Scales of War


Heavy cloud hung over the city like a blanks, with soft drizzle keeping the dawn a hazy grey. In his lodgings in the Blister, a drowsy figure lay in a half awake state being lulled back into sleep by the gentle rain. As he drifted off, he wondered what had woken him up. And there it was. A gentle tapping from outside, dampened by the haze. It could be anything, rain dripping from the roof’s gutters, a delivery person making their early morning rounds, or even..

Tap tap. This time louder, and definitely coming from the locked window outside. Snapping instantly awake, and every muscle poised for action, mind racing on what, or who it could be. His presence here was not widely known, but anyone who did know knew not to fuck with him. Tap tap tap it came again, the window frame rattling as someone tried to get inside. Sensing the presence of his weapon across the room, the swordmaster called it to his hand as he leapt from the bed. In the same instant, he focused his body to rush through the air, becoming immaterial. Picking a spot on the eaves of the window, Cutter re-materialised, sword poised to strike. The source of the tapping turned, looked at him with its yellow avian eyes, and Cutter lowered his sword and stared at the raven. It opened its mouth but instead of the piercing caw like so many that infested the city, a familiar voice spoke.

“Cutter… is time I called in the favour you owe me. Gather your allies at my tower at dusk” said the gravely voice of Rufus Crumley. And with that, the bird took flight in the direction of the slums.

“Well shit” he said aloud, as he climbed back through the window. Instinctively Cutters hand went to the patch of skin he’d had grafted to his back. He’d always known there would be a price to pay for the tattoo, and truth be told, the old man had come in handy with Kalad. The problem, was timing.

Bill had left Overlook and was very brief on the details on where he would be. Cutter suspected it had to do with that dwarven temple, but all he had said was that he would return when ready. He left over a month ago, he was probably a million miles away by now! Glenn too had disappeared without a trace. The aftermath of the siege of Overlook had meant a lot of time to relax and refit, so it had not mattered much….until now.

Luckily Cohen and Dexter we back from the wilds. Although they’d found a solid lead on Sarshan, this detour would mean that he would have to wait. Hopefully they would still be at the Mountains Hearth Inn. If not, well someone there would know where to find them. Cutter pulled his boots on, and stepped out of his lodgings into the crisp morning air. Strolling down the rough cobbled streets, the change in scenery was dramatic. You’d hardly guess that a few short months ago the city was almost ruined by Zithuruun’s army. It was a testament to the Dwarves how quickly the recovery effort started up. Durkik had more than his fair share to do with it too. Everywhere you went you saw his influence in the organised crews, methodically working their way, from the inner districts out. Ironic, as that was the same way Zithuruun had planned on capturing Overlook.

And it had almost succeeded. If it wasn’t for one suspicious priestess, they never would have found out about the doppelganger s. Even now they still didn’t know how many there had been. All one had to do was change its appearance and they became just another face in the crowd, lost in the multitude that was the Overlook populace. Again, working from the inside out.

Arriving at the Inn Cutter stepped through the open doorway into a scene of utter chaos. Chairs and tables were broken, shattered glass littered the floor and the stench of ale stung Cutter’s nostrils. That was good news, it meant Cohen had spent the night. Tiptoeing over sleeping (and possibly comatose) dwarfs, Cutter made his way upstairs to Cohens lodging. The door was locked, but a solid kick had it flying back on its hinges as he stumbled into the room. Just in time Cutter’s sword leapt from its sheath and into the path of an enormous barbarian axe. It sure took a lot to surprise Cohen, as the two comrades ginned between their interlocking blades.

“Get you shit together Cohen” Cuttter said, disengaging his blade. “We’ve got a debt to pay”

Going full circle

With a grunt the mighty barbarian swung his gilded axe, neatly separating a trolls head from it shoulders. The grotesque carcass slumped to the ground, and just as all before, the sinews and skin began to repair themselves.
“Fire. Over here. Now!” he commanded, and 2 burly dwarves carrying lighted torches applied the flames to the beasts skin. The healing process abruptly stalled, this skin all over the body frying and turning black. A gust of wind blew through the copse of trees and swiftly scattered the charcoal remains. The head remained, and with glee the barbarian drew a dagger and sliced off an ear, stuffing it into a pouch on his belt. Scanning the surrounds, all around him hammers and axes fell on prone troll bodies, hacking them apart and throwing them on bonfires to crisp up in the chilly morning air.

