Legends and Lore

The Catacombs II (Episode 31)

When it was time to move onward the companions decided to take the far northeastern door. Beyond, an enormous chamber was discovered, a mansion for the dead knights of the abbey. From where they stood the group could see at least a half a dozen stone sarcophagi arrayed around the shadow-draped chamber, and others most likely sitting in the darkness deeper within. A strange reddish glow tinged the shadows, apparently emanating from something near the wall to their right, and in it several dark figures could be seen moving stealthily toward the group. Five quiet humanoid creatures could be counted, and the sound of rattling chainmail could be heard emanating from the rear of the hall. Something heavy was dragging across the floor nearby but seemed just out of sight. The companions quickly moved into the great hall, moving to defensible positions around the nearest sarcophagi. It wasn’t long before the group recognized what appeared to be some sort of zombies closing fast, but perhaps too fast? Shortly after that initial impression some began to recognize their mistake when long canine fangs became apparent as each of the five figures lunged towards their prey. Vampires! But this first wave soon proved to be more of a scare than a threat, as each fell where they stood when struck.

As this initial attack took place, an unexpected creature appeared from behind a distant pillar. A six-legged reptilian creature unlike anything the group had ever seen. But what really stood out was the creatures intense gaze, eyes glowing an almost florescent green. It was these eyes that proved most dangerous as one quickly became ill from just the creature’s simple stare! And if this gaze was not dangerous enough, its razor sharp teeth appeared capable of severing a man’s arm with one simple bite!

Soon after the six-legged reptilian lizard appeared two more figure were noted standing at the northern end of the massive tomb. One wore a black cape and seemed very pale, and the other a bald man wearing chainmail armor under dark purple robes, and a mace in his right hand. The pale man was believed to be a vampire, but his strange reptilian tongue flicked in and out of the man’s mouth at random intervals leaving each companion wondering about his true nature. The strange man also seemed to have the ability to charm an individual, allowing him to draw his victim closer while clouding their thoughts. It wasn’t until the battle neared its end that the man’s secrets finally revealed themselves – suddenly transforming into a large humanoid snake with a tough hide and increased quickness.

Meanwhile, the man wearing the purple robes rushed into melee as the battle continued to be waged. He seemed crazed, and his bloodlust was more than evident as he howled madly during battle. This mad howl was ear piercing, and often left one with an immense skull splitting headache, and the inability to move! The battle proved to be more difficult than first expected, but once again the companions banded together.

The snaketongue vampire was a worthy adversary, but the crazed man cloaked in purple robes proved to be the better of the two. It was on this individual that the group discovered a spiral holy symbol around the man’s neck. It was the ancient symbol of Tharizdun, or the elder elemental eye. Others once knew him as the chained god, and his followers were known to be a crazed cult. But the paladin, Fin, also knew that this god had supposedly vanished long ago with many of the others. Perhaps the man was a lone zealot, or perhaps he was a member of a larger group? It was the first such individual the group had met, and none could know for certain whether or not there would be others?

Following the battle in the massive chamber the group decided to rest while checking out the premises. Upon the Tharizdun worshipper three more cards were discovered: the jester, talons, and flames. Along the eastern wall an alter was discovered bathed in a red glow, and near the alter a bag of gold coins on the chamber floor. Upon closer inspection of the alter a viscous liquid was found pooling around the feet of a platinum dragon icon. It was pale red in color, with streaks of silver, and flecks of gold mixed within. Rolen moved up to inspect the substance closer, and then touched it with his dagger. It was then that the unexpected occurred, as the strange substance began moving up the dagger and began to flow over Rolen’s flesh! Then it began to seep into his pores as though it was being absorbed!! Rolen began flailing about in an attempt to free himself of the substance, but to no avail. Panic began to permeate throughout the group, as others tried to assist their new companion. Finally Fin managed to calm Rolen enough to successfully scrape the substance from his flesh, and then quickly flicked his dagger in order to remove the substance from his weapon. The strange silvery-red substance seemed able to spread quickly, and each member shivered with dread at the mere thought of what the substance might be capable of, especially if left to entirely envelope an individual. Rolen, having nearly been a victim of the red liquid, decided to take a sample of the substance using a small flask. The maneuver required a quick and steady hand, but the transfer was a success. Many wondered why mess around with the dangerous liquid, but Rolen seemed to think that the substance might prove useful in the future.

It was also during further inspection of the great chamber that the northwestern corner was found to contain a statue of Bahamut in the form of a human knight wearing plate armor. It was there that Fin LaVie noted that he could sense his god’s power. Another item of interest stood near this statue, in the far northwester corner of the chamber, a sarcophagus. Sir Oakley was the first to note that the name etched in the stone was in fact the resting place of the founder of the abbey, Gardin the Hammer.

It was after this short rest that the group decided to return to the recently discovered secret chamber. With the unusual mosaic of Bahamut as a dracolich watching over them, the companions settled in for a good nights rest.

The next morning the group awoke unusually refreshed. The two paladins of Bahamut, Fin LaVie and Sir Oakley, felt that the group had been blessed that night by a higher power. It seemed a good omen for the upcoming day… (each player starts this day with 5 temporary hit points!)

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The Catacombs (Episode 30)

The next morning the group descended the dark staircase. From somewhere ahead the barely audible sound of chanting could be heard, apparently a liturgy to Bahamut. The group continued carefully down the stairs where they discovered a large chamber. Four sarcophagi, one open, stood in the outer portion of the irregularly shaped room. Beyond, a few armored humans knelt in worship before an ornate alter decorated with twin rearing dragon heads. A soft light emanated from the alter, bathing the worshipers in a halo of gold. Unsure of exactly what was going on, or who these individuals might be, the group proceeded with caution. The group decided to engage the mysterious knights in conversation, but their responses were a bit stiff as the lead knight seemed very informal, an oddity to both Fin and Sir Oakley. It was under this pretense of caution that the group suddenly found themselves under attack. The heroes were unsure of exactly why the attack had occurred but had little time to ponder the question. Soon however the questions were answered as the knights were discovered to actually be hovering slightly above the stone floor! Then a few short seconds later their long hair lashed out, draining several of the companions of their living essence, before the knights turned incorporeal! These were obviously not knights, but in fact a ghostly entity known as a pale reaver. Shocked by the sudden turn of events the group was forced to rely on their finely tuned instincts to react. At times several heroes seemed on the verge of collapse, most notably the dwarf, Mongo. While others seemed under their enemies ghostly possession at times, yet once again the companions eventually prevailed.

