mother with her red hair and shadowy practices yet retaining his comely gully elf features which saved him from a life of ridicule. Everyone loved a gully elf, even half of one. He knew by the look on his sons face that money was tight.

Years of adventuring had given him a "lifetime of riches" they all said…the whole party wept tears of joy as they left the liche's lair, so many years ago, laden with gold, jewels and enough of those halfling slaves to keep a Berengari whoremonger in business for a century. "Lifetime of riches" … he was only halfway dead and yet his son had squandered his money already.

Idra focused on the gold filigree that adorned the molding of the room. He followed its pattern from this room into the kitchen which had just been remodeled. Then it passed through the stockroom full of expensive imported foods that locals didn't seem to like much. Finally, it trailed into the main eating area where it expanded into the great mural he had commissioned to honor his heroic deeds. It was named "Idra's Heroic Deeds"

He thought the mural would look great as a backdrop to the statue of him that filled the dining area like a triumphant oak. So he commissioned the best artist he could find. They used real diamonds for his eyes on that sculpture. Every few months he would have to replace them, he suspected they fell out and dropped through the floorboards when the temperature fluctuated wildly. That weather had been a problem ever since they had failed to curtail those elemental cults of whatever they were. He'd learned to live with it.

"Ow"

His son… he should be proud and yet his son was a failure. "The Lesser" was fitting. He would have to find out where his son squandered the money. It was the influence of his mother he was sure. Luckily, Idra had removed her from his life years ago. She always went on talking about pacts and yet she forgot the pact they had made to each other. That she would never weigh more than GriffonBane. She let that one go pretty quick and it was all downhill from there. It was quite sad really. They had a great wedding. Merrick performed the ceremony with his stoic delivery punctuating phrases of retribution for wrongdoings and repeating the importance of subservience from his wife. Sounded good at the time. The suit of armor was appointed his best man and stood watch over the proceedings. He'd been doing it for years and Idra felt like he should honor the hunk of metal and anyway, he knew there would be lots of crying so he needed a place to deposit all the used tissues.

Milpot provided entertainment and gave such a rousing serenade of Idra's history that he was sure that if "She who would not be named" didn't marry him that day then any one of the tens of women in the tavern would have married him on the spot. As it was though, she did want to marry him, so the ceremony went on. Idra atop GriffonBane (the 3rd) and that red headed witch at GriffonBane's hindquarter.

"Ow"

It was a large and expensive affair. Everyone was there and a few had to be escorted out… most notably that boorish dwarven paladin that had joined them for a short while. He thought Grick had died in some uneventful way but obviously he had a story to tell because he was trying to tell it to anyone that would listen… in the loudest voice possible. Pockets of people would move deftly away from him as he started in with his story which always begin with an accounting of his lineage. It all reached a head when Grick started admonishing the party-goers for Idra knows what. Merrick eventually took him out back for some good ole reconditioning. Tales of his subsequent death may not be exaggerated but Merrick had kept mum on that issue. That little gnome, Mojo also had to be forcefully escorted out. Throw a few drinks in him and he wouldn't stop using that damn thunder wave. Idra hoped that little bastard died in a house fire in the years since.

He once again focused on his tavern, full of patrons, all eight small tables surrounding the great statue full. Yet the tavern was leaking money somewhere. He'd have to fire his son. Ultimately though it was a good life. He had done well for himself. He was sure historians and bards all over the land were writing about his exploits as an adventurer, as the sheriff, as the mayor, as a great lover, as the paragon of virtue that he had become. All by his own hand. A hand which struck quick as a snake, strong as a bear, and as accurate as something really accurate.

"Idra…", he heard muffled in the back of his mind.

"Ow"

"Idra…remove your damn elbow from my crotch", he heard.

"Ow"

"Idra!", he heard Valeria scream. But he hadn't seen Valeria for almost two decades.

He felt a sharp smack on the side of his face and the tavern, the statue, the mural all faded away as he realized he was opening his eyes. He felt something pressing harshly down on his groin and he looked up to see GriffonBane (the 1st) standing above him, totally unaware that his back hoof was squarely on his masters manhood. He felt a sharp smack again and he realized he had nestled himself up against Valeria.

"Idra, wake your ass up. You fell asleep on your watch…you idiot"

Idra thought he heard a ghostly almost imperceptible laugh from the suit of armor.

 

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The Brightest Flame Burns Quickest
  1.   Storming the Tower
  2.   Hounds From Hell
  3.   Scaffold Hyjinks
  4.   Fire Elemental

Storming the Tower

Having just managed to catch up to the fleeing ranger, Idra's gaze looked up and into the larger courtyard he now found himself in.  A wall, broken and in disrepair in several places, wrapped around an equally damaged tower that stood roughly 100 ft. in height.  A large doorway into the tower was blocked with fallen debris and stonework from the inside.  Scaffolding had been erected up to about 30 ft. of the tower where a doorway could be seen entering into the tower from the scaffolding.  Two guards, dressed as the ranger had been, walked around on the scaffolding keeping an eye on what was beginning to transpire below.  

In the middle of the courtyard was a large wicker-style statue that held a massive bonfire within its confines.  The flames did not seem to touch the wicker frame, however, but seemed to provide an object that the two robbed 'druids' who stood with their heads bowed in prayer.  As the ranger came to the entrance of the courtyard he managed a forced cry of alarm between ragged breaths.  Idra now found himself alone facing a courtyard full of druids that the party had now expected were some sort of fire cultists with his companions chasing after him, laboring up the hill.

Idra went on the offensive, striking the Fire Cult Guardian with the but of his spear, stunning the fleeing escapee before stabbing him a second time with his spear.  Many of the party members continued their dashing up the hill but only managed to get within visual range of what awaited them above.  Valeria managed to stop short and get a wild shot on the escapee with her Eldritch Bolt but she was still far enough down the hill that most of her vision was blocked by the terrain.

The two priests seemed to move in unison.  One stretched out his arms and raised his head to the wicker statues face and cried out, "Arise, and cleanse this place of the unworthy!"  The other turned and raised an intimidating finger at Idra while 3 searing beams of light shot out from his hands.  Idra attempted to dodge, and managed to only be struck by one of the beams which burned into his skin causing significant damage to his shoulder.  The guardians armed with heavy crossbows above moved to the closest edge of the scaffolding and looked down with amusement at the feeble attempts of the transgressors who would try and assault the Cult's tower.  

The second round enabled more party members to join into the fray.  Milpot had managed to top the crest and enter into the courtyard so that he could bring his polearm to bear, striking the stunned escapee in the chest.  Idra continued his assault on the poor sod, but having caught one of the searing rays earlier decided that he'd keep an eye on the priest's next attempt to point that accusing finger at him.  The mysterious suit of armor, having flown across the rough terrain landed and began swinging its massive two handed sword, smiting the escapee whose breastplate managed to absorb most of the damage.

All of the party members watched the two robed priests as the one with the extended arms continued his chant, "Arise, and cleanse this place of the unworthy!" while his partner began swirling his arms in an eerily similar way as the fake druid had the day before.  With a mighty command of "Hadokken!" a Fireball was released, dropping into the center of the party and damaging everyone save Merrick because he had slept the hardest and was the last member of the party to stumble out of his tent during the initial pursuit of the fleeing ranger/guardian and Doria who had short legs and who was continuing to shuffle up the trail.

