The Scales of War

A Plea for Help

We started this session with the heroes leaving Nimon Gap and continuing their journey to Brindol. Late in the evening of their 8th day of travel, they arrived in Brindol.
They made their way to the Hall of Great Valor only to find that it was closed and Sertanian, most likely, was at him home asleep for the night. While they pondered what to do next, a villager recognized them and called out to the Heroes of Brindol. He was the father of one of the captives they rescued from the ruins of Rivenroar. He insisted that the brave heroes join he and his family for an evening meal.
The party obliged and spent the evening telling the family takes of their exploits while Dunedin performed minor magic tricks for the young children. The tired group spent the night comfortably with the family in their farm house.
After eating breakfast the next morning, the group made their way to the Hall of Great Valor.
The Hall of Great Valor is as they last saw it, its glass cases lining the walls with relics of Elsir Vale’s past. Three freestanding displays show off artifacts of the vanquished Red Hand of Doom, a large map of the surrounding lands updated with details of the Hand’s most recent forays against Elsir Vale and its people.
Where he dusts relics in a display case across the room, a familiar grey-haired figure rises. Sertanian smoothes out his stained smock as he bows.
My friends, he says. Welcome back to Brindol.
Sertanian thanked the group for their quick response to his call. Sink can tell that Sertanian is quite nervous. As he talks, he walks to the front door and locks it before continuing:
You recall the platinum blade that was one of the treasures taken by Sinruth and his hobgoblin horde. Upon its return to the hall, it seemed none the worse for its ordeal. It is a relic of some worth and sentimental value, but holds no magic that I or any of my predecessors here have noted. But then a week ago, while working late at night, I heard a voice, calling me. From its case, the sword spoke to me, beseeching me to summon heroes to its aid. It asked for all of you by name.
Sertanian explains that after the sword began speak¬ing, he removed it from its display case and hid it in the hall’s back room. He leads the group to a clut¬tered workspace, where the platinum longsword lies beneath a cloth on a table. When the cloth was removed the small workroom was filled with a woman’s weak voice: You have come, my heroes, but my thanks must be brief. I am Amyria, and I have summoned you here from great need. I know it must seem strange to hear me speak, but I assure you that this form is only temporary. It is for that reason that I beseech you for your aid.
Decades ago, a race of monastics born of the Elemental Chaos established a fortress in Elsir Vale. These were the githzerai, who lived secretly in their remote outpost before suddenly vanishing. Their Fortress of Graystone was well hidden, and remained uninhabited for long years.
Some months ago, Fortress Graystone was invaded and claimed by a pack of gnoll mercenaries calling themselves the Wicked Fang. Their leader, a sadistic follower of the demon lord Yeenoghu, has begun to send his raiders out into Elsir Vale and beyond. In recent weeks, this gnoll chieftain Fangren has managed to open a conduit of power to Yeenoghu’s realm in the Elemental Chaos. He plans to claim some small fragment of the demon lord’s power, transforming himself into an exarch of the Beast of Butchery. It was the creation of this conduit that awoke me from my age-long slumber.
If Fangren completes his ritual, demonic forces will have gained a foothold in the mortal realm. More importantly, that conduit to the