As Adronsius was trying to get a grip on his mind after seeing what happened to Brindol’s captain of the guard, the heroes decided to take the stairs leading down, across the side of the room they entered. They came into a room with alcoves and a door to their right. An inscription along a wall wrote “Hail Von Urstadts! Ascend with Glory!” and a dust-covered fresco on the wall in front of them depicted human knights. They entered the door and reached what seemed to be a prison. An elderly man was sitting inside one of the two cells. He indentified himself as Sertanian, castellan to the Hall of Great Valor, as Rhasgar broke down the door of his cell.
They backtracked to the room they found Kartenix’s body and took they other set of stairs leading down. Carved into the last three steps of the staircase were the words “Von Adrez”, “Kauthin” and “Crypt”. On the walls were painted pictures of humans laden with baskets, bags, and boxes—all depicted walking clockwise around the room. Four hobgoblins were standing in the room, which they had barricaded with a table at the bottom of the stairs, along with their two pet drakes.
The hobgoblins rushed towards the table trying to bar the intruders from entering. The drakes followed behind and started spitting acid at the adventurers. Lucifer and Tyrn’kog attacked the hobgoblins from a distance, while Rhasgar and Barthum climbed on the table, trying to hold the line and push them back. The hobgoblins fell quickly, but the drakes’ acid was scarring and corroding flesh, metal and stone.
A door to the left of the room opened and a goblin wielding a staff ran out screaming. It moved its staff and sent a stink cloud were the heroes stood, making them unable to see and forcing them out in the open. Barthum and Lucifer coordinated their attacks to make a drake fall. The goblin got enraged and trapped Lucifer with vines and thorns. Then Tyrn’kog killed the other drake and Rhasgar charged the goblin, injuring it. But it was smart as it was hurt. It trapped Rhasgar in its thorns and made a run for the door across the stairs. Barthum started chasing it, while Tyrn’kog used the power of his mind to telekinetically pull it back. Lucifer tried to burn the creature using his holy fire without moving, but Rhasgar fell victim to his pride. He tried to rush the goblin, but the thorns bit deep into his flesh. The dragonborn fell on the ground, dying. Tyrn’kog finally ended its pathetic life destroying its mind, blood streaming from its eyes, ears and nose.
The room, other than beds and tables used by the hobgoblins, had three doors. One to their left, one to their right, and one facing the stairs. Lucifer decided to go in the door the goblin came out of. Inside he found three sarcophagi, and a beautiful half-elven woman chained to the wall. Her eyes burned bright in hope, admiration, and perhaps… something more. She praised Lucifer as he was breaking her chains, telling him her name was Jalissa. She was an acolyte at the school of Ioun back in Brindol. She told them that a little boy was with her until recently, but her jailers took him away mumbling that if they didn’t hurry, they would go in his place. The party decided to barricade themselves in that room and rest. They helped Jalissa perform a ritual that created magical eyes they placed outside the room, alarming them if someone or something came near.
They rested uneventfully. Then they decided to go through the door on the right. The came to a crossroad of walkways. Carved into the walls around them was the repeating message: “Honor the Heroic Guardians of Rivenroar”. To their left and right were doors, in front of them stairs leading up. They proceeded through the stairs. A still pool of water dominated this room, which was noticeably more humid than others inside the catacombs. A sheen of water droplets covered the walls. Tyrn’kog could understand the magic of the pool. It was used as a scrying device linking to other places inside the catacombs. Every time he touched the water, the ripples formed an image that faded as the water calmed. They saw many of the rooms they were previously in: a room with two empty cells, a room with four displacer beast statues and a desecrated statue of the Raven Queen, and the room they previously fought the hobgoblins and their pets. They did, however, see places unfamiliar to them. There was a room with a single sarcophagus. A ridged helmet sat atop the sarcophagus, and a massive hobgoblin in spiked armor was regarding it. Another with two thrones next to each other; on one was skeleton, and on the other was a biped of uncertain race. Finally a shrine with pews and an obelisk. At the base of the obelisk were shattered shields with the Red Hand insignia on them. A black hooded figure was facing the obelisk, none of its features distinct. They continued left, following stairs that took them lower, until they reached a door.