The party, now concerned with greater magics, pressed the priests, worried of what was to happen when the priests continued their powerful area effect spells.  The escapee had fallen, and burned with the explosion of the fireball.  Valeria decided to cast her newly learned spell, Fireball, landing it in a spot that struck the priests and the wicker statue while not encompassing the party members.  The explosion was impressive, an ability that the party had not seen from Valeria before, but the effect did not seem to have as much effect on the priests as they swayed under the fireballs pressure, remaining standing and slightly singed.  Howls from further into the courtyard could be heard as two large mastiffs, black with soot and whose eyes and mouths had a strange inner fire burning within.  A fire cult guardian, armed with a shield and long sword, followed the two hounds and eyed the melee with excitement.

Doria had managed to crest the hill and surveyed the chaos with confusion, sensing that these priests were not the druids that she had expected to find, she cast a spell which was targeted on the same spot a Valeria's fireball.  For those who took notice (which was not Milpot!), a large portion of earth erupted in sharp crags and jagged edges in a large area that had spread underneath the priests and the wicker statue.   Milpot attacked at the priest who had thrown the fireball while encouraging Idra to rally and bring an end to the spell casters.  Idra had moved and managed to stun the chanting priest, and having stunned him, continued to needle him with the point of his spear in a very Gully Elf fashion.  

With the one priest stunned, the caster priest then turned to the wicker statue and chanted aloud, "Arise, and cleanse this place of the unworthy!" even though he would surely be brought low from the coordinated attack of the party members that had advanced within melee range.  The hounds charged in, attacking the closest party member, which happened to be Idra, and though he managed to side step one of the feral beasts the second managed a massive wound on Idra's inner thigh, taking Idra out of the fight as the beast wrestled with the limp form of Idra in its mouth, the smell of singed and burnt meat hanging heavy in the air. 

The statue moved over to attack the mastiffs as the kennel master guardian moved into the fray. The statue's heavy sword cut swaths into the beasts thick skin, but the beasts seemed to be as resilient as the guardians had proven to be and did not fall under the construct's initial assault.  The two guardians on the scaffolding now took notice and raised their crossbows and began shooting down at Valeria and Doria, the two obvious spell casters within the group.  Doria caught a bold deep within her back, causing her quite a lot of discomfort while Valeria managed to dodge the bolt intended for her and she then moved to take cover behind one of the intact walls of the keep.

Merrick charged forward stood over Idra's unconscious body as he began striking at the monstrous dogs, hammering into them with his warhammer.  As Idra had fallen, so did the stunned priest regain his senses.  His partner had fallen to Milpot's continued polearm attacks and the priest then raised his hands touching his thumbs together and extending his pinkies, blasting Milpot with a cone of flame.  Unknownst to the priest, Merrick had positioned himself where he stood on purpose, despising mages as much as Idra despised his long list of things, he whipped his hammer out, striking the priest on the forehead, dropping the priest as the jet of flame turned and smothered itself out.  

The wicker statue, however, erupted in a large gout of flame.  The heat of the conflagration had even forced Milpot to move away from where he had been standing close to it.  Looking upon it, the statue seemed to resemble something of a living form as the 20 ft. tall frame moved and writhed with the fire.  Merrick, surprisingly, continued to not be happy with the situation at hand…

Doria had caught another bolt as she rushed over to Idra's fallen body and layed one of her hands on his forehead and one on his chest.  Concentrating, she transferred her energy into Idra's body which slowly built up where her hands touched his body, warming them until Idra's eyes shot open.  Flailing his arms and staring into the beady eyes of the halfling, Idra could only look at her in horror as he began piecing together what had happened with his stark realization of what the halfling had done to herself.  Not only had she capped her sharpened teeth (Idra could only assume this had been done some time ago because all of the halflings on his home contenant wore their teeth filed) but she had touched him and healed him with this 'druidic' magic that had set off this entire series of events at this hill.  She had certainly revived him and judging from the sounds of the dogs growlings and yelpings, she had done so in a timely fashion.  This was a lot to take in for the monk so as he rose he ran.  He ran away from the combat and the halfling which he could not fathom at the moment and began making his way towards the scaffolding of the tower to get at a target that was less vicious than the dogs and more to his abilities.

Merrick had managed to smite one of the hell hounds as its partner ripped into the suit of armor's grieves.  It seemed that a war hammer, wielded by one of Tritherion's devouted servants became an excellent dog smasher as hit upon hit bludgeoned the poor beast to pieces.  The  armor was receiving the attention of the hell hound and the kennel master who had surprised the party by igniting his sword on his first attack.  The flame disappeared after the first round, but the party was wanting none of that fire nonsense and so began targeting him.

Out from the wicker statue a roughly bipedal form exited its base.  Without turning, it's 'arms' which were nothing more than points of flames attached to a larger body of flame, reversed itself and reached forward, fueling the fire the burned the wicker frame.  Pieces of it's earlier prison began collapsing and falling as the living flame elemental delighted in thermographic expression.

The party had never faced an elemental before and so did not know how to best tackle it, let alone one made out of living flame.  There were no troughs or water towers to collapse onto it, and no one really wanted to get within range to tackle it.  Valeria continued to jump out and then back into cover while blasting random targets with her Eldritch Bolt, but no one wanted to be the first one to draw the elemental's attention so it was ignored as long as it had not turned its attentions on them.

Idra had ran up the scaffolding and locked eyes on one of the guardian's that had been shooting it's crossbow at the party's spell casters.  The guardian fired a bolt at Idra which struck the scaffolding harmlessly only to be stunned and then treated to a series of beatings by a spear point to the thigh and then a double elbow to the neck and chin.  The moves, the strikes, and the poetry that Idra had performed on the scaffolding was entirely missed by the party below as they continued their combat with the hound and guardian while keeping a wary eye on the living fire.

On the opposite side of the tower, a rogue Eldritch Bolt missed a guard and struck one of the various lanterns that were draped upon the scaffolding.  The lantern fell and crashed onto the middle level of the scaffolding setting it ablaze.  The fire cult guardian, having been the only one to see Idra's impressive combat skills, dropped his crossbow and drew his sword and shield, preparing to rush Idra on the following round.

Another of the hell hounds fell to Merrick's warhammer and the suit of armor now turned its attention on the lone guardian, hammering him with his massive sword.  The fire elemental, now finished with burning the wicker frame, turned its attention to other flammable objects, choosing Milpot as something to play with.  Reaching out, its touch burned Milpot with a fiery caress, causing him severe burns and then catching his clothes on fire. 

Now the party really began concentrating on the elemental.  Milpot had extricated himself away from the elemental and spent his round putting out the flames that had set his clothes aflame.  Singed and hurt, he could only watch in horror as the halfling was set on fire and fell to the ground, unconscious.  Surrounded, the elemental found itself with several options to ignite and it chose to caress Doria on the following round because she had been using her Shillelagh to make several successful attacks against the flame.  Unfortunatley, the intense flames were too much for the wounded druid, her body fell to the ground while fire erupted onto her body.  

For most of the battle, the party continued to wail on the elemental, not knowing what effect, if any, their blows were doing to it.  They understood it was magical fire and Doria's magical quarterstaff that she had summoned certainly seemed to draw its attention, but for the normal weapons that most of the party held, they could not tell for certain if they were doing any damage to it.

