The Scales of War

An Unlikely Ally
The Shadowrift of Umbraforge - RP Email 2a

After an evening of comparing clues and discussing their implications, Samhain and Runtwold made their way through the dark mercenary camp. A fog has fallen over the camp, further muting the already dim light and causing all sounds to come from areas unseen. Once back in the safety of your tent, the two of you relax and share a smoke of some fine Riverfolk pipe weed. Without warning, the flap to the tent you share is cast aside and a Shadar-kai witch stands before you. She wears a black cloak edged with adamantine beads, and she keeps her long hair plaited to hang down her back. Gold piercings line her ears and lower lip, and a black starburst tattoo encloses her right eye. Runtwold immediately recognizes her from earlier in the day at the tavern, while Samhain suddenly recalls that she was present at the magical training grounds.
“Hello other worlders” she says. “I see you’ve been acquainting yourselves with the camp today. Have you found what you came looking for?”

“That depends on if you mean a fight. If so, then yes, we found one, and one that nearly killed us.

Did you sic those ogres on us, or are you a friend? You spoke to me before as I attempted to understand the nature of the mercenary duties around these parts, but I am unsure."

The Shadar-kai entered the tent, letting the flap fall closed behind her.
“Are you being coy with me, young Dwarf?” she almost purrs. “I’m insulted that you think I’d associate myself with that rabble band of Ogres. The fight is not what I refer to. I had lost interest in the 5 of you before the melee broke out. No, what I refer to is what you came here seeking. Did you find it or him?” She gestures towards an empty bed: “May I?”

(Holds out a hand toward the empty bed) "By all means.
To be honest, we’re not exactly sure what we’re seeking here. We’re on the trail of several people and seeking to serve our own motives, which I can assure you are fair and just. The real question is if you serve them and are trying to get us killed, or if you’re working to aid us. So I’ll say two names, and you tell me where your loyalties lie, or we can end this conversation before it even begins.

Modra and Sarshan. Whose side are you on? Who do you represent? Tell us that, and we’ll tell you who we’re hunting."

{Ooc – Samhain is closely observing the shadar-kai’s reactions and body language. I’d like to make an Insight check, but the link you sent is broken.}
If you had lost interest in us before the fight, then what renewed it? {Diplomacy check}

“How about another name: Leena. That’s my name. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance” she says with a smile.
“As for who I work for, I guess that would be Sarshan. See, I train his combat casters at the training grounds. That is where I first met your talented friend here” she says, indicating towards Samhain.
“What renewed my interest in you?” she says, responding to Samhain, “Well, I suppose I misspoke. More like, I had learned all I needed before the fight broke out. After hearing your discussions at the tavern, I find myself curious about your folk from the World. I have always thought of those from the World as weak, immoral and alien creatures. The endless stream of mercenaries and war masters that travel to the Shadowfell to do business with Sarshan have done nothing to soften this impression….until you showed up. So tell me, why do you seek Modra?”

“He attacked us. When we sought to find him, he fled, and sent beasts to destroy us. He seems, at least on the surface, to be untrustworthy. Do you throw your lot in with him?”

“No. I do not throw my lot in with Modra. We were once allies, but I had to break from him when he decided to work behind Sarshan’s back.” She continues: "You say Modra attacked you? For what reason? Is that why you seek him: vengeance?” she asks with curiosity.

We seek vengeance on Modra, and more importantly we wish to understand Sarshan’s cause. As you can tell, we may be unconventional, but we’re a strong force of men, and we want to know what Sarshan’s goal is if we’re to throw in our lot with him.

I’m not a fan of slavery, but I can’t help but admire the force he’s arranged. It’s formidable. But his goal, for all we know, could be to glorify people like Modra."

(bluff check?)

[Diplomacy does not reveal anything.]
[In listening to Leena and watching her as he speaks you feel certain that she is being truthful and is not trying to deceive you.]
Leena listens to Runtwold with a smile. “My dear Runtwold, I was just about to tell you how the five of you had changed my perception of those from the World. How your plight and goals rung as honorable and noble against the band of cutthroats I deal with daily. But then you have to go and lie to me. You’re not here to ‘throw your lot in with Sarshan’. That much I know. As for what Sarshan’s business is, well, he’s in the business of power and wealth. I’m just a trainer here who is paid well to keep the combat casters here deadly. As for Modra, he and I used to be allies as I said. He went behind Sarshan’s back and made a bad deal and now he’s a marked man. So as I asked before, why would Modra attack such an obviously powerful group when is already a hunted man?”

(reddens) “My apologies. I was merely trying to ascertain whether you meant us ill or not. It’s not obvious that you’re not, since you’re still here.
Perhaps Modra was concerned at the intentions of this army, which you still have not revealed…”
Leena laughs: “Modra concerned with Sarshan’s stable of mercenaries for hire? I highly doubt that.” she chuckles. “Self-preservation is his only concern now. In fact, I hear he is back in Umbraforge, as you doubt already know.”
“As for this ‘army’ as you call it, I do not know the intentions” Leena says. “This is Sarshan’s standing group of mercenaries for hire. As of late, the numbers have swollen and masses have moved out to areas unknown, but their purpose is lost on me.”

“Why have you come to us?”

Samhain looks at his brother in arms… “She hasn’t, but she also knows that we don’t really care about Sarshan and his mercenary company.” Turning back to Leena, he continues, “Revenge? No, lady, we seek justice. Modra has many crimes to pay for, and much suffering and slaughter has been the direct result of his meddling in affairs that Sarshan deemed too risky to engage in. ‘Twould seem, mayhap, that your employer’s and our goals in regards to the creeper may coincide?
Yes, we hunt Modra, and ‘hunt’ is the appropriate term. He bested us once, and our failure allowed him to escape our world back into the Shadowfell. Perhaps he believed he could more easily vanish in his native plane. Perhaps the gateway to this camp was the closest, or the only portal he knew of, but I doubt that. I am sure the concerns of our world mean little to you or Sarshan, but we are here on behalf of the folk of Overlook, and have the onus to seek out the perpetrators of the recent Orcish assault on our homes.
That is the reason for our presence in Sarshan’s demesne. By helping us, you help Sarshan. We fully understand that he has no motivation to hire us to do something we intend to do regardless of his wishes, but mayhap we can reach an accord in bringing Modra down? We are aware that Sarshan wants his head as much as we do.”

“I sought you out because I saw something in your group that I did not think those of the World were capable of: Nobility and a sense of purpose I have never seen in people from the World. This is why I have come to help you.”
‘You are correct that the goals of Sarshan and yourselves align on this front, but I am not here on behalf of Sarshan." Leena continues, "As I said, Modra and I worked together for a time, but when he elected to go behind Sarshan’s back, I told him we were done. I head word of him back in the camps even before you starting asking questions around. He has a plan to disrupt Sarshan’s operations by destroying the foundry, then the tower. Sarshan has a private tunnel connecting the two, and Modra is planning on venting the foundry’s destructive energy there. A mass of mercenaries is moving out tonight. He’ll be using that as cover when he goes inside."
“Modra’s made his bargain with fate and honor decrees that he die for his betrayal. He won’t get tears from me. But if Sarshan captures him, he’ll die slowly. If it’s you, I’ll hope you make it quick”

“How do you know all of this?
Beyond that, you’re asking us to save mercenaries when we don’t know what their stated goals are. For instance, presuming that Sarshan wishes to go and perpetrate a slaughter of my fellow dwarves, even my contempt for Modra and his backstabbing ways would be overwhelmed by my desire to see his mission succeed and stop this army.
From where I sit, this army already stands in question because of its trade in slaves, both dwarves and otherwise. It seems both groups of people are worthy of condemnation, if not death, unless some larger goal is revealed.
If you want us to work with you to destroy Modra, I’d have to be assured we weren’t empowering someone worse than he is.”

