Legends and Lore

Death's Tower (part II) - (Episode 55)

Fin LaVie’s journal…

Entry 1:
We finally made it to the tower, and it was no easy task. Webs filled the dead trees, and clung to the sides of the tower. The area was nearly impassable, and it was a struggle not only to get through the thick webs, but past the countless spiders that call this godforsaken place home. When we finally made it to the doors of the tower Altain seemed a bit unnerved!? He kept talking about a ghostly eyeball that apparently attacked him when he first entered. Mongo seems to think its just an illusion of some sort. Can’t decide if the dwarf is serious, or just trying to annoy the eladrin?

Entry 2:
Inside the tower we discovered a large circular chamber ringed on the outside by thirty-foot pillars. At the center was a ten-foot tall obilisk of stone, strange ruins glowing on its surface. It was some sort of strange language that I didn’t recognize. Figured it was probably magical in nature so hoped Altain would have a clue? Thought at first that Mongo might’ve been right about the whole illusion thing until a seven-foot wide orb suddenly appeared twenty feet above the floor on the far side of the chamber. It definitely looked ghostly, and seemed all too real! A feeling of doom and vulnerability took hold of me when the large eyeball stared in my direction, an unsettling feeling to say the least. Then rays started to shoot from the many eyestalks upon the hideous creatures head. The dark blue ray seemed to drain one’s very life essence, and feels as chilled as a man already in the grave. Others seem to cause a man to suddenly forget himself, and either stand about lost, or attempt to take one’s own life! Our usual tactics seemed useless against this thing since drawing its attention to one individual seemed extensively dangerous. Yet I was still filled with hope since my enchanted blade “Moonbane” seems to strike the insubstantial creatures more solidly than any of the other’s weapons! Altain was nearly its first victim as he suddenly collapsed. Quickly I made my way over before saying a short prayer to Bahamut, and Altain’s wounds suddenly began to heal. I still marvel at the sight of true healing, and I can hardly believe that I am serving as Bahamut’s vessel. By this time many of us were starting to wonder if we’re going to make it out of this one alive? And making matters worse angry spirits seemed to be emanating from the strange obilisk at the center of the chamber, so we finally smashed it to rubble. Yet our situation still seemed to be growing more dire as the floating eyeball continued to wear us down. More than one of us was now beginning wonder if we shouldn’t make for interior door to our left, but Altain couldn’t seem to get the door unlocked. Then Altain was suddenly struck by yet another ray and collapsed again, but Mongo stood nearby and somehow managed to inspire our badly wounded comrade to stand and fight. Finally, after much effort, Robyn struck the spectral eye with a perfect toss of his enchanted dagger “Triflik’s Blade” and it slowly began to dissipate from sight.

Entry 3:
After a thorough search of the area, and a short rest, we finally decided to check the large trap door in the floor of the circular chamber. Altain picked the lock and we carefully began our decent into the darkness. The stairwell was filled with dust and cobwebs, and the temperature rapidly began to drop, while the very essence of evil seemed to permeate the air we now breathed. It was there that we were attack by yet another undead creature, a four armed skeleton apparently guarding what appeared to be some sort of tomb, or crypt. After quickly scattering the bones of the unholy construct, we moved to yet another stairway leading further down into the crypt.

Entry 4:
At this lower level of the crypt we were suddenly attacked by what seemed to be some sort of large skeletal figure nearly twelve feet tall! An unholy glow filled the creature’s eye sockets, and its claws stretched to nearly four feet, appearing more like scythes than the simple claws of any normal creature. It was in this very place that we managed to once again cheat death.

Entry 5:
Discovered a location in the lower crypt that is apparently missing a sarcophagus. Scratches mark the nearby stone floor. Chipped step edges leading down here have us believing that someone has perhaps slid the stone sarcophagus upstairs? Nothing else was discovered before we were suddenly attacked by an angry spirit, but we managed to somehow drive the thing away. My sword “Moonbane” is proving invaluable!

Entry 6:
We have returned to the main floor of the tower to rest for the night, we are exhausted.

Entry 7:
Suddenly awakened by Altain’s painful screams. He had been attacked by yet another angry spirit. Thankfully we once again managed to drive the spirit away. Morning will be upon us soon.

Entry 8:
Altain picked the lock of the nearby door which led to an ascending stairwell. We ran quickly in an attempt to avoid the numerous spectral hands as they reached from the very walls and steps as we passed. Once above, we found ourselves upon an outer balcony surrounding the tower at the height of about thirty feet. Whispers could be heard up ahead, and we soon discovered their orgin, two kobolds guarding a set of double doors. Robyn killed one immediately with a carefully thrown dagger before Altain intimidated the other to acquire information. He quickly reveals that they are searching for some unknown object, unknown to him anyway. Something ancient and of great power!? Apparently Wyrmlord Tillik’s chamber is just beyond these doors, but with who else we can not be sure. We know only that the kobold seems very uneasy about the mysterious individuals mere presence, and when we tell him to flee, he does so with a more than willing attitude. We now prepare to open the doors…

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Death's Tower (part I) - (Episode 54)

Altain Moonfire’s journal…

Entry 1:
Exhausted! Feel as though I may collapse at any moment. Mongo and Fin are also nearing their end, but Robyn has only sustained minor wounds thus far. We need to rest badly but the dead continue to rise all around us. Even the dead trees in these woods are alive! It seems too hard to believe, and I wouldn’t if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. Skeletons made up of shards of bone nearly killed me several miles back, but survived thanks to Fin’s blessings from Bahamut. We must keep moving or these accursed woods will kill us all!

Entry 2:
We are now beginning to search for fallen branches. Hoping to build some sort of lean-to for cover. Maybe we can get some rest then?… The Deadwoods still seem to be alive all around us, or should I say dead all around us, and we must act fast or the undead will once again descend upon us.

Entry 3:
Finally we have managed to rest in our hastily constructed lean-to. Many strange noises filled the night but we luckily remained hidden. Damn dwarf Mongo nearly gave us away more than once though. He’s overconfident and thinks he can take care of anything, and I swear its going to get us killed one of these days!

Entry 4:
We’ve now come to a dark tower deep within the Deadwoods, but something just doesn’t seem right. The trees are covered in thick webbing and none of us like the looks of the situation. Fin continues to mutter about how he hates spiders, and I am sure he’s not the only one.

Entry 5:
Yep just as we thought, the trees were filled with swarms of spiders nearly the size of the palm of my hand, and several others the size of a large dog! I was the first one through the mass of webs and managed to make it inside the tower, a large circular chamber of nearly eighty feet in diameter. The large chamber is filled with columns surrounding the periphery which hold up a ceiling nearly thirty-feet above. At the center of the circular chamber stood a ten foot tall obilisk carved of stone with faitly glowing ruins etched into its four sides. A door to my left quickly caught my attention, so I moved to investigate when I suddenly noticed a blueish glow out of the corner of my eye to the right. Quickly I wielded around and there not twenty feet away hovered a massive eyeball nearly seven feet in diameter! But that wasn’t the half of it, what made it worse was that I could nearly see through the spectral thing. At first I wondered if it was even real, but soon found out when a blue ray of light suddenly shot from one of the many eyestalks upon its head and struck me directly in the chest. Sluggishly I attempted to flee, my mind racing as adrenalin coursed through my veins. Thankfully I made it out alive, and the strange abberation failed to follow. Outside the tower Fin, Mongo, and Robyn continued to slice through the countless spiders flowing through the surrounding trees and down their thick webs. Then a sight appeared that none of us could have expected – a large ghost spider! It’s eight legs spanning nearly ten feet apart, and its large bulbous body nearly five feet around. Thankfully Fin’s sword “Moonbane” seems to possess the ability to slice into these insubstantial spirits with great effectiveness, a pleasant surprise indeed. Finally having fought our way to the front doors of the dark tower I quickly informed the others of what soon awaited us. Mongo in particular seems unwilling to listen. The stubborn dwarf just continues to mutter something about an illusion. Honory bastard, I know what I saw, and that ray was no illusion!