Trying to hear if anything was behind it, the caught the sound of low growls and dragging feet. They had heard this sound before… Knowing what awaits them, they prepared themselves and opened the door. Inside were four undead bodies, fueled by the necrotic energy of the catacombs. But that was not the most interesting part of the room. In the middle of it was a black sunburst mosaic, that seemed to absorb the light radiating from the sunrods. The heroes formed up at the entrance, not letting the creatures surround them. Rhasgar and Barthum held the front, while Tyrn’kog and Lucifer wore them down from the back lines. Only the strongest two of the horrifying beings could reach them, the other two trying in vain to taste the living flesh before them.
The creatures were strong, but the heroes held their ground. Only after the first fell, Barthum erred in strategy and turned his back to make way for Lucifer’s killing strike, offering the second an opening it didn’t let go to waste. It bit on Barthum’s neck, making him faint from the incredible pain, and sending him closer to death. Rhasgar seeing this could do nothing sort of taking action, decapitating the rotten body. The other two backed away on the mosaic, which seemed to restore their dead bodies. The true threat was over though, and the heroes finished them up quickly.
The heroes rested, and Barthum was brought back to consciousness. The room had a door on the left, probably leading back to the crossroads they thought, and another hallway to the right. Barthum’s dwarven knowledge of stonework revealed to him a crack on the hallway’s floor, a sign of risk should they decide to walk down this way. They instead went through the door, finding themselves in the crossroads as they suspected. Then everyone agreed to go check what was behind the door the goblin tried to go to, in the previous room.
They went through the door and came to a room with thin menhirs scattered around. The menhirs were noticeably cold. After experimenting with weapons and severed goblin hands to understand the nature of these bizzare stones for a while, suddenly a door ahead opened with a creak. From within, three goblins and a huge hobgoblin wearing spiked armor and wielding a chain poured into the room.
“Get ’em boys!” the hobgoblin roared.
The goblin subordinates didn’t last long, and soon the hobgoblin was surrounded.
“Held yer own against me lakeys eh? Lets see what ye can do against the great Sinruth!”
He started swinging his chain left and right, yanking the heroes and slamming them against the spikes of his armor, or tripping them to the ground, then stomping on them with his spiked boots.
The heroes got injured, but in the end the odds were overwhelming against Sinruth. Lucifer pierced the hobgoblin’s jaw with his scythe with such force that it got stuck there. He needed to use his leg against the dead body to pull it out.
Sertanian could identify the gauntlets he wore as treasure from the Hall of Great Valor. Inside the room the late hobgoblin came from, was a sarcophagus with a masterwork dragoncrest helmet sitting on top of it. It was, as well, one of the relics they were sent to find. Inside the sarcophagus were the remains of a skeleton that held a magnificent magical orb. Tyrn’kog fell in love with it immediatedly. They searched Sinruth’s pockets and found a map of the Elsir Vale, a map of Brindoll with a red “X” marked on the Hall of Great Valor’s position, and a letter written in common. The letter ordered the raid in Brindol, and instructed how the prisoners should be handled. It was signed by The Emissary.
Lords of Rivenroar
The heroes decided to head back to the crossroads and take the right door this time. They entered a room with alcoves on their right, and a fountain ahead of them. To their left was a hallway with pillars lining it on either side. Upon examining the fountain, they saw that there were chains on the wall nexto to it, and a trail of blood leading from the fountain to the hallway and into the darkness up ahead. They knew someone was in danger, perhaps the little boy Jalissa told them about, and hurried up.
They entered a room where all the horror was taking place. Two thrones were in the middle, with stairs leading up to them. On the thrones sat an undead humanoid, probably the once Lord of Rivenroar that tried to achieve lichdom. On the other throne next to it, the skeletal remains of another human. At the bottom of the stairs was a blood pentagram, and inside it a little boy whose life force was draining away. All around the room bones were scattered, and paintings on the walls depicted humans wearing robes. The wight rose to its feet.
“Looks like we have visitors… Arise my children. Consume them!”
The skeleton on the throne and the bones littered around animated, forming five more skeletons. The wight shot rays of necrotic energy at Barthum, making him unable to move. The skeletons closed in on the group striking with their rusty swords. Tyrn’kog used his telekinesis to pull the child out of the pentagram and behind the heroes, telling Jalissa to keep him safe. Rhasgar incited a prayer and his sword emited a golden aura. He swinged it at a skeleton burning it with holy fire and turning it to dust. Lucifer picked off the weaker skeletons, till the wight’s mate remained.