“Modra is going to die one way or another, Runtwold. If it’s by your hands, then I hope it will be a swift death. And I am not asking you to save mercenaries. I simply said that a group of them is moving out tonight, and ”/campaigns/exploits-of-the-brindol-brigade/characters/modra" class=“wiki-content-link”>Modra is going to use that movement as cover to sneak into the foundry. I do not know where he is now, but I can tell you where he will be tonight."
As she finishes the last sentence, the earth trembles, much as it has done since you’ve arrived. This time, however, the strength of the tremor is greater than it has been.
“A tremor much like that, broke a hole in the back of the foundry just last night. I suspect that is how he will enter.”

“Very well” (Looks to Samhain)
“If my partner doesn’t object, I think I can speak for us both when I say you have the aid of my party.” (OOC: pause here for if Shawn wants to object. If not, I will follow that with:)
“Will you be aiding our party in the battle? I have encountered your like in battle, and found them fierce.”

“I don’t think we need concern ourselves with Sarshan’s motives or his army, Brother. We are only five, and there are thousands here under Sarshan’s command. No, we are here for Modra, and our shadar-kai friend here has given us an opportunity to accomplish our goal. We should gather the others, and set an ambush for Modra in the foundry.
On the other hand, Sarshan wouldn’t take offense with us if we rob him of the pleasure of his former lieutenant’s company one last time, would he, Leena? I’d hate to be seen as interfering with your master’s… fun.”

“You must forgive me, but I will not be joining you.” Leena says. “I have my own interests to look after,” she says with a smile. “Besides, I do not want to find myself hunted by Sarshan like Modra is.”

(Looks warily at Samhain after she says she won’t be helping) “Very well. Where will he be?”

“Wait a minute. Why would Sarshan take issue if you were to accompany us?”

“I don’t know if he would, or if he wouldn’t, but I am not about to find out.” Lenna says as she gets up and heads to the tent flap. “He wants Modra dead but I am sure he would like to torture him a bit as well. If he found that I helped you to kill him, he may not like that.” With that, she leaves.

“We should get the others and make for the foundry. Leena said one of these quakes opened a way into the passage, I believe. Let’s find it and figure out where Modra’s strike may be. This time, we ambush him!”
“We’ve no time to waste! Quickly, Runtwold!”
Samhain grabs his gear and rushes out of the tent, buckling his armor as he goes.

Agreed! If our sneaky molting friend has recovered, we will win the day!

Samhain draws his dagger, and grins wickedly as it smoothly morphs into a longer, slimmer blade, more akin to a boning knife. “As long as I get one of HIS kidneys this time….” He grabs his gear and rushes out of the tent, buckling his armor as he looks about for the rest of his brothers in arms.

The Shadowfell
The Shadowrift of Umbraforge

After brief deliberation, the party decides that exercising caution is better than wading headlong into the unknown. Leaving Gothe to guard the entrance to the portal room, the rest of the group returns to the Trade District to buy supplies for what is sure to be a dangerous journey.
With pack filled with healing potions and trail rations, the party returned to the portal, activated it with the key, and then stepped through. After a brief and sickening pulling sensation the party found themselves in a room that was the inverse of the one they had just left. Where the walls were once white, the walls of the new room were black marble. The doors and portal that marked the wall of the previous room were now on the opposite walls. A brief search of this room revealed two over turned stools and signs of a struggle. Whoever was involved in the struggle appeared to have left via a short hallway. Following this hallway, the party found themselves standing near the top of a rocky hillside. There, and incredible vista opened up.
The land before them was like nothing they’ve ever seen before. A wide plain of gray-green grass and stunted black trees spreads beneath a sky scoured by fast-moving clouds. The sun is bright above but somehow doesn’t cut the darkness that drapes every rock and every blade of grass in gray gloom. This is the Shadowfell.
From the mouth of the cavern, a wide and well-traveled road ran in a curving line to the north. There, perhaps a quarter-mile away, a military camp spread. Buildings are scattered here and there, with tents and pavilions spread between them. Torches and fires burned brightly against the ever-present shadow, and lone trees and tall stands of gray-green grass were whipped by a hissing wind.
Looming above it all, a rise of black rock to the west is rent by a seething volcanic rift. Black-streaked lava coursed from it to descend into a narrow channel, and a permanent pall of glowing red-black smoke rose above it. Over this molten flow, a great stone bridge was arched. This wide east-west road met the road north from the cavern. North of the bridge, a tall tower stood and a lower building spread in its shadow.
Taking in the sight below them, the group pondered how to best approach such a massive enclave. It was soon decided that waylaying a guard patrol and taking their uniforms was the best place to start.
The group was making their way down the road to get into position to find a patrol when a voice ran out. Two dark creeper sentries suddenly appeared where the shadows of the tall grass had hidden them.
“Hey!” one shouted angrily. “All mercenaries are to stay within the borders of the camps! Next time you go wandering, you get shot, sellswords!” He cursed to his partner and the two of them returned to hiding.
Without a word of argument, the party continued down the road, relieved to know they would not have to sneak into the large encampment.
They approached the frontier of the mercenary camps unchallenged, and a virtual city spread out before them. Beneath patched canvas tents stood open-air taverns, market stalls, apothecaries and herbalists, weapon smiths and armorers, butchers and greengrocers—all doing roaring trade.
Training grounds opened up between the various camps, and soldiers of different races clashed against each other with sword and shield. In the quieter corners, they saw combat casters training—the flare of arcane fire dancing between them. But as they approach, they noticed with surprise that these were not Shadowfell mercenaries for the most part. Though shadar-kai and dark ones were well represented, the fields and camps were packed with Orcs and hobgoblins, ogres and trolls, lizardfolk and kobolds and a dozen other monstrous races of the world.
After securing lodging for a few nights, the party split up to do some investigation into what the nature of the mercenary camp was and if anyone had heard of Modra. Boreas headed to the training grounds and impressed the mercenaries there with his physical prowess and endurance, while Samhain joined the battle mages in demonstrations of arcane might. Gothe took a slightly different approach by trying to impress upon the other guards and other mercenaries how ruthless and terrifying he was. Acting as crazy and gruesome as he could, Gothe made quite an impression on many in the training camp. Runtwold, took a more subtle approach and sauntered into the tavern tent and started asking questions.
After a long day that ended with the party finding themselves in a fight for their lives as a young group Ogres attempted to impress their elders, the party gathered at the tavern tent to discuss what they had learned. The result of their investigation was as follows:
• This is Umbraforge, dominion of Sarshan, a trader of great reputation and even greater wealth. The tower, foundry, and forges are his. The camps are those of the mercenaries and slaves whose services he sells across the Shadowfell and the world.
• Sarshan is shadar-kai, an outcast who made a name for himself as the leader of a legend¬ary mercenary band known as the Black Ar¬row. At their height, the Arrow put so much fear in generals and kings alike that Sarshan would take payment to fight for one group, then take a bigger payment from their foe to stand down.
• Modra is known well in Umbraforge, but for all the wrong reasons now. He was one of Sarshan’s trusted lieutenants before he tried to a broker a weapons deal that Sarshan had already turned down.
• The job that Sarshan refused was some orc king’s raid on a dwarven citadel. Sarshan never makes a sale if it has a chance of com¬ing back to him, and for good reason. This job went bad, they say, and people know that Modra sold the orc his weapons. (You all can assume that this was Tusk’s raid on Overlook. It was Modra who provided Tusk with the weapons and knowledge to attempt to attack Bordin’s Watch from above and below. The attack went bad, obviously, and now Sarshan has found that Morda went behind his back to broker the deal)
• Modra is long gone from Umbraforge and the Shadowfell, believe me. Sarshan’s got a long arm and a longer memory. The creeper would have to be crazy to come back here.
• The foundry is the new jewel of Sarshan’s operations. Its power comes from the fire and shadow driving its furnaces. Sarshan’s sages create beasts of battle there, born killers with magic in their blood.
• It used to be that Sarshan brokered mercenar¬ies mostly within the Shadowfell, but that’s changing. Dark ones and shadar-kai are still his elite troops, but more and more, he brings creatures from the world to Umbraforge for training, then marches them off to places unknown.
• The Shadowfell is only a stopping-off place for Sarshan’s mercenaries. A force of archons from the Elemental Chaos was here not six months ago. I saw githzerai from the Astral Sea in Um¬braforge once. I don’t know what job they took for Sarshan, but woe be to whoever got in their way.
• Sarshan’s slave bazaar is about more than just servants and soldiers. His experiments in the foundry only begin with dumb beasts. He’s building new soldier races there, born from the slaves he traffics.
• Sarshan’s mercenary operations have tripled in size in months past, but it’s not the Shad-owfell they’re fighting in. When his forces are bought and sent on the march, they’re bound for portals to the world. Shadar-kai, dark ones, undead, giants, ogres, trolls, gnolls, Orcs— Sarshan has the armies of two planes on the march. War is brewing in the world, but the forces that will fight it are moving into position in the Shadowfell, unseen.
After an evening of conversation, gambling and more than a few drinks, Samhain and Runtwold excused themselves and returned to their tent while Artin, Boreas and Gothe remained behind to continue drinking.

