The Scales of War

A Menace from the West
Siege At Bordin's Watch

With heads that felt like harpies were nesting in them, the players awoke and had their morning meal before heading out to do some shopping.
Artin was called to speak with Effram Troyas and soon the players learned that Overlook had put out a call to arms to all able bodied men and women in the region. An army, the size of which had never been seen, was threatening Bordin’s Watch – a dwarven outpost on the western edge of the vale and first line of defense for all who call the Vale home. All available arms were needed to protect The Vale.
Perhaps this army was related to the one ‘The Emissary’ mentioned in the note found on Sirnuth? The players decided to heed the call to arms and set off for Overlook the following day.
While on the road, the players encountered several other adventuring parties, a band of traveling gypsies with a fondness for gambling, as well as spirit that put the players to somewhat of a test and rewarded the players with a trinket that grants them +1 to all rolls when bloodied.
After traveling for nearly a week and fending off an orcish ambush, the players arrived at the grand city of Overlook. The massive city, with its 100ft tall stone walls was like nothing the heroes had seen. A quick ask around, and the players found a reasonable and clean inn to stay. They were instructed to meet at the gates to High Halls the following day at noon.
The groups set out on their separate ways and meet up at the inn for a meal before heading to bed.
The players awoke, did some more shopping before heading to The High Halls district. When they arrive they found dwarves manning the gate to the district, registering each adventuring party as they arrived. When asked for the name of their adventuring party, the players settled on “The Brindol Brigade.” It immediately became apparent why this area was called The High Halls. Housing the governmental buildings of Overlook, this district was dominated by massive stone buildings that rose 100 or more feet into the air. The streets were a maze of cramped streets while the sky was a thatch worth of bridges that ran between the massive buildings.
Soon they arrived at Caer Overlook; the main building where the council of elders met and would address the players. When all had gathered, a council member addressed the crowd of thousands of adventurers:
“Welcome to High Hall friends. I am Elder Cadrick. I don’t much see the point in bandying words, so I’ll lay it out for you. War is upon us. A great host of Orcs comes from the west. Their intention is clear. They will come through the mountains bent on slaughter. Those they spare can look forward to a short life of slavery. Overlook, and Bordrin’s Watch in the mountains, have long held fast against these raids, but our scouts say never has such an army gathered. Thus, we turn to you brave souls to help defend not only Overlook, but also all the Elsir Vale.
When the Orcs arrive, we’re certain they will come up through the pass. We know this because already there have been attacks from the tunnels below, compromising the fastness. The defenders have fought back the savages, but it’s clear the rest are coming and fast.
So here’s the plan. Durkik Forgeheart will lead the militias and most of you to bolster Bordrin’s Watch. Orc trailblazers infest the tunnels below, so we’ve tasked their security to the Farstriders. One more mission remains, though. We need a group to evacuate the monastery on the other side of the mountains. It’s dangerous work, what with the Orcs and all, but priests need a warning of what’s coming if they don’t know already.
Do we have any volunteers?”
Immediately The Brindol Brigade volunteered for the task of warning the Monastery.
After gather supplied for the arduous journey into the cold and dangerous mountain peaks, the players headed out.
After several hours of travel, the players found themselves hopelessly lost and in the midst of an Orc raiding party. The battle was dangerous, but The Brindol Brigade prevailed. They set out ounce a gain and for several hours back tracked only to become lost again.
[DM’s note: At this point, the players had failed the skill challenge to find the Monastery 4 times in a row.]
This time, they found themselves amongst a caravan of travelers who had succumbed to the biting cold of the mountains. The bodies of the dead rose up and tore into the party savagely. After a long and bloody battle the ghouls were put down once and for all, and the players decided to camp for the night at this location as it offered them a small cave and firewood to use to keep warm.

