Scales of War

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.

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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…….

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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…..

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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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Moving on....

So, the update after 2 sessions….
Meeting your mysterious visitors you found that Reniss escaped the Shadowfel in one piece, and that you had been summoned to speak with the high council of Overlook.

Bram Ironfell, Morgoff Stonefist, and Cadrick sent you off in search of the long lost Karak Lode Mine, the legacy of Bram’s clan, to help fund the war effort in the Vale. To guide you, they translated clues from a book you found in Sarshan’s library. Sending you off, you traveled south west to the Thornwaste, a massive area of thick thorny vines, and jagged rocky outcroppings. There you met a wanderer by the name of Mag Blackthorn, a disciple of the Druid lich Ghostlord. He helped you guys along, and left you as you exited…..right into a dwarven ambush. The dwarves were from the Hammerfist clan….though speculation as to who was behind the attacks is rife. Anyways, you reached the town of Dunesend, which served as a caravan point between overlook and the Karak mine. The town had been abandoned and forgotten by all, except a new threat out of the desert. In town stood a massive gnoll, and his pet behir (a large snakelike beast). The gnoll, who called himself the Warden, was demanding tribute from the townspeople from a mysterious Queen of the sands.

So taking the initiative, the party attacked, and killed the behir (after it swallowed Dexter), and captured the Warden with Crumley’s silver collar. Leaving him with the townsfolk (who were very happy about torturing the poor bastard), you set off into the the harsh desert sands.

An arduous trek though the desert saw you waylaid by a screeching hag, and 3 razorclaws, though they were less a threat than the harsh heat, and the fierce desert winds. Thankfully you made it through, via Father Bills sacrifice for his friends, and soon came to Fortress Ironfel, the keep built over the entrance to the Karak Lode mine. On approach, Dexter spotted dark figures in front of arrow slits, and cautiously you attempted to sneak in. The guards were on alert, and quickly trapped you between two iron gates. That was little match for Cutter, teleporting through arrow slits, to find all but 1 of the dark figures, were dummy’s. Meanwhile, guards above rained magic and javelins upon you, while hulkish Troglodyte brutes beat you into a corner with their massive clubs. A perfect spot for Glenn to unleash fiery magic upon the guards, as slowly and surely, they were beaten down.

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Rest & Recovery

The following morning you are woken up by knocking on your doors, and Reggen bustles in with a hearty breakfast for each of you. The plates are piled high with grilled steaks of an unknown meat, and a hard bread. Reggen sees you eyeing it suspiciously, and answers your unspoken question.
“bear steaks” she says. “He was an old bugger but I got him cheap from the skinners. And as a real treat you’ve got my best dwarf bread! Nothing but the finest for the heroes of the Shadowfel. In fact this loafs been in my family for near 200 years!”
The bear steaks are nutritious and tough, but compared to the dwarf bread they’re as tender as the finest wagyu fillet. “When you’re done, there’s a couple of lass’ downstairs in the bar waitin fer yer” she adds.

As you make your way downstairs, you’re greeted by a chorus of cheers and well wishes from the various patrons already in the Mountains Hearth Inn. It would seem that Reggen is profiting well well from her offer of free accommodation. There are even extra staff carrying drinks and serving food. Reggen points to one corner, where a young woman in a hooded cloak is sitting on her own. A mug of ale is in her hand, and she is spinning a coin with an unusual symbol around on the table.
“She showed up not long after you all disappeared chasing that Modra fella” Reggen explains. Prashant over at the Happy Beggar sent her here, seemed like she had been trying to track you down for a while. Weird ting is, she won’t giver her name, don’t talk to anyone, just sits down over a mug all day waitin’, then disappears at night. Shifty, to say the least. The other one came in yesterday, and seems to know a lot about you."
Reggen directs your attention to the bar where Reniss is standing with a small group, clearly sharing stories of your adventure.

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The Obsidian Tower

After a very thorough search of Sarshan’s private library, you found a swathe of reading material including:

  • A book in Dwarven titled “The Mines of Karak”
  • Another regarding the Gods, with a brief description of each
  • A scroll written in deep speak, containing a ritual
  • Another tome regarding portals between the shadowfel and the real world.

Some earthquakes ended this search, and you then found an emissary and some of Sarshan’s guards having an argument about a deal gone bad. Looking to interrupt you then opened a can on them…only to find out it was the crady dazing ghost again. After tearing them apart, you set to work searching the nearby rooms. Most had nothing of value, though there were some of Sarshan’s scribes who were very willing to join you, and some sages who weren’t, but were persuaded to join. Lastly, some Gnolls had taken residence in a guest room, and on their corpses you found a diplomatic message from Sarshan, welcoming them into his empire, and telling him the supplies he requested had been sent.

After all that was done, you floated your way upstairs into Sarshan’s garden, and found some beetles to fight, along with a creepy portal. After killing the beetles, the party was accosted by the rest of Sarshan’s guards and then the man himself showed up, through the portal…..only you had met him before. Brenat, the bum in the Happy Beggar was actually Sarshan. Anyways, he thanked you for killing Modra, and offered you join him saying “the world will not be a happy place soon”. You accepted, however Thanuu, the captain of the guard didn’t believe you. After another quake, the foundry started to explode, and most of the guards left to investigate. You decided to try and escape, however Thanuu and his pet panthers were in your way. The panthers went down without too much trouble, though Thanuu was able to escape through the garden portal.