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The Deadwoods (Episode 53)

Dark forest3
Fin LaVie was injured from the sudden strike of the huge dead tree, but his companions quickly fought back to protect the surprised paladin. Altain had read of legends of living trees known as Treants, but whatever this thing was he could not be certain. It reminded him of the legends of old, yet this thing seemed twisted by some sort of evil and appeared to be extremely aggressive. Quickly the companions began to hack away at the ancient and blackened tree in an attempt to cut the huge creature to the forest floor, but its black roots held the ground firmly and the task was proving very difficult indeed.

It was during this desperate fight that the companions began to notice disturbances in the surrounding forest as though something, or someone, might be out there. Then the situation grew more dire as skeletal worriors began to stumble from the surrounding deep woods, apparently attracted by the sounds of battle. It was beginning to appear as though the Deadwoods were coming alive!

The battle continued to wage on for over a minute as the companions continued to hack away at the huge dead tree while attempting to avoid its thick limbs as they crashed down upon the small group. Meanwhile the skeletal worriors continued to steadily grow in numbers as more poured out of the surrounding woods. Then finally with little warning the massive undead tree came crashing down as its black roots finally gave way. This allowed the group to disperse towards the descending skeletal army which they then disposed of rather efficiently.

The strange events had begun to unnerve the group as many began to wonder what exactly they had wandered in to? It was a question the group hoped to discuss over a short rest. But within seconds the group discovered there was no rest to be had as the woods around the group once again seemed to come alive with the skeletal remains of those who died in battles of long ago. Again the companions were forced to fight for their very lives, and once again they prevailed but many began to wonder if rest would be at all possible. After a short discussion the group made the fateful decision to press onward toward Kiris Dahn in the hopes of finding the Wyrmlord Tillik. They knew they needed to rest but also recognized the fact that it appeared as if the Deadwood Forest was turning against them, and it was with this knowledge that they pressed southward.

Twenty minutes later the group still found itself surrounded by the dying forest. The dead and leafless trees now nearly outnumbering those trees still fortunate enough to still be living. An unsettled feeling had now taken a firm hold upon the small group of companions, and many couldn’t help but wonder what sort of evil might be at work in these dark and mysterious woods? Then an alarming sight was spotted up ahead, a lone hangman’s noose hung from a large leafless tree. Slowly the group approached, all the while scouring their surroundings for anything suspicious. There was nothing of note however except a few scattered bones here and there. Robyn, always the cautious one, stepped toward the right flank while Mongo moved towards the tree to inspect the hangman’s noose. Altain and Fin followed the dwarf cautiously. It was then that Altain noticed strange shadows moving about the tree which created an illusion of movement, and the well read swordmage quickly became suspicious. Soon his fears were suddenly realized, but unfortunately with little time to react as the noose suddenly flung itself around Mongo’s neck! Then seconds later the tree’s noose pulled the dwarf from his feet and into the air!! The desperate dwarf gasped for air as his head swirled with the confusion of his sudden predicament. His companions down below chopping away in desperation in an attempt to save their friend’s life.

It was during this sudden flurry of activity that Altain began wandering ever closer to the strange tree of shadow, his companions unsure of why? But Altain couldn’t understand why not, the tree smelt so lovely – in fact one might say irresistible. But Fin knew all too well why, having picked up on the sweet scent himself only seconds before, but thankfully managing to resist the temptation. Then more skeletal worrier began to suddenly appear from the surrounding clusters of trees, and once again the groups situation grew more dire. The companions were now once again fighting for their very lives, and the dwarf Mongo was hanging helplessly from a noose high above when the tree suddenly opened up a large maw near the top of its trunk and swallowed Mongo whole! Terror filled the group, their bastion of protection was suddenly gone, and many began to wonder if they would ever see the stout dwarf again? Wildly the group hacked and slashed at the strange tree as the skeletal hordes closed in. Then as suddenly as the panic had begun the dwarf Mongo suddenly fell from the tree’s trunk and landed on the ground nearby! None were sure exactly how the dwarf had managed to escape, but they didn’t care, they were just happy to see him alive. Just ten feet away Altain and Fin were now surrounded by numerous skeletons that appeared to be made up of shards of jagged edged bone. The skeletons almost appeared to be old, and brittle, yet stood up to the groups attacks much better than the previous skeletal warriors. Then one skeleton was struck with a particular violent blow and bone fragments shattered upon impact filling the area with dangerous flying debris. Altain was now badly wounded, but still struggled to remain in the fight. But things continued to worsen when fire-light was spotted further inside the nearby woods. Soon two more skeletons appeared in the rotted wood clearing, but these were no ordinary skeletons – these were wreathed in flame! Seconds later both flaming skeletons began forming a sphere of fire in their hands, and then suddenly threw the fireballs into the fray causing them to explode amongst the melee.

Things were growing worse by the second and the companions began to realize that these were indeed desperate times. But they would soon grow worse when one of the boneshard skeletons was shattered with a crushing blow, but instead of simply falling to pieces the creature exploded! Bone fragments filled the surrounding area, and Altain was once again caught in the crossfire as the shard of a long bone struck the eladrin directly in the chest! Altain collapsed immediately in a pool of his own blood. Luckily Fin was nearby and quickly moved toward his fallen companion. He then began to pray for Bahamut’s blessing, and the hole in Altain’s chest slowly began to close. Within seconds Altain was back on his feet, another miracle of Bahamut’s generosity. The battle continued on for what seemed like several minutes before the companions finally struck the final blow upon the shadow tree and it slowly faded from sight. Then they continued their violent assault on the boneshard skeletons, before finally finishing with the skeletons wreathed in flames.

The companions were now severely drained, and each now secretly dreaded the possibility of what else the mysterious forest might have in store for them. They were now in desperate need of rest, but knew they couldn’t afford to stop moving for if they did the ancient dead of the dark woods would most assuredly rise up against them once again. Then another fearful thought suddenly entered their exhausted minds – somewhere in that very dark forest was a green dragon of immense size and power, Emerald!…

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The Dark Arts (Episode 52)

Slowly the heroes approached the large library deciding to flank around the right side in order to sneak behind two large stone statues situated on each side of the stone steps. Two sets of reinforced wooden doors were shattered and broken at the top of the steps, and a strange chanting could be heard from inside. The dwarf Mongo quickly decided to lead the way inside, and asked his companions to follow close behind. Quickly the four heroes stormed through the library’s entrance. Inside what awaited them was nothing short of shocking. One wizard stood at the center of a large vaulted chamber behind a table, while another stood atop a platform at the end of a ten-foot stairway. Three summoning circles glowing in a brilliant blue light could be seen in the first half of the chamber, each containing a man-sized infernal creature. But it was the far back half of the chamber that provided the most shocking discovery, a ten-foot tall devil stood menacingly at the center of a twenty-foot diameter summoning circle that glowed with a brilliant yellow light. The creature wore a coat of plate armor, and carried a large shield in one hand and an intimidating sword in the other. Thankfully the infernal beast seemed trapped inside the summoning circle however, giving the companions an opportunity to gain an early advantage.

It was now late in the evening and the paladin Fin LaVie could sense that his internal strength had significantly diminished. He now worried that he lacked the ability to make contact with Bahamut, but the heroes knew they had to push ahead for they were pressed for time. As the group stormed the library several legion devils were soon discovered hiding behind the bookcases, but they were quickly defeated as the group fought its way further into the great library. Several of the companions quickly made their way towards the wizards, while others engaged the devils in the forefront of the chamber. All the while keeping a close eye on the large shocktroop devil trapped inside the yellow summoning circle, hoping the infernal creature would be unable to break its magical bindings. To great relief the gamble soon paid off as the larger devil remained trapped inside the summoning circle for nearly a minute giving the heroes a chance to defeated the two wizards, two spined devils, and several other legion devils. By this time the heavily armored shocktroop devil had finally broke through his enchanted prison, suffering numerous injuries before finally gaining its freedom. But it was too late, the companions were already collecting themselves in preparation for the large beast, and soon brought all their strength to bare upon the hapless creature. Soon the large devil collapsed before slowly fading from sight, banished to its native plane.