Rescue at Rivenroar

Pushing on with great determination and courage, the party battled their way through the last few rooms of Castle Rivenroar and rescued the remaining Brindol captives and defeating Sinruth, the leader of the Orcs. On Sinruth, they found a note signed by someone calling themselves the Emissary. The note read:

Brave Sinruth,
The Red Hand will rise again! The other remnants take great cheer in your recent attacks on commerce coming into The Blight That is Brindol.
We’re particularly pleased with your ability to inspire a fighting spirit in others, whether they have true goblin blood or merely wish they did. To be blunt, we think you should have many more soldiers under your command.
Many, many more.
And recent events have rendered some remnants leaderless. With a bold stroke on your part, the remnants would rally to the Red Hand you so proudly display.
As your bold stroke, do this: Attack the The Blight That is Brindol by night. Focus your efforts on their Hall of Great Valor, for it mocks the many hard-won victories by the first Red Hand of Doom. Take from them the spoils of war they shamelessly hang on their walls and bring those antiques back to Rivenroar.
Do this before the moon is next full. And with regard to your previous question, turning over captives to your unliving allies at Rivenroar is perfectly acceptable. War sometimes makes strange bedfellows, and we appreciate how you’ve united such disparate forces under your banner. Whatever prisoners you take from Rivenroar you can give to the Wight.
Fight with the valor of your ancestors, Sinruth. And keep your hands stained red with the blood of the weak!
I will visit you again next month, at a time of my choosing.
The Emissary

Beaten and tired, the party took everyone out of the ruins and set up camp for the night. Boreas felled a wild hog while Runtwold scoured the area for wild root vegetables and spices. With these supplies, Mertala the cook was able to cook up a hearty, thick stew for everyone to enjoy as they rested their battle weary bones before returning to Brindol.
After a day of travel the group entered the outskirts of Brindol proper and news of their return spread quickly. Before they knew it, a throng of children and farmers surrounded the party, cheering on their success.
The group of onlookers only got bigger when the party entered Brindol. Guards rushed off to notify Effram Troyas of the party’s success, while shopkeepers and townsfolk alike came out into the streets to congratulate the party and welcome back the captives.
By the time the party had made it to the town square, nearly half the people of Brindol had gathered around them. Effram Troyas addressed the players, congratulating them on the mission. He labeled them the Heroes of Brindol and made plans for a great celebration to occur this night. The players spent the rest of the evening enjoying all of the free drinks, food and praise they could handle.

After the Battle With the Wight
Rescue at Rivenroar - RP Email 2

Samhain conjures a scintillating orb of swirling colors in his hand, looks at Boreas and says “I swear by Avandra’s worn shoe leather, if you don’t stop calling me Baby I’m going to rename you Ball-less.”

“Yay! Yay! I see now. You not baby.” Boreas said. “They are not rats. All of you just small. You must all remember Boreas comes from big people and my people never see such smallness. My people make a big deal about muscle and strength. I see you small people not need such strength. You say words and use magics.”
Boreas kneels, awkwardly attempting to approach Samhain’s height.
“I respect that Samhain. Haha. You still baby; baby brother. Come brother; let us save our strength our work seems to be piling up … Hahaha …little graveyard humor.”

Sam gets a perplexed look on his face, and lets his spell fizzle out. “I… I seem to have misunderstood your intent, goliath.” He looks around at the party, all of them battered and bruised by their fight with the undead. “I have misjudged you all. It also appears that I have been blessed by Avandra’s luck to have fallen in with such cohorts.” He shakes his head, and chuckles.
“Samhain Foamfollower, brother in arms to a half-giant, two dwarves, and a Dragonborn? Ha! Would that I had the wisdom to recognize those who are here before me, offering what I’ve sought from my blood family for so long! Sam, you are a fool! Very well, then.”
He grins, and draws his dagger across his left palm. Holding out his bleeding hand, he shouts, “Come then, my new brothers, and mingle your blood with mine. We will be in fact what I swear here, now. You four are my blood brothers, and I shall spend mine defending any of you. We are a Brotherhood!”
He waits, hand outstretched, slowly dripping his chaos-laden life’s blood, grinning with true affection at the four of them.