This one was tougher. Barthum engaged it with Tyrn’kog and Lucifer. He shouted a warcry and the heroes around him felt a rise in morale and vitality they had never experienced before. The skeleton tried again and again to hit Barthum with its scimitar but the dwarf dodged and blocked every time. After taking some hits though, the animated creature burst a part of its body, sending bone splinters all over the room. The heroes’ morale took a heavy blow. Rhasgar was chasing a lone skeleton at the left of the room, which was trying in vain to hurt him by shooting arrows that broke against the dragonborn’s shield. One swing was more than enough. The others coordinated their attacks and destroyed the skeleton, which again struck with bone shards, hurting them even more. Barthum and Lucifer engaged the wight. Lucifer summoned a beam of divine radiance from his scythe, passing judgement to the wight.
“Come forth, vile creature, and compel for your crimes!” he commanded.
The creature shrieked in pain, and distorted its face to a vision of nightmare, momentarily taking away the pair’s courage and forcing them to back away. Then it raised its hand, and the skeleton that was destroyed moments ago, was moving again. Adronsius rushed in to help. They struck it repeatedly, until it exploded one last time. Everyone was heavily injured by the bone pieces that tore through the skin, except for Adronsius, who miraculously avoided every one of them.
Rhasgar charged at the wight, trying to pass through the pentagram that was between them. To his surprise, once he entered it, his strength was lost and his vitality was draining. The wight cackled in delight as it reaped part of the dragonborn’s life force. Finally Lucifer got behind the creature’s back and destroyed its spine, granting it rest, if there was ever rest intended for its soul. After getting a grip on their nerves from all the horror they have faced, they moved on to the pillared walkway that continued to the left of the room.
They came upon a room with four pillars that supported a great magical barrier, which covered almost the entire room. Inside this barrier was a hideous being. A mass of human and nonhuman body parts and organs, forming into one huge unliving nightmare. The monstrosity became aware of the adventurers and began slamming its body against its supernatural prison. Tyrn’kog told everyone to keep their distance. He approached carefully and investigated the room. Two doors led out of this room; one to the left and one to the right. He checked the left one first, which led to the cracked hallway and into the sunburst mosaic room. Then he went back and opened the right door ever so slightly, peeking inside. He saw an image he had seen before in the scrying pool; a place of worship to Vecna, with a dark robed figure standing in front of an obelisk. He imediatedly stepped back and returned to the others. Telling them what he saw, they devised a plan. The menhirs from Sinruth’s room would be ripped from the ground and used as fortification against the undead beast, should it be somehow set free while they were in the room Tyrn’kog just spied on. They entered.
An Unexpected Event
Lines of pews made it clear that this was once a shrine dedicated to the rune-encrusted obelisk at the end of the room. The figure stood still and silent next to the obelisk.
“So… you have come at last. Very good. Seems like what lives in this place wasn’t enough to stop you.” his voice spoke with a hint of sarcasm, his back still turned to the door.
“Do you command this unholy creature we just saw?” Barthum said with authority in his voice.
The voice did not faulter. “I’m afraid this… unholy creature as you say, is the least of your problems right now.”
“I think you should just leave.” Tyrn’kog suggested.
“I don’t think anyone is leaving here slave.” he said with a grave seriousness in his voice.
As he spoke, the iron doors of the room loudly slammed shut." I believe this place will be a fitting grave for you all."
He turned, a hammer charged with lightning appearing in his hand. Suddenly Rhasgar, his eyes red with hate, turned towards his companions. He raised his sword and struck at Barthum, who was shocked to see his ally suddenly turning against him. The robed man moved incredibly fast, smashing Tyrn’kog against the face with his hammer. The blow was so strong, he nearly fell unconscious. Lucifer’s scythe started glowing brilliantly, and a visage of a great dragon appeared over his shoulders.
“This is the day you are cleansed! Repent for your sins, creature of undeath!” he spoke with a voice not entirely his. He moved with impossible speed towards the man’s back, the dragon over him growing brighter and bigger. He then struck a blow so powerful that would cut a man wearing plate armor in half. The man gasped, clearly not expecting that much resistance from mere nuances.
“Very good little knight. Now allow me to finish what I started.”