In Pursuit of Modra
The Shadowrift of Umbraforge - RP Email 1

Runtwold’s Dwarven temper flares as he stares at the portal. “The coward. The backstabbing coward. I’ve finally found cowardice worse than my own. The mindless thralls I understand, but to stab someone in the back in the name of evil…”
(He shivers).
Runtwold blinks, suddenly regressing to his former self, afraid to go into the portal, afraid of the doom that may lie beyond it. Then he looks at his spirit animal for guidance, finds the strength, and turns to the others. “We should follow him.”

Samhain steadies himself by leaning against the stone arch. “This portal would seem to lead to the Shadowfell. I remember my studies well enough to know it is a plane we may be poorly equipped to venture into. And yet, we must know more about Modra and what plots he is involved in…”

“Perhaps it is not cowardice, but rather wisdom, to seek the means with which to be brave before we act. Surely, pursuing Mordra is the priority, but you have a good point. If we equip ourselves, and ready ourselves for battle instead of what happened here, where we had to improvise below an eatery, we might better prevail. If he slipped up once and we found him, he will slip up again, only next time, we’ll be ready to stay his idle threats instead of being connived when he stabs us in the back.
“What say you, Dragonborn?”

Weirdly quiet and withdrawn since the events at The Nexus, Artin has taken on a rather uncharacteristic appearance. His battle-axe still caked with Orc blood… lending a dull appearance. His beard still mead crusty from The Overlook. His hands still reek with stink of The Nexus walls. While bitter ales and celebration generally turn a warrior dwarf’s mood to light, Artin has sunk deep into darkness.
In the white room (with black curtains) Artin cuts away a piece of Gothe’s discarded skin and chews it like jerky. (It tastes like Halfling.) “Tis the blackest of Fridays… I’m going shopping in the warehouse.” Artin walks away from the portal. And the rest of the party. Dragging his murky axe.

He pauses, looking at his brothers. "Perhaps the warehouse through the other portal contains more clues, but I cast my lot with Runtwold. We must pursue Modra. Question is, do we better supply ourselves first, and risk losing his trail in the darkness beyond?”

Into the Shadowfell
The Shadowrift of Umbraforge

After a long night of celebration, Gothe and Samhain staggered into the common room of the Mountain Hearth looking to soothe the hammering in their heads. When their brothers in arms did not join them for a morning meal, the two decided to head out into the city to see what answers they might be able to find to the question of who is supplying the enemies they have fought thus far with the quality weapons and armor, and why?
After asking around, town, the pair discovered that the weapons were not of any make made or sold in or around the city of Overlook. A Dwarven blacksmith directed them to the Blister region of Overlook, suggesting they surely would be able to find a black market for such goods there.
The pair headed to The Blister, a most undesirable part of Overlook, and began their investigation. Like a ghost, Gothe slipped through the crowded, muddy streets of The Blister. After asking around, he located an arms dealer who, recalled similar weapons on a bloke who told him he heard that “someone named ‘Modra” was said to be buying information a few months back, looking for those with experience mining the old caverns of the Stonehome.” The arms dealer then said they could probably find this guy at a place called The Pig and Bucket in the Blister. Samhain and Gothe headed out, searching for any information that could be found on this Modra.
*In an effort to keep this email manageable (and because I don’t remember all that went on) I am listing the information gathered by Samhain and Gothe below.

• The threat of the Orcs might be ended after the siege of Bordrin’s Watch, but word from the fron¬tier is there’s more trouble on the march. Just like Tusk’s clan, the rabble of the mountains is getting their hands on good-grade weapons and armor, and they’re looking to use it. In fact, the far traders coming into Overlook talk of more and more trouble on the roads. They say the Red Hand of Doom was behind what happened in Brin¬dol a few months past, but there’s more cults than that on the rise across the frontier
• “You get all races in Overlook, but the dark ones that pass through the city keep to themselves. More often than not, those you do see are in the company of Lost Ones bodyguards and enforcers.” The Lost Ones, are the most powerful Thieves guild in the city and often hire themselves out as mercenaries and body guards.
• Someone by the name ‘Modra’ was said to be buying information a few months back, looking for those with experience mining the old caverns of the Stonehome.”
o Modra is a Dark Creeper and well known in the city’s underworld as someone who brokers weapons and armor through the Overlook black markets. However, the dark creeper is just the front man for arms dealing in the city. No one knows who’s behind the operation, but rumor says it’s bigger than anyone in Overlook will ever know.”
o Modra met up with a shadar-kai witch a month ago. Some said she was doing a deal for weapons, but she didn’t look much like a warrior.”
o Modra was in the city three weeks past, but he was keeping a low profile. He had a squad of dark creep¬ers with him, must have figured they’d stand out.
o Last time anyone saw Modra was just before the raid on Bordrin’s Watch. I heard he’s been on the run since then. Some job that went bad.