The heroes had survived the conflict, and had faired far better than first expected, and their confidence was growing as the end of the evening quickly approached. Outside the group encountered a familiar face, a dwarf named Gerret, and with him were a group of battle hardened dwarves. He had brought with him news that Timbervale was now under dwarven control, and that Lady Sevrym had been rescued from the cities dungeons. She had apparently been scheduled for execution the next day, and it served as a reminder to all of why they had fought with such urgency throughout the night.

With the Queen’s army on the run the heroes finally had an opportunity to get some much needed rest. Timbervale had at last been liberated, and spontaneous celebrations had begun throughout the town. But the companions had little interest in these festivities, and instead returned to the Inn called the “Queen’s Friend”. There they discovered the proprietor already replacing the sign above the entrance. A new freshly painted piece of wood now took its place and simply read “The Platinum Dragon”, with an elongated dragon winding itself around the elegantly designed words. It was a gesture of not only respect, but also of thanks to those who fought so valiantly for Timbervale’s liberation. Inside the companions were quickly recognized as heroes, and they were soon introduced to the leader of Timbervale’s rebellion Brom Volhoff. Brom thanked the group and expressed his eternal debt to them, before promising to schedule an audience with Lady Sevrym for the following afternoon. Finally after a very long night the companions were able to turn in for what remaind of the evening. The pay for their rooms upstairs had been refused, the proprietor promising that they would be welcome anytime free of charge. Downstairs, and outside, the celebration continued on into the morning hours – Timbervale was free at last.

The next day the companions received an audience with the Lord and Lady Sevrym. It was during this time that the rulers of Timbervale offered their heartfelt thanks. It was also during this meeting that Brom Volhoff arrived with further news of recent developments. Apparently one of his men had overheard one of the Queen’s guards speaking of Wyrmlord Tillik being stationed somewhere near a place called Kiris Dahn. It was with this information that the heroes decided to share their knowledge of a prophecy they believe was currently taking place involving five chromatic dragons. The Lord and Lady stood disbelieving, as did Brom, the talk of dragons seemed impossible, it seemed that of ancient legend or perhaps stories told to children.

Following the meeting the companions headed out into the city streets. Altain returned to the library in an attempt to gain further knowledge, while Fin and Mongo tended to more of the wounded throughout town. It was during this time that Fin shocked onlookers with his powerful prayers of healing, and many confessed to disbelief if they had not been present to witness such a miracle! Many others noted the Platinum Dragon emblem worn proudly upon the paladin’s possessions, a symbol of the ancient god known as Bahamut.

Later that busy day a shadow suddenly appeared in the sky above the newly liberated city, a dragon! Crowds began to scream in fear as chaos erupted in the surrounding streets. It was a sight few could hardly believe, a real dragon flying high above and in plain sight for all to see! Then, nearly as quickly as it had appeared, the dragon disappeared over the southern horizon from which it came. The streets and taverns remained abuzz regarding the incident throughout the remainder of the night, many barely able to believe what they had seen with their own eyes, and for those who had failed to see it stunned disbelief.

The next day the companions returned to the Temple of the East Wind to meet with Sir Oakley. There they thanked the dwarves for their assistance, and asked them to leave a few garrisons to help protect the region, in which they agreed. They also asked the dwarven woman Hadarra to donate her sending stones to the cause. Meanwhile Altain hired scribes to copy many of the writings in the Timbervale library in the hopes of adding much of the cities knowledge to the East Wind’s collection, and asked Sir Oakley to remain there to watch over the Temple.

With everything finally in order the group finally headed out. The southward trek took several days before the group finally spotted the sparse tree line in the distant horizon, the Deadwood Forest. Four hours later the woods began to grow dark as the thick canopy above grew increasingly thick. Then the next day there was a noticeable change as the surrounding trees began to appear sickly. Fallen tree trunks began littering the forest floor, and the still standing dead trees appeared to stand guard over their fallen comrades. Then out of nowhere a beautiful elven woman appeared in the distance sitting on a log. As the heroes approached however the woman became agitated and began screaming for the intruders to leave. Altain became alarmed at once, and began combing through his vast knowledge in an attempt to make sense of the sudden development. Why was there a woman sitting out in the middle of the woods all alone? It made little sense which seemed to alert the Eladrin’s senses more than just a little. He was almost certain that the woman was not as she appeared, but was in fact a protector of the forest known as a dryad. It soon turned out that Altain’s suspicions were proven correct when Robyn successfully calmed the woman down by explaining that they were in fact there to help restore the woods to their proper condition. After an understanding was finally reached the mysterious woman allowed the companions to pass safely, then she began to quietly walk into the woods and disappeared from sight, but not before suddenly changing into what looked to be some sort of humanoid looking man-sized tree, a dryad!

Dryad

The companions now pressed deeper into the woods in search of the Wyrmlord Tillik, who they believed to be a high ranking kobold in the Queen’s army. But there was no sign of the hunted, only the increasingly dead forest. Then another alarming discovery was made when the group happened upon what appeared to be human or elven bones on the forest floor. The group pushed ahead with heightened senses, not sure what to make of it all. Then suddenly the forest turned cold, and a sudden shiver ran down the back of each of the companion’s necks. Something didn’t seem right, and the surrounding forest seemed to suddenly darken. It was as if the life force of the group was being drained, and a feeling of foreboding began to take hold. Then a sudden movement was spotted from behind the group! Turning quickly, the group could only watch in shock as a huge dead tree came crashing down upon Fin, then stood straight up once again. The huge dead tree was alive!!

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Infernal Invasion (Episode 51)

While the companions took five short minutes to rest an extensive search of the main floor of the mansion was conducted. In the study several pieces of parchment were discovered. The first seemed destined for the ruins of Kiris Dahn, but had no signature or names attached to the message. Another spoke of the Sea of Sand to the east, and apparent plans to unite with someone, or something, from these far away lands. The final piece of parchment spoke of plans to make contact with someone north of “The Wall”. But exactly what it all meant, who wrote the letters, or who these letters of correspondence were intended for was still a mystery.

Finally after a short break the group finally decided to head upstairs. It didn’t take long before the group found themselves under attack as two arrows suddenly flew out of the darkness before embedding themselves in the wall just behind the companions. Altain didn’t hesitate, as he quickly unsheathed his longsword Moonfire which provided a dim light, and charged ahead to confront two crossbowment hidden around a nearby corner. Then the dwarf Mongo rushed ahead to assist, but soon two more guards appeared from a nearby room. Still the companions appeared to have everything under control as they dispatched three of the four guards quickly. Then a heavily armored individual suddenly appeared from another nearby room, but this was no ordinary soldier. The plate armor seemed to hover above the ground of its own volition, a soft and pale blue light dimly radiating from the finely crafted armor’s numerous seams. Then it lowered to the ground before suddenly swinging its glowing blue blade in Altain’s direction. It quickly became obvious that this suit of armor was no man, but some strange sort of animate most likely devised by some unkown dark power. Then seconds later another individual appeared in the entrance to one of the nearby chambers. The stranger carried a flail in his right hand, and appeared to be a man of significant rank in the Queen’s army. The companions were certain that they had found their man, Captain Valanth. The battle would continue for nearly a minute as steel clashed upon steel, but the heroes now had the advantage in numbers, and soon proved superior.