After a thorough search of the premises it was finally decided that the group should press onward, despite Robyn Graives’ objections that they had failed to check any of the unopened sarcophagi inside the chamber.

The group decided to exit the chamber through the northern doors next to the strange twin-dragon headed alter. In the next chamber two ornately carved sarcophagi occupied one side of the room. Past them, a font jutting from the opposite wall could be seen bubbling with clean, clear water. Then a clattering of bones suddenly filled the chamber, skeletons attacked! The chamber was quite dark, and only the faint silhouettes of the enemies fleshless form could be seen at the onset of the conflict. Then the battleground was suddenly ignited with light as a ball of flame struck from the groups right flank, suddenly exploding from an unnoticed enemy, a blazing skeleton wreathed in flames! Then more clattering of bones, as two more skeletons moved into the area from other unseen positions within the chamber. But these skeletons were unlike any known to exist, as both wielded four scimitars, one for each of it’s four arms! Thankfully the companions acted quickly however, and created a defensive perimeter at the chamber’s doors which prevented the enemy from surrounding the group. The battle that ensued proved less bloody than the one before, but still left the group with extensive injuries that required immediate care.

It was during the short rest following this battle that the group discovered a secret door leading to a hidden chamber. A striking mosaic, its colors still stark despite the passage of years, covered the wall of the square chamber. The mosaic depicted Bahamut as a dracolich, but there was little evidence of exactly why. Each of the other three walls held a door like the one the group had entered, most likely hidden from the other side. Three sets of gleaming plate mail lay sprawled on the floor, each containing a set of bleached bones. Swords lay beside the skeletons, still sheathed and attached to their half-rotted leather belts. It was in the midst of a small pile of bones that must have been a hand, that the group spotted a glint of yellow. It was three topaz gems, and by the looks of them ones of significant value. Further investigation led the group to the conclusion that the three knights had most likely starved, but why? Were they hiding? From what? Once again there seemed to be only more questions, and few answers.

After a short rest the group decided to press onward, delving deeper into the catacombs…

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The Sacred Vessels (Episode 29)

During the group short stay they continued to mill about the keep, and it was during this time that another unexpected discovery was made. A card was found tucked into one of the cushions of the throne. The card was that of a knight in plate armor, but all the group knew is that it apparently belonged to a set. They knew this due to the fact that they had discovered two other cards on the orc chieftain’s body. These two cards contained a skull on one, and a gem on the other. Three cards that most likely belonged to a larger set, but why were they spread about in such random locations? Then the knight, Sir Oakley, asked to see the cards. A curious look fell upon the older man’s face as he studied each, before handing them back.

Time continued to pass when Sir Oakley began to tell the group of a secret stairway that could lead the group to the top of the hill, and telling the companions that it was well hidden but would most likely provide the group a safe route to the temple above. Finally after a short deliberation the group followed the white haired knight outside the village walls to the western cliffs. There, hidden amongst the tangled brush but very well hidden, was indeed a stairway carved into the sides of the steep embankment.

At the top of the hill stood several buildings which made up the temple’s complex, but Sir Oakley had his sights set on one in particular. The once-grand temple which stood at the pinnacle of the abbey’s hill, and was now reduced to crumbling ruins. Though the roof was half collapsed and the building was blackened with soot and decay, some hint of its ancient grandeur still shone through the abbey’s great temple. Mighty columns rose into the shadows beneath the crumbling roof, lifting the eye toward the heavens. Smaller pillars of graceful shape and elegant decoration hinted at the temple’s lost beauty. Altars to several ancient gods surrounded a towering statue of Bahamut, depicted as a human knight in armor. But as the group took in the sights of the massive temple a croaking voice suddenly called out from overhead, “all faithful of Bahamut, come and pay him worship!” A flutter of feathers then drew the groups eyes toward two wretched shapes, like hideous women with wings and talons, draped in bloodied holy vestments. Many in the group quickly recognized that the creatures known as harpies were obviously insane, and their mockery of Bahamut surely did not sit well with either Fin or Sir Oakley, both Paladin’s of Bahamut. The harpies immediately began to sing drawing several companions into the temple before three angels suddenly appeared, and then suddenly attacked. The battle was on, and many in the group began to wonder what strange magic, or curse, was at work here? Why were angels attacking them? Who were these harpies and why did they seem to worship Bahamut yet attack a group containing obvious worshippers of the same god? There was only one obvious answer, they must all be insane! It was the only explanation the group could come up with, and there was little time for any further discussions on the subject. The battle was hotly contested by both sides, but the companions soon proved the better.

Badly injured, the group decided that it would be best to make camp in hopes of recovering from the draining encounter. A thorough search of the premises revealed a series of alters in niches on the side walls, and an alter at the north end of the temple that was dedicated to Bahamut. It was this latter alter, the alter to Bahamut, that Fin began to approach when he suddenly felt a sudden rush of divine energy course over him. It was a rush like none he had ever experienced before, and it filled him with a renewed hope for the future.

Further inspection of the premises revealed nests in the far northeast corridor of rooms, where the harpies had apparently embedded thousands of gold pieces into the walls of several rooms. This created a shimmering affect when light was introduced into the darkness, making the walls appear as if they were made of gold. To the southeast of that very same corridor a stairwell was discovered descending into the darkness below… each had an eerie feeling it most likely lead to the temple’s catacombs. But with the heroes current condition the group decided that further investigation would have to wait, it was time to settle in for the night. Meanwhile in the main chamber another card was discovered hidden in a secret compartment on Bahamut’s alter, it was the card of “Fates”.