In the course of obtaining this information, Gothe and Samhain made quite an impression on the patrons of the Pig and Bucket. They bought the bar several rounds of drinks and made several friends in the process. While in the bar, the noticed a couple of men eyeing the two of them. They had a round of drinks sent to the table and then asked to join the men who were sitting with friends. Before long whole lot of them were laughing, telling stories and playing dice games for coin. After several rounds of drinks and several dozen gold pieces, Samhain and Gothe made their way back to the Mountain Hearth to share their news with the others in the party.
As they twisted and turned their way through the streets and alley ways of Overlook, the odd pairing of adventures found themselves in yet another narrow alley when a sudden movement caught their eye – a horse tethered to a hitching post stops as they approached. From behind them, a voice called out, “Took a wrong turn, friends. Too bad it’ll be your last” The two men from the bar moved up from where they must have been following the two, battleaxes pulled from beneath their cloaks as they charged in to attack.
It was a bloody and violent battle that left Samhain on the brink of death. (Okay, he actually did die for real, but since it was only the two of them with the odds greatly against them, I allowed him to live.)
A quick search of the bodies uncovered a note on one of the attackers. It contained a hastily drawn sketch of the brass key the players found on the Dark Creeper in the Nexus as well as the following text: “Lost ones – The key depicted above must be recovered at all costs. It is currently in the possession of the Hero’s from Brindol and is of great importance to me. Anything else you find on their bodies is yours to keep. I pay you well for your services and I expect this task to be handled immediately. – Modra”
Gravely wounded, the two made their way back to the Mountain Hearth where they rested and tended to their wounds. While doing so, a female approached wearing brown leather beneath a green cloak and had a longbow strung across her chest. Quickly she said: “I’ve heard word that there’s a group in the city looking for someone named Modra. I ‘m doing the same, though I doubt it’s for the same reasons. Perhaps we should compare notes.”
The young woman is a half-elf named Reniss. She is the sister of Jen, the half-elf Warlock member of the Farstriders. (This is the group that was sent to close the Nexus. You found all of their corpses in the Nexus.) Her sister used a sending stone to whisper the name Modra to her with her dying breath. Reniss has been searching the city for information on Modra as well and heard about the parties inquiries. After exchanging information, she says “I met a dark creeper close to death in the Clean Sheets, looking like he’d been in the fight to end them all. He said he’d been working for this Modra when it happened. For a quart of bad beer, he told me that if I was looking for Modra, I’d better be fast. Someone else is hunting him- someone looking to kill him. The creeper didn’t know where Modra was, but he’d heard him talk about some Tradetown almshouse called the Happy Beggar.”
Samhain and Gothe told Reniss to meet them in the common room of the Mountain Hearth in the morning so they could all discuss the next plan of action with the rest of the party.
The next morning, the entire party met with Reniss and decided that an investigation of the Happy Beggar was in need. A quick ask around revealed it was an almshouse that was run by a married couple who were Paladins that had retired from adventuring some time ago. They run the almshouse as place to serve tea and porridge to those in need while spreading the word of Pelor.
The party headed out to Tradetown and found the Happy Beggar sandwiched between a warehouse block and section of rundown tenements. The atmosphere inside the Beggar was as dingy as the whitewash on the outside walls. In the plain common room sat two dozen miserable-looking patrons, most asleep in their chairs or sipping at cracked mugs. A few appear to be doubling as volunteer staff, carrying steaming teapots from table to table. Behind what would be a any in any other establishment, a dour-looking human woman in white robes boils water at a wood stove. A similarly attired male greeted the party as he limped up a flight of stairs across the room. He greeted and welcomed and told them so sit down and make themselves at home.
The party sat for a while, then moved around the establishment; some offered to help with kitchen duties while others questions some of the patrons about Modra. None of them had heard or seen anyone named Modra except for one battle scared old man who sat in the corner of the common room. He appeared human or half-elf but his face was deeply scared by the ravages of disease, making it hard to discern which of the races he was. Coughing wetly into a grimy handkerchief, he beckoned you to sit as you approached to question him.
The old man introduces himself as Brenat. He looks the party up and down and regales them with stories about how he used to be a brave adventurer as well back in his younger years. When asked about Modra, he replied:
“I know the one you mean. A dark creeper and none as dark as him, or so I’ve heard. Time was, he used the Happy Beggar as a meeting place, but I’d reckon he hasn’t been seen here in two years or more. I ran him off one time myself. I might not look it, but I fought dark creepers in the mountains as a younger man, sellsword to a dozen lords. Much as yourselves, I’d wager. Adventurers all have a price, eh?”
After answering the rest of their questions he warns the party, saying “Wherever you find this Modra, heed me. He’s a black-hearted one—make no mistake and strike no bargains with him. Kill him quickly before he gets the chance to return the favor.”
The players take their leave and the old man leaves The Happy Beggar. While Samhain helps in the kitchen utilizing the Riverfolk’s legendary cooking skills, Gothe decides to follow the old man. Deftly, Gothe shadows the man as he makes his way through the city before vanishing right before Gothe’s eyes. When Boreas approaches Prashant, the male owner of the Happy Beggar, about the old man, Prashant tells Boreas that contrary to his story, today was his first time in The Beggar and in fact, he was just asking about Modra no more than a half hour ago himself.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Samhain does some poking around and notices a locked door that seems to get little use. Opening the lock, he finds a short hallway that ends in what appears to be a collapsed cellar. Upon further investigation, Samhain and Runtwold see that the stones of the collapse seem to be intentionally laid and conceal a secret passage that has been used recently.
The news of the passage is relayed to the rest of the group and they decide to investigate. The dark passage twists and turns for 30 or so feet before dropping down into a steep slope that dumps all of the players onto their backs in a heap. As they lay there in the dark, getting their bearings, dark shapes swoop down from the ceiling and launch a deadly assault: Dire bats!
The hardened brothers in battle find themselves in a pitched battle that has the party struggling to attack the bats as they swoop in to attack and then flee into the darkness. Eventually, the battle is won and the party surveys the room. Leading out of this natural cavern is a worked passage way with light coming from somewhere beyond.
Looking down the passageway the party sees a set of stairs leading downward. As they approach, a savage howl echoes up the stairs. In the light from beyond, they catch a glimpse of a finished stone chamber with marble flagstones.
Headed by Gothe, the party creeps down the stairs to hide behind several stacked crates as they survey the room. The odd-shaped chamber extends outward in three sections, and it is about 60 feet wide at its end. Though its frescoed walls suggest a sort of temple, it resembles a storeroom now, with boxes and crates stacked in piles.
In the center of room stood an enormous open stone archway clocked in magic. Adjacent to it is a large steel cage on a low cart, somehow obscured in shadow. Within the cage, two fierce hounds appeared to be wrapped in darkness as they snarl and claw at the door. A short figure all in black threatened the snarling hounds with a spear through the bars of the cage. Two more dark creepers pushed the cart toward the arch. Farther along, a tall, gray-skinned female was inspecting a stack of crates. None of them appeared to notice the party.
With surprise on their side, Gothe and Samhain launched a devastating assault on the female. Boreas followed suit by charging into behind the attack and landing a savage blow on the witch. The Dark Creepers by the cage released the two Shadow Hounds and then hid under the cart. Gothe quickly turned their hiding place into a raging inferno when the blasted the area with a gout of flame from his mouth. In the end, the party was victorious. Samhain approached the stone arch in the middle of the room. Through the arch he could see the darkened image of a warehouse. A quick search of the bodies revealed a brass key on the witch that was identical to the one the players found in the Nexus and the one that Modra was so eager to get.
A set of double doors awaited the players. Listening at the doors, they hears the aggravated mumblings and curses coming from the room that lay beyond. Hoping to gain surprise, Boreas kicked open to door to reveal an enormous darkened chamber with walls and ceiling of white marble. The northwest corner of the room had collapsed, a fall of stone spreading out across the floor. To the south, a store arch similar to the one seen in the last chamber, stood against the wall. Another archway stood in the center of the chamber. However, the interior of this arch was obscured by a wall of black mist that roiled and twisted as if blown by a fierce wind.
Another dark creeper stood before the arch in the center of the room. His hands were pressed to the arch as he muttered and incantation then cursed when nothing happened. Suddenly aware of the party’s presence he spun towards the party, and then vanished.
The party entered the room, searching for the dark creeper when words of another incantation echoed across the room: “Protect this place with shadow’s claws!”
Suddenly, the dark mist obscuring the archway was torn through by a flash of white light. Six emerged from the archway, racing towards the adventurers with hateful eyes!
As the party engaged the wraiths, the dark creeper called out to them from his hiding place: “Give me the key and I’ll call of the wraiths. I know you have two, just give me one of them” he pleaded.
In defiance, the party battled on, refusing to give into the dark creepers request. The battle was a violent and bloody affair. The dark creeper soon joined the fray; sneaking into battle landing vicious attacks while the party was engaged with the wraiths or sneaking up behind party members and attempting to pick their pocket for the key. Only one person was known to so desperately want the brass key: Modra.
As the battle raged on, Samhain found himself surrounded and in a dire situation. Seeing an opportunity, Modra snuck up behind the valiant Halfling and sunk his short sword deep into his back. Samhain collapsed to the marble floor on the brink of death. In an instant, the whole area was shrouded by impenetrable blackness. Gothe attempted to lash out at the shrouded dark creeper, but was unsuccessful. In an instant, before others could arrive to help, Modra had found the key on Samhain’s lifeless form, used it on the archway in the center of the room, and disappeared into its inky depths.
Runwold’s faithful spirit companion quickly made it to Samhain’s side and brought him back from brink of death. Onward the party pressed and in the end, they were able to dispatch all of the terrible wraiths.
Now, they sit in the white marble chamber with the shadowy arch. The party still has one of the brass keys on them. They quarry, Modra, has escaped through the portal to whatever lay beyond.