Idra followed up his flurry of blows with a windmilling elbow that launched the poor, stunned guardian over the railings and down onto the ground below.  As the second guardian charged forward, Idra leapt over the railing, ducking under the guardian's opportunistic attack, and landed onto the ground with his fist and knee buckling the earth underneath.  Looking up with a smile he absently blew a strand of hair out of his face until he caught sight of the halfling's unconscious form on fire.

Milpot rushed over to Doria's body, patting out the flames in haste but as the last of the flames died down, he heard the last expulsion of breath escape her body.  As the party members caught site of Milpot's surprised look and the heavy silence that followed, a very somber mood crept over the companions.  Doria had not been much liked, she had been a gruff companion who openly called out the racial bigotry that had been shown to her.  She had led the party here on pilgrimage with the intent on healing the land of the chaotic elements that had plagued it, much like the party had been trying to intercede and curb the objectives of the elemental cults that for whatever reason had seemed intent on extending their dominion over the people that resided in the Dessarin Valley.  She had given the party good council when they were all trying to piece together the ulterior motives of the cultists that had been posing as druids and had even rescued the one party member who time and time again let his distaste for her race, class, and gender known.  This was a loss that the party could not turn away from and ignore, it was one that had selfishly put herself in harms way for the party and had paid dearly for it.  Her death was on their watch and the party was helpless to stop it while the fire elemental continued its gleeful igniting of party members.

Merrick had received the elemental's caress, and while he patted himself out, he watched as the flames passed harmlessly over the suit of armor.  With continued strikes, the elemental finally succumbed to Valeria's Eldritch Bolts, evaporating it in an expulsion of heat until it was no more.  The scaffolding that led up to the one open doorway 30 ft. high in the tower had all collapsed and was burning under the intense heat of the various fallen and broken lanterns.  It did not look like the scaffolding was very well designed or reinforced so when pieces began collapsing, the entire system collapse on itself.

The party came together with Valeria brushing off the soot off of Doria's burnt and scarred face.  Everyone wrestled with their own introspective thoughts on what Doria's sacrifice meant to them and each probably struggled with what their own sacrifice may entail should the time come.  

Milpot, however, looted her body.

 

 

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Did I Do Thaaaaat?
  1. The Battle (continued)
  2. Detante and Friendship
  3. Oh, Crap!

The Battle (continued)

Merrick rushed down the trail so that he could cast Spare the Dying on the fallen druid that had leapt at Idra.  Idra was wondering how things had gotten so far flummoxed when all he attempted to do was to dare the wussy druid to try and break his nose.  Valeria and Milpot watched westward as rushing figures from a nearby campfire came in response to the sounds of combat and howls of pain that had just subsided.

Two men and a woman dressed in muted woodland colored clothes wearing breastplates rushed out of the fog.  They were armed with heavy crossbows and had longswords and a shield strapped to their back.  As they came into easy viewing distance they surveyed the scene and halted raising their crossbows to fire upon the party members, striking Valeria with two arrows and striking Idra who managed to knock the crossbow bolt out of the air harmlessly.  After firing, the three rangers dropped their crossbows intimating that they'd be drawing their longswords on the following round.

Milpot cast Shatter about the rangers, destroying the fallen crossbows as a loud clap of thunder pounded the rangers causing them to bleed out of their noses.  The had been shouting that they wanted the fighting to stop which fell on deaf ears as a half-elf druid, following the rangers, came out of the smoky train and cast a Fireball on the center of the party.  The spell exploded, knocking Idra out of the fight and damaging the others, including the fallen druids that had just been stabilized.  Frustrated that their pleading were falling on deaf ears the party began to target their new foes even though they really didn't want to make the druids enemies (and become the baddies).

The following round of combat continued to be just as erratic as the previous round as Merrick was the only one to see a large, human-sized suit of armor descend out of the air and onto the ground next to the druid.  The suit of armor had attempted to swing its two handed sword at the half-elf woman but whiffed, cutting a swath of earth and ash which showered the druid instead.  From the south, Doria the Halfling druid had also been rushing towards the sound of combat and finally crested the large hill, and the confusion on her face mixed with accusation as she looked upon the fallen bodies of druid and party member alike as she tried to assess just what in the nine hells was going on! 

Doria had attempted to halt the fighting by casting an Entanglement spell on several of the rangers and party members that were fighting one another.  The party continued to try and minimize the damage to the rangers, not wanting to kill the people who were trying to correct the chaotic weather patterns but also having to acknowledge that neither the rangers nor the half-elf druid were interested in curbing the violence.  

The suit of armor continued to swing and cut into the half-elf druid who had also been receiving blasts from Valeria round after round.  The half-elf was resilient, taking damage from spell and sword while burning the suit of armor with flames that shot out of her hands.  The flames did seem to cause the armor damage, but both remained standing and continued to war on one another.  Valeria continued to hammer the half-elf druid with her Eldritch Blast until she alone received a second Fireball that was directed solely at her.  The party watched as the ever present smoke around Valeria's body briefly dissipated as the pressure and the "boom" of the fireball forced the smoke away.  All watched the soles of Valeria's boots rose and fell as her body crashed into the ground, dying.

Doria then raised her staff to the sky, emmitting a pearly white beam of light into the sky which was followed by a giant 40' ft. diameter beam of moonlight onto the half-elf druid, a ranger, and the suit of armor to try and reinforce her plea to stop the violence and quit the half-elf druid from targeting the party with her strange druidic spells.  The half-elf druid was finally brought down with the Moon Beam, while the armor and a ranger began trading blows, having taken damage from the druidic spell, but still able to stand and fight.

The resilience of rangers were also witnessed as Merrick, tired of dealing with the stuck up ranger that continued to wail on him with his longsword, cast Guiding Bolt, calling on Tritherion to increase its power and smite his foe.  Holy light burst from his shield, illuminating the ranger with burning angelic light, and even though the ranger staggered from the cleric's devine power, he managed to keep his footing and remained standing.  Merrick sighed as the crazed look of determination on the ranger indicated that he would, once again, bring the weight of his sword down upon the cleric.

Finally 2 of the 3 rangers where knocked out, the last remaining ranger succumbed to Milpot's Suggestion that surrendering was not without honor in this instance.  4 more druids came upon the scene from the east, responding to the continued sound of combat and looked upon with horror as they caught site of the broken and unconscious bodies that lay about the campground.  Doria and motioned them that things were under control, at least temporarily, so as to not restart combat amongst supposed allies.

Detante and Friendship

The new druids that had come upon the scene seemed to be more shocked than upset about the carnage that was strewn about the campsite.  The magical suit of armor had actually flown over Silver Surfer style and landed between Idra's unconscious body and the lone ranger that seemed to have fully accepted Milpot's suggestion of surrender and friendship.  

Merrick was the first to notice a quirky hand gesture that one of the druids continued to make which consisted of bringing his thumbs together and crossing his index fingers to form and uncomplete hourglass shape.  This druid, named Sauruki, seemed to furtively make this symbol over and over while watching for recognition as he would then quickly disguise it with a scratch on the hand or wrist.  Doria pressed the party as to just what the hell happened, party members were being revived.