Artin kneels over the fallen undead and says a prayer: “May your spirits find the rest they deserve.”
After saying the prayer, he stands and walks towards Samhain. “Well said, friend. It appears that the fates have brought us together and bonded us in the grave of this new threat.” He draws his worn axe across his palm. Clinching his fist tightly to cause a steady trickle of blood to flow, he holds his fist out with Samhain’s. “Brothers in blood” he says looking towards Samhain. He moves his steely gaze to Boreas: “Brothers in Battle” He then turns to Runtwold “and Brothers in Bravery”

Runtwold takes out his field dagger, puts it behind his back as if to scratch it, and draws a line across the top of his scapula and begins awkwardly walking backward toward the outstretched hand.
“Aye, in blood. And from my back, so that if you ever see it, you’ll know it’s not me fleeing. Never again!”

Wounded, Boreas collapses to the ground (just so happened to be coincidentally timed with the slicing of Samhain’s hand. His face and features tormented until moments later you hear a slight snore.

Hearing the thud, Artin turn to see the collapsed Goliath and groans. “Ohh, fer the love of Kord!” He turns and grabs Ball by the hand and hoists him to the sitting position. “My people value strength” he says in a voice mimicking Boreas’s. “Apparently one’s constitution is not so highly valued” he continues.
Once Boreas is awake and in the sitting position, Artin holds his hand, dripping with blood, aloft and says: “Brothers in Battle. Brothers in Bravery. Brothers in Blood!”
“Yeah!” cheers Thurann as Artin, Samhain and Runtwold bond themselves (is Boreas joining them?). Thurann moves to the now dead piles of bones and flesh that were once the undead the party battled and spits on one of them.
“Foul beasts!” he says with distain “You’re lucky my father is not here, yet. He’d have really shown you!” Thurann reaches down and picks up one of the fallen long swords. “Come on! We need to find my dad!” Thurann stands at the edge of the sunrods light, beckoning the party to continue.

Deeper Into the Dark
Rescue at Rivenroar

The party then settled in for a long cold night in the damp, dark ruins of Castle Rivenroar. After a fitful night’s sleep filled with the echoes of long forgotten crypt, the party continued their search for the stolen relics of Brindol, the captive town’s folks and the answers to how and why they all came to be in the Antler and Thistle.

With blades and magic, the adventurers continued to battle through the Ruins of Rivenroar and rescue more of the townsfolk. After a very large battle with a nasty Wight and her undead minions, the party stood battered and bloodied over their fallen enemies.

Deep Within Rivenroar
Rescue At Rivenroar - RP Email 1

The long forgotten crypt room you have decided to rest in is not the most idea place to camp for a night. It is cold, musty and covered in hard stone. What it lacks in comfort it makes up for in defensibility. With only one set of sturdy wooden doors leading into the room, the party can easily secure the doors and seal the cracks around the doors with cloaks to prevent light from escaping into the room beyond.

“My savior!” Jalissa says as she is unshackled from the walls. Once freed, she rushes towards Runtwold, the first person she saw enter the room and smothers him in an embrace.

“I knew Ioun would send me a savior! I just knew it!”
Jalissa goes on to tell you about how she was taken in the night by a group of Orcs that burst through the gates near her home. She was walking back to her house from the temple when they grabbed her and knocked her out. She awoke as she and the others were being led through the ruins. She knows that Thurann, the 8 year old son of the captain of the guard is being held nearby as she heard him yelling just a few hours ago.

The hours of brutal fighting cause you all to collapse onto your bedrolls in exhaustion. Runtwold and Artin tend to the party’s wounds; cleaning them with water and then bandaging them with clean strips of cloth. Jalissa tags along with Runtwold as he helps to heal you, trying to help as much as she can, though she proves to be more of a hindrance than help. As they tend to your wounds, you all dig into your packs and pull out some of the hard tack trail rations that are a part of your adventurer packs. The rations are tough and bland, but are all you have.