A Heroes Return
Siege At Bordin's Watch

Word of your deeds and the deeds of all involved in the battle have already spread to Overlook by the time you arrive for you are greeted with the fanfare and celebration usually reserved for dignitaries.
People line the streets and hang out of the high buildings that make up the narrow corridors of Overlook, cheering as you and the Dwarves from Overlook make your way to the High Halls.
Once at the high halls, you give the council of Overlook a synopsis of what happened and what you encountered while on your mission. After some rest, a grand celebration is held in Overlook. The entire town is involved and everyone is cheering and congratulating the Heroes from Brindol: The Brindol Brigade!
As you enjoy yourself and relish the glory of your deeds, a few things nag at the back of your mind.
• All of the Orcs you encountered were equipped with the same finely crafted weapons and armor and the hobgoblins that attack Brindol only weeks ago.
• Furthermore, you found a note on the Orc war leader Tusk, indicating that the dark creepers from the Shadowfell had sold arms and tactical information to aid him and his band in their attack on Overlook. This note too is signed by, The Emissary.
• Who is this Emissary? Why is he of are they supplying the denizens or the Vale with weapons and stirring them into battle?
• And finally, what is the odd brass key you found on the dark creeper in the Nexus used for?

Victory at The Nexus
Siege At Bordin's Watch - RP Email 3

After a harrowing and valiant battle against Tusk and the force of invading Orcs for control of The Nexus, and ultimately, control of the Elsir Vale, you find yourself standing among the Vents in the Foothills of the Stonehome Mountains. As you stand there, blinking in the late Fall sun, blasts of superheated, stale air erupt from the many vents dotting the several square miles around you as boiling water from The Nexus fills the caverns running under the Vale. Between gouts of steam, you swear you can hear the sound of a thousand Orcs being boiled alive far beneath the earth.
On foot, you trudge across the foothills towards Bordin’s Watch, knowing the battle to repeal the Orc invasion must be in full swing. After a hard day of travel, the sound of battle can be heard carrying on the wind. Eager to live up to his ancestral pledge to defend the watch at all costs, Kalad (a Dwarven Paladin rescued in the chambers below the Monastery) breaks into a jog up the steep and rock mountain path.
Exhausted, but marching hard towards Bordin’s Watch, the sounds of battle grow louder and more distinct, however, the intensity of the battle is lessening. As the massive gates come into view, the horns of victory sounded. A deafening cheer erupted and spread across the mountain pass!
Seeing your arrival, General Durkik Forgeheart approaches the group. Looking over the party, he says: “Kalad, I expected you to see the monks back to Overlook. What of the monks? What happened to your beard, friend?”
Kalad looks to the ground, his shoulders slump. “Slaughtered” he says quietly. “All of them.”
Tears streak his grime covered face as she continues in a detached, almost vacant way: “They had access to the lower tunnels and swept in while I was deep in prayer. By the time I realized what had happened, it was too late. I collapsed the tunnels before being overwhelmed. Their foul leader Og, beat and tortured me in an effort to learn how to reopen the tunnels. I would have died there, had these brave adventurers not intervened. They can fill you in on the rest”
Kalad turns from the general and walks towards a nearby bluff overlooking the Vale. Kalad stands in silent reverence, looking in the direction of the monastery.
General Forgeheart looks to the party. “Any news on the Fastriders and their mission to seal the Nexus?”

Samhain steps forward to address Forgeheart. “General, I am pleased to report that the Nexus is closed. Unfortunately, we failed in our primary goal. The monastery had already been overrun and the monks killed in their sleep before we arrived. We avenged those ignoble deaths with the blood of every Orc we found in the complex. Kalad convinced us that sealing the Nexus was too vital to leave to one team, and ’tis a good thing he did. We traveled overland until we could make our way in through the vents. The Orcs already had a strong force deep in the tunnels, and we found evidence that the Farstriders had fallen before they could accomplish their mission.”
Sam gestures to the rest of the party; “My brothers and I, by strength of arms and faith, by guile and stealth, fought our way into the Nexus! There, we fought yet another pitched battle on the treacherous catwalks surrounding the chamber, overwhelmed by the Orc’s sheer numbers, and their leader’s vile magics and their war chief’s brute strength But we prevailed, General! As Boreas charged forward to clear the path, Artin held the line, as all true dwarves are born to do, and kept their champion’s attention! Runtwold bravely stood his ground as well, healing his brothers and harrying the Orcs so that Boreas and Artin would not be brought down by the crush of stinking orc bodies. Gothe was able to make it to the control console on the highest platform in the chamber and activate the mechanism, releasing the boiling waters to flood the tunnels, hopefully boiling the foul-spawn alive in retribution for their assault. As the steam and water filled the chamber, we ran for the top, and escaped.”
Turning to his companions, Samhain asks, “Have I forgotten anything, my brothers?”

Runtwold regrets his inability to speak to his adventure at the time he was requested, but he was considering lost relatives and was thereby lost in thought. ;)
When he is greeted by the townsfolk, he becomes even more quiet and withdrawn, considering perhaps that there may be a path of redemption for his earlier failures, and considerably pleased with his ability to contribute to something larger than himself, he feels humbled in the face of what from now until today has been a cruel world.
He ponders the things that he’s seen, the clues, the ideas behind the Emissary, and decides that he has to do something to think, and that thing is unwind, given that he knows a tense mind can produce no magics or fruit of any kind. With that, he excuses himself from the party and sets to some long meditation, and then spends some time walking the city, trying to find anything of use to his brain.

Seeing no one else speak up, Forgeheart looks over the group. He returns his gaze to Samhain and smiles at the eager and excited Halfling: “Ye did not fail in you mission, brave one. It would appear that the Orcs had penetrated through the mountains deeper than we could have imagined. Without the heroic efforts of the five of you, we all would be dead. We owe ye all a debt of gratitude.”
A runner approaches the General: “Sir? Your presence has been requested at the gates.”
“Very well” the General says to the young Dwarven boy. He turns back to the group: “Please excuse me. I have other duties to attend to yet. A caravan of injured is set to depart back to Overlook soon. Feel free to catch a ride with them back to town. I’m sure some of them could use your healing abilities.” With that, the General turns and marches off to the gates and out of sight.