It was then decided over a short rest that the heroes needed to make their presence known to the general population of Timbervale. They also wanted to make the populace aware of the fact that Captain Valanth had been disposed of, so the group decided to take the captain’s body to the town square for all to see. But upon arriving a small crowd could be seen near some sort of scaffolding. The companions pushed toward the front of the crowd in order to get a better look. It was then that their fears were realized as they witnessed the beheading of a local prisoner. With several others still awaiting their turn there could be no delay, the heroes needed to act quickly. As his companions engaged the Queen’s guard, Robyn decided to hang back amongst the crowd before donning his new hat and taking on the appearance of one of the townfolk. Once again the heroes proved to be an efficient fighting force as they quickly disposed of numerous guards, and both executioners standing upon the wooden scaffolding nearby. The heroes seemed to have things well in hand at that moment when they began to notice a growing panic in the streets nearby. Screams of terror and pain then began to fill the surrounding neighborhood before the group finally spotted what it was that had most likely caused the permeating sense of terror. A creature now stood at the center of the street, and stood approximately twelve-feet tall with a significantly hunched over posture. The creature appeared to be made of bone completely stripped of the flesh. A large oversized head sat upon the infernal creature’s shoulders, and a scorpion-like stinger wielded about at the end of a long bony tail. Mongo moved in to challenge the approaching bone devil, believing he was the most well equipped to handle whatever the disgusting creature might have to offer. The dwarf would soon learn that this infernal enemy was not to be taken lightly, as the creature swiftly raked Mongo with its deadly claws before striking the unsuspecting dwarf with its venemous stinger! Mongo fought back valiantly however, showing an unwillingness to relent. But within seconds Mongo’s flesh was torn apart yet again by the creature’s razor sharp claws, and another strike of the poisonous stinger, it was becoming obvious that the dwarf was fighting for his life. Mongo’s companions moved in to assist, but the bone devil was proving to be more that a worthy advessary for the battle hardened group.

Bone devil

Nearby the remaining prisoners were now working up the nerve to make a run for freedom. The attempt was slow going however as the group of three were shackled together by the wrists and ankles. Then just when it seemed that the group might soon make it out of immediate danger tragedy struck as another infernal creature suddenly appeared from around the corner of a nearby building, and the creature was wrapped in chains. The three prisoners nearly froze upon spotting the man-sized devil. Then with little thought of mercy the unholy creature began menacingly swinging the hooked chains before savagely impaling each of the prisoners. Then tearing the nastily barbed hooks from the poor men’s lifeless bodies.

Chain devil

It was with this renewed sense of urgency that the heroes dug down deep in an attempt to finish off the infernal bone devil before the chain devil could engage the group. The rogue Robyn proved invaluable at that moment when he slowed the chail devil with a series of thrown daggers, and then continued to harrass the enemy from atop the wooden scaffolding. The strategy worked to perfection as the bone devil soon fell, before slowly fading back to its native plane. It was then with renewed focus that the heroes converged on the one remaining chain devil. Soon that infernal creature also fell, and it too returned to its native plane.

Finally free of conflict the companions began to study the surrounding streets. It was becoming apparent that the Queen’s forces had been significantly thinned, and dwarven combatants could be seen in the distance cleaning out many of the remaining enemy forces. But bodies also littered the streets, and now blood ran freely over the cities cobblestone surface. Queen’s soldiers lay amongst the crimson streets with a smattering of dwarven bodies appearing here and there. The heroes unwilling to leave many of the dwarven counterparts to die quickly began to scour the streets for any possible survivors, before relocating a small number of the more fortunate individuals to a nearby warehouse where first aid could be administered. It was during this time that Fin LaVie began dealing with a struggle from within. With so many wounded the Paladin of Bahamut was well aware of his limitations concerning the power of healing prayer, and although his skills of first aid were proving invaluable, it obviously bothered him that he was powerless to help so many in need. After all Fin was suppose to be the Chosen One, but even that lofty title seemed too little in this time of desperate need.

After patching up as many of the wounded as they could the heroes once again headed out into the violent streets of Timbervale. The mangled bodies of civilians now littered the streets in the immediate area around the town square. It seemed obvious to the companions that someone nearby was most likely responsible for the sudden appearance of the infernal invasion that was now creating havoc and carnage in the surrounding city streets. There had to be a summoning circle, or a portal, somewhere nearby since the infernal forces seemed more concentrated near the cities center, but where? Quickly the group surveyed the surrounding streets hoping to find some sort or clue. Then after nearly thirty minutes of desperate searching one building caught their attention. A large stone structure with a vaulted dome ceiling, a truly magnificent piece of architectural design. It appeared to be some sort of library. But those details were not enough to warrant any undue attention, instead it was the massive wooden front doors to the building that caught the group’s attention – they had been shattered and blown from their hinges!

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Liberty or Death (Episode 50)

Nearly an hour later the dwarven army of one hundred finally arrived, and upon recieving the go ahead began to march towards Timbervale’s western gate. Soon panick began to stir in the streets as guard garrisons under the Queen’s banner began scrambling here and there in an attempt to prepare for the city’s defense. But it was too late, the heroes and the dwarven army had achieved total surprise! Before the enemy could put up any sort of defense the dwarves began marching through the newly opened western gates, as the heroes watched from the gatehouse above with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Soon the streets below were filled with the clash of steel on steel, as the Queen’s occupying forces attempted to push back the dwarven invasion forces from Hammerfast.

It was through this chaotic scene that the heroes made their way to the eastern half of Timbervale in an attempt to take out the rulership of the occupying forces. They had recieved reliable information inside the western gatehouse from the new recruits to the Queen’s army, who apparently showed little loyalty to their forced employers. It was on the east side of the city that the heroes hoped to take out the armies leader Captain Valanth, thereby decapitatiing the head of the beast. They knew little of the military leader, except that he had attempted to communicate with General Gathus’ forces at the East Wind. But the cross town journey proved more difficult that first expected as several guard garrison’s quickly intercepted them, forcing the companions to arms, but their superior skill in combat proved the better. The heroes could ill afford further delay however, and soon the companions chose a more quiet approach in order to avoid detection.

Finally the group reached the large mansion on the east end of Timbervale. With little time to waste, as the violence continued to spread through the streets of the city, the companions chose the direct approach and simply barged through the mansion’s front door! Four armed guards of the Queen’s army stood inside, and quickly reacted to the heroes sudden intrusion. As the battle for entry commenced, several other guards arrived from upstairs a short time later with some sort of sorcerer not far behind. Then Altain suddenly vanished, only to reappear inside the room flanking the enemy troops, and with the insubstantial dwarf, Mongo, by his side! The heroes had gained the upper hand when Altain suddenly began walking towards the entrance to a nearby bedroom!? What the swordmage was up to none could be sure. Nearby the battle continued in the mansion’s entry chamber where Mongo and Fin LaVie had cut down several of the guards, and were now moving into the second wave of defenders when dark shadowy tentacles suddenly erupted from the mansion floor! Mongo stepped aside, managing to avoid several of the flailing arms before moving towards the bedroom where Altain had last been seen. It was then that the dwarf noticed the swordmage standing in the bedroom entrance with a beautiful, yet wicked looking female standing behind him! But it was the bat-like wings protruding from the females back and nearly spanning the entire rooms twenty-foot width that gave away the unholy creature’s identity – a succubus! Altain was clearly under the females control, and a short exchange between the heroes and the succubus verified the suspicions, as Altain desperately fought to protect his newfound love.

Unwilling to cut down his longtime companion to get to the bitch that controlled him, Mongo turned toward the stairwell, and moved to engage the sorcerer’s guards instead. Fin followed the dwarfs lead. The succubus however had other plans, as she suddenly bolted from her bedroom towards the dwarf and paladin with Altain following close behind. Casually she approached the dwarf, a wry smile etched upon her face, and then leaned in to give the battle hardened dwarf a small peck on the cheek. Mongo blushed before turning towards the beautiful women, a knowing smile etched upon his bearded face, it was obvious he was smitten. At that same moment Altain began to shake off the remnance of his transe-like state, and began surveying his surroundings in confusion. How he had come to stand where he was, and what he was doing he could not be sure, but one thing was certain – the unnatural winged female that now stood before him was most assuridly an enemy. Altain immediately attacked.