The sunrod the party ignited after their last rest begins to die an hour into your rest in the crypt. It sputters for a moment, the flashing light causing the shadows to dance about the small burial chamber before plunging the room into total darkness.

Jalissa lets out a soft whimper as she grabs Runtwold tightly and pulls herself closer to him. “Oh no!” she cries softly and pleads; “It’s so dark. Please, Runtwold, light another torchy thing before they sneak up on us.”

As her words die out, you are left in the absolute darkness and silence of the long forgotten crypts beneath Castle Rivenroar.

To Jalissa, after, et-hem, holding her for a while in the dark: "I appreciate your fear, but I’m not the kind of guy you should hold on to. This party may have helped me to save you, but I’ve been cowardly in the past. There’s no guarantee we’ll make it out of here alive. Can I persuade you, when we’ve had some rest, to draw up a map of what you know of the nearby area? At very least, we can try and get you to safety.

Samhain says; “This is ridiculous,” and lights another sunrod and places it in the middle of the room. He then takes his bedroll to a corner and tries to get some sleep. “Wake me when it’s my watch,” he says as he lies down to face the wall.

Jalissa turns to Runtwold: “You, cowardly? Nonsense! You rushed into this room without fear of any danger and saved me from those beasts! You’re my hero! I just know you’ll help me and the others get out of here, being the brave adventurer you are. Those motherless Hobgoblins better flee if they know what’s good for them!”
“I’m not sure if I can draw you a map of any use. They blind folded me most of the time and the times I was not blindfolded, it was awfully dark. I can try though. I’ll do anything I can to help you.”

Boreas’s voice booms in the confined room: “Hey lady-friend, he speaks the truth about cowardice. He carries the cowardice of entire people on his shoulders. He and most other small of stature. His people bring about many sadness to my people. They scurry like rats below the ground, scrounge for riches and come to find things they no want.”

“My people, great people. My people walk about the mountains and clouds. We walk the lands of our people. Then the rats come and bring plague to our people. They disgrace our sacred land. I go with my people and find out how rats defile holy ground.”

“We find rats reaching in ground and pulling out ancestors. We fight them. We destroy their equipment and break their bodies. They fight with fire and ice. They corrupt the mountain and trees with their magics. They corrupt guardians that watch over graves and send them against us. My people will not fight. They smash and swallow my people. I not see guardians anymore. I see only abominations. A few of us fight.”

Boreas presents his pick before him. Even In the darkness it glows faintly.

“I rip this tooth from giant maw of mountain and bring it back down into burning eye. I kill mountain. Together we kill all. We return to people – only a handful. We tell our story.”
Boreas looks disturbed and a momentarily shaken until his face is overtaken in anger.
“We not cheered. We not champions. We are hated by people. We are outcasts. Our people tell us that is no life for us. Tell us we should bring end to ourselves at great cliffs. I go with others. I go and sit at fire and look for answers. I hear father’s voice – he tells me how to help my people. I see battle again in flames as nightmare. I wake and find friends gone and this rat come running up.”

A smile slowly opens his small mouth wide in a hardy laugh.

“Ha-ha. He no rat. Ha-ha. He mouse. That’s why I not kill him. He honest about cowardice. Runtwold see vision too, so I think he help me find answers. I go with him here. You safe with mouse here in darkness.”

Samhain gets up and joins the others in the center of the room. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, he idly toys with his dagger, not making eye contact as he speaks.

“I, too, am an outcast. When my abilities manifested, my family sent me away, in the hope that I could learn to control the magic, the chaos in me, that I might benefit the clan’s business someday. I am no scholar. I spent years poring over dusty tomes and fragile scrolls, only to fail again and again at what the masters of the tower tried to teach me. Their ancient formulae were nothing compared to the song that rings in my blood. After a time, I quit trying. Why twist my tongue and tie my fingers in knots when my true path lies in simply whispering a few notes of that song, feeling the rush as the Elements burn through me? But no, I can never learn to control it completely.”