Before the group set in for a good nights rest Sir Oakley hoped to perform his ritual of purification inside the temple, even though the religious vessels he need were nowhere to be found. The vessels had apparently gone missing over the many long years. The knight explained that he needed the sacred vessels to perform the ritual, but now hoped that perhaps they might not be needed. Soon however he discovered otherwise as the ritual failed. Then Fin and Sir Oakley went to a quiet chamber nearby where the knight explained the ritual to Fin, in the hopes that “The Chosen One” might fare better with the ritual. In return Fin explained his divine ability to heal in order to quench the knight’s curiosity. Then the two returned to the temple’s large chamber to have Fin perform the purification ritual, but once again the ritual failed.

That night the group was startled awake by Sir Oakley’s loud voice, but upon waking the group discovered that the knight was in some sort of strange trance. It appeared to be some sort of dream-like state in which Sir Oakley seemed unaware of his surroundings. Then the knight began blinking rapidly as he suddenly came to, and then realized that the others were looking strangely at him. After collecting himself Sir Oakley began to tell the companions of the visions he had experienced, and how he now believed that he knew the locations of the three sacred vessels! Why, or how, he could not be certain, but there was little doubt in Sir Oakley’s mind that Bahamut had more than a little to do with the sudden revelations. The Brazier of Silver Fire was apparently in the ruined village garrison, the Chalice of the Dragon was amongst a hoard in the vaults, and the Bowl of Io’s Blood was to be located in the temple’s catacombs. Unsure of what to make of the sudden visions, the group decided to continue their rest. They agreed that the next morning they would delve into the catacombs below, where they hoped to discover whether or not the knight’s visions held any merit…

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Answered Prayers (Episode 28)

It was during the group’s departure from Gardmore Village that Mongo and Robyn learned the name of the half-elf that now accompanied them. His name was Rolen, but they had little time to learn more about the half-elf as it was imperative that they get a safe distance away from the orc encampments. A short time later the three began to set up camp, taking care to make their unconscious companions, Altain and Fin, as comfortable as possible. Then the unknown stranger, a white bearded man in ancient plate armor, was tended to as the three individuals looked upon the mysterious knight with more than just a little curiosity. Who was he? Where did he come from? Not to mention his impeccable timing! Nothing was known of the knight, except that he had saved many of their lives while nearly giving his own.

Thankfully the night passed uneventfully, affording the group an opportunity to recover from the near-deadly previous evening. Early the next morning the group prepared to head out before the break of dawn, in the hopes of sneaking past the protective wall of Gardmore Village. The three companions most grievously injured had regained consciousness, and many had questions reguarding exactly what had taken place the previous day. It was during this exchange that the group thanked Sir Oakley for his heroic rescue of the party during their most dire moment. Sir Oakley returned the show of gratitude in kind, realizing he too would have paid the ultimate price without assistance. It was then that Sir Oakley began to share his story, which included a dream of the abbey grounds and being beckoned there for some unknown reason. Then upon arriving, hearing the ring of steel as a battle was waged somewhere nearby. Before happening upon the dire situation inside the keeps entrance, and realizing the group’s near hopeless situation. But even more shocking to the knight was when he was suddenly enveloped in a blue-white light, which seemed to somehow revive the unconscious dwarf, Mongo! Sir Oakley couldn’t explain any of it, and could only offer an explanation of a higher calling. It was then that Fin began to explain his story, and that true healing of the gods was in fact truth. Sir Oakley was obviously stunned by this unexpected revelation, as well as Fin’s proclamation that he was the “Chosen One”.

Sir Oakley could hardly believe what he had learned over the last few minutes of conversation. Suddenly the events surrounding these unexpected companions seemed much greater than themselves. Something much larger than any of them was obviously manifesting throughout the world, and would surely carry repercussions far and wide. It was then that Sir Oakley made the decision to confide in the others, and asked if they might be able to help him cleanse the abbey of the evil inside the temple at the top of the hill? He needed the group to escort him to Dragon’s Roost at the highest point of the abbey. There he planned to perform a ritual of purification but needed the groups protection to complete the ritual. Thankfully the group agreed to help.

A short while later the group once again fought their way through the gatehouse, before once again making their way to Gardmore Keep. Blood still stained the stone floor of the keep, but the bodies of dead were now stacked outside the large double doors. Inside orc bowmen occupied the balcony overlooking the large feast hall. The group quickly disposed of the orc archers before making their way to the doors at the top of the balcony. It was the area that the group had last seen the orc shaman the previous day, and many felt certain that their enemy stood somewhere beyond those very doors.

Alcoves lined the walls of the dark hall, each one holding crossed weapons and a shield like those in the galleries outside. More rubble choked the floor, and a gaping hole opened to the lower level of the keep. A great throne stood at the far end, a majestic piece of furniture that now bared savage ornamentations of bone, fur, and horn. A fierce-looking male orc reclined upon the throne, his yellow eyes fixed on the companions. A female orc beside him smiled cruelly, hefting a stone maul as four other orc warriors advanced. Then the male orc upon the throne spoke sternly, “don’t kill them yet, I want to hear them plead for their pathetic lives!” But that only incited the companions, as they quickly charged headlong into battle.

As the battle waged it wasn’t long before the orc shaman made his presence known, as he suddenly appeared from behind the throne. But this battle soon proved to be unlike the previous day, as the companions made quick work of the orc chieftain and his followers. Following the battle the group found strange fist-sized stones upon the female orc, and another upon the orc chieftain. Each stone bore dwarven runes that translated into the common tongue as “Speak”, the companions recognized them as enchanted sending stones. Further search of the premises also revealed a locked chest behind the throne, which a key was found for on the orc chieftain. Inside a silver-plated longsword was found buried amongst a pile of gold coins, and at the bottom of the chest lay three tiny jade statuettes and a gold necklace. Sir Oakley showed little interest in the find, but was offered the silver-plated sword in appreciation anyway. He kindly accepted the offer, but also seemed anxious to push onward, apparently hoping to make his way to the temple atop Dragon’s Roost.

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Gardmore Abbey (Episode 27)

Robyn entered the great hall in an attempt to negotiate passage from the orc shaman standing upon the far balcony. But his words came off as a desperate plea of greed, and soon many of his companions realized the need to close the chamber doors or else risk being flanked by the ettin guard. Slowly they moved inside the chamber before the dwarf, Mongo, quickly moved to drop the bar locking the massive wooden doors.