Meanwhile Robyn was nowhere to be found. The last Fin had saw his companion was at the mansion’s doors, when the rogue was suddenly struck in the back by a sharp dagger thrown from around the mansion’s front corner. Robyn had taken off to get a better view, and what he saw next seemed almost expected. A darkly cloaked figure stood in the buildings shadows. Robyn moved closer when the mysterious figure suprisingly pulled the hooded cowl from his head revealing his true identity – an orc! Then with a crooked canine smile the orc casually denounced his son’s accidental existance. Ulok “the Sly” as he was known, expressed his distaste for his son calling him a bad seed, and also expressed his intent of revenge for killing the Severed Eye Orcs in Stonefang Pass. It was time for a great debt to be repaid. Orc and half-orc collided in a battle of skill, and early on Robyn looked to play the victim. But then things took a turn for the better, as the crafty rogue suddenly landed a near deadly blow upon his father. Realizing his sudden predicament the assassin slowly backed towards the grate in the street from which he had apparently arrived. Then Fin suddenly came rushing from around the corner hoping to help stop the orc’s escape. But it was too late, the assassin had made it into the sewers below. But Robyn wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass him by. Quickly he followed before making a desperate lung at his father as he attempted to jump onto the ledge of the sewer channel below. His strike proved deadly as his father’s lifeless body plunged into the putrid waters below. Then the victorious rogue jumped down to the ledge to fetch his father’s corpse, but his dagger had fallen into the rank water, so the rogue decided to go in after it (obviously hoping it was enchanted). Unfortunately the dagger was further down than expected however, and Robyn needed to submerge his head in order to reach the required four foot depth. With the dagger in hand Robyn made his way to the sewer’s ledge, hoping to pull himself from the disgusting waters. But he slipped and fell back in. Then another splash echoed nearby, or was it Robyn’s? It was then that the rogue noticed out of the corner of his eye a sudden shimmer in the air, but exactly what it was he couldn’t be sure. Quickly he turned to get a better look, and once again the shimmer of the surrounding air was evident, but so too was a large ten-foot tall wall of a clear gellatinous-like substance! With a sudden rush of adrenalin the rogue once again scrambled to climb the slimy ledge, but in his panic he slipped yet again! Then with a speed rarely witnessed, the rogue swung his leg over the ledge and quickly pulled himself up, before scrambling up the sewer’s ladder. Fin assisted Robyn’s ascent from above. It was a close call, but somehow the rogue had managed to recover not only his father’s corpse, but more importantly his belongings. After replacing the sewer grate he pulled Ulok’s body to the mansion’s front lawn, where he began to notice several items of interest. In particular two vials of strange liquid (poison perhaps?), a pair of leather gauntlets of beautiful craftmenship, and a unique wide-brimmed hat. Robyn donned the guantlets immediately, along with the wide-brimmed hat, but nothing seemed different. Then Robyn imagined himself as someone else – and suddenly his appearance began to change!

Inside things had begun to take a turn for the worse for the mansion’s defenders, and the succubus had broken off from the battle to make a run for it. Soon the smashing of glass could be heard from the southwest corner of the premisis. Altain quickly gave chase, with Mongo and Fin a short distance behind. There in the southwest rotundra of the mansion Altain found the succubus preparing to flee though the newly broken window, and it was there that the swordmage would soon exact his revenge. When his companions had finally caught up to him it was already over, the succubus’ lifeless body lay at Altain’s feet, and was now slowly fading back to its native domain.

The ground floor of the premisis had finally fallen silent. The opposition had been disposed of but things still seemed amiss, not to mention that there had been little sign of Captain Valanth. It was also during this short reprieve that some of the heroes recalled hearing the succubus utter something about the city being over run by infernal invaders before the night was through. It seemed to be a chilling prophecy of things to come. But there was little time to worry about the mysterious threat, as the heroes needed a short rest to bandage their wounds. The entire group was well aware that the situation still called for caution. The remaining rooms still needed to be searched, and who knew what dangers might still lurk at the top of the stairs…

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Insurgency & Rebellion (Episode 49)

The dwarven leaders of Hammerfast hosted a feast in honor of the heroes later that night following the successful defense of the dwarven city. The atmosphere was celebratory at first, but soon the discussion turned to a more serious note. The heroes needed the dwarves help, and they needed it fast. Timbervale had fallen to the Queen’s army, and the dwarven army would be of great help in liberating the now occupied city. Thane Harvek quickly agreed to help, expressing the dwarven nations great deal of gratitude for what the heroes had done for their people. The Thane then promised 100 dwarven troops to assist in the battle for Timbervale’s liberation. Soon it was decided, they would depart on this day for the Temple of the East Wind.

Later that day the heroes led an army of 100 dwarven warriors out of the Ironwall Mountains, through the Stonefang Pass, until they finally reached the Temple of the East Wind the next morning. The journey had proven uneventful, and by all indications the enemy forces were still fully unaware of the large army that stood only a few short miles west of Timbervale.

A surprise also awaited the companions upon their arrival at The Temple of the East Wind. Sir Oakley had arrived the previous night having fled the south where Guardmore Abbey and its outlying regions had now fallen. He had nearly been discovered late that night when one of the Queen’s guard had shown up and discovered the grisly scene of the Queen’s soldiers slaughtered about the temple grounds from the previous days battle with the companions. Thankfully Sir Oakley had taken care of the problem however, as he surprised the unsuspecting guard and took him out before he could alert the occupying forces in Timbervale.

Later that morning the heroes began to form a plan for the upcoming afternoon. It was decided that one sending stone (see “items” tab for more info.) would remain at the temple with the dwarven army, while the heroes returned to Timbervale to scope out the current situation with the other sending stone. These sending stones would then provide the two groups the ability to communicate, and allow the companions to give the order for the dwarven army to march on Timbervale when ready. The companions then prepared to head out, leaving the dwarves and Sir Oakley to wait back at the temple grounds.

The companions had now donned the studded leather armor of the expired Queen’s soldiers along with their weapons. While Fin attempted to fit into one of the suits of plate armor bearing the Queen’s insignia. It was a tough pill to swallow for the devoted paladin of Bahamut, but he also understood the dire circumstances at hand, and that it would ultimately serve the better good for all involved. Finally they arrived on the outskirts of Timbervale where things seemed eerily quiet. Calmly the four companions approached Timbervale’s northeastern gate disguised in the Queen’s armor. Each wore their hood up in an attempt to hide any telling facial features, yet they were still stopped before being allowed entrance to the city. It appeared that the guards seemed alarmed by the short stature of one of the individuals, and then pulled down his hooded cowl to reveal Mongo’s bearded face. “A dwarf in the Queen’s army – never!”, replied one of the guards. Thinking quickly on his feet Robyn simply replied that they were bringing the dwarf in for questioning with Captain Valanth, as they too were suspicious of the dwarfs true identity. Then Altain quickly added that they figured he was a dwarf from Hammerfast who had become separated from his clan and had attempted to blend in to his surroundings to avoid capture. The swordmage Altain then went on to explain that they were exhausted from previous days battle for Hammerfast, where they had taken a beating, and were in desperate need of rest. The explanation quickly diffused the tense situation, and the three disguised heroes pushed their dwarven prisoner through the gates with a sudden show of force.

Once inside the group remained as inconspicuous as possible while they made their way across town before darting into a nearby alley where they had discovered scraps of wood near the town square. Quickly they constructed a make-shift pair of stilts for their dwarven prisoner, and padded the bottoms with leather. It had become apparent that Mongo’s short stature was going to be their downfall if they didn’t rectify the situation. Then they returned to the main causeway where they found an inn and tavern, but the sign overhead told a story of its own. It seemed of relatively new make and simply read “The Queen’s Friend”, and inside several of the Queen’s guard sat at the center table enjoying a small lunch. Casually Robyn and Altain entered the small establishment and gave a polite nod in the men’s direction before taking a seat at a nearby table. Fin and Mongo decided to remain outside to avoid any unnecessary suspicion. Finally after the guards had left Robyn was able to ask the barkeep some questions in a low tone while offering a few ordinary gold coins. It took a little finagling, and coin, but the man finally began to loosen up. He told the companions of the mass executions nearly a week earlier, and that tensions were now high inside the city walls. How people now feared to leave their homes, and how the streets often remain lightly traveled due to a permeating fear of reprisal. Then he hinted that rebels still existed inside the city walls, but that their numbers have dwindled following the recent executions, and how they had gone underground “so to speak” to avoid notice. Then the other two companions joined them inside, and enjoyed the establishments stew with a beverage. A little less than an hour later Altain left several more gold coins on the table, before the group finally departed.