The next seconds he moved so fast, an observer would have trouble understanding what he saw. The man turned to Lucifer and bit him in the throat, making him fall, dying. Turning, he struck Barthum with his hammer with such force that the dwarf crashed against the wall. Without turning to face him, he threw his hammer at Tyrn’kog, dropping him unconscious. The tide of the battle was grim for the heroes, but then something unexpected happened. A sword laying on a table in the middle of the room started glowing, ever so bright, untill the whole room was bathed with blinding warm light. The robed man shrieked in pain, and vanished into a mist that slipped under the door, dissapearing.
“You have done well…” were the last words spoken by a powerful voice in Lucifer’s head, the moment he regained consciousness. The others were already up, trying to regain their strength. The prisoners were there too, and Sertanian was gathering the three shields and the banner the heroes were sent to find. They said a very strong, soothing light came through the door’s cracks, then moments later mist, as if it had its own will, came from under the door and passed by them. The heroes explained what had happened, and Sertanian’s face grew serious and sceptical.
“There was a man many years ago, his name was Arryk. He was a member of the Diamond League, the group that saved Brindol from the hordes of the Red Hand. He carried a sword. After the war, he told us to keep it safe. He told us that no matter how many people died protecting it, we must never let it fall into the wrong hands. We never understood what he was talking about, or why was this sword so important, but it seems that there is something about it that hasn’t been revealed to us yet.”
After they rested for a bit, they were on their way back.
They stopped at the entrance room to the catacombs. From the stairs leading out, they could see the light of day, it was the break of dawn. But there was still one door they left unexplored; the door in the middle. Behind the door were stairs leading down. At the bottom of the stairs was a room, filled with all sorts of architectural debris, and a wet, musty smell. Amid the ruins were all sorts of mushrooms, mostly with brown or gray caps. A door could be seen to the right.
Lucifer proceeded carefully, without disturbing the mushrooms. He opened the door and inside he found an old woman, contained behind a magic barrier. He tried to dismantle the prison, but that was beyond his capabilities. He summoned Tyrn’kog, who easily set the old woman free with his knowledge of the arcane.
“Took you long enough!” the old woman said.
“Uh… you’re welcome.” Tyrn’kog replied.
“Shut up and get me out of here! Lets get moving already!” she said and started pushing them towards the exit. Lucifer thought that she was too old and weak and stubborn to pass through the mushrooms carefully, so he carried her on his back.
“Put me down you damn child! Youngsters these days are so rude!” she complained while she flung her arms and legs left and right.
The finally exited the catacombs after a long night. The sun was beginning to rise. The moved really carefully, keeping an eye out for an ambush or the guard they passed on their way in. They noticed many goblin and hobgoblin bodies among the trees and bushes, in places stategically fit for an ambush. But they were all dead. About two dozen bodies, their heads cracked open or blood spilling from holes in their throats.
They headed back to Brindol.
The Heroes Return
The journey was exhausting for the heroes. Not because of their wounds and fatigue and worry in their minds. No. It was because of the old crone, Zerriksa that most of them regretted saving. As they approached the town, guards met them in front of the bridge and escorted them through the streets. As they walked, people came out from the alleys to watch and cheer for their return. They were now heroes in Brindol. They were brought before the Brindol Council, were Lord Troyas and most of the other members attended. Troyas spoke.
“It seems I did not have poor judgement about you. The relics are returned, the prisoners safe. But tell me, what of Kartenix, captain of the Golden Lions?”
The heroes explained about the captain’s goreful demise, after requesting the freed captives been taken care of and sent to rest. The reason for that was, of course, the little boy Thurann, who after everything he had been through, need not hear of his father’s death. The council was shoked to hear of that, especially Lord Warden Orenna, the leader of the Golden Lions. More information about their findings was requested of the heroes. After the council had heard everything they needed, they dismissed the heroes saying they needed to discuss things. Lord Troyas gestured and a guard came, handing them a chest with the promised reward. The heroes left, heading for a long awaited rest.
The threat of the Red Hand was no more and all seemed well. But the heroes knew Sinruth might have been just a puppet, and other, more powerful forces are at play here…
April 15, 2012 01:41
The heroes were almost at Lord Troyas’ mansion. Thor however insisted that the victims would increase a hundredfold, or even more if raids were to happen again in Elsir Vale. He wished the others farewell and set off to warn the city of Overlook to the west, of the events in Brindol. Lucifer ordered Corrigan to accompany the dwarf and travel to Darastrix Oth to inform the Bahamut Knights of the raid. Now he was alone. He hoped Troyas could help him in some way, because this was no task that could be done by a single man.