The conversation that followed was disjointed, confusing, and frustrating as all three parties attempted to figure out what had happened and who everyone was.  Below is listed some of the information that was discussed:

  1. The druid's seemed very confused about the party's telling of the transformation of the first two druids to having a wolf-person form.  They assured the party that druids, did indeed, have the ability to transform into beasts, but they were not able to partially transfer into a beast-man hybrid.  The druids mentioned lycanthropy as a possibility but assured the party that any druidic circle would be able to cure a cursed member of this disease if one ever contracted the disease.
  2. The lone ranger, whom the party never bothered to ask him his name, described Lytin, the half-elf druid, as a priestess and admitted that she had quite a temper.  He said that she was tasked with interviewing the druids that came to the Scarlet Moon Hall to participate in the circle to see if they were worthy of joining the Scarlet Moon Circle.  Storal and Wiglaff, the two druids who had fought Idra, were two people that had Lytin had stated impressed her.  He mentioned that she liked to burn things and that those whom Lytin called weak had been fed to the flames above.
  3. Doria said that druidic magic and rites did not require human sacrifice so she was certainly appalled at this statement.  Even 3 of the 4 druids that responded to the violence late actually looked sick to the stomach at this admission while Sauruki seemed to take it in stride.
  4. Valeria took Doria aside and discussed that maybe there were two groups of druids here or a group present that had been posing as druids.  This seemed to make sense and so Doria assured Valeria of the soundness of the first camp site when the party had arrived at the base of the hill.  Doria suggested going to each campsite and re-interviewing the people there to make sure of their being druids.  She said that she could test this out with her ritualistic druidic tongue but the party was weak and needed to rest so they opted to camp down at Lytin's camp site before investigating the other campsites.
  5. Both Valeria and Merrick seriously doubt Sauruki's credibility.  His hand signs seem to indicate he's trying to communicate something to the party but he has, so far, not received what he has been looking for.  He seems to be cut of a different cloth from the 3 that he is camping with and the 3 had already stated that they had met him on their way here and offered to share their campsite with him.  The druids do not seem to suspect Sauruki so it may be the party chasing shadows.
  6. The suit of armor has answered some yes/no questions but not others.  Idra is contemplating turning him into a walking trash can but has yet to test this.  He doesn't understand why he has come under its attentions which has the party puzzled as well.  So far it doesn't seem violent to the party so they are content to leave it alone.
  7. The campsite further to the west of Lytin's is one druid that the ranger has admitted that Lytin has said will not make the cut.  The implication is that she would eventually be fed to the fire, but  the current events seemed to have curbed that for the moment.
  8. The ranger seems high and very free with his knowledge, of which he knows some but not alot.  He has mentioned that their leader is a real druid by the name of Elizar and that Lytin was tasked by Elizar to interview the arrivals for their ability.

Oh, Crap!

The party retired, opting to take a long rest at the site of Lytin's and the ranger's camp.  The ranger even pointed out his cot as he jumped down onto it.  The party arranged their watch, once again Idra volunteering to stay awake for the last watch so that he could keep an eye out on Doria who he has blamed for all of the ill actions that have gone on here (because she is a half-ling and a druid AND a woman).

It was in the morning that one oversite seemed to have made a big impact.  The party did not bother to tie up the ranger.  It had been discussed but when it was made clear that it might be perceived as an aggressive action the thought was dropped.  Now that the suggestion spell had ended, the ranger sought to escape and flea to safety.

The ranger bungled a sneak roll as he tried to crawl out of the rear of tent.  Idra approached him and asked him what he was doing.  His furtive and nervous glances only gave Idra a moment before the ranger took off running down the trail towards the site of the combat where the trail led to the top of the hill and the Scarlet Moon Circle.  Idra managed an elbow chop on the ranger as he fled, but the ranger dashed ahead, breaking away from the camp.  Doria cussed, and began waking the party up.  She was exclaiming why the prisoner hadn't been tied up and that he had escaped, the rest of the party hastily woke up and began following after Idra, watching as the suit of armor flew diagonally over the rough terrain as it moved to intercept the run away ranger.

The session ended with Idra's smug face falling as he managed to catch up to the fleeing ranger and purview the scene.  He looked upon a courtyard with a large wicker statue that contained within it a huge burning fire that did not seem to ignite the wicker frame.  There were guards along the scaffolding that had been erected around the lone broken tower.  2 robed figures stood in front of the statue with their hands pressed together, bowed in prayer.

Next week… The Courtyard!

 

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Catching Up
  1. Return to Red Larch
  2. Dropping off the Baggage
  3. Finding a New Guide
  4. Scarlet Moon Hall

Return to Red Larch

The party exited the deep ravine into an open and arid canyon.  Far off to the east they could see the shimmering spire of the Feathergale Society which was their only point of reference to where they had come out of the ground.  With the ex-prisoners in tow, the party moved to the south and east in hopes of finding The Long Road that would lead them to Red Larch.

The traveling was hard and brutal for the party had fought several skirmishes below and were tired and exhausted.  As dusk began to fall, the party saw the light of a campfire in a copse of trees and decided to investigate.  Valeria used her magic to make her invisible as she moved forward to spy on the camp.  She found two humans, in rough leathers speaking quietly over a fire cooking some mystery meat.  Three tents lined the campground with a horse tied to a tree nearby.  The humans were talking over who'd take the late watch and grumbling over their chore duties.  She couldn't get a clear sense over what they were but suspected them of being brigands of some sort.  Investigating one of the tents, she found two other humans sleeping inside of the tent near the horse.  Light was such that she couldn't make out details, but she did sense that each of these sleepers had helmets that were set beside them.  With no other details to clearly make out, Valeria returned to the party to share her findings.

Not wanting to risk having another skirmish in the dark, the party decided to circumvent the camp site and continue on for 2 hours until they found a decent camp site.  Once a site was found, the party decided to make camp, the ex-prisoners practically falling on the ground in exhaustion.  Milpot, however, found himself in need of release and so thought that a return to the previous campsite a worthwhile excursion.  Forgetting (or not paying attention to!) how long the group traveled, Milpot left the players' camp after his watch and trekked back to the brigand camp for some female company.  After a 2 hour excursion where he managed to successfully track his way back, he entered into the camp's firelight with a large smile on his face.

Feeling confident, Milpot did not disguise his approach and so was heard as he tromped through the brush towards those on watch in the middle of the campsite.  What he was surprised to find that the people on guard where not human brigands, but Earth Cult Guardians in full stone armor wielding large, giant, rock studded clubs.  The Guardians reacted, one began to alert the camp while the first charged and attacked Milpot.  Milpot fought a retreating defense, thinking that this was certainly not what he had expected in a booty call and wondering if his sneaking off from the party a smart move since no one knew of where he had ventured off to.  

Milpot took a beating as he retreated away from the fire and was almost brought down low before turning and running into the underbrush.  He managed, however, to not only elude his pursuers but to make a circular return to the camp which took a full 3 hours to do.  Stumbling into camp bruised and dejected, Milpot was able to lie down for an hour before the rest of the party rose to start the new day fresh and well rested.