The Battle for the Nexus
Siege At Bordin's Watch

After laying the massacred monks to rest and saying a few words of prayer, the group continued deeper into the monastery looking the means though which the Orcs entered the monastery and hopefully, for more Orcs to quench their thirst for revenge.
They exited the sleeping chamber and found themselves at a massive set of double doors. With a mighty heave, Boreas pulled the doors open to reveal a short hallway that opened up to a small platform that stood near the top of a massive subterranean cavern. From the platform ran a set of stairs that plunged downward before disappearing in darkness. As the adventurers made their way down the steep stairs, they were set upon by a group of Orcs who were making their way up from below and their drake pets. Unleashing their bloodlust, Boreas and Gothe leapt off one stair platform and landed dozens of feet below right in the midst of the Orcs. The chaos caused by the daring maneuver gave the brave warrior all the advantage they needed. The Orcs and their pets were quickly slain.
Soon, the adventurers found themselves at the bottom of the massive cavern. From somewhere ahead, they saw a flickering crimson glow. Creeping forward towards they glow they came upon a gut wrenching sight. The room was a foundry used by the monastery and as with the rest of the fortress, the floor of this room was littered with the bodies of slain monks. At the back of the room stood a massive Orog and an Orc shouting and beating a Dwarven prisoner. The heroes paid little heed to the other beasts in the room. They unleashed a savage furry on their enemies the likes of which will live on it tales for many years to come. Devastating blow after devastating blow rained down on the hapless Orcs as they fought in vain to even slow down the enraged adventurers. Artin charged through the enemy while Boreas cleaved them in two. Working together, Samhain and Gothe tore into the flanks of the Orcs and reduced them gory piles. Artin dove under a sweeping blow from the Orog leader and came up next to the gravely injured Dwarven prisoner. He set his axe about its deadly work while he used his shield to defend the Dwarf. Soon, Runtwolds spirit companion was by his side and healing magic flowed fourth, revitalizing the dwarf they hoped to save. The rest of the group was soon working the Orog from all sides and fell along with his charges. With the battle won, the heroes turned to the Dwarf they had saved; Kalad. Broken physically and spiritually, he was just a shell of the brave paladin he used to be. As tears streaked his bloodied face, he told the party of how he was down in the caverns, praying in solitude as he often does when the Orcs broke through the lower tunnels. Most has crept past him while he was deep in meditation and unleashed the savage attack upstairs. He sobbed as he recounted how those above had no chance to defend themselves. Once he realized what was happening, he hurried to the forge room and set in motion the monasteries defenses which collapsed the tunnels the Orcs had used. He was then set upon by the Orog and his men whom beat him down and were in the process of torturing him in an effort to find out how to reopen the tunnels when the players saved him. Kalad informed the party that if the Orcs where in the tunnels under the mountains and on the east side of the pass then they could easily overrun Bordin’s Watch and Overlook by being able to attack the fortifications from both sides. With grim determination, he told the players that the Nexus has to be sealed at all costs; the fate of the Vale depended on it. The Nexus, Kalad explained, was an ancient Dwarven device built to act as a last defensive resort in the even the network of mines was breached. Opening the Nexus would open a valve to a deep aquifer causing the network of tunnels to be flooded with boiling water; boiling alive all those within the tunnels. With Kalad leading the way, the adventurers travelled with all haste to the Vents that led downward to the Nexus.
When they arrived at the vents, they found evidence indicating that the Fastriders, who were tasked with sealing the Nexus, had indeed been here, however, their horses were still tied out outside. They should have been able to seal the Nexus and flee shortly after arriving here a day ago, which meant that the Orcs must have made it here first.
Cautiously, the heroes entered the vents and found that they were correct: the Orcs where already here and it appeared that they had ambushed the Fastriders. Just inside the vents, they players came across the body of a half elf they recognized as one of the Fastriders.
What followed was a harrowing battle through several rooms as they made their way to the Nexus. In the control room just before the Nexus, they encountered a strange creature the likes of which they have never faced. The creature was humanoid and almost goblin like in appearance. She has dark grey skin and large milky white eyes set in a head which featured a long, hawkish nose and pointy ears. Samhain recognized this as a Dark Creeper; a denizen of the shadowy plane known as the Shadowfell.
After defeating the Dark Creeper and her Orc allies the party searched their fallen enemies and found two items on interest on the Dark Creeper. The first was a unique brass key. It appeared simple enough but when inspected, it was observed to radiate an arcane aura. The second item of note was letter written to Tusk, the leader of the Orcs. The letter indicated that the dark creepers had been selling weapons to the Orcs in an effort to outfit them for some coming war. Furthermore, the writer of the letter agreed to provide Tusk with tactical information regarding the defenses of Overlook and the location of the tunnels in an effort to help them succeed in their attack. This letter was signed by The Emissary. This was the same one who had signed the letter to Sinruth, the Orc who had attacked Brindol.

We Were Too Late
Siege At Bordin's Watch - RP Email 2

Samhain looks around at the dead bodies of dwarves and Orcs. He rubs his hands together, sparks and drops of acid dripping between them, his ocher eyes glowing in anger. “This is only the first stage, my brothers. More Orcs are coming, and I promise you they shall pay dearly for the slaughter they wrought here. They think to wreak this havoc on the whole Vale? No, and they will pay for their audacity with their lives.” He spits on then kicks the nearest orc corpse. Shaking his shaggy head, he tries to put his anger aside.
“Stinking savages. I’d say they were planning on using this monastery as a base of operations. And I’m pretty sure they didn’t mount a frontal assault on the gates. My gold is on an entrance from below. Runtwold, Artin, what do you think? You two would know more about how this place may have been built than any of us. Care to take a look around? Gothe and Boreas, we should get the bodies out of here. Maybe a pyre in the courtyard for the dwarves? I say let the wolves and ravens have the Orcs, but outside the gates.”

“A pyre? I think these dwarves have seen enough of fire. Perhaps we should put them in the earth. But perhaps they’re beyond such worries. Such a disgrace. Such a waste. If only we’d gotten here sooner.”
Runtwold looks down, ashamed.
“But yes. We’ll do our best to rectify this failure. I’ll begin trying to find an importance to the architecture.” (Checks the surrounding area).

“Hah! This would not be a problem if these Dwarves knew how to fight better; were smarter than the Orcs. But their arms are small. Their brains small too.”
Boreas finds his smile alone in a crowd of faces of his friends around him. His smile disappears as he peers into Artin’s eyes.
“Dwarves, they small, but not too different from me. When my time comes, I also want to find rest in the ground of my people. If Dwarves want burial here in ground then I can dig.”
Boreas looks to Samhain.
“I think Orcs here have paid. I don’t know if more Orcs need to pay. But I do know that I, Boreas, want to lay waste to Orcs full of strength and not weary from battle. I want to take fight to the Orcs because I want them to see strength. You find reason in revenge. I find reason in sport. You say Orcs are down. Then we go down. I can dig for that too.”