When he entered Troyas’ mansion, there was a surprise waiting for him. Lord Troyas was not alone. With him were a dragonborn wearing heavy armor, a dwarf, and a very strange creature, which Lucifer could indentify as a githzerai. Troyas explained they were strong individuals that contributed greatly to the defence of the city during the raid, summoned by himself to aid in the rescue mission. The dwarf’s name was Barthum Stoneskin. He shot a recognising gaze at Lucifer. The dragonborn was called Rhasgar Karngaern, a mercenary whose party perished during the raid. The last one’s name was Tyrn’kog Horntsn’k, and that was all the information he wished to share about himself. Lucifer informed Troyas of the interrogation.
“I see. Damianrath’s healing powers were needed at the temple so he won’t be joining you. These are your companions for the mission I have assigned you. It is estimated that about half a dozen people are missing, among them the captain of the Golden Lions, Kartenix. Also, one more thing; the weapons the raiders were carrying were crafted by a strange type of black metal. We currently don’t know where it comes from, or who made the weapons, but should you discover anything of the matter, you have to inform us.”
The party discussed the way they would follow to reach Rivenroar and they set off. As they exited the city, clouds started forming and the sky darkened. Soon it was raining. After about ten hours of traveling through plains, forests and rivers, they finally reached castle Rivenroar, or at least what was left of it. The once magnificent stonework was now rubble scattered on the ground. Only a few parts of walls remained standing.
They approached slowly and silently. To their left they could see a clearing in the forest, where three dozen goblins and hobgoblins were enjoying the spoils of war by drinking, eating, fighting, playing dice or sleeping. If front of them however, was a sleeping beat up goblin, guarding the entrance to what appeared to be stairs that led to the castle catacombs underground. Lucifer sneaked up on the goblin, putting the blade of his scythe just an inch away from its throat, ready to cut it if it woke and made the faintest sound. The others walked by slowly without disturbing it. They were now inside the catacombs.
Flagstone dominated the entire catacombs, perhaps the work of dwarven hands. The atmosphere was cold and damp. The entered a room with three doors. Lit torches flanked the middle door, along with two braziers without flame. The doors had plaques with writings on them. The left one wrote: “To Von Urstadt”, the middle: “To Rivenroar Family” and the right: “To Von Jallach”. As they moved further inside, the braziers started moving across the room and flames were shot from one to the other, burning most of the heroes. They decided to take the door on the right.
They walked a corridor and went up some stairs. At the end of the stairs there was a writing. “Von Jallach Family Tomb” was carved in the stone. They entered a room with glowing runes arrayed in its center and a door to the right. Tyrn’kog could indentify it as a phonetic alphabet sometimes used by wizards. They tested it by throwing a bedroll on the floor. Dozens of small reptilian creatures appeared, their eyes glowing from the runes’ light against the darkness behind them. The heroes were startled, but it seemed that the drakes were just an illusion to scare off grave robbers. They opened the door. In this room they could see a well, and a beat up dwarf being tied in chains to the wall across. They freed him and he told them his name was Adronsius, Brindol’s alchemist. He thanked them, but said that others less endurable than him were taken prisoners and that they should hurry. They all returned to the first room and decided to take the left door, carefully avoiding the braziers.
They came upon a room with a door to their left and one across from them, that was used as Sinruth‘s troops’ sleeping quarters. To their bad luck the troops weren’t sleeping. Five hobgoblins were standing, obviously surprised to see them there, but not caught off-guard nonetheless. Their leader charged Barthum, but the dwarf managed to dodge his flail. Rhasgar moved in fast to the other four and breathed his lightning breath on them, electrocuting them all to death. Two goblins entered from the upper door, firing their crossbows. Rhasgar and Lucifer went to deal with them, while Barthum distracted the leader as Tyrn’kog wore his mind down. One of the goblins fell and the hobgoblin leader as well. The remaining goblin turned to flee, but the dragonborn’s blade pierced it through its chest as it tried to run away. While they searched the bodies, they noticed that the weapons were made of a weird black metal, just like the one Troyas had told them about. The way the goblins had come from was a long hallway with two ten-foot holes on the floor, ropes hanging over them. They decided to try the left door first.