In a corner of the glade lay several dwarves being ministered to by clerics and medics. As they passed by, each muttered words of ministration to heal their brethren, or beseeched Moradin to accept the soul of the fallen. Many of his brothers had fought and died valiantly, and tonight the glade would ring out with stories of their bravery. But this knowledge did little to lighten the burden of command off the barbarian’s shoulders.

“Cohen” a voice called out, snapping him back to reality. “There’s one still alive here”

His lumbering strides crossed the glade quickly where a man in a cloak of leaves held his staff to a cloaked figures throat. Two stout dwarves had the creatures arms pinned, while a third clutched his abdomen where a bright red stain was spreading.

“Tis nought but a wee scratch commandah” the dwarf responded to Cohen’s enquiring eyes. Again he was reminded of just how tough these men are. Earlier one of his clan brothers had swung viciously at a trolls neck, all while the troll savagely bit through his armour like it were paper.

For now though, the hooded humanoid had Cohen’s attention. Dexter pulled back the hood to reveal a shadar-kai. Its nose had been broken, and it was coughing up blood, but the creature was to suffer a whole new level of pain. Cohen’s interrogation tended to be short and sharp. After all, there were only so many limbs.

Dexter too knew his part in this. He removed his staff, and Cohen placed his large boot on the creature’s chest, and applied pressure. A dwarf smiled an evil grin, and released its right arm into Cohen’s vice like grip. Staring intently into the Shadar-Kai’s eyes, the pupils quickly dilated, and it almost screamed fear. News like Cohen gets around fast.

“I make this simple for you” Cohen said. “We ask, you answer. We no like answer? I take arm.”

The Shadar-kai nodded, and Dexter stepped in to handle all the big words. The questioning was short, and the pressure Cohen applied didn’t ease up for a moment, but when they were done there was another body for the bonfire, and a name.

“So Sarshan is still pulling the strings it would seem” Dexter said. Cohen merely grunted. His time with the dwarfs had rubbed off on him, and he rubbed his clan ring at the thought of settling the score.

“We’ve been ripping arms off for months now, but we still don’t have a location, or any solid leads on Sarshan. I daresay it might be time to return to Overlook, and rethink our plan”

Around the pair, dwarves within earshot were suddenly paying a lot more attention. Though none had spoken it, all were suffering the effects of a long guerrilla campaign. Plus the wilderness had no ale houses.

“Agreed” Cohen replied, nodding in affirmation. “Troops need rest, supplies low.” He turned to address his soldiers.

“Break camp at first light. We head for home.”

Down time......all the way down....

On the fringes of the Elsir Vale, hidden in the pre dawn gloom, the predator silently pushed through the thick undergrowth. Though the land was infested with danger, the predator held no fear of them. He alone was the most dangerous creature stalking around at this time of night. Ahead he could already smell the faint wood smoke of habitation, his goal was close. The rank smell of sweat guided him in further, until, shielded by thick grass, he spotted the sentry ahead of him. The creature wore a motley collection of armour, scavenged from its foes over months of fighting, it’s hair matted with blood and dust. Patiently, the predator observed the guard for signs of alertness, for although it was still dark, the creature had a strong night vision. Slinking behind a fallen tree, the predator slipped into the sentry’s periphery, and into the camp undetected. The predator knew he had to be quick. Already the camp was starting to stir, and dawn would approach soon. Dodging between rows of tents and sleeping soldiers, the predator reached his destination. With guards sleeping around him sat his quarry; silently staring into the slowly burning ash of a camp fire sat the leader of this force

“You took your time” said the seated figure, without turning around. “though I’m not surprised”
“In a rush are we Cohen?” growled the predator “I’d like to see you try sneaking up on band of trolls without making a sound. Hell, if you could eat with your mouth closed I’d be shocked”
Ever so slowly, it dawned on the barbarian he’d been insulted, but before he could react the beast had morphed into the more well known shape of Dexter the druid. He staff already striking out at the dwarves still asleep. “Wake up you lazy sods, there’s trolls not 10 minutes march from here!” he said, as the sleeping dwarf now wide awake grabbed his hammer to attack at this sudden foe.