He looks up, fear and anger in his eyes as he remembers:
“And then I learned the true source of the masters’ powers. Pacts with demons and devils! My curiosity and frustration overcame my common sense, and I crept deep in the heart of the towers lowest levels, and there I witnessed atrocities to quell the heart of even our large friend there.” Samhain drops his gaze to the knife in his hand again. "So I fled, ran home, only to be shunned by my former friends and family because my magic was seen as too dangerous, too random. No benefit to the clan.

My dreams brought me to Brindol, visions of a… a town in danger. Perhaps, if I do enough good in the world, my family will accept me. I will prove my worth to them, and I will be able to go home again."

Without another word, or looking at his companions, Samhain returns to his bedroll and rolls to face the wall…

After hear the Goliaths speech, Artin, the Dwarven paladin stands and approaches the Goliath: “Runtwold over there may not have a problem with you calling Dwarves ‘rats’, but I will not allow you to call MY people ‘rats’. Perhaps you’ve forgotten all that me kin ’ave been through and done for ALL of the folk of The Vale.” Artin stands tall before tearing into the large man: " Centuries ago, me people were enslaved by your kindred giant folk. Not by your people, but by ‘real’ giants. These savages worked my people to death, all the while plundering the surrounding area. In fact, your people may very well owe your existence to the liking many giant men had for Dwarven and human women. Not that the feeling was mutual."

Artin paced back and forth in front on Boreas as he spoke.

“When the dwarves rose up and fought back against the giants, we struck with a savage fury only a dwarf with nothing left to lose could muster. We lost many men and women in the battle, but I can assure you, they lost many, many more. The giants were sent scurrying back into their mountain holes where they came from.”

Artin is worked into a pretty good rant at this point. His face is red and spittle exploded from his mouth with every word.

“After we had won our freedom, the Dwarves of The Vale created a fortified gate at Bordin’s Watch to prevent these scum and their kin from ever threatening the Vale again. Me father, me fathers fathers and generations before them kept vigilant watch at the gate. Many fine Dwarven warriors have died at that gate defending the citizens of the Vale from attack. The same Vale where the mountains you call home reside.”

Artin calms down and takes a deep breath before continuing: “So, my large friend, think of all the dwarves of the Vale have sacrificed, before calling us ‘rats’. Some of us may take offense.”
He turns and begins to walk away before stopping and turning back to him: “I am sorry about your people, friend. It would sound like we all are searching for …. well….something and the gods have brought us together to find it.”

Jalissa turned to the Goliath as she hugged Runtwolds arm; “Runtwold is not a coward, you big dummy. Whatever he may have done in the past, is just that, in the past. All you can do about the past is work to make amends in the present. He ran in here and saved me. He’s me hero.”

Boreas sits for a moment, before breaking into a broad grin: “Haha. I see I upset little man. Hah. You anger easy, I fear you might boil over. I see now that you not all rats. I am not stupid but I never learn of ancestry and history. I spend time learning to fight. My father did not teach me about people. I hear different stories that sound the same as you tell. I thought that maybe just for children. They make them feel better for being small. Haha…”

“You tell good stories and make me believe that it is truth. I take it back, you not rat. You not mouse. You just small. But you tell good story and swing weapon well. Haha… You make me think of mother when she used to nurse small brothers. That compliment. Brothers fight well. We now family from fights on battlefield. Maybe Jalissa give you milk now if you thirsty. Haha… “

Boreas turns to Runtwold before continuing: “You bring good dog to fight. Dog fight well, better than most. Your my brother in fight and it is only in death does that bond end. Brothers not leave brothers in battle. That’s when we are not family … That means death.”