As they entered the room, they saw in front of them a great portal, depicting a dark tower rising over rivers of lava and dark flying creatures swarming around it. The heroes could make out that this place they were seeing beyond the portal, was not of this world. It was a link to another plane of existence, a place called the Shadowfell. Other than that, there were doors to the left and to the right of the room. As they were investigating the portal, a ghostly figure spawned from a wall addressing the heroes.
“Who are you and what are you doing here mortals…?”
A chill went up everyone’s spine. They told it the reason they were here, and the specter enlightened them on the history of this place.
“Many years ago, so long I can’t remember… Time is irrelevant when undeath chains your soul. Many years ago this place was run by three powerful families. They, however, were not too open about their affairs to the outside world. The truth is they were secretly worshipers of God Vecna. When the goblin hordes were ravashing the land, the kingdom of Rhestilor sent out a call to arms. The Lords of Rivenroar did not respond however and kept their military power to protect their lands. After the goblins massacred nearly everyone in Rivenroar, my master and I along with some other followers hid in these catacombs.”
“As time went by, my master went mad with anger and regret. He found a ritual that was supposed to give him eternal life and insurmountable power. The price for this ritual was undeath… I wanted revenge for his failure to protect my slain daughters, so I helped him perform the ritual. The ritual worked, but only partly. He did not achieve lichdom, but something far inferior instead. He thought it was my fault, so he cursed me into this form, forever bound to this room. So I ask of you, adventurers, end his miserable existence, it is the only way my soul will ever be in peace…”
The heroes asked if he knew of the name Sinruth, and it responded that his master must have allied with Sinruth, the former letting him use these catacombs as a base for his ever-growing army, the latter providing him with living souls to use for his unholy rituals.
They entered the door to the right, finding themselves in the hallway with the holes in the floor. They were past the first one and easily cleared the second. They entered a big room filled with four sarcophagi and an altar. The altar was devoted to the God Bane. Upon further inspection however, they could see that it was desecrated by goblins, formerly being an altar devoted to Vecna. On the walls around the room was written: “Here lie the Rivenroars until the Day of the Black Sun. If you seek their monument, look at the lands around you” over and over again. There was a circular stair going upwards and a door to the south. They entered the door.
They entered a small room with four displacer beast statues at the entrance. Their eyes were glowing red. Across the room was an altar with a statue of the Raven Queen. Behind it was a woman, chained, her eyes wide open in fear. The heroes tried to calm her down from a distance, not knowing what the statues’ nature was, but her belief that they were here to hurt her grew stronger every time they shouted at her. Finally Tyrn’kog found the courage to walk by the statues. To his disbelief, nothing happened. Everyone else followed. He approached the woman and slapped her to snap out of it. She shrieked in fear. Adronsius stepped to her, shooting a warning glance at Tyrn’kog as he walked by him. He calmed her screaming down, and told the others that her name was Mirtala. She was a cook at the Red Door Inn. Lucifer noticed that the Raven Queen’s statue was holding a scythe emiting magical energy. He decided to chop off the statue’s arms for the weapon to drop on the ground and claim it for his own. The heroes took Mirtala and returned to the previous room, then went up the stairs.
They walked through a corridor and came to a door. Suddenly, they noticed, the air had grown colder, and there was frosting on the door. They tried to listen through the door and heared a sound of jaws gnawing. They knew something was on the other side. Taking battle formation, the opened the door and stormed in.
Then they saw the horror. Three rotten, unliving bodies were squating over a human body at the corner of the room. The man’s face had an expression of sheer terror engraved on his face. Tears streaming from his eyes were frozen on his cheeks. Parts of his body were missing, his stomach opened by teeth and nails. Adronsius managed to tell Mirtala to stay back before he vomited seeing this gore, then charged in along with the others. The cold coming from the undead bodies was unnatural, and they would surely freeze to death if they stayed in this room for too long. Rhasgar took up on two of the zombies, while Barthum held away the other one. The paladin was being ravaged by the hungry corpses, but in a demonstration of great valor, he kept standing. Tyrn’kog partly dominated one of Rhasgar’s adversaries, while the others took down the third. Then they all ganked up on the other two until they both fell.
Adronsius took a closer look at the half eaten body in the corner. His eyes opened wide when he saw a golden lion on the man’s tabard.