Dropping off the Baggage

The party finally stumbled into Red Larch and Merrick sighed with great relief when the ex-prisoners where dropped off at the refugee camp that had been set up in Red Larch's open market area.  Milpot and Valeria gave a few gold over to the now refugees while Merrick felt unburdened like a parent whose kids finally went off to school for the day…

Valeria sold some items they had collected from Rivergard Keep and sought out a guide to take them cross country to Beliard.  Milpot went for a bath and a tug and sought to rest up after his previous night's excursion.  Merrick met with Imdarr Relvaunder at the All Faith's Shrine and update him on the situation they met with the Dellmon Ranch and after.    The most colorful exchange was Idra's mission to have a mancatcher made.

Idra was directed to Ironhead, a half-orc who sold second hand weapons and armor to caravan guards and those looking for cheaper wares than from the blacksmith.  Idra described what he wanted and commented that the town was infested and that he'd be using this to correct the issue.  

Idra:  I need a tool made, a mancatcher of sorts because this town is being overrun by vermin!

Ironhead:  Rats?

Idra: No, the short, smelly kind that walk on two legs and corrupt everything.

Ironhead: … Dwarves?  I hate dwarves…

Idra: No, they're shorter and worse.

Ironhead: … Gnomes?

Idra: sigh no, worse!

Ironhead: … Goblins?

Idra:  Look, you need to know this, follow me and I'll show you!

Idra then took Ironhead out of the store and towards the Helm at High Sun.  Ironhead, sensing trouble, picked up a dented metal shield and a large battle axe in case the meeting with this vermin went bad.  Within the tavern, Idra pointed to a halfling female who was sitting alone at a table eating.  "Them," he said, "They are overrunning the town!"

Ironhead tried unsuccessfully to educate Idra that halflings did actually own property and businesses here and were allowed within, but Idra did not want to listen to any of his prattle.  Pushing 5 gp. into Ironhead's hands, he said he needed to have the item made to his specifications and agree to any overages that went into the mancatcher's manufacturing.  

Finding a New Guide

Valeria entered into the tavern at the end of this exchange and walked on trying to ignore the conversation.  She had been directed to a halfling by the name of Doria who might act as a guide to make their cross country travels easier.  Little did Valeria know that Doria had actually heard the entire conversation between Ironhead and Idra from her seat and was annoyed at the elf's views on halflings.   

Valeria found that Doria was a druid on pilgrimage to a site where a powerful druidic rite was to be conducted.  She claimed that druids from across the land were descending on this place called the Scarlet Moon Hall, an old ruined fort, where some arch-druids would conduct a rite to correct the chaotic weather patterns that were plaguing the area.   While Doria wasn't going as far as Beliard, she offered that the party could travel with her as far as the ritual site for mutual protection.  Valeria also found that Doria wasn't the most charismatic of her kind and was very blunt about not putting up with Idra's supposed racism.

The next day, they party met up with Doria and they left the town of Red Larch to travel cross country to the north.  Travel was uneventful while the party picked Doria's brain for the reasons of the rite and what she hoped to gain from going there.  Doria claimed that these arch-druids had found this ancient rite and had been preparing it for some time.  The amount of power involved would require the assistance of other druids and so a 'Call to Arms' so to speak was sent out to various druidic circles for aid.  Many had traveled there already, Doria assumed, and she was interested in learning this new rite and helping to bring about a normalization of the weather here.

During the trip a few tense instances and comments were made between Doria and Idra.  First, Idra refused to follow Doria who was the only one to know where she was going.  Idra would travel ahead of the party until he had to stop to see where the next leg would be directed and then when the party caught up (the halfling's legs being quite a bit smaller) Idra would set off again to 'lead' the party.  Anytime Idra would need to address Doria he'd speak to a space above her head "to where her head should be."  Doria in turn, would refer to Idra as 'that asshole' or 'asshole'.  Merrick had attempted to curve her sharp tongue but she pushed back saying that Idra referred to halflings as vermin and she wasn't going to stand for it.  Unfortunately Merrick had made a faux pas by asking her earlier what the gathering at Scarlet Moon Hall was and if it was a gathering of halflings or… Doria interrupted with a 'What the shit!" exclamation before Merrick could clarify.  So traveling was tense but Doria seemed to weather the obvious racial prejudices with the not so obvious prejudices.

The party camped and Idra refused to sleep while Doria was awake so when it was her turn to take watch, Idra stayed up and just watched her.  Only after a time did Idra feel a presence behind him and turned to exclaim and move quickly away as a large hulking suit of plate mail was found to be standing directly behind him.  The armor was intricately decorated with etchings and mystical symbols, a large two handed sword rested sword point in the ground with both armored hands atop the pommel.  This both freaked Idra and Doria both out and so as Idra began messing with the armor, Doria woke the party up.

Doria found tracks that indicated that the suit of armor had walked up onto the party's campsite which was refuted by Idra who had also looked for tracks and had found none.  The armor did not react to any questions directed to it or to Idra's poking at it or throwing rocks at it.  When Idra attempted to walk behind the armor only the full helmet of the suite turned and followed Idra's movement.  With nothing else to go on, the party broke camp and hurried down the path to continue on their way as the suit of armor began following them after a pace.  The party pressed on, leaving the armor behind as it clanked heavily in their wake.

Scarlet Moon Hall

As the party neared the site of the ritual they found the air full of wood smoke which drifted about like a thick fog.  The smoke would move with the air currently so there were areas where it was thicker than others and Doria didn't seem concerned about it so it was perceived as being natural in origin.  Coming to the base of a rising hill, the party could make out a ruined tower and a crumbling shield wall around it at the hills crest.  This, Doria stated, was the location of the Scarlet Moon Hall.  As they neared the base of the hill, they came across a small campsite where 4 other druids had made camp.

Doria spoke to the 4 campers briefly in a foreign tongue before switching back to common.  It seemed that these 4 were also here for the rite.  They had mentioned that there had been others from atop the hill that came through periodically and chatted with them.  It seemed that the arch-druids were making auguries to find out when the best time to enact the rite was to be conducted.  They mentioned that there were other groups here as well, indicating various campfire lights amidst the smoke covered hillside but that each group merely waited to be summoned for the rite.  

Doria sat down to speak with them more as the rest of the party decided to climb the steep hill and attempt to meet with the arch-druids for themselves.  The hillside was broken into two tiers. The first tier, on the main ground level had a trail that branched east and west to various campfires.  A single trail climbed the hill to a second tier where another east-west trail along a flat section connected various other campfires.  From the second tier the trail continued up until it met the summit.  

As the party climbed, they reached the second tier where 2 druids were sitting alone by a fire.  These two looked up at the party as they passed and when the party met their eyes, the druids refused to look away.  For Idra, this seemed to be a quirky interchange so he kept his eyes fixed on one of the druids and the game of turn away started between the two.  The one druid seemed to bristle when Idra stared at him, commanding Idra to move on.  Idra responded in typical Idra fashion which did nothing to mollify the grumpy druid.  After the one druid threatened to break Idra's nose did Idra pull out a handfull of gold and drop it to the ground saying he'd like to see that happen.

Once the gold hit the ground the two druid stood up and their form began to shift into a hybrid form of human with wolf features.  Claws grew out of their hands and both of the druids leapt at Idra starting a surprise round.  Idra bobbed and weaved blocking strikes and dodging others but under the concentrated effort of two maddened foes, blows were struck.  One claw attack found purchase the first round and a bite attack made purchase the second as Idra quickly found himself losing ground from the onslaught.  The party finally reacted to what was happening below them and under their concerted effort did they manage to take down the two enraged druids.  