Runtwold picks his way through the abattoir created by the ruthless Orcs and Orogs. As me inspects the architecture of the chamber, he can’t help but to be saddened by the savagery of the attack. Men and women alike were slaughtered where they slept. Very few of the monks even had time to make it out of their beds. The common room used by the Dwarves is of ancient, Dwarven construction. The sleeping chambers cut into the walls are simple, even by Dwarven standards. The 10×10 alcoves contain a simple bed with thin goat wool mattresses. A clothes dresser and bed stand also adorn each room. Scattered about the various sleeping alcoves are small personal items; reminders of the occupants life before becoming a monk.
While the accommodations in the sleeping chambers are simple, the stone inlays of Moradin’s Hammer on the wall of each chamber are not. Stone of various colors and textures are inlaid with astonishing detail into the north wall of each chamber, a symbol of the Dwarven monk’s devotion.
In contrast to the sleeping alcoves, the status that dominates the center of the room is a true testament to the artisan stone crafting skills of the Dwarves. The massive statue depicts a dwarf warrior battling a hydra dominates the center of the room, standing nearly 100ft tall. Standing, gazing at the statue, Runtwold feels a presence by his side. Expecting Artin to be standing next to him, Runtwold is shocked to see the spirit of the warrior depicted in the statue standing next to him. Solemnly, he looks about the room, tears streaking down his cheeks.

“That hydra there killed hundreds of me fighting brothers before I got to her.” he says to Runtwold. A quick look around reveals that no one else seems to be able to see or hear the Dwarf.

Suddenly, Runtwold realizes who he is talking to: the legendary Dergen Fellfist. The statue depicts a famous battle between Dergen Fellfist and a legendary hydra that devoured 300 warriors until the dwarf hero killed the beast in single combat. It’s said Dergan’s bones were interred somewhere in the mountains and, given the statue’s presence; it’s a safe bet that his remains are sealed beneath the statues.
Dergen stares up at the statue for moment, and then turns back to Runtwold: “The five of you are bonded by more than fate; each of you linked to the small one there. Our paths are similar, Runtwold It may not be a hydra you and your companions must face down, but many will die by the dark hands. All will die if you fail.”
Dergen solemnly surveys the carnage in the sleeping chamber before straightening up with resolve. “Avenge our fallen brothers. Show them no quarter for they have given none.” Dergen walks into the base of the statue and disappears. A compartment opens from the spot at the base of the statue he disappeared into.

[I look around at the rest of the party, and see if they’ve noticed the compartment open.]
Knowing the dragonborn’s desire for loot (but not begrudging it), I seek to maintain the sanctity of this gravesite by NOT mentioning that it’s likely the burial place of a great warrior. However, I do draw their attention to the compartment, and explain that this appears to be a shrine to a very important dwarf who stood against a hydra on his own, a man named Dergan Fellfist.
[I wipe the tears from my eyes, and look into the compartment.]

Runtwold wanders the room, inspecting the Dwarven architecture. He stops to inspect the large statue that dominates the center of the room. There must be a draft entering the large camber from somewhere below for the temperature of the room chills.
Boreas’s first sentence barely passes his lips when Artin charges Boreas. In a blur he strikes Boreas in the back of the knee with his shield before spinning to drive the flat of his axe in to the side of his other knee; bringing Ball crashing backward to the floor.
Artin is up in Boreas’ face in an instant. “Greater men have been killed for dishonoring my Dwarven brothers, boy! These men and women were slain while they sleep. Most never made it out of their beds, but all fought the very end. None was weak or dumb as you have so rudely stated. You can start to pay your respects by helping me with my fallen kin.” Artin stands tall and moves away from Boreas. “We’ll lay the Dwarves along this wall here” he says, pointing to the wall with the staircase. “We should clean them up and cover their bodies. Make sure each has its symbol of Moradin in hand for their journey to the Great Forge.”
As Runtwold starts to walk around, inspecting the area, you feel a pulling/tingling through your body. It climaxes just about the point when Runtwold stops and stares at the statue. The room gets cold.

Samhain yells “Runtwold, stop! What do you see there? Can anyone else feel that?”

You see a stairwell leading downward into the darkness under the base of the large statue.

“I can feel it. I think it’s calling us toward these stairs!”
I draw the attention of everyone and point them toward the staircase.
“The spirits have spoken to me, just now, and I have a very good indication this is a benign and helpful entity. We should explore this shrine.”

Runtwold disappears into the dark alcove under the statue.
[To Neal Only] You walk down the stairs into utter darkness. Eventually, you see a soft glowing light and find yourself in a room with a large sarcophagus. The walls are lined with book shelves and the space around the sarcophagus is occupied by tables which are covered in other books, various pieces or armor, weapons and other trinkets.

[To the DM Only from Neal]
If folks follow me down, I suggest that we fan out and examine this for any kind of direction as to the source of the menace and/or the origin of the area. If they don’t follow me down, I begin searching myself, starting with the books, as that would be my area of expertise.

Boreas returns from another chamber with the body of two fallen Dwarves laying each on his forearms. His hands cupping their heads. He moves slowly into the main hall. His eyes looking down into the eyes of the young dwarf male and a young dwarf female. They are both dressed in ceremonial attire from what you would gather was their wedding day.
He carries the two across the hall and into the room that Artin has designated as the burial chamber. Boreas has lot a bit of the swagger that he had when he entered. He is quiet. His steps are careful and his arms move deliberately. These are the last of many bodies that he has carried today. Boreas had discovered these two furthest back in the kitchen of the mess hall. The husband’s body lay slumped to the ground, a kitchen knife driven deep into the Orc near him. His clothes torn and destroyed. Covered in the blood, spit out foot, and Orc piss. The wife lay inside a hidden chamber of a cask untouched in her silk white dress. A small vial clutched between the fingers of her stiff body. Her face frozen in a portrait of anguish and her dress front drowned in her own tears. He lays their bodies solemnly down together in their resting place.
Artin’s eyes at first followed Boreas as they worked together to prepare the grave. Hoping to catch the brute mouth another word or show some disrespect. But found none. Eventually Artin himself is overtaken by the same slow, somber dirge. Artin’s arms are full of holy relics that he places before each of the fallen brothers. He comes finally to the couple that laid out before Boreas. Boreas, with care, pulls the hands of the husband towards that of the wife. Tenderly attempting to open her hand to join her departed husband’s hand he finds her balled fists frozen together.
Artin places a hand on Boreas’s outstretched arm and saids “It is customary to lay them together with hands held when they are sent into the afterlife. But I think her loving husband will not mind if instead we simply have her held for warmth.”
Boreas silently pulls the limp husband against his wife; his arms outstretched and around her snow white dress now soiled in the blood that has covered this temple.
Boreas grabs the low hanging torch from the wall as he stands. Artin laying the last of the holy symbols on the lovers. It is then as Boreas reaches his full height that the torch light pours out onto the ceiling that he is presented with a story.
A story of Dwarves and his people. A story that has been searching for quite some time.

[DM to Neal only]
This is clearly a secret area where the Dwarves, known to be keepers of the region’s deep history, keep their amassed treasures and tombs. The tables are set as places to study the many volumes of books held here. A fine suit of armor is what glows blue: beckoning you. The honorable Dwarf warrior stands next to the armor. “Use it well, Runtwold. May courage guide your hand as it did mine.”

[Neal to DM only]
I kneel before the dwarf.“I’ve lived a life of sin and dishonor. I’m not worthy of this gift, but I’ll seek to, in all of my actions, prove worthy. But I have to ask, brave one, beyond force, is there any way in your wisdom I can stop what happened here from spreading to the lands? These books may offer me guidance, but if you watch over this place, as you have seen the horrors inflicted within its walls, surely you have better insight than I.”