“Kartenix! My god…”
April 10, 2012 14:32
It was a typical evening at the tavern of Antler and Thristle. The light coming through the windows was crimson-red, as the sun had just hidden itself behind the Stonehome Mountains.
A group of three humans were playing cards in the corner. Apparently not too intrested in concealing their hand, they talked loudly and moved their hands around, shouting praises at the barmaid’s juicy bits. A dwarf was sitting alone at the bar, drinking and sharing stories with the bartender. At the tables, an exotic looking man sat silent, covered in full plate armor. His eyes were closed, his lips moving barely, probably quietly inciting a prayer. Two mysterious figures were at another table, shrouded in cloaks. The patrons could swear they hadn’t exchanged a single word the whole time they were there. Another pair of males were sitting at the table closest to the door, talking as if afraid to be heard by others, but loud enough to be heard nonetheless.
“So what if the trading caravans are late; that has happened countless times! What bothers me is the Farstriders. What was so important that made them leave the city overnight without telling anyone?”
“I don’t know about you… but I’ve heard rumors that war is coming from the west.”
“Horseshit! That’s rumors spread by the council to have an excuse for asking us to pay such ridiculous taxes for the military… If they knew that war is coming, why don’t they tell us who we’re at war with…?”
Suddenly all the talking and drinking came to a halt. Screams and clashes of steel could be heard from the outside. Footsteps running towards the tavern could be heard, accompanied by warcries of not human throats. Four shadows darted by the window. A moment of silence; then the door came crashing into the room, broken into a dozen pieces. A group of hobgoblins entered the tavern, an upside down Red Hand symbol worn on their armor.
“For Sinruth! For the Hand!” they cried.
The two men on the table by the door were slain before they made a sound. A goblin entered the tavern shouting curses and threw a torch behind the bar. The bottles of liquor exploded. The fire started spreading inside the room, the bartender being trapped behind the bar counter. Another hobgoblin ran towards the barmaid and headlocked her, then threw her through one of the windows, shattering the glass. The card players screamed in terror as they stood, their legs stiff as wood from fear. The dwarf finished his drink, as he thought wasting beer is worse than insulting one’s clan, and picked up his hammer. He ran to the nearest hobgoblin and bashed its head, its helmet flying off and striking against the wall. The armor-clad man ran to the bar.
“Quick! Take my hand!” he shouted, reaching his hand to the bartender. The man grabbed it and was pulled over the counter. Not able to keep his balance however, he came crashing down on the floor on the other side of it. The shrouded pair rose in perfect unison. There was harmony in their movements, as if it was a choreography practiced a thousand times. One picked up a staff leaning next to him on the table, his head turned towards the hobgoblins. It opened its arms, silently chanting in a language unknown to mortal men. Suddenly the hobgoblins started tearing the flesh from their faces with their own claws, screaming in agony and horror. The other pulled a scythe from his back, its size too big to be used for harvesting crops. It too spoke in a bizarre language, swinging the grim weapon to shave the goblin’s head clean off its shoulders.
Two of the card players, seeing the oportunity to escape rushed to the exit, only to be cut down by more hobgoblins and a goblin pouring into the room. The goblin threw another torch, the fire consuming the whole building second by second. A pair of hobgoblins attacked the robed figures slashing and injuring them. Another charged the kneeling bartender who was just saved from the flames and broke his spine with its flail. The heavy armored man, seeing the injustice of slaying innocents before him, was consumed with righteous fury. His blade gave the creature a clean death. The dwarf, seeing his cloaked allies in pain, motioned with his hand and glowing runes appeared under their robes relieving them of their injuries. The scythe went up, then down. A right arm and a big part of a hobgoblin’s torso hit the floor, while the remaining goblin slit its on throat laughing maniacly as the creature holding the staff waved its hand in a commanding manner. The only remaining patron seized the opportunity and fled, leaving all the money on the table behind. The four combatants hurried outside too, before the building collapsed on top of them.
In the city streets, chaos reigned. The sun had set, but bright warm light was emitted by buildings that were burning to the ground. Dead bodies and streams of blood littered the streets. The hobgoblins were killing and burning and pillaging everything in sight. But the real threat just presented itself, coming from around the corner. A massive beast was pulling a wagon filled with explosive barrels, throwing them on buildings and setting them on fire. On top of the wagon rode two hobgoblins, one handing the barrels to the ogre, the other firing arrows at everyone who got near.