It was time to take in the sights and sounds of the city, and also to let the city folk know that their was help on the way. Robyn did this with a slight of hand as the group walked about the city. Realizing that some of the Queen’s soldier were young men forced into service of the queen, the rogue would wait for a moment when the older veterans weren’t looking before slightly pulling back the cowl of Altain’s hooded cloak to reveal his elven-like (eladrin) features. It seemed to work, as none of the young guards seemed alarmed, and kept the strange happening to themselves. Fin, also determined to get word out of the groups presence, walked up to one of the young men and put his arm around him before whispering that help was on its way and that the streets would soon be swarming with a dwarven army. But these softly spoken words were soon interrupted by one of the older guards. Hoping to avoid suspicion the disguised paladin of Bahamut simply smiled politely while complimenting the men on their stylish attire before quickly moving on. The heroes could only hope that word would quickly spread amongst the populace that help would arrive that night. The companions knew they needed the peoples help from the inside if they were to have any hope at a successful revolt. The good news was that the Queen’s guard didn’t appear to be on any sort of high alert, and a certain amount of comfort had fallen over the enemy troops. It was a comfort level that the heroes hoped to take advantage of that very night.

During the remainder of the day the companions scoped out the numerous gate entrances to the city in the hopes of learning the guard’s schedules. Unfortunately no changes took place through the late afternoon however, and the companions began growing concerned that there would be no opportunity to take out one of the gatehouses in order to allow easy entry for the dwarven troops. Finally after a long wait the gatehouse guards finally changed over as dusk fell over the city of 10,000. The companions quickly sent word via the sending stones that the dwarven army stationed at the Temple of the East Wind could begin their march toward Timbervale. Meanwhile the companions planned to take out the western gatehouse to allow the approaching army to enter the city streets unhindered.

The heroes were still disguised as Queen’s soldiers when night fell upon the quiet streets of Timbervale. It was under this cover of darkness that they approached the western gatehouse and attempted to gain entry by knocking on the door to each of the two towers. A young guard answered each, and the companions forced their way inside. Not wanting to injure the unsuspecting, and hopefully innocent men, they attempted to calm them by letting them know they were there to liberate the city. But their words first appeared to fall on deaf ears before finally convincing the young and inexperienced soldier to step aside. Once inside each of the two gatehouse towers the companions battled two captains and their trained scytheclaw drakes. Luckily all played out as planned, and none of the Queen’s experienced guards managed to escape to raise the alarm. The four younger guards were spared, and the groups suspicions were confirmed, the men had been forced into the queen’s service during the occupation of the city. It also turned out that only one of the four soldiers had heard rumors of the approaching dwarven army, and the companions were left to hope that word had spread to a greater extent than this small sampling indicated standing before them. The men seemed nervous, yet thankful for their newfound freedom. They agreed to take up their posts at the top of the two towers in the hopes of avoiding any unwanted suspicions, while the companions used their sending stones to contact the approaching dwarven army. They soon learned that dwarves would arrive at the west gates within the next hour. They now waited in the western gatehouse towers, hoping to avoid notice until the dwarven army arrived – then the gates would open, and the liberation would begin.

It was the just the beginning of what was sure to prove to be a very long and deadly night…

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Sabotage & Insurrection (Episode 48)

After a short walk the heroes once again spotted the two trebuchet. During the quiet night at some point the four guards nearby had apparently fallen asleep. It was the perfect opportunity for Robyn and Altain to sneak ahead and dowse both siege machines with oil as best as possible. Then from a distance the Mongo shot a flaming bolt at one, while Robyn threw his flaming dagger at the other. Both struck true and within seconds both wooden trebuchet were engulfed in flame. A few short seconds later the four guards wildly leapt to their feet and then staggered back in a near state of shock. The large hulking figure sleeping nearby also rose in alarm, confirming the belief within the group that it was perhaps a troll. Fear in its eyes, the large creature quickly staggered back from the intense heat of the ever increasing flame.

The heroes feeling their work here was done quickly skirted around the immediate area in an attempt to reach Hammerfast undetected. It was during this time that the enemy camp started to come alive, as much commotion and the shouting of orders could be heard upon the cool morning air. The companions plan was now in full swing, and things appeared to be working as expected. Numerous garrison were now on the lookout for the group of trouble-makers during these predawn hours but with little success. A short time later the companions arrived at the gates of Hammerfast, and with Mongo the dwarfs help soon gained entry.

Once inside the walled city the companions met a familiar face, Hadarra. This female dwarf was the individual the group had met before entering Stonefang Pass. She was quite distraught at the time but requested that the companions locate a sending stone that her friend Flinka possessed. She had hoped that this might help locate her good friend, and save her from any danger she might be in. The heroes did track down the missing sending stone, but the news wasnt good – Flinka had been slain by the severed eye orcs. Hadarra now once again stood before the companions with a hopeful look, and after a short welcome ushered the heroes off to see Thane Harvak. From there the group was rushed into the war room where Prince Rangrim stood with several other military leaders of the dwarven clan. After a quick introduction the heroes were asked if they had any new information that might aid the city in its defense. From there a plan began to form, and the dwarven army instituted each of the decisions made that morning with great precision. Pits were dug haphazardly around the city walls and filled with oil and pitch, sharp stake walls were dug into the soil as to point towards the approaching enemy, while a trench was dug aroung the city gates and then filled with flammable pitch. Then the companions took their place atop the gatehouse tower and began the agonizing wait.

The nervous tension was finally broken when at dusk the distant army began to advance. As darkness fell over the Ironwall Mountains the attack began. First the ballista upon Hammerfast’s gatehouse opened fire on the distant bluespawn stormlizards. Then as the army closed the two stormlizards suddenly charged the city’s west gate, and with a thunderous blow, smashed their horned snouts into the reinforced wooden doors. The force nearly shattering the massive gates! It was obvious that the gates wouldn’t hold for long, and all the dwarves manning the parapets above began raining down murderous fire upon the gates attackers. Meanwhile outside the city walls things were quickly falling into chaos as flaming arrows ignited the numerous pits of pitch that pockmarked the battlefield, and the trench spanning the front gate was also set aflame! The screams of those being burnt alive rising above the surrounding sounds of violence. Then the unthinkable took place as the two rhino-like stormlizard suddenly burst through the city gates! Arrows rained down from above as Mongo and Altain moved quickly to close off the cities entrance. If these two large beasts broke into the nearby courtyard the Queen’s troops would be sure to follow in countless numbers! Thankfully the two heroes were able to slow the beasts down, and it was there between the gatehouse towers that the first stormlizard finally fell, peppered with arrows and still burning from the intense fires it had previously charged through.

The assault was now in full swing when something suddenly appeared from the darkness above. Illuminated in the brightly burning fires a large white winged beast suddenly appeared. Quickly it swooped down behind the city walls and landed inside the courtyard. Mongo and Altain managed to catch a glimpse of the beast, and turned to defend themselves, but what they saw was nothing short of shocking – a three headed beast! One the head of a white dragon, another the head of lion, and the third the head of a ram. The mythical creature was known as a chimera, and as it landed it immediately released a blast of frigid breath from the white dragon head. Hail and ice shards pelted the defenders, while frost bite burned at exposed flesh.