[DM to Neal]
“No, Runtwold, you are worthy. Ever one is worthy of redemption.”
He goes on: “As for stopping this from spreading….all I know is you and your friends hold the key. A piece of chaos lives in you small friend. That is what beckoned me, however, only your bond with the spirits allows you to see me. You big friend also has a role to play for it is he that can strike back at those that plan to spread chaos across these lands.”
“I must go now. May you use these tools here” he sweeps his hands across the table of arms in front of him, “to save the Vale, to save the Realms”

I rise as soon as the glow fades, take the armor, and examine it, putting it on with tender care and a little fear.
(assuming none of the guys have come down) I turn to head back up and inform the group of what I’ve seen.

The high ceiling dome is an elaborate collection of dwarven lettering, runes, and paintings. While the story continues more to the left, Boreas finds him somewhere in the middle.
The evil poured out from under the earth. Filling great halls and drowning the Dwarves that had previously found refuge within the mountains. Those spared were in for a worse fate as they felt the curse of the corruption spread through them. Driven mad they drove blades into brothers. The paintings depicting the birth of Goblins and Orcs from small beasts that unfortunately found themselves caught within the splash and spills of this great evil.
The Dwarves knew better than to fall victim to the vile corruption sealed off parts of their Kingdoms to protect the remains of their Kingdom. Pushing the vile substance up and out of the mountain where it found the unfortunate home in the lesser race of Giants that walked the mountains and the earth. Unlike the Dwarves, the Giants did not run in fear of this taint but instead sought it out. Driven mad they wrought destruction from above. Heaving the mighty peaks that once housed the Gods down into the valley.
The story tells of how this Temple had come to stand against the darkness that had attempted to overtake the peaks. Boreas notices for the first time his forefathers pictured here. Not standing mighty and proud, but wounded and beaten. It was at this temple that they found aid from the Dwarves. It was here the Dwarves healed their wounds and cured them of the taint that surely would have overtaken them. The remaining images of Boreas’s forefathers show the Dwarves leading them away from the high peaks, where the battle raged, to safer hills where they could find refuge
The battle that rages on; depicted in gore and graphic images of the massacre felt on both sides. The mountain landscape torn apart from the inside and from above. One picture stands out to Boreas. That of a large beast akin to that one he had found himself within defending the burial ground of his people. The very beast that he had driven his great sword through soft palette of the gaping maw that sought to devour him. The very beast that was to have corrupted him and outcast him from his people. Casting light around the room he finds fashioned into the stone of a small archway to a small alcove the very fang that he now wields. This one instead is different, this one he finds warm, as if it were radiating to the touch.

Artin approaches Boreas, stoic, yet proud.
“It would appear that I have under estimated you, my large friend. You’re a good man, albeit one who is not very good with words.”
Artin gazed up at the fresco that adorns the ceiling of the large room. As he and Boreas take in the story it tells, Artin speaks: “Aye, this is the story of our people and the birth of the vile beasts, our hated enemies: Orcs and goblins. You see now why your disrespect of the Dwarven folk, while unintentional, angers me. It was the very people you disrespect that saved you from the evils your kin sought. He healed you. Harbored you. And sacrificed our lives to see you to safety. We Dwarves may not be big, or strong like you Goliath, but we are fiercely loyal and honorable. These traits of my people, are the vary traits that haunt our friend Runtwold so. He struggles every day to right his perceived wrongs.”
The fang imbedded in the archway catches Artin’s attention: “By Moradin’s Might!” he exclaims. Looking from Boreas’s weapon to the ancient fang on the wall and back again.
“They’re the same.” He says in astonishment. “This cannot be. Could the evil from long ago have been reawakened? Who would do such a thing?”
As the two talk, the echo of Runtwold talking to someone from deep below the statue is audible.

The Monastery
Siege At Bordin's Watch

After breaking camp the hearty band of adventurers continued to climb their way up the frigid mountains towards the Monastery of the Sundered Chain in an attempt to warn the monks of the impending invasion. To their horror, they found that they were too late. Orcs had made it to the monastery first and had slaughtered all of the men, women and children inside. With teeth clenched, the group charged the Orcs who occupied the Monastery and cut through their ranks. While they took many wounds in the battle, the damage they dealt was far worse. Spreading out, the group of adventurers searches for survivors and eventually makes their way down to the sleeping quarters where they are confronted with the full scale of the massacre.

Frost (and Ghoul) Bitten
Siege At Bordin's Watch - RP Email 1

Sitting around the camp fire tonight stands in contrast to the nights spend in the quiet of Castle Rivenroar. Fierce, cold winds howl with anger outside the entrance to the cave you now find yourselves in. The small fire you’ve built from the remains of the wooden cart found here struggles against the constant breeze that filters into the cave.
Huddling around the fire with blankets pulled tightly against your bodies, you think about what is to come…..

::Thinks of the boy, and wonders how his first days of study are going::
“I fear we may not survive these mountains. Luck plagues us, as if some malevolent deity were putting our lives in the hands of a pair of gambling dice. And yet, there’s something renewing in trying to become part of something larger, of not running away from the things that frightened me — that would frighten us, before. Boreas… I feel I have a new understanding of your strength, having worked more closely with you. Your ram persona is much like the spirit animal, only you become your strength, and I stand apart from mine.
“I do not understand why the populace is so afraid of this Orcish horde. Surely defenses of this magnitude can repel such an invasion. I fear there is something stranger, something more sinister amiss that they are not telling the pawns of their defense force of. What say you all?”

Artin, stands at the cave entrance gazing out over the Vale that stretches out beyond the Stonehome Mountains, his fur lined winter cloak pulled tight.
He turns to the party and approaches the fire. Wringing his hands over the open flame, he says: “You’re correct in your assertion that the defenses of Bordin’s Watch are sufficient to repel such an army. The Orcs we were attacked by on the road to Overlook, and the ones that attacked us just hours ago are part of the invading force. They’re already on this side of the pass.”
“The tunnels that run beneath Overlook and the pass have been penetrated. Our own scouts have confirmed as much. At first it was thought that they were just small raiding parties making their way under the mountains; nothing that hasn’t happened before. But their weapons and armor linked these parties together. They are part of the same force, and if the army that marches against Bordin’s Watch is able to swarm the tunnels beneath the Watch and Overlook and attack from all sides…… well, that’s why the call was put out. Any break in a levy will cause it to fall.”
“Edgar Sumemrfield and the Farstriders were sent to seal what is called The Nexus. It is the control point for all of the tunnels under the Watch. Without access to the tunnels under the city and the Watch, the enemy will have no choice but to throw itself against the walls of The Watch.”

[Sorry, too much booze and too much of a hangover must have prevented me from mentioning the part about evidence of the hoard gaining access to the tunnels. They know about the tunnels, somehow, and will devastate the Watch if allowed to access them in force. The army still marches on the area.]

“It’s odd to be a part of something larger, even if we are but a small unit of the whole. Why do they not simply cave in the tunnels? I know trade is essential to the west, but surely the tunnels can be reconstructed once the orc hordes are repelled?”
(Turns to Gothe) “You know a great deal about striking. I imagine you’re the man I’d want to turn to in order to harass an enemy into submission. What do you think about the plans?”

Done warming his hands, Artin grabs a hock of meat from the fire and walks back towards the cave entrance. As he does, he speaks: “I think ye’ve been away from Overlook for too long, Shaman. The tunnels are not dwarf made and are not few. There be thousands of passages under there, but there are some strategic choke points that have been rigged. The Farstriders have been sent ahead to secure them by closing the Nexus and preventing the hoard from coming up under Bordin’s Watch.” He takes a bite and stares out over the vale again. “Pray to Moradin they succeed.”


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