It was then, with anger in his eyes, that the orc shaman gave the order to attack. The two orc guards at the far end of the chamber quickly mounted their dire wolves and charged the companions, while the other two orcs near the doorway flanked the group as quickly as possible. The companions soon realized they were pinned down with little room to maneuver, but fought valiantly in the early going in an attempt to improve their position. It was during these early exchanges that Robyn’s dagger began to softly vibrate before cutting a large gash in one of the nearby orcs. Robyn was stunned at how easily the weapon sliced through the orc, and he instantly knew the enchanted blade was growing in power. Meanwhile, the orc shaman above began to chant loudly, releasing a whirlwind upon the battlefield. The high winds blew some back, while others fell prone before their enemy, and things seemed to continually grow worse by the second. Then the groups worst fears were realized when the large ettin outside the chamber doors began to bash his large club against the barred wooden barrier. A few short seconds later the doors shattered, sending spinters of wood flying in all directions, and the giant ettin began violently swinging its large clubs at the unwelcomed intruders.

Finally two companions broke from the pile. Robyn made his way under the massive table at the rooms center looking for cover, while Fin pressed the attack on one of the orc guards pushing him back underneath the balcony. The shaman acted quickly and released an arc of lightening that leapt from the orc’s outstretched hand to the paladin below, and then to the rogue hiding beneath the nearby table. Seeing this, Altain knew someone had to get at the shaman and as quickly as was possible. The eladrin moved swiftly before suddenly vanishing from sight, only to reappear a few short seconds later right next to the unsuspecting shaman! Altain struck the shaman with several significant blows before the shaman suddenly took to the air. Flying to the main floor below the orc leader too aim at the rogue, Robyn, taking cover beneath the table. One again lightening shot from the shaman’s fingers, but this time the rogue narrowly escaped the electical strike. Altain moved down the spiral stairs in an attempt to once again close on the shaman, only to witness the orc flying back to the balcony above once again before disappearing through a pair of doors at the top of the balcony. No one dared give chase.

Down below, on the main level of the great hall, a fierce battle continued to be waged. Then an unexpected ally arrived from the exterior courtyard. It was a half-elf warlock, and he now took aim at the at the companions enemies through the wood splintered doorway. But even this assistance seemed of little significance, as the heroes injuries continued to mount. Finally Fin fell from his grievous wounds. Shortly after Altain and Mongo fell from their wounds as well. With three companions now unconscious the half-elf began toretreat from the melee. Robyn, recognizing the hopeless situation, also bolted through the door into the dark courtyard beyond.

All hope seemed lost when a older man with white hair and a beard suddenly appeared from the darkness. Quickly he stepped into the entryway and began to fight off Fin and Altain’s attackers. Then he leaned over to check on Mongo’s lifeless body when a sudden flare of radiant blue light enveloped the dwarf, and he fallen heroe’s eyes suddenly opened! Fearful of being knocked unconscious once again, the dwarf struggled internally whether to get up or feign still dying. Slowly he moved to check upon the fallen paladin, Fin, and did his best to stabilize his fallen comrade. Mongo then noted the knight standing above him, and the blood now pooling at his feet. The dwarf needed to act fast, before any little hope that was left was lost. But he was too late, as the ettin struck the knight with a massive blow from his large club. The knight’s knees buckled, and the unknown hero collapsed. Anger filled Mongo, and he charged the ettin as quickly as his short legs would allow. With little thought, the dwarf embedded his axe deeply into one of the two-headed giant’s skulls, felling the strange creature.

Two dead dire wolves, four orcs, and one two-headed giant now lay near the great halls entrance. Mongo stood alone inside the keep, realizing his good fortune to be standing amongst the carnage. There was little time to ponder however, as the dwarf moved to stabilize the unknown knight, as well as his eladrin companion Altain. Then as he continued to comb over the battlefield he noted the footfall from the courtyard outside of the keep. It was Robyn, and another unknown individual, a half-elf. Their was little time to exchange pleasantries however, so the group decided to carry their unconscious companions from the keep as quickly as possible, and then made their way from the ruins of Gardmore Abbey and the nearby village walls. There they tended to their wound, and wrestled with the near disaster that had just taken place.

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A Mysterious Journey (Episode 26)

After meeting with the sage in Hommlet the companions began to once again make their way westward. Tordariche Nem had told the group of a small town to the west of the Feywood Forest called Winterhaven. It was there that the group hoped to discover whether passage upon a ship could be obtained there, or anywhere nearby in a coastal town? Tordariche had made it clear that the group was to be on the lookout for a mountain range to the southwest, and to skirt to the northwest in order to locate this place called Winterhaven. It was ten days into this lengthy trek, while skirting these very mountains, that the group spotted the ruins of a small village behind an ancient curtain wall. Above the wall and village ruins a caved-in temple could be seen standing upon a nearby hilltop. To the west and south the curtain wall ended abruptly, as the steep hillside created a natural barrier of protection. In the shadow of this wall the ruins of Gardmore Village could be seen standing like lines of broken teeth. Among the sagging roofs and toppled wrecks of houses, throngs of savage orcs made camp in filthy tents clustered around small, smoking fires.

The companions knew they needed to keep a low profile, or risk being set upon by what appeared to be hundreds of orcs. The gatehouse was then chosen as the groups point of entry. If all went well the group hoped to enter the gatehouse, defeat what they hoped to be a limited number of orc guards, and then make their way along the shadows of the interior curtain wall until they reached the tangled expanse of forest that covered the southern end of the village. Luckily their plan played out as they had hoped, as four orc guards met the group inside a raised portcullis. But there was one large surprise, as a ten-foot tall ogre also guarded the interior gatehouse! This opponent was only the beginning of the unexpect twists however, as Robyn and Mongo suddenly found themselves seperated from the melee when the raised portcullis came crashing down behind Fin and Altain. Robyn and Mongo then found themselves assaulted by a barrage of arrows that came from the top of gatehouse towers. The battle turned out to be more challenging than originally expected, but eventually the group disposed of the occupants before raising any outside suspicions.