The night ended with the two druids being dropped and Merrick rushing to try and keep the druids from dying.  Idra was wounded from multiple blows and the party watched as several figures from an adjoining camp were rushing to the noise of combat that had just happened.  The clank, clank, clank of heavily armored boots could also be heard as the second round of impending combat seemed to loom on the party.

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An Underground Complex?

The party travelled upriver about 2 miles which was slow and plodding work.  The river opened up to an underground lake to the west and a quay to the north.  Merrick's light spell also showed the party that a canal to the north could also be seen, the quay bordering the quay and the river the party was currently on.  Torchlight showed that there were two guards, armed with jagged swords and large bronze horseshoe crab swords.

One of the guards began walking towards the edge of the quay facing the party.  Valeria surprised everyone by casting her Eldritch Blast, striking the guard who cried out in pain and alarm on the quay.  Initiatives were rolled, and combat ensued.  The following round, 2 more guards and third figure ran out onto the quay from a side passage.  The party's boats were still roughly 30 ft. from the quay so Idra rowed to get closer, but he found that pulling a second boat with two members casting spells didn't get him very far.  Milpot assisted so their boat (Idra and Milpot's) finally managed to come up next to the quay.  The guards (Reavers) threw their javelins, before charging the party.  Idra and Milpot delt with the brunt of the

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Rivergard Keep

Recon

The party took passage on a small riverboat going south.  They paid the taxes once the boat was flagged down by the keep and then paid the pilot of the river craft to set them ashore on the Keep's side of the river.

A surprise encounter with a number of bugbears, roughed up the party slightly and possibly drew attention to their location where they had set up to spy on the keep.  The party did notice a small, 2 wagon caravan entering into the keep before the sun set. 

Late morning the 2 wagon caravan left he keep, the party shadowed the caravan, eventually overtaking it and posed as a lost party of adventurers looking for a place to recover.  Successful rolls were made, and the captain of the caravan mentioned that Rivergard Keep would offer passer bys a night's sleep if they requested it.  The driver also gave them some information about the number of 'guards' in the keep and a slight description of Lord Grimjaw and his personality, curt, abrupt, and not one to bandy words.  The driver had a positive opinion of Grimjaw and the Keep and Milpot felt that the driver might not always operate on the up and up.

The Ruse

The party approached the keep whose guards seemed to have noticed the party.  They spoke with Holger the captain of the Gatehouse guards and after a brief interaction with the party, offered to allow them to meet with Lord Grimjaw and request a place for the day and night.

Lord Grimjaw was just as curt and abrupt as the caravan driver described.  He did not even look up at the party from his desk of cluttered papers as he listened to their story, cutting them off when it took too long to answer one of his direct questions.  He said they could bivouac for the night and be on their way in the morning.

The party noticed a small shrine next to the keep proper within the walled courtyard.  They went on inside and were met with a crazed devotee to an unknown diety.  The priest railed about the depths of the ocean holding all secrets and about a powerful and mystical figure that lurked in the ocean's darkness.  Merric lasted about 20 minutes before standing to leave which infuriated the priest even more.  The priest called upon two guards, dressed in leather armor and bearing nasty shark-toothed swords and heavy bronze shields stylized to look like a horseshoe crab.  

Merric attempted to push himself past the guards, provoking the crazed priest into attacking the party.  The priest and one of the guards were cut down, but one of the guards escaped and ran to Lord Grimjaw to inform him of the party's deceit.  

The party pursued, and eventually assaulted the Keep where Grimjaw was located.  Grimjaw's adviser, Urshnora, changed form to become a water snake and spent his time chasing party members around the room, trying to grapple and squeeze them.  Milpot countered the wereboar with Tasha's Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter which allowed the party members to finish off the guards and seal themselves inside the keep.  Grimjaw managed to shake the laughter, and escaped through a secret door that led to stairs exiting into an underground cavern where a boat launch was situated.

The party managed to find the mechanism which opened the secret door and Valeria killed Grimjaw, striking him in the back with one of her Eldritch Bolts.  The underground river exited into the Keep's walled off water pen and then into the Dessarin River.

2nd Wave

The party attempted to seal all of the exits into the Keep.  They met with some of the servants who described their life in the keep as being fairly harsh and that they were treated as slaves.  Many had been abducted and brought here and given the chance to serve or be taken elsewhere.  

The party looted Grimjaw's room, found an old library that was mildewy and wet which they assumed Urshnora used as a bedroom.  They ventered out onto the walls to see a contingent of guardsmen, a halfling, and a man with blue skin assessing the situation.  Retreating inside, the party listened a pounding on the Keep's main door with a high pitched voice calling for a parlay.

Pike (halfling):  "Release Lord Grimjaw and we'll let you escape with your lives," called the high pitched voice.

Valeria: "Grimjaw's dead!"

Pike:  "… release Lord Grimjaw's treasure and we'll let you escape with your lives!"

Valeria:  "Tell you what, you leave now and we won't kill you"

At this point the party started arguing over whether they should talk with those on the outside or not.  Pike seemed to have heard some of this conversation because he claimed that he was sent to see if a negotiation could be reached.  That if the party was willing that they would send in a negotiator to try and come to an amiable agreement between the two parties.  He also asked that the door be opened so that the negotiations could be face to face and that the party could offer some mead since they had all the stores at their disposal.  

Milpot opened the door, only to see 3 bugbears charging the door.  Quick to react, Milpot threw his body into the door bracing it as he yelled to his party members to brace the door.

The bugbears hacked and chopped at the door, eventually breaking the door with the broken half of a pew.  Charging in, Grick Silverhewn charged forward to meet them in battle, yelling to the party members to escape while he held them off.  The party escaped down the hidden stairway, grabbing the boats that were located at the bottom only to face the 4 ghouls that had been turned by Merrick when the party chased Grimjaw down to the boat launch initially.

The party managed to escape the ghouls and pilot the boats up river by poling or rowing.  They found a soggy, earthy projection that they managed to pull their boats onto and spend a frigid night sleeping to recover from the full day's ensnarement.  Upon waking, the party continued moving up river in hopes of finding an exit and getting out of the darkness.

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Returning to Belliard

Poor form on the note taking, and on the party for not bothering to help maintain this site.  Due to this, this entry will be abbreviated and chock full of crunch.  

New prominent figures from Waterdeep have descended into the town of Beliard.

Lord Emory Albrecht

  • Claims he has come to Belliard to investigate the missing delegation and either find the delegates or punish those responsible.  
  • Wears the finest clothing, good looking, slightly aloof, has a light complexion, blond hair, speaks with a comfortable ease of someone used to having orders taken from him.
  • Seems surprised and impressed that he has stumbled upon adventurers that actually know about the disappearance of the delegates and has even met one.
  • Has offered to compensate the party for any assistance that they are able to make on locating these missing delegates.
  • Suggested that the party investigate Rivergard Keep since the party claimed that the delegates were smuggled across the Dessarin River by the denizens there and the rumors that this Lord Grimjaw has set himself up as a bandit-lord, exacting taxes on any river traffic.
  • Is accompanied by two assistants.  [[Mr. Clayton Pierce]], Ambrose Wickes

[[Mr. Clayton Pierce]]

  • Middle aged man, with a bad dye job on hair that is struggling to cover his balding head.  he wears heavy and rich attire buttoned up to the neck and wrists.  Hidden knives along the cuffs of his sleeves have been noticed.
  • Claims that he has been under Lord Albrecht's employ for the last 28 years.
  • Paid Idra 10 gp to compensate and relieve Idra of his room once it was realized that the Inn was full.
  • Seems to be Lord Albrechts intermediary, taking care of the majority of the mundane affairs that may come up.