The ogre caught sight of the group in front of the burning tavern and threw a barrel at them. The barrel exploded a little off target, but the fire it created was dangerous still. The party barricaded themselves in a nearby building, as they knew the couldn’t fight the beast up close.
The hobgoblins saw them enter and decided to leave none alive. They tried to enter, but their way was blocked by the paladin and the dwarf. The paladin was struck badly and fell to the ground, dying. The dwarf killed one of them. Then, to his surprise, he felt a force pull him towards the window. The ogre! It had come from the side of the building and it was trying to take them out and break them one by one. The other hobgoblin was killed by the staff wielding man, while the one holding the scythe struck the ogre‘s hand, helping the dwarf escape his grasp. Then he attacked again, burrying the blade of his scythe into the monster’s shoulderblade and pulling him inside through he window. The ogre was too big to fit through, so it was stuck there. Just as they were ready to finish it off, four arrows pierced its neck and it stopped breathing. The town guard had come to their aid; though not at the most critical moment.
“We’re driving them off! Quickly! To the bridge!” they shouted.
The party brought the paladin back into conciousness and followed the guards to the town market, where the hobgoblins could be seen in the distance fleeing the city. The raid had been repeled. A higher ranked memeber of the guard approached them and thanked them for everything they had done. He didn’t hesitate to show how impressed he was for how they handled the ogre. He asked them to go rest for the night and assured them that their deeds would not go unrewarded. Everyone agreed, except for the paladin, introducing himself as Damianrath Lucius, who insisted on helping tend to the injured. The guard proposed the Red Door Inn, one of the few remaining buildings, as their place of lodging. Then the rest of the party went on their way.
The Council Summons
The next morning the heroes were contacted by a half-elf woman named Alys. She informed them that a member of the Brindol Council, named Lord Eoffram Troyas had summoned them to discuss an important matter.
When they arrived at the Lord’s Mansion, Lord Troyas was in an argument with a man of obvious noble descent and authority.
“I can’t believe how they left the night before this happened! Would you consider it coincidence? The only people who could protect us and bring this mission to an end!” said the man.
“Lord Jarmaan, speculation won’t do us any good at the time. I don’t know if it’s coincidence or not, neither do I care. We have a situation on our hands, and we need to act now.”
“Fine! But mark my words Troyas, you better get results or by the Gods I will hunt those Farstriders down and lock them up for life! And that’s if I’m having a VERY good day!”
Then the man stormed out of the room, not sparing a glance at the party.
Lord Troyas turned to the group and introduced himself. He then expressed his gratitude for the valor they had shown the previous day and asked of them to introduce themselves. The dwarf’s name was Thor Thunderbeard. The shrouded duet lowered their hoods and under them were hidden two very peculiar faces, definitely not human. One was a deva, a celestial race. His name was Lucifer Lightbringer. The other was a shardmind, named Corrigan.
Lord Troyas, unimpressed, informed them that several people were considered missing, probably abducted during the raid. Also some relics were stolen from the Hall of Great Valor. He offered them a mission to rescue the prisoners and retrieve the stolen relics. For that deed they would be rewarded handsomely. The heroes accepted, and Troyas reffered them to the barrack’s dungeons, where a hobgoblin captured during the raid was being held prisoner. Finally he asked them to return to him for further details of the assignment after the interrogation.
The dungeons were cold and dump. A guard pointed them to the interrogation room. Two guards were standing at attention inside the room. The heroes started interrogating the hobgoblin, who said his name was Morrik. At first he was being taunting and provocative, but Lucifer’s sudden action to slam him against the wall changed that. The guards, however, were not as happy about that.
“Do that one more time and you’ll be rotting in the cell next to him! We need the prisoner alive and in good health.” he said, putting his hand on the grip of his sword.
Morrik decided that the odds would be in his favor if he cooperated. He told them about his fearsome leader Sinruth and how he wanted to revive the once great Red Hand army under his banner. He also told them of their hideout, Rivenroar castle, which was located on the edge of Marth Forest, at the foot of Giantshield Mountains. He made a crude map with directions to the castle, with many intentional back-and-forths in hope they will get killed on their way there.
The heroes left the dungeons and were on their way to Lord Troyas, to receive the details of their mission…