Outside the cities walls the Queen’s troops continued to move forward, and archers began filling in the ranks of their fallen comrades. It wasn’t long after the chimera landed that dwarves came to the aid of the heroes, attempting to help stem the tide of the enemy onslaught at the shattered gates. The bodies of the fallen where beginning to litter the immediate areas of the cities courtyard and outer walls, and sure footing was becoming increasingly hard to find due to the blood soaked cobblestone. But the heroes, allied with dwarven troops, held strong. The enemies attack was beginning to wane, and although the city gate had been severely compromised the enemy seemed unable to penetrate further into the heavily defended fortification. Soon the second stormlizard collapsed from it grievous wounds further blocking the cities entrance. But inside the courtyard the three-headed chimera was tearing into the surrounding dwarven troops with its three sets of razor sharp teeth. Then the beast suddenly charged the unsuspecting swordmage Altain, knocking the eladrin back into the burning corpse of a fallen stormlizard.

As this bloody scene continued to play out deep within the Ironwall Mountains the dwarf Mongo began taking note of the bottle neck that had developed at the city gate, and quickly gave the order for the other dwarves to take up positions atop the city walls. From there the dwarven archers began skillfully taking out the enemy ladder crews attempting to scale the city walls.

Slowly the battle began to turn in the dwarves favor as enemy soldiers seemed fearful of attending to the scaling ladders, having witnessed more than one of their fellow soldiers dying from dozens of dwarven arrows. The defense of the city gates was another major victory, as a collapse of the gates defenses would have surely led to the Queen’s troops surging into the city streets of Hammerfast and likely slaughtering hundreds of civilians. But the fighting still continued, although the numbers were thinning, and the chimera had now taken flight and landed at the top of the western gatehouse tower. There Robyn and Fin began flanking the large beast as it savagely tore at the two with its razor sharp teeth, before once again taking to the air and returning to the courtyard where Altain stood. Fin, unwilling to let the large beast escape, ran towards the tower’s edge and leapt down, driving his sword deep into the creatures spine! The three-headed beast reared back and released one final roar before collapsing in a pool of its own blood.

The battle of Hammerfast was quickly winding down, and as the armies assault lost momentum many of her troops began to disperse. Reflecting upon the past twenty-four hours the companions couldn’t help but realize how fortunate they were. They had destroyed the enemies trebuchet before the battle had even started, ensuring that the city and it’s walls would remain standing. Then managed to sneak past the enemy forces in order to gain entrance into the city all the while avoiding detection. Once inside they were welcomed guests who helped plan the defense of the city in a short amount of time, and then successfully instituted that plan while successfully defending the city gate. Even when the unexpected occurred, like the aerial attack by the three-headed chimera, the heroes still managed to defend the walled fortification. Not to mention the guard garrison killed on the way into the mountains, or the correspondence rider taken out while attempting to deliver a letter to General Gathus.

It had been a bloody morning, but soon that morning gave way to a sense of relief. That night as the battlefield was slowly cleared of the wounded, and the dead were prepared for burial, Thane Harvak treated the heroes to a feast, where the two sides discussed what was yet to come – the hopeful liberation of Timbervale…

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Siege! (Episode 47)

GraydragonAs the fear of failure and possible death hovered over the mountainous battlefield the companions continued their assault on the Fang Dragon. Robyn was now cornered, and seemed incapable of escaping his dire situation, yet he still somehow managed to stand tall. Fin seeing his friend in need continued to ask for Bahamut’s good grace, and time and again his prayers were answered. Still Robyn found himself near death’s door however, as acidic ooze continued to cling to everything in sight. But even more disasterous was the dragon’s apparent endless ability to spout this caustic substance at will! Finally it became too much, and Robyn collapsed. The rogue’s flesh beginning to drip from his skeletal arms. The paladin Fin once again realized Robyn’s dire situation, and invoked one of his last remaining prayers to revive his companion and heal his hideous wounds. But what happened next was shocking, as the prayer was followed by some unseen force that threw the large dragon back twenty feet! It was the break the group needed, as the rogue finally broke away from the melee, while the remaining companions descended upon the winged beast. The Fang dragon was beginning to wear down under the constant assault before it finally took flight and began its arial assault on the group. It was during this time that the dragon made several passes at the group, but it was becoming evident that the heroes had little ability to fight back. It was under these desperate circumstances that Mongo decided to climb a nearby rock formation, and then lunged at the dragon as it passed. The axe blade of “Skull Cleaver” had found its mark, digging deeply into the dragon’s strong scales, and severely wounding the dragon! Then it was over as suddenly as it had begun, as the dragon banked to the west and disappeared into the distant rocky horizon.

Robyn had been badly injured, and the paladin Fin LaVie’s powers had been significantly weakened. The group was in dire need of rest. The group decided to take a short rest to recover while they inspected the dwarven outpost. Nothing of value was discovered with the exception of footprints leading from the rear of the stone structure which lead further up the mountain. None could be sure of why these individuals had apparently fled, but the group was thankful they had.

Following the short rest the group continued its journey through the Ironwall Mountains. It had been decided that the group would at least scope out the enemy positions before calling it a night. The heroes were in desperate need of rest, but also realized that time was of the essence. It would do them no good to arrive at Hammerfast a day late, for if the siege had already begun, or worse yet already taken place, the dwarves would be unable to help liberate Timbervale. It was this simple equation that pushed the exhausted group forward.

Nearly two hours later that night the group spotted several large silhouettes up ahead. They immediately stopped, allowing their eyes to adjust to their surroundings. Then Altain quietly confided in the others that they appeared to be some sort of siege engines! Robyn decided to scout ahead hoping to learn more. Soon he returned to inform the others that there appeared to be two guards near each of the two trebuchet, and another large form sleeping nearby. Each knew what was needed – sabotage. A large army encampment could be seen in the distance, perhaps one hundred yards ahead, with countless fires now burning low. Immediately the heroes began to form a plan in the dead of the night, fully knowing that the disarming of these two huge weapons could in fact severely hamper the army’s assault of Hammerfast in the upcoming days ahead.

As the plan formed the group finally agreed to rest for the night. The heroes agreed that an attempt to disable the trebuchet would most likely be a very dangerous proposition, and if caught in the act a major battle might prove to be the end for them all. The group just needed to be sure they awoke before the break of dawn, or it would be too late.

During the predawn hour the companions finally awoke. A palatable tension hung heavy in the air as each of the companions packed up and prepared to move out. Altain knowing that this moment was of particular importance asked the group to huddle around before quietly delivering a stirring speech in which he stressed the importance of this one moment, and its possible impact toward the spreading evil over much of the northlands. Then he chanted a few final words in a strange tongue that none could fully understand. Slowly each companion’s blade began to glow a hot red-orange before slowly fading, but a noticable heat still remained. It was then that Altain told each of the companions that their cold, hard steel was now blessed with an enchanted flame. It was time to move out…

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The Resistance (Episode 46)

After debating the groups next course of action the heroes finally decided that they needed help. Hopefully the dwarves of Hammerfast would prove to be a willing ally. The companions had made a difficult decision, and could only hope that the Temple of the East Wind’s liberation would somehow avoid enemy notice. The group was well aware of the fact that the sooner they returned the more likely the Temple was to remain uninhabited.

The next morning, after a much needed rest in the newly liberated Temple of the East Wind, the companions departed for Stonefang Pass. It had been nearly a year since the group had delved deep below the Ironwall Mountains in order to stop the Severed Eye Orc tribe from over-running the dwarven Glintshield Clan.