Ambrose Wickes

  • Middle aged man with a sweaty bald head.  His clothing is not so rich as Mr. Pierce’s but attention is always drawn to his cravat that is ringed from the sweat that falls from his face.  Carries an embroidered handkerchief that he uses to wipe off the sweat.
  • Fingers are stained with ink, he often carries a large and heavy secretary which contains various writing implements, inks, and papers.
  • Seems to be Lord Albrecht's accountant or secretary.
  • Takes extensive notes on any formal meetings that Lord Albrecht has, noting any expenses that have been requested.

 

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Dellmon Ranch pt. 2
Cutting the Head Off of the Snake
  1.  Planning Stages
  2.  Assassination
  3.  Raid Aftermath

Planning Stages

The party spent the next 3 hours after the initial ork wave to rig the forge and the barn with oil traps in hopes to engulf them in flame should they press through.  A shallow pit was dug in front of the main gate leading out of the compound where tiger traps were installed to also slow down and wound the orcs as they would eventually press into the compound.

A discussion was had as to whether or not the party should go after the Ork Chief Torzu or not.  Most of the party members did not believe that Jorth, the orog, would be any easier to deal with, but Milpot argued for the plan, believing that killing the orc chief would sue discord within the ranks until a new leader had emerged.  

While this discussion was taking place, the smell of campfire drifted into the compound as large fires to the north were being set and the slight breeze brought the smoke down the valley towards the farmstead.  Scores of orcs could be seen setting fires to every bush and tree and even the open grass was being lit, so that a wall of smoke descended onto the compound, limiting the vision of anyone inside the smoke.

Prior to leaving, the party set about instructing where the defenders needed to be.  The scouts and archers were placed back onto the roof with the commoners and the guardsmen down below and around the house to limit the orcs from entering the house where the noncombatants were being kept.  The two dwarves, Branikan and Stowal were tasked with maintaining the traps on the forge and barn and instructed to wait to spring their fire traps until the greatest number of orcs had entered it.  Sensing the futility of the defense, the dwarves stoically clasped wrists with each other and wished their brother luck.

Assassination

The party left the house as the compound became engulfed in smoke.  Trusting in Axel's ability to lead them through the smoke, the party made their way quietly through the grass and listened as the sounds of orcs tromping through the countryside indicated that the 2nd raid of the compound was underway.  Coming out of the smoke, the party found themselves roughly 60 ft. downhill form the orc chief Torzu, an Eye of Grummsh advisor, and two heavily armored bodyguards armed with spears and tower shields.

The orc leadership seemed to have their attention in the direction that the raid was taking place, so that the party was initially unseen.  Breaking from cover, Milpot led the attack up the hill, pausing to cast Tasha's Hideous Laughter on the orc chief, causing him to fall prone with a bout of insane laughter.  Valeria followed suit by running up the hill, pausing to cast her witch bolt spell striking the Eye of Grummsh in the chest, leaving a smoking wound.  Idra, refusing to dismount from Griffin Bane, led the charge past the party's spell casters and attacked the western most bodyguard while bouncing uncomfortably on his horse blanket.  Axel fired arrows into Torzu's advisor (Eye of Grummsh), Grick dashed most of the way up the hill, wishing that his medium size stature was a little more on the 'large-end'.  Merrick brought up the rear by striking the advisor with a Guiding Bolt damaging the Eye of Grummsh and causing the orc to real in pain from the party's surprise round.

Initiatives were rolled and the party succeeded in grasping the initiative.  Milpot moved up into melee range with his pole arm, Valeria stayed slightly behind using her witch bolt to strike from afar.  Idra leapt from his horse to fight the western body guard with sword and headbutt.  With a cry of "Attack, Griffin Bane," Idra managed his Animal Handling check which the draft horse reacted to by sitting back onto his haunches while chewing the dry valley grass.  Axel finally cherry picked Shagog the Eye of Grummsh with an arrow to the temple.  After striking the orc in the head, Shagog's body was ensnared with creeping vines that sprung from the Ranger's arrow, holding the inert body fast to the ground. Grick called down divine inspiration onto his axe and sang chants to the dwarven gods as he continued to miss the eastern bodyguard.  Merrick also advanced on the eastern guard trying to give Grick some aid, but both were rebuffed by the bodyguard's skill with the tower shield.

On the third round of combat, Torzu finally broke from the control of Milpot's spell and rose.  Shagog lay dead, and Torzu's 2 bodyguards were close to death.  Idra lay unconscious in front of the orc he had fought as Griffin Bane continued to sit on his haunches and eat as the chaos around him continued.  

The party was fortunate that their initial rounds were such a success.  Once Torzu rose, he rallied his bodyguards who were now staggering on their feet.  One was brought down before he could act, but the other bodyguard continued to dish out pain to Grick and Merrick both.  Beset upon by 4 party members, the eastern bodyguard was dishing out damage and parrying attacks with is massive shield.  Torzu managed to dish out 32 points of damage to Milpot in two rounds, forcing Milpot to disengage and pull back from combat while the party just hammered the orc chief for a full two rounds with spells and physical attacks before finally bringing Torzu to rest. 

Looking amongst themselves at disbelief in how hard it was for the orc chief to fall, the party removed the Torzu's head and hid it in a random tent in hopes of causing more dissent within the ranks.  The party found a number of works of art that had caught the orc's eyes while they raided and a few items that resonated as being magical with Milpot's spell.  

Torzus Treasures

Raid Aftermath

The party returned after hearing the orcish horns blair, calling the orc raid off.  Once again, the orcs tended to hit the compound for only a few rounds before withdrawling back away.  The compound was in ruins.  The forge and barn both were still on fire from the dwarves action.  The smell of burnt flesh filled the air and the party saw that the doors and windows to the main house had been broken.

Nervous cries of alarms welcomed them as the survivors finally noticed that the figures coming through the smoke was actually the party members and not another orcish sorte.  Erned met them in front of the house, he was wounded and his eyes expressed the sadness that he tried not to show.  He shared with the party that both dwarves perished in the raids, they were not able to retreat back into the safety of the house once their traps were lit, they fought together in the yard, the house defenders unable to get out to assist them.  Kerbin Dellmon, the patriarch of the Dellmon family also had perished.  The orcs had managed to breach the house and he had moved to keep an orc from exiting with a young child in tow.  Kerbin was brought down with one of the heavy orc axes, his breast plate doing little to shrug off a head wound.  Flameran Verminbane, the halfling scout and associate of the elves of High Forest, also met his demise.  He had been pierced by numerous javelins while on the roof trying to shoot down the advancing orcs as they descended onto the compound.  Flameran's small body did little to shrug off the orc axes as a few of them had climbed up onto the roof to deal with the archers in hand to hand combat.  There were other deaths as well.  Some of the dead and a couple of the living had been captured and taken away with the orcs upon their retreat.  The news of the orc chief's death was a surprise, but the party could see that, at least in the eyes of the survivors, that the price of one orc's head did little to counter the loss to the families here within the compound.