Once the group was reunited inside the gatehouse the group made its way along the shadows of the curtain wall. It was then that they spotted a deserted courtyard nearby. The large open space seemed the perfect place to pitch a tent, yet no orcs were present, but why? After a short discussion they decided to investigate. It wasn’t long before they noticed a pile of crates and barrels near a set of ten-foot tall double doors that lead to a large keep. But as they approached they spotted an enormous two-headed giant with its back against the doors to the ruined keep. The eyelids of one of its heads were half-closed, and it was picking its teeth with the grisly bone of a recent kill. Thoughts of once again ducking into the shadows ran through the heroes minds before they suddenly realized they had been spotted. The two-heading giant yawned, then asked for a password. Shocked by the sudden question the group paused as the ettin rose to its feet.

Then the head on the right spoke, “Just give ‘em the reminder Spike, so we can get back to our nappin’.”
“Fine Bruse,” Spike grunted, then recited the following riddle: “A box of white bones, never empty nor full, though it ever leaks treasure inside. It holds safe all you’ve got, unless you’re a sot, when its locks with wine may be plied,” Bruse said.
“Smash it in like an egg, but what do you know?” said Spike, “They’ll not find the treasure you hide.”
Fin and Altain exchanged worried glances, before Fin finally gave his answer – “a skull.” With that the ettin suddenly stepped aside, allowing the companions safe passage through the large, wooden, double doors and into the keep.

Inside lay what appeared to be a great feasting hall. Arched and columned galleries overlooked the entire area, the emblazoned shields of its mighty defenders lining the walls. Some were now missing, and others pierced by raven-fletched arrows, and yet others defaced by gobs of filth or scrawled graffiti. At the far end of this reeking chamber, two curving stairways rose to either side of a landing where the galleries met. An ornate door could be seen leading off from the landing. But all this was secondary to what stood before the stairway, two orcs armored in the piecemeal remnants of Gardmore’s former defenders, a crude mockery of the paladin’s solemnity. Beside them stood two dire wolves – steeds no doubt for the savage knights of the orc chieftain. Two more orc warriors stood at the ready only twenty-feet from where the companions now stood. An orc sporting thick dreadlocks beaded with humanoid finger bones could be seen leaning over the balustrade at the far end of the hall. He raised a totem capped with a human skull, and began barking orders…

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The Three Sisters (Episode 25)

Finally after resting the group headed back into the surrounding snow covered forest. They headed west hoping to find some sign of the three sisters. They needed to find the three oracles of the Feywood Forest in the hopes of discovering the location of the legendary lost scrolls. Soon a thick fog soon rolled in before the group spotted three large silhouettes standing in the distance, but it was soon discovered that these were not the oracles for which they sought but instead three trolls. Quickly the three disgusting creature were defeated, along with a small critter with two incredibly long arms capable of latching onto and strangling a large sized man.

The next day the group found themselves surrounded by an elven ghost army, but the group managed to negotiate passage through the frozen woods when Altain pulled the enchanted blade “Moonfire” from its sheath. The elven spirits apparently recognizing the weapon then parted in reverance, allowing the heroes to pass.

Finally the group came upon a small cavern entrance as dusk began to fall. The light of flickering flames could be seen upon the caves icy walls. Inside two women could be heard bickering amongst one another. Carefully the companions made their presence known before slowly entering. Negotiations then began before the third sister finally made her presence known as she appeared from a tunnel at the far end of the cave. Finally after a long and tedious discussion an agreement was finally reached. In a shocking turn of events the Paladin of Bahamut, Fin, agreed to relinquish his enchanted blade, Slayer, to the three hags in return for the coveted information! It was an act of selflessness few would have been willing to make, and it was undoubtedly a result of the Paladin’s deep faith. It was then that the companions learned of the “sunken city” of the Turathi Empire known as Bael Turath. It was there that the lost scrolls could be found in a long lost library. But this information also came with a stern warning of danger, as the sisters spoke of an infernal presence known as the guardian. Soon after the heroes departed and began their long trek back through the frozen woods to Hommlet.

Once back in the occupied town of Hommlet, the group once again looked up the sage Todariche Nem. They shared what information they had learned, before kindly offering the sage an escort north to Timbervale. But Todariche had to refuse the kind offer, as he had unfinished business to attend. It was during this stay that Robyn decided to get some much needed rest at the Welcome Wench Inn. Already on edge from a nearly successful assassination attempt less than a week earlier, the half-orc felt the need to sleep with one eye open. Then a knock suddenly sounded at the door. Terrified, Robyn began tearing apart his dresser before finally hiding inside its empty shell. Then he heard the quiet click of the lock, and the nearly silent footfalls of an unkown individual. Then the assassin suddenly struck! Robyn was sure he would soon meet his end when the dwarf, Mongo, suddenly appeared. The assassin broke for the second story window, and quickly disappeared into the night. Once again Robyn realized his good fortune, and he couldn’t get out of town fast enough!

Soon the group departed the small town, and as it faded into the distance Robyn could be heard mumbling under his breath how he truly hated the place. He had the disturbing feeling that soon his luck just might run out…

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"Moonfire" (Episode 24)

After leaving Hommlet the heroes headed south as quickly as possible in order to avoid detection. It was during these early morning hours under the moon-light that the group heard the flapping of wings from above the trees, and then everything suddenly fell silent. The group froze in place as an undescribable fear gripped the group. Not wanting to draw the attention of whatever it might be, the group listened for any signs of trouble. But it wasn’t a noise that grabbed the groups attention, but the massive shadow that glided over the group, as the moon-light was suddenly eclipsed by a massive winged beast above the treeline. Unfortunately the companions were unable to clearly identify the winged beast however, as it appeared no more than a dark silhouette outlined in the moon-light above the trees.

The remainder of the day was relatively uneventful, and the group finally set camp in a grove of nearby trees.