Nearly three hours into the groups day long journey through the dark tunnels of Stonefang Pass the companions began to note the distant echo of hoofbeats up ahead. Hurriedly they decided to sheath their pale glowing enchanted blades, and moved to the passes far outer edges in the hopes of remaining hidden. Soon a distant light could be seen emanating from the dark surroundings ahead, before a rider bearing a torch finally began to take shape. The individual appeared to wear plate armor and was racing south. Suddenly Altain stepped from the shadows in an attempt to make himself known to the mysterious individual, and the man’s horse began to slow its approach. Altain inspected the man carefully for any tell tale signs of the Queen’s Army while introducing himself in a calm demeanor. It was during this exchange of pleasantries that Fin LaVie recognized the design of the man’s shield slung across his back. No insignia was evident, but the design of the steel edging of the shield was unmistakeable, he was a member of the Queen’s Army! Then suddenly, as if the man had somehow noted the look in the paladin’s eyes, he suddenly kicked his horse into action and attempted to shoot through the groups ranks! But the soldier failed to get the jump, as Robyn quickly released a carefully aimed dagger at the man’s horse, striking the hapless animal in the chest. It wasn’t long before the horse collapsed from several other attacks, and soon the unknown rider suffered the same fate. A carefully conducted search soon followed, and revealed a piece of parchment in one of the horses saddle bags. It appeared to be another letter of correspondence destined to General Gathas, and it simply stated: “Victory of the Northland is within the Queen’s grasp as the siege of Hammerfast has begun and should prove successful in the next day or two.” It was obviously a letter that would never reach its destination, and the heroes could only hope that the letters interception might somehow give them some sort of advantage.

The companions knew now that time was of the essence and they prepared to press onward. But before departing Robyn took it upon himself to deface the Queen’s insignia upon the unknown soldiers shield. The remainder of the day passed uneventfully as the companions wasted little time making for the exit of Stonefang Pass. Finally as dusk began to descend upon the Ironwall Mountains the companions began to make out the distant light at the end of the dark tunnel. Robyn was the first to exit Stonefang Pass as he stealthily crept along the passage walls, and then scurried to the shadows outside. It was then that the rogues suspicions were confirmed as armed crossbowmen stood watch atop ancient towers on the opposite side of an old stone bridge. The companions soon followed, but were unfortunately noticed immediately upon exiting the pass. Crossbow bolts soon littered the air, and Altain found himself badly wounded by three unlucky strikes in a few short seconds! It was after the initial barrage that the companions once again began to regain their confidence as they attempted to make their way across the very old stone bridge. But things were about to take a turn for the worse, as one of the small out-house buildings nearby began to shake violently behind the group! It was obvious that something was attempting to escape, and whatever it was seemed powerful. Then with one last push of brute force the two doors of the building suddenly flew off their hinges, landing nearly twenty-five feet away in the nearby river! Mongo raced to cut off the flanking position behind the group with the hopes of getting a better view of whatever it might be within. Soon the dwarf’s questions were answered. It was a large blue-scaled rhino-like beast with lightening coursing over the single horn upon the creature’s snout – a bluespawn stormlizard! Immediately the dwarf set his feet and prepared for what he was sure would be a painful charge. Memories flooded his mind of the encounters of just such beasts deep in the Misty Marshes the previous year, and if memory served him well they were as dangerous as any beast the group had ever encountered. Fin quickly attempted to flank the large stormlizard while Altain scramble around the out-houses perimeter in the hopes of gaining an advantage. But Fin’s assistance soon proved to be short lived as the stormlizard gored the hapless paladin before several bolts from distant crossbows suddenly found their mark – the Paladin of Bahamut collapsed! Things continued to spiral out of control when two more of the Queen’s soldiers suddenly appeared from another nearby building and quickly closed on the remaining companions still standing on the bridge. Astoundingly however a glimmer of hope was to be had as Fin LaVie began moving even though surrounded in his own pool of blood. But then Mongo appeared to be the next victim of the stormlizard’s deadly charge as the beast rushed to impale the defenseless dwarf, but then at the last second the stormlizard suddenly vanished!!! Only to reappear upon the stone bridge, where it gored one of the Queen’s soldiers in the back! Nearby, Altain wore a satisfied smirk upon his face, fully knowing that he had most likely saved not only Mongo, but the entire group and their desperate mission. The swordmage’s suspicions would soon prove prophetic, as Mongo killed the last of the soldiers on the bridge before turning insubstantial and striking the stormlizard with two devastating hacks of his enchanted axe Skull Cleaver. The glowing red runes blazing brightly upon the weapon’s blade as it tore through the blue-tinted flesh of the draconic beast nearly killing it! It wasn’t long after that before the stormlizard, and the surrounding crossbowmen, were finally defeated. Robyn, frustrated and angry at the nearly disastrous conflict, quickly moved to deface the Queen’s insignia upon all of fallen soldiers. Altain, also filled with rage, severed the head of the stormlizard before placing it on the end of a pike and planting it firmly in the ground at the end of the bridge facing south. The group was quick to realize how close they had come to complete disaster.

Dusk was quickly falling to darkness when the group made the difficult decision to press onward. They now realized that there was little time to spare due to their interception of the Queen’s correspondence – one day maybe, or two at most, or so the letter had read. Each knew that hope was sure to be lost if the dwarves at Hammerfast fell, because with them they most likely took the hopes of Timbervale as well. As darkness fell across the Ironwall Mountains the heroes pushed through the rocky terrain that surrounded them, a winding path their only clue on how to proceed. Nearly an hour later, exhausted from the steep trek along the mountain path, the group spotted what appeared to be torches burning up ahead. They continued cautiously ahead, slowly closing the distance until they could make out numerous torches attached to tall stakes. Amidst the light another stone bridge could be seen spanning a small mountain creek, and a stone outpost stood on the other side. But it was the piles of dwarven skulls that marked various portions of the path, including the entrance to the stone bridge, that really caught the groups attention. It was a morbid sight, and was undoubtedly a warning to any who dare trespass. Robyn asked his companions to stay put, before making his way for a closer look. Carefully the rogue made his way across the ice cold water of the shallow creek, flanking the stone bridge and the outpost to the left. What happened next terrified even the most stout of heart, as a deadly silent dragon suddenly swooped down from the surrounding mountain spires before viciously tearing into the unsuspecting rogue with its razor sharp talons! Robyn’s friends stood at the other side of the creek in stunned silence, unable to sound out the slightest of warnings to their endangered companion. Then with its claws dripping with blood, the large grayish-scaled dragon landed within ten feet of the shocked rogue, before continuing its deadly assault. The creature’s scales protruded upon its head and crest like stoney outcroppings, and its deadly fangs appeared large enough to prevent the beast from being capable of totally closing its mouth. Altain, reflecting back on his many studies of ancient texts began assessing the situation, and believed the large beast to be a rare gray dragon, known by some as as a stone dragon, or fang dragon.
Gray dragon 2
Unfortunately the swordmage had not read of any weaknesses however, and could only call upon the knowledge that the dragon was infamous for its savage and deadly nature. Few in history had been known to survive such an encounter! Pushing these bleak thoughts from his forethought, Altain and the others began racing towards their rogue companion. But as the companions took up arms against the large gray dragon the beast began inhaling deeply before releasing a blast of acidic ooze! The viscous substance clung to anything and everything that it struck, and unfortunately that included Robyn and Mongo. Their exposed flesh sizzled, and melted, and screams of agony filled the still mountain air. Luckily a third member of the group avoided the blast however, as Altain managed to skirt around the flank of the dragon uninjured. Then the large gray dragon released yet another gout of the caustic ooze before taking flight and repositioning its large reptilian body to a more advantageous position, and at the same time pinning the rogue near a rocky outcropping. The rogue, not use to fighting in such close proximity, was beginning to panic. He was now contending with the light headed feeling of one who has lost too much blood, and Robyn was beginning to wonder if there would be any escape this time around? Sensing the groups desperation Mongo called upon his power of spectral vines to help defend the group, and followed it by calling upon the surrounding vegetation for more cover. The stalky dwarf then planted his feet firmly in the ground and prepared to make his final stand if need be. Then the dwarf began yelling at the imposing dragon in an attempt to garner the large beasts attention, while attempting to avoid the creature’s dangerously barbed tail. Nearby Altain also began taking up a his preferred battle stance of the swordmage. The dragon’s very presence seemed to invoke a deep rooted fear amongst many of the companions, and many found it difficult if not impossible to move away. Stunned confusion seemed to cloud many of their minds, and many in the group found these feelings of helplessness to be unfamiliar. A sense of panic was beginning to take hold…

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