The sun began to set and the survivors could only imagine what the night would bring.

 

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Dellmon Ranch, Part 1
  1. Unsettled Homesteaders
  2. Preperations
  3. Battle

Unsettled Homesteaders

The party reached the Dellmon Ranch later that evening.  The ranch consisted of three large buildings that had a make shift wall connecting the three buildings and a large gate that roughly aligned with the compass directions.  A stone brick house lied to the north with a thatch roof, a forge along the western side, a large barn to the south, and the gate to the east.  It was apparent that many of the farmers had been busy digging ditches around walls as a means of slowing down any raiders from assaulting the hurriedly made compound.

 

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The Watchful Knight
  1. Stone Bridge
  2. The Watchful Knight
  3. The Anderil Farm

Stone Bridge

After disposing of the Black Earth goons, the party continued on making camp and arriving at the famed Stone Bridge later the next morning.  The Stone Bridge is a holy place to dwarves and especially holy to those that honor Moradin for it is written that Moradin actually appeared atop the bridge after King Torhild Flametongue died fighting a Hill Giant 6000 years ago.  The Stone Bridge rises from the ground before leveling off at 400 ft. above the ground.  It is roughly 6 spans across with no guard rails and runs a full 2 miles from end to end.  It is an impressive sight, if not one that is dangerous in its undertaking.

Winds increase greatly at 400 ft. above a river so the party had some difficulty with the mounts that they had been using.  Milpot instructed the party that they needed to blind the party and was quick enough to interrupt Idra's move to draw one of Griffinbane's eyes out with his belt knife.  Instead, cloth was wrapped around the horses eyes and Milpot and Mojo led their mounts by foot.  Idra refused to dismount claiming that he didn't buy the mount so that he could serve it, he bought it so that he could ride it and so he stubbornly did.

The Watchful Knight

As the party descended the Stone Bridge they could see the town of Beliard before them.  Larger than Red Larch the township sprawled across the ground with many copses of trees offering shade to the houses and open spaces the township provided.  It was also noted that many of the locals tended to walk with confidence when met with the eyes of adventurers and many also showed telltale scars of previous encounters.  Knowing that Beliard was known for supplying caravans with guards and mercenaries this was not a surprise, but it was one aspect of the town that stood out when compared to other townships in the Dessarin Valley.

The central inn within Beliard is an old establishment known as the Watchful Knight.  Rumor has it that the inn once hosted a magical suit of armor that no one knew the command word to activate.  This was true until one night the suit of armor disappeared.  Shortly after the armor's disappearance, the owner of the inn also disappeared, never to be seen again.  This was at least, part of the telling that the inn's current owner, Arnoff Graelkin, told to the party over drinks and laughs.  

Arnoff was a special breed of inn keeper, the kind that could smell coin and could recognize new faces.  As the party entered at noon, the only spaces open were at the bar where he was making an effort to look busy as his 4 subordinates ran around the room frantically taking orders and running food and drink to tables.  He welcomed then and asked them if they had come to gawk at the magical suit of armor that the inn was known for.  Surprised that the party had not heard of the armor, he flashed a smile and said that for 5 cp. they could get a glimpse of the suit of armor which they would certainly want to tell their future grandchildren about.

Idra was the first to cough up coin, and offered to pay for Milpot when Arnoff refused to charge Idra twice for two glimpses.  Milpot noticed as Arnoff led the two to the corner of the tavern where a small stage had been erected and was cordoned off by rope and a curtain that the din of the tavern quieted just slightly and that many of the locals seemed to take an interest in the tourists reaction to the armor.  Arnoff led the two to the side of the stage, unhinged the rope and with a conspiratorial wink, opened the curtain so that the two could see the magnificent suit of armor the inn was known for.

What was behind the curtain will cost you a trip to Beliard and 5 cp. for the view but suffice it to say, Milpot was impressed enough with the spectacle though Idra seemed a little confused about it.  When pressed as to why Arnoff had created such a charade, Arnoff responded friendly enough that it was something that he called, "Marketting," and helped bring tourists in and gave him a laugh or two a week so Arnoff felt it was well worth it.  Milpot even offered some suggestions as to improve the spectacle, but Arnoff shook his head, waving Milpot off saying that he kept the price low because it was not enough coin to truly upset a person for loosing it.  By spending 5 cp. and being made a fool, the victim was more inclined to spread the tale of the magnificence of the armor and bring his friends in to spend their coin.  Buying better armor would only provide something that others may wish to steel and Arnoff felt confident that even the most hard up thieves would not stoop so low as to abscond with what was behind the curtain.  

The Anderil Farm

The following morning the party continued to the northeast passing by many farmsteads that had been abandoned with the rumors of the recent troubles that were plaguing the land.  About mid-day the party noticed large black, billowing clouds of smoke rising from behind a hill not far from where they were traveling.  Investigating the party came upon a farmstead that had been set afire with only a few of the farmstead's livestock that were locked in an enclosed fence trying to flee the fire that was consuming the house.  As the party moved closer they heard the weak cry of a male voice from inside the house.

Grick and Milpot entered into the burning house to find a male half-elf lodged underneath a wooden beam with a fresh wound on his head.  Working together the two managed to lift up the beam and pull the wounded farmer from the collapsed roof as the house continued to burn.  The farmer, Selwyn, said that his farm had been attacked by orcs and frantically asked about his wife and ranch hands.  Noticing that wagon tracks led off to the north, the party offered to let Selwyn take the party's wagon to the Dellmon Ranch, a larger homestead whose family had offered all in the area a place of respite until the danger had passed.  Selwyn refused, stating that he would also accompany the party if they were indeed going to track down the orcs.

Only a couple of hours later, the party surprised themselves on stumbling upon the orcs resting in a wooded area.  Maygan, Selwyn's wife, was seen sitting atop the wagon and the two ranch hands Ob and Fip looked warn out and sitting against the wagon's wheels.  Four orcs were resting and drinking from wineskins and laughing over raiding stories.

As the party veered off behind some dense hedges and began discussing their plan, Selwyn had pushed forward through the briars to run towards his wife to free her.  Combat ensued, most of the details were lost to the wind though Milpot's Charge is a poem that will forever be referenced by storytellers who wish to describe inauspicious cavalry rides into danger.  Milpot drew up his polearm and jammed his heels into his draft horse's flanks making it leap towards the orcs.  Having managed to maintain control of the mount while unsaddled, Milpot swung his polearm at the nearest orc, missing and clanging the blade against a large ash tree.  The shock of the polearm and the twisting of Milpot's body while riding his horse had unsettled him slightly but he managed to maneuver he and his horse near the wagon as two orcs converged on him.  They struck him with multiple axe strikes, knocking him off of his horse and leaving him prone onto the ground.  And thus, battle ensued.  

Selwyn managed to make it through the battle unharmed.  He made it to his wife and cut her bindings.  The party picked up that maybe Maygan was either pregnant by the ranch hand Fip, or at least had more than just an employer/employee relationship to which Selwyn was oblivious to.  With the orcs dead, and Selwyn's farm left in ashes, the party escorted Selwyn and the rescued humans towards the Dellmon Ranch.

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