The group continued south the following morning. It was on this second day of travel that the group was suddenly attacked by a large, white ape-like creature with four arms that leaped from the trees, and landed amongst the companions. Initially the four-armed ape inflicted several significant wounds upon the group with its sharp claws, but things quickly turned as the heroes banded together, and quickly disposed of the beast before more harm could be done.

Later that day the group finally spotted the Feywood Forest in the distance. Carefully they entered the woods unsure what to expect, but the forest appeared no different than any other. They pressed onward deeper into the woodlands as the sun began to set over the horizon. Finally at dusk the group decided to set camp yet again. They were now two days into their journey south, but none were really sure of what they were looking for. All they knew was that three sisters known as the Oracles of the Feywood Forest were somewhere, anywhere, in these woods. As each drifted off to sleep that night they were left wondering exactly who, or what, these three sister were exactly? Their imaginations did the rest, as throughout the night each of the companions dreams seemed to be filled with the varying possibilities.

The third day of travel brought the companions into the thickest region of the Feywood Forest, and the feeling that the group was often being watched. Yet never was there evidence found to explain the uneasy feeling, so the group continued to press onward until dusk once again began to fall across the snow covered woodland. It was on this third night that the group noticed the yellowish-orange flickering of light in the distant woods. It appeared to be a campfire, but just who’s none could be certain? The companions could only hope that whoever it was hadn’t discovered them first.

Fin wasted little time, as he began moving in the direction of the flickering lights. Quickly Altain followed. This gave the rogue, Robyn Graives, little time to react, but the fleet footed half-orc somehow managed to work his way ahead of the group. Knowing that his companion weren’t far behind Robyn knew he needed to act quickly. Soon he spotted a large canvas tent with campfires burning around its perimeter. Then he noted two individuals talking near one of the tent’s entrances. One wore a dark green cloak with his cowl pulled up over his head and face, the other was a dragon-man with wings much like the other dragonmen the group had encountered in the Misty Marshes last fall. Perhaps worried that the group would soon give away the element of surprise, the rogue prepared to strike first. Carefully he aimed his enchanted silver dagger known as Triflik’s Blade. His aim was perfect as he struck the draconian, dropping him dead in his tracks, but the cloaked individual quickly disappeared inside the tent to sound the alarm.

Surprised at Robyn’s sudden attack, the companions raced ahead to see exactly what the commotion was all about. The sight was a shocking one, as draconians filtered out from three visible exits of the large tent structure, while others came running from the backside of the huge forty-foot by forty-foot tent. It was as though Robyn had disturbed a beehive!

It was during this initial strike that many of the companions picked up on the sound of leathery wings flapping from somewhere up above. Fin’s sword pommel then suddenly began to warm, and the blade began to release an ever so slight humming vibration. Then the all too familiar silhouett eclipsed the moonlight above the treeline, before disappearing mysteriously to the west. It seemed like an ill-omen for them all, but there was little time to worry now that the beehive had been disturbed.

As the battle was engaged the group suddenly came under fire from an unexpected direction, as draconian scouts in the surrounding trees began to rain poisoned arrows down upon the companions. Then as the battle wore on, a large blue rhino-like beast was released from behind the tent upon the hapless group. Lightening coursed along the stormlizard’s horn as it charged headlong into the fray. Once again the companions had visions of the past fall season, and the nearly deadly encounter with a beast such as this. But things continued to get worse, as a robed draconian soon exited the tent with two armed draconian guards. It was the last thing the heroes expected to see, just when things seemed they couldn’t get worse, a draconian spellcaster! Soon explosions of fire filled the northern side of the encampment as the spellcaster chanted his deadly words. Then Fin suddenly began to act strangely, as he disengaged the enemy and then suddenly attacked his companions! Each of his companions knew that the evil sorcerer most likely had something to do with the strange behavior, and quickly began to plot how to take him out.

Meanwhile, the group was making quick work of the small armies regulars. But as the enemies numbers began to diminish higher ranking draconians began to engage the heroes, slowing down their progress. It was then that Fin spotted a four-foot tall green humanoid figure standing amongst the trees west of the camp. The short dog-like creature could be seen holding what appeared to be a staff, or spear, in the faint moonlight, and wore what appeared to be some sort of small dragon skull upon its head. Several in the group charged in the general direction hoping to catch the small creature, but hidden in the trees nearby was a sight that turned everyones blood cold with fear – a massive green dragon! Shocked and terrified many were unsure of their next move, well aware of the fact that a wrong move could be their last. Recognizing the surprise upon the companion’s faces the small dog-like creature’s cheek bones rose ever so slightly, revealing what might have been a knowing smirk. Then the huge dragon began to inhale deeply before releasing its poisonous breath amongst the heroes. Many began to choke, unable to breath as their lungs filled with the toxic gas. Struggling to remain conscious many stumbled from the noxious fumes in an attempt to gather themselves, while others continued fighting the fumes as well as the enemy. Then things took another turn for the worse when two of the kapak draconians fell, but instead of turning to the familiar stone statues the group expected they instead burst, spraying acid all around before pooling where each creature last stood. As fate would have it Fin and Robyn found themselves last standing at that exact location. One second proud of their hard fought victory over the reptilian creature, and then the next second unconscious and lying in a pool of acid! Quickly Mongo pulled the paladin, Fin LaVie, from the sizzling pool before looking up hopelessly at the rogue and expecting the worst. But amazingly Robyn began to pull himself up with hands dripping of melted flesh, and began to stagger from the vile pool! It was what many would consider nothing short of a miracle, and a much needed one during those desperate moments.

Meanwhile, as the companions fought on, while others tended the most badly injured, the small green kobold disappeared back into the forest. A strong wind then buffeted the trees as the huge green dragon began hovering above the nearby tree tops with the small rider upon his back, and then flew overhead releasing another cloud of poison on the struggling heroes below before vanishing to the east. Yet the companions continued to put forth a valient effort. Finally the draconian sorcerer fell, along with the large blue stormlizard, and the group made a run for the interior of the tent. Luckily they made it just in time, as the dragon could be heard once again straffing the area, before once again disappearing into the distance.