Rising swifter than his bulk would imply, Cohen hefted his large war axe, and effortlessly blocked the blow. “Muster up my brothers, there is a much to do to fulfil the oaths to our ancestors…..and let none escape the vale”

The Broken General

As the 2 parties engaged, Cohen rushed at one of the dragonborn soldiers, and so did the rest of the party choose to kill it quickly. Cutter moved into a position between the melee heavy barbarian, and his ranged allies, in an attempt to cover both groups. The firebelcher spat a gout of flame at Cohen and Cutter, while a third dragonborn snuck quietly from the shadows and flanked the party.

Spotting the group that foiled his plans in the temple, Zithuruun directed his dragon to land, and dismounted, his silver sabre cutting into Glenn and Bill. The dragon too found itself in the rear line, and breathed a noxious plume of decay, almost striking Glenn down, whilst Bill narrowly dodged it’s effects. Seeing his friends in trouble, Cutter distracted Zithuruun and the dragon to attack him, and paid for it in a costly way, both of them managing to wound the swordmage again and again.

Seeing the group outnumbered, Glenn summoned 2 firey companions to assist the group, a magma beast and flaming sphere, who tied up the dragonborn lurker until its demise. Meanwhile Cohen hewed into the soldier attacking him, and Bill erected a wall of spinning blades to cut through his attackers.

Both Zithuruun and the dragon took to the sky, the later hovering near a house to smash tiles into Bill and Cutter. Taking the cue from Glenn, Bill also summoned a iron hound, to herd the dragon into the spinning blades again and again. The dragon again pursued Cutter who turned his attentions to the firebelcher, and were it not for some masterful blocking and dodging, he would certainly have fallen to it’s blows.

However once Cohen got free of his opponent, he unleashed his built up rage, beheading the broken general. In his berserker rage, he threw himself into combat against the dragon, hacking its neck from its shoulders. With the two major threats dealt with, the firebelcher put up little resistance, and with a cheer from the nearby buildings, and the sky filled with exploding green flares, the defenders of the earth stood triumphant.

In the aftermath, the council of elders invite you to a great celebratory feast in your honour, and count up the cost of Zithuruun’s attack.

Lavinya abandons the temple and instead takes over Haelyn’s duties at the shrine. “If this is where the people wish to pray,” she tells you, “then who am I to tell them otherwise? Erathis needs no stone walls, merely the hearts and souls of those who would bring civilisation and culture to the world. Haelyn understood this long ago,” she adds with a sad smile. “I wish I’d not taken so long to learn it myself.”

Durkik, experienced a reawakening of faith. His time of confinement and torture, followed by his rescue at your hands and his survival of the siege, have caused him to re-evaluate the previous years. From a beaten-down, tired, and increasingly corrupt politician, he returns to his younger identity as a devout priest of Moradin. In helping to turn him around, you have gained a grateful and powerful ally, and you have done great good to the religious community of Overlook as a whole. This is particularly important, considering that the high priests of other temples were suborned by the githyanki, and their replacements are all younger and inexperienced. Over the next months, Durkik emerges as a spiritual leader for the entire city.

And thus does the curtain fall on the heroic tier. Greater dangers and challenges await, as those behind the githyanki’s efforts plot their vengeance and advance schemes of which the you have not yet learned. But for now, at least, you have earned some rest and the acclaim of Overlook’s citizenry.

Stopping Zithuruun

After resting in the nearby barracks you pushed deeper into the temple, to a massive chamber with glass floors and a portal to the astral sea. More trolls and temple guardians blocked your way, however the general himself quickly fled. Dispatching the trolls and Eidolon, then searching the display rooms below, you came across the caretaker. Though he had gone slightly mad from torture, your ministration were able to rouse him. As he came to his senses, his beard and hair erupted in flame, his skin taking on a copper tone. He explained that though he was once a dwarf, he was now an Azer, and had left his previous life behind to take on his new role. He thanked you for rescuing him, and then asked again for help in sanctifying the temple.

Father Bill stepped forward offering his own coin to cast the ritual. With that completed, the sound of hammers striking an anvil could be heard, and the darkness retreated from the shadows in the temple. The caretaker then sent you back to the stone anvil to prepare for the assault on the city.

Meeting with the leaders of the city, they asked you for advice in formulating a battle plan. Troops were to be equipped with fire, mages to identify spots of trouble, and streets and barricades erected to slow their advance. As you left, Morgoff handed you a sending stone, so he could direct you to the areas needing the most fortification. With limited time before the assault, some checked on Rufus, safely ensconced in his tower, others did some last minute equipment was purchased before the first red flare went up over Tradetown. Rushing to the scene, they found a number of buildings on fire, and 3 winged beasts flying overhead. The populace fled, with the steets aflame, while the beasts moved in to attack. With the fire spreading, Glenn threw up a protective aura over his allies to prevent anything but the most intense heat, allowing them to wade through the flames, and strike down the beasts.

In the aftermath of the fight, just as the group was ready to move off, another flare went up, and the voice of Morgoff Stonefist called you to the walls where a breach had been made. Rushing through the streets, you passed soldiers striking down trolls, and Durkik reading from the Incubulum to blast soldiers attacking the dwarven defenders. Just as you began to flag, and run out of steam, the sound of hammers striking anvils gave you new heart.

Arriving at the wall, you found 4 trolls had broken through, with a massive battering ram made from a tree trunk. 2 were heavily armoured, and slashed at anyone they came near, while another with 2 heads clawed left and right. The smallest sat a the rear throwing javelins and spitting acid. With flames dancing from his fingertips, Glenn unleashed fire on the trolls, ensuring the trolls did not rise again.

As you caught your breath, another red flare went up, and Morogoff directed you to a nearby plaza. Upon arriving you spotted a number of corpses littering the streets, and two vicious looking dragonborn escorting a red wingless dragon like beast. A roar from overhead drew your attention upwards. Soaring overhead was a large dragon, its scales greyed with age, riding the thermals of the fires around the city. Mounted on the dragon, sat the cloaked figure of General Zithuruun, his armour a harness holding his broken body together, though the malice in his eyes clear as he directed the dragon in your direction…

The Mountainroot Temple

Durkik led you through the Stone Anvil temple to a hidden passageway, the secret entrance to the Mountainroot temple. Here he parted, and left you. In a long chamber, iron chandeliers hung from the ceiling, and statues of Moradin with raven’s perched on his shoulders flanked a delicate silver filigree. It depicted Moradin at work in his forge, but as you approached the head turned, and questioned your worthiness to enter the temple. After some brief convincing, father Bill judged himself worthy, and attempted to walk through the filigree. It barred him, and three chandeliers fell from the ceiling, their chains writhing into guardians of the portal.

The portal then granted you access, and whisked you off to the Temple in the Stonehome mountains. You arrived in a meeting room, with a large central dais, and entrances to other portal scattered around the room. As you entered these became barred, preventing you returning to Overlook. Some fey also had the same idea, as a couple of Spriggan’s, harpies, and an animated cobra guardian attacked. They were dispatched, and faced with 3 possible avenues, the party ventured down the less travelled corridor.

This route had been partially caved in, from some earthquake decades or even centuries ago, but soon opened out into a chapel of sorts. Climbing a crevice to access it, you were confronted by more fey, Cyclops, banshrae, and what appeared to be, the temple caretaker imprisoned. The cyclops’ attempted to push pillars on the party, and start the roof caving in, but were dispatched. Seeing this, the caretaker escaped her cage, and revealed her true identity, a hideous hag. They were dispatched, and on the altar, the Incubulum Primeaval was retrieved. Thumbing through a few pages, it was clear it was written in dwarven, and despite Bill being fluent, the runes and language were very old, and thus indecipherable.

Cutting through the barracks, the group came across a large chamber that had been rocked by rock falls. More fey occupied this room, but it wasn’t long before the party was interrupted by a mess of trolls breaking down the far doors, and attacking both groups. After a long, hard fought battle, fey were dead, and the trolls we piles of ashes. Cohen claimed a trolls axe as his own, and Bill retrieved a holy sceptre.

Missing person...

Upon arriving at the Divine Knot, the first thing that stood out was the repair work being done to the temple of Moradin. Dwarven tradesmen bustled around the place, putting into stark contrast the other decrepit houses of worship. As Amyria went to pray at the temple to Pelor, you were greeted by a grandmotherly priestess called Lavynia. She put forward a desperate plea for help about her missing friend, Haelyn, another priestess to Avandra from the small shrine in Tradetown. She mentioned that a new priest had taken over, and said that Haelyn was on a spiritual retreat.

Arriving in Tradetown, you found the replacement, Grovald, to be very shifty indeed. But because it was broad daylight, and Lavynia pleaded with you to spare shedding blood, you left, and went back to her for more advice. Lavynia mentioned the other priests in the divine knot were acting strange as well, as if they didn’t recognise her. This even included Durkik Forgeheart, High Ancestor of Moradin. Even her pleas to the authorities fell on deaf ears.

Knowing that time was of the essence, you all split up to cover ground more quickly. Father Bill trotted over to the temple of Moradin for a look, and was almost immediately accosted by some of the Hammerfist clan, who were there carrying out the repairs. They quickly called over their security, none other than the Freeriders, now bitter that their successes have gone unnoticed. Luckily, before a fight could escalate, an elderly dwarvern priest by the name of Ancestor Karros ushered you outside, and calmed the situation down. He too was aware of Durkik’s strange actions, including repairing the temple when money could be better spent elsewhere.

A similar story was found from the other priests in the Divine Knot. All claimed ignorance, and yet were very apathetic despite their presumed holy nature. For Dexter, this really hit home at the Stone Anvil, the grand temple to Moradin. He was forcibly ejected by Durkik’s guards, although they weren’t happy about it.

As night fell, the team decided to snoop around Grovald’s cottage to see what they could find out, and maybe get a look in Haelyn’s too. As you arrived at the shrine, Grovald and his cronies launched an attack. Most were merely thugs, but as one hired assassin hit the ground, his physical features contorted into a plain grey face, a shape shifter! After dispatching the cronies, you kept Grovald alive for questioning and some casual torture. He revealed how he killed Haelyn and buried her behind the fountain. You also found a half burned note, with special instructions from a mysterious General. Grovald revealed him as Zithuruun, a shadowy human figure with glowing armour. With anger in check, you took him to the watch for “justice”. Kalad wasn’t there, but Captain Aerun was, and he begrudgingly took the prisoner, and then blasted you for interfering. Sensing he was quite the jerk, you followed him from the watch house, to Ale house where he met with a conspirator, and then on to a warehouse. Unfortunately, you must have given your presence away as there was a reception waiting for you.

Cohen sped things up by unleashing the earthquake dragon (uncovering more doppelgangers), and then insisted on searching all the boxes in the warehouse. Several hours later, you had found a trapdoor to the basement, where the real Durkik was being held prisoner. The ingenious trap was no match for Cutter’s teleports. And Durkik was quickly rescued. He explained how doppelgangers had been impersonating key city officials, whereas others (like Aerun) had been possessed, killing the host in the process.

He also told the story of the Mountainroot temple, and how he had learned that General Zithuruun had planned to use it as a back door into Overlook, through the Stone Anvil. With no time to waste, you set off for the Stone Anvil, with a mission to save the city from certain destruction.

There and back again...

Following Amyria’s instructions, you cleared out the old Githyanki temple, and found in the guard rooms a Dark Creeper, leading Gnolls in the art of warfare. Apparently not well enough, as they were all cut down (except 2 archers that fled) and Cutter took for himself the Gnoll leaders weaping, a barbed longsword.