Reconfiguring the portal, you stepped through, into the black shrine next to the Shadowfel gate. The portal then died, but out of it came 5 spectres, who then followed you back into the real world. Just as you managed to defeat them, reinforcements arrived, in the form of Captain Aerun, Kalad (now a member of the watch) and 6 other burly Dwarf watchmen. Jubilant at your successes, they carried you out of the Happy Beggar, back to Reggen’s inn. as they laid you in your beds for a well deserved rest, Kalad mentioned there were two young ladies looking to speak with them in the morning.

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Into the Shadowfel

So while chilling in Overlook, you were attacked again by the Lost Ones, after the brass key you found in the vents. After some looking around and questioning, youfound that a chap named Modra was behind the attacked. It was then you were joined by a Half Elf ranger, the sister of Jen (of the Farstriders). She too had heard of Modra through Jen’s sending stone, and had heard of a place called the Happy beggar that might provide more information.

You went there, and questioned the owners, a couple of retired Pelor paladins. Both of them were happy enough to answer your questions, and let you explore. You also met a sickly bum named Brenat, who claimed he’d had run ins with Modra before, and advised you to kill first,a nd ask questions later (like you need any encouragement).

Investigating further, you found a series of tunnels underneath the alms house, leading to a Shadowfel portal, and Modra. Modra offered a deal for your brass key, and when you refused, he simply beat the snot out of you and took it. Then using the key, he escaped into the Shadowfel.

Travelling through the Shadowfel, you came across a large mustering of soldiers, all marching under the banner of the warlord Sarshan. Asking around, you found that Modra had been seen, and that he betrayed Sarshan by selling weapons to Tuskk and Sinruth, after Sarshan forbade him to do it. With this information you’ve found the link between the attacks on Brindol, and the Nexus. While asking around, you met a lieutenant named Leena, and she asked you to investigate the foundry and dispatch Modra in case he tried to sabotage the place. Reniss, the ranger accompanying you advised you against the foundry’s destruction, as she was sent into the Shadowfel to search for intel on Sarshan’s armies. You still don’t know who sent her, or what she was promised in return, but she has a score to settle with Modra, who’s Shadar kai killed her sister (Jen of the Farstriders).

So you dispatched Modra, but not before the sabotage to the foundry was partially complete. Finding a hidden tunnel, you’ve managed to come across a secrret back door into Sarshan’s tower. You entered through the library, and dispatched the guards, and some shadar kai doing research.

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Preparing for battle

Diomedes ushers you into the war room to go over the preparations for the battle tomorrow. He tasks you with the critical job of holding of the gatehouse, and assigns you 4 squads of 5 soldiers to command.

The enemy attack is expected to come in 3 waves, each of these must be beaten back all along the walls, for if one section fails, the enemy will pour into the breech and swarm us all. All along the line our artillery will fire once each wave comes in range, and any that make it to the wall will need to be beaten back with cold steel. You will need to decide where each squad will be assigned, and you will also have to position yourselves either directing the fire, defending the gate, or taking tactical command of your section.

As dawn breaks there is already a nervous tension in the air as you take your place along the battlements. In the distance along the horizon, you can see smoke as the army marches forth setting ablaze everything in sight to set fear in the hearts of the defenders. As the first wave marches on towards the walls, you move to take your position for the defence.

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Preparing for the Siege

So after your triumphant return to Overlook, the militia leaders are rounding up every able bodied man and sending the off to Borodins Watch to defend the walls. As heroes already, you are obliged to go as well, and as you ride towards the front lines, many a soldier you pass cries out their good wishes to you.

As you come up the mountain path, you pass massive siege works entrenched back from the lines, and tents and campfires for a mile around. The fort itself is a squat trapezoid nestled behind a thick wall of stone standing 60 feet high. As you approach the fort, several messengers and junior officers run out and usher you inside. Apparently with your reputation preceeding you, you have been given a some quarters in the watch house. Shortly after you are taken into a dimly lit room, with tables covered in map, and various reports lining the walls. A young dwarf (by dwarven standards) looms over the table, and when he sees you enter, motions you to come closer.

He introduces himself as Diomedes, a Major who is overseeing the deployment of the mercanaries and adventuring parties who joined up to fight. “The amount of bad blood between some of these groups goes back a long time, and it’s proving to be a nightmare in sorting them out. At any rate, my scouts predict we have only 1 day before the orc forces arrive en masse. You have that time to prepare us for that assault. Everyone else have their duties, but from what I’ve heard you are jack’s of all trades, and can handle any pressing tasks.”

He points to the map of the area surrounding Borodins watch. “we’ve had some torrential rain in the last 2 months, and our intel on the surrounding area is out of date. If you were to scout outside the walls, and map any features, that would be a great help. We also need the walls strengthened in a number of places, if any of you are fit enough to handle the physical labour. In the medical tent there are a number of wounded soldiers, getting them on the battlefield is also a high priority. Also you could strip the barracks of any linen, and craft decoys for the walls, and fool the orcs into thinking we have greater numbers. There may also be potions still in our store houses that weren’t looted by the other mercenaries here. You could have a look through the crates for any of use. Lastly, the forges below are extensive and can be put to use making caltrops and other traps. The choice is yours on what you do”

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