Inside the large tent an excavation site was discovered. The snow and ice had been removed in some way to expose the earth floor beneath the tent, and a small stairway near the east entrance led to the dig site nearly five-feet below the surface. It was at the center of this dig that a beautifully crafted stone sarcophagus lay with about a foot of it’s upper surface protruding from the soil. Wedges were now in place around the lip of the lid, and it appeared that the draconian army was close to revealing what was inside. But as the companions moved in for a better view something else caught Altain Moonfire’s eye. Inscriptions along the top ledge were prayers to Corellon. Not only was this an ancient god the eladrin once worshipped, but the name Arthuuse Moonfire also appeared on the front side. The date of passing was clearly legible, and was dated 15 years earlier. Anxious to confirm his hopes and fears Altain gave the group permission to open the heavy stone lid. Inside the group discovered an old tome upon the corpses chest, and an elegant blade resting with its pommel under the unmoving hands of the deceased. Carefully Altain removed the elegantly crafted sword. Upon touching the blade it began to glow with the soft-white light of the moon. The curves of the blade were an unmistakeable clue to the blades craftmanship by the long lost culture of the eladrin people. But it was the tome that provided what Altain had craved the most, an answer of what had become of his long lost father. It confirmed what the eladrin had feared, this was in fact his fathers grave. He had passed fifteen long years ago in a battle against a dragon known as Emerald. It was on this very battle ground that his father had been laid to rest. His bravery agaist the draconic beast had become legend, but in the end Arthuuse Moonfire was no match against a creature so powerful as a dragon. But there were many questions left unanswered by this text as well, where were the people of the Feywood Forest who had buried him? How big was the battle, or was it simply Arthuuse and Emerald? If so why hadn’t anyone come to his fathers aid? Unfortunately there were no answers however, just more questions.

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The Prophecy (Episode 23)

The companions had settled down outside of Hommlet, and now prepared to wait out the remainder of the day until nightfall. It was then that they decided that they would attempt to make their way into town under the cover of darkness. But just as darkness fell across the snow covered land voices were heard emanating from nearby. The voices were in a hushed tone, but it definitely seemed to be that of the common tongue. The heroes quickly attempted to take cover, but several soon learned they had been unsuccessful as the approaching guard called for them to show themselves. The confident dwarf, Mongo, was the first to respond as he stepped out from a small grove of trees nearby. Six human guards, all bearing the symbol of the setting sun, were being led by a dragonborn captain who immediately gave the order to apprehend the dwarf. A short discussion followed before the captain lost patience, and the two sides drew their respective weapons. From the trees Mongo’s companions quickly stepped fourth to engage their enemy. The battle was quickly won, and the companions began to realize that it would only be a matter of time before someone realized the guard had gone missing.

Quickly the group began to make their way towards Hommlet, but once again found themselves hampered by two short humanoids lurking in the distant trees. Perhaps they were spies, none could be sure, but it was obvious that the two small draconic figures were diliberately keeping to the shadows. Luckily the group had spotted the pair first, and once again disposed of them before the city guard could be alerted.

A short time later they finally managed to sneak into town under the cover of darkness. It was now past midnight, and the group knew they need to find a place to stay without drawing undo attention to themselves. Stealthily the group made their way through the strangely quiet streets of Hommlet when they suddenly heard the footfalls of the approaching city guard. Quickly the companions took cover while Robyn stood at the crossroads with a puzzled look upon his face. It didn’t take long for the four guards to take note of the lone straggler. It was apparently past curfew (one in which the heroes knew nothing about!), but the quick witted rogue had a simple explanation for his indiscretions – his wife had kicked him out of the house once again and he needed a place to stay the night. Robyn’s ability to think on his feet paid off, and he was escorted to Terrigan’s with a stern warning to not be caught out at such a late hour again. The companions followed a short time later, and joined Robyn in one of only two rooms available at the ramshackle tavern.

The next day the companion departed Terrigan’s and joined the bustling crowds to try to get a better picture of exactly what was going on in the usually sleepy little town. Guards were seen on nearly every street, their armor baring the symbol of the Queen’s Army of the setting sun. Unfortunately no one could tell the group who exactly this so called “Queen” was? There was also no sign of Rufus and Burne, and nobody seemed to have seen the pair in some time. Finally the group decided to pay Todariche Nem, the sage of Hommlet, a visit. But once they arrived at the sage’s home he refused to open the door and let them in, and instead gave them a stern warning to leave and that he would find them at a later time. Quickly he asked where they were staying, in which they answered the Welcome Wench Inn. With that answer he then suddenly closed the door.

That night, as the companions surveyed the night life of the taproom of their newly chosen place of rest at the Welcome Wench Inn, a sudden commotion from upstairs turned an uneventful evening into chaos. Robyn had gone upstairs alone to rest, when suddenly two daggers flew through an open window striking the unsuspecting rogue! Very quickly the apparent poison upon the blades began to cloud Robyn’s vision, and his sight began to blur. Panicked, the nearly blind rogue scrambled in the general direction of the door, before making his way into the hall. There he screamed for help, while the attacker silently pursued its prey. Thankfully Fin heard Robyn’s desperate screams, and rushed up the narrow stairway to the second floor, then rushed past the nearly unconscious Robyn to charge the darkly cloaked ‘would be’ assassin. But the mysterious individual seemed uninterested in taking matters further, as he quickly retreated back into Robyn’s room and leaped through the open window, disappearing into the winter night. Meanwhile, Robyn made his way downstairs to the taproom where Mongo began to treat the rogues serious wounds. It had been a close call, and Robyn knew he was lucky to still be alive. The event had shaken many in the group, and it was decided that they should turn in for the night before they drew any more attention to themselves. Robyn, understandably unnerved, decided to stay in Fin’s room, choosing to sleep under the paladin’s bed for the remainder of the night.