Artin let out a bellowing laugh and smiled broadly: “You’re a strange man, Boreas, but I like you and it’s an honor to fight by your side.” Artin hoisted the mug of ale he mysteriously produced from his pack and looked around the room to make eye contact will all of his companions: “Here’s to being Brothers in Battle!” I one deft move he tilted back the mug and finished its contents. “It will be an honor to fight at your sides!”

The party then settled in for a long cold night in the damp, dark ruins of Castle Rivenroar. After a fitful night’s sleep filled with the echoes of long forgotten crypt, the party continued their search for the stolen relics of Brindol, the captive towns folks and the answers to how and why they all came to be in the Antler and Thistle.

Attack on Brindol
Rescue at Rivenroar

Inside the tavern the people of Brindol enjoyed mugs of ale and plates of freshly prepared food. Everyone was enjoying the evening after a day of hard work. Samhain and Gothe made their way through the tavern to the bar area where they ordered two mugs of ale for themselves. They were well away of all the eyes on the unlikely pair as they stood, enjoying their drink. The attention of the leery townsfolk was soon refocused as a massive giant of a man stooped through the tavern door. He must have stood 8 feet tall and he carried a pick larger than most men. Behind him was a curious little Dwarf who was barely visible behind the Goliath’s tree trunk like legs. The patrons of the Antler and Thistle parted as the two made their way to the bar and stood near Gothe and Samhain. People began to quickly finish their drinks and make for the door to warn the town guard for surely this group was up to no good.

As the first rounds of drinks were finished and pleasantries exchanged, the door to the tavern exploded inward; crushing those nearest to it. Panic filled the tavern as Orcs flooded in to the taproom, threw flaming jars of oil and began to attack people at random.

Without hesitation the motley crew of adventurers sprang into action and feverishly worked to stop the Orc’s and put out the fires in the tavern. After several harrowing moments, the brave adventurers were able to usher the townsfolk out the back door and put down the Orcs who were hell bent on destruction. The victory was short lived, however, for as soon as the commotion in the tavern died down they could hear the sounds of battle raging in the streets of Brindol.
They exited the tavern to find that the whole town was under attack. Battling their way through town and driving off the invaders, the players learned that several citizens and historical relics were taken in the attack. The town mayor asked the group to track down the invaders and rescue the citizens of the town and return the relics, if they could.

Before they left at dawn, they were met by Eoffram Troyas who introduced the group to Artin, a Paladin from Overlook. He had travelled to Brindol to spread news about Orcs in the vale when he heard of the attack. He will join to group to aid in the investigation and to see if the attack is related. WIth that, they set off and tracked the Orcs to the old Ruins of Rivenroar. They battled through the ruins, killing Orcs and rescuing citizens of Overlook. Eventually, though, they had to take a rest in the cold, dead ruins.

Intro given to players at the start of the first session

The quiet and calm that of The Elsir Vale was suddenly shattered 10 years ago when an organized and blood thirsty hoard, called The Red Hand, swept through the Vale. Bent on the destruction and capture of The Vale, The Red Hand would have succeeded if not for the actions of a brave group of adventurers who stood up to the hoard at the fortified town of Brindol.

The Vale has known several years of peace since brave adventurers stormed into the teeth of the approaching Hand and sent them scurrying back into the darkness. The last decade has brought mild prosperity to the region, with only bandits disturbing the peace.

Lately in Brindol, however, a handful of bandit attacks and kidnappings over the past 3 months have caused the vague shadow of unease to spread among the locals. Word has spread that Brindol council member Eoffram Troyas has put out a call for adventurers to investigate and put an end to the kidnappings.

After several days on the road, you and your traveling companion stride through the gates of the bustling city of Brindol on a warm summer evening. The town is buzzing with activity as people go about their daily tasks and conduct their business. While guided here by a mysterious vision, your path once here, is uncertain….that is until you see The Antler and Thistle Tavern.
“Antler and Thistle mark the Emissaries path where your journey begins.” you mutter to yourself as you approach the Tavern and open the front door……


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