Advancing into the grand chamber, you all came face to face with the Gnoll leader, fangren, on top of a pyramid surrounded by his followers, and the results of his cruel experiments. Behind him swung a dark portal into the elemental chaos, his ritual with the Beast of Butchery interrupted. Turning to face you, he commanded his underlings to attack, and that they did. After a bloody and brutal battle, Fangren was cut down, Yeenoghu’s power faded, and with the ritual Amyria taught you, you were able to seal the portal and free her from her trappings in the platinum sword.

Unfortunately in the process, she lost most of her memory, and only recalled being in the sword, and that you rescued her. Feeling the need for divine guidance, Bill introduced her to the church of Pelor, and seeking the masses, you all trekked back to Overlook.

When reach the city gates, you were met with crossbows, until someone on the ramparts recognized you, and Captain Aerun called you over to discuss recent goings on. Apparently, since the fall of Overlook the walls were being strengthened in both manpower and stone. This was being done as a precaution, as the temporary camp put up near the ruins of Overlook hadn’t recieved any major attacks, and the soldiers there sat idle most of the time.

Bidding him good day, you all trekked off to the Divine Knot, and the abandoned temple of Pelor, where this leg of the journey began. However, as you turned into the Nine Bells district…….

Unfriendly homecoming

As the party entered the city through the south gate they decided to split up to do different things. Cutter, with his demon in tow, made a bee line for Shantytown and Crumley’s tower, along with Glenn and Dexter. Father Bill went to Tradetown to do some shopping, while Cohen went home to the Mountain’s Hearth Inn….to find the building in flames. In a furious street fight, with the help of Kalad, Reniss, and some of the Farstriders, the attackers were decimated. Unfortunatley, not before Alys and Reggen had been kidnapped, forcing the Defenders to pursue them. Along the way Gilgathorn gave some friendly advice about a bounty on their head, and that it was surely a trap. Upon walking into the trap, a furious fight in the abandoned temple of Pelor ended in 2 rescued women, and some dead assassins.

In the following days, Cohen, putting all his mental power to the test, worked to rebuild the Mountains Hearth Inn. Through the pride of the dwarves he managed to shame them into action, and when the last patch of paint had dried, was inducted into the clan Oathseeker.

From there the party was informed of kidnappngs around Brindol again, this time by Gnolls. Cutter had unfinished business there, so off they went, meeting up with a patrol along the way looking for some of the Gnolls.

Arriving in town, they met with Sertanian, who helped unlock the voice from the sword, a mysterious woman named Amyria. She told them of a cult of Yeenoghu that had awoken her in teh elemental chaos through a dark ritual, and beseeched them to stop his plans before it was too late. At that moment they were ambushed by bounty hunters, led by Modra, warped and twisted by the dark foundry he was left to die in. Killing them, the party found the bounty had been increase to 2,500 gold, when Gilgathorn made another appearance, decapitating the last foe.

Led by the sword, the party searched for the lost Fortress Graystone, but along the way, encountered some cunning traps set to waylay them. Arriving, they fought through the guards to find the captured villagers. All they could say was that occasionally, some people would be taken off, and never seen again…..

The secret of the Ironfel fortress

Exploring the rest of the fortress you discovered the Warden’s quarters, and more followers of the Queen of the sands. Delving further into the mine uncovered a prisoner, an old man with 7 yellow canaries. Although he uttered no words, his friendly demeanor and innocent charm stopped any harm against him. Clearing out the rooms upstairs you finally came face to face with the queen…
Well, that’s what she would have you believe, yet you were too canny and saw through her disguise, revealing the dryad in disguise. Cutting her and her bodyguards down, you hunkered down to rest in some upstairs quarters. However during the night a patrol came by to spoil your sleep, but it was they who took eternal rest.
It was then you found a trail of yellow feathers, which led to a secret passage below the cells. Of the Birdman, there was no sign. But troglodytes, YES! Dispatching them led you to the cause of the mines downfall, veins of elemental chaos infesting the mineral rich rock. Following it’s path led you to the true queen of the sands, Shephitah. Guarding a portal to the elemental chaos, and resting on a nest of skulls, her demonic and elemental bodyguards challenged your skill, but ultimately were slain. In her death throes her tail flung a ring into the elemental chaos. Cutter, having no fear dove in to retrieve it, and in the process unlocked a voice within his platinum sword, asking for help.


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