Then several hours before dawn, and well past mandatory curfew, Todariche the sage arrived at the Welcome Wench Inn. Quietly he made his way up to the second floor where the companions slept, and knocked ever so slightly on their door. Nervously the companions checked who it might be, still nervous from the nights previous events, before opening the door to let the sage inside. It was then that he told the group of his uncovering of an ancient prophecy that had apparently begun. The first sign of which was that “the chosen one will rise again after darkness falls”, a clear refrence to the born again Paladin of Bahamut, Fin LaVie. But he was unable to find anything else that might expand on the mysterious prophecy. There was only one known source that might contain such answers, the Lost Scrolls. But the sage had little idea of where the Lost Scrolls might be located in the world today, or if they even still existed at all? But he believed he knew where some answers might be found – the Three Sisters of the Feywood Forest. It was Todariche’s hope that the three oracles might know something of the ancient prophecy, and perhaps the location of the Lost Scrolls. But the sage quickly warned the group that the three oracles would not part with such highly coveted information so easily, and that there was often a great price to be paid for such knowledge. Then the sage spoke of the great danger of being discovered in the groups presence, before wishing them well and departing into the silent streets of the night. Each could only hope that they might soon discover exactly what it was that they were up against.

Before daybreak the group once again made their way to the northwest edge of town, and under the cover of darkness disappeared into the great unknown. They began their trek southward towards the mysterious Feywood Forest.

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Winter's End (Episode 22)

That winter the paladin of Bahamut, Fin LaVie, proved lucky as he had hired enough dwarven masons to complete his Temple of Bahamut before the heaviest snows fell. “The East Wind” as it was called, was a beautifully constructed temple to Bahamut, southwest of Timbervale. It had risen from the forest covered ruins of an ancient temple of a bygone age, and it was believed to have been a temple to Bahamut during the previous age as well.

During the building of The East Wind one other companion offered his assistance as well. Altain had always taken an interest in the acquisition of knowledge, and especially the reading of books. During the two months of renevation, and rebuilding of the temple, the swordmage turned scribe. Altain began to scribe by hand each and every book he could get his hands on from the community of Timbervale, including a few of his own rare texts. It was a huge undertaking, but the eladrin was driven, and it was a contribution he was more than happy to make in order to fill the temple’s new library.

Then in the third month of the new year rumors began to spread through the smoky taverns of Timbervale. Apparently many were now hearing talk of mysterious hooded figures south of town? Some even spoke of strange beasts of burden?? The rumors were whispered and bantered about in hushed tones, but it was obvious that they were having an affect on the locals. No longer did people roam the streets after dark, and a sense of nervousness permeated throughout the community. It was starting to look as if the long, and quiet winter months were coming to an end.

The locals were spooked, and the heroes had a feeling there might be some truth to the rumors. The Heroes of Stonefang Pass knew what needed to be done, and they began to prepare for the trek southward. Winter had yet to loosen its grip on the northlands, so the companions knew they needed to prepare for the elements. It was during this preparation that Lady Sevrym learned of the groups plan to head south to investigate, and offered any supplies the companions might need.

The heroes headed south early the next morning. It was a bright and sunny day, and the snow had begun to crust over. The companions were filled with the hopes that an early spring might soon arrive. On the second day it began to snow. As the snows deepened the trail south slowly became more difficult to transverse, and any tracks the group hoped to discover most likely began to fill with snow. On the second night as dawn approached, the group suddenly found itself under attack as a pride of lion-like cats circled the groups tent. But these were no ordinary big cats, as they displayed the unique ability to peel the flesh of their faces back revealing their facial muscles and skull! It was an unnerving sight that caused an individuals blood to run cold, causing an uncontrollable fear. Once again however, the companions proved that when roused from a deep sleep they still had an innate ability to rise to the occasion. The battle wasn’t without significant bloodshed, but the group banded together to protect their camp, as well as one another.

Snowfall continued throughout the fourth day as the group continued south towards Hommlet. The temperatures had begun to fall throughout the previous night, and its effects were now beginning to take hold on the group, and in particular Altain. But the Eladrin Swordmage pressed on, even though a bit under the weather. It was as if something unseen was driving him forward. The snowfall continued to increase throughout the afternoon, and the temperatures continued to fall, when the group finally discovered caravan tracks heading southwest. The tracks were quite old, and they had begun to fill in with snow, but were still plain to see. The group pressed ahead invigorated by the new discovery. Then as dusk began to fall the earth beneath the companions feet began to rumble, and then suddenly burst open! It was some sort of large armored beast, with razor sharp teeth, and a mouth that appeard capable of swallowing a man whole! It was a burrowing creature to be sure, and reminded many of stories heard referencing a creature known as a land-shark. But after the strange creatures initial surprise the companions took the battle to the armor-covered beast, and soon sent it burrowing for safety. But the companions had no intentions of letting the creature escape, only to swallow one of them whole in the future, so they gave chase and followed the tunnels until the bulette finally fell under their relentless attacks.

The next morning, the town of Hommlet finally came into view, as the group spotted smoke from the many chimneys of the town over the southwestern horizon. The constant snowfall of the past several days had finally relented, and many in the group looked forward to the more hospitable conditions of a local inn or tavern. Guards could be seen standing near the towns entrance, inspecting an incoming wagon. Thinking little of the sight, the companions headed towards the entrance to town. But when they finally reached the city limits the guards stepped out to intercept the newcomers. The companions began to explain that they had been to Hommlet before and that they didn’t understand the hold up? The captain of the guard politely explained that this community was one of peace, and that weapons and armor were no longer allowed within the city limits. Then the guard asked for the companions to please turn their belongings over so that they may enter. With a bit of hesitation, Fin asked to see Rufus and Burne (the town elders). He was quickly refused, and was told he could see them later, and in turn Fin refused to turn over his weapons. The situation was quickly growing tense, as many a scenario began to race through the companions heads. Then Fin suddenly noted the crest upon one of the guards armor – the symbol that Fin had often referred to as “the setting sun”. Fin knew something just wasn’t quite right with the situation, but he needed to think. Carefully he nudged Altain to take over the conversation, while he considered this unexpected development. Outnumbered by a three to one margin the group tactfully offered to depart peacefully, and turned to leave. It was then that the captain of the guard wished the group safe travel before casually adding that there were “many dangers out there, and to be careful”. The comment sent chills down the back of the Paladin’s neck, but Fin continued to walk away, he needed to think about the situation. He had a funny feeling they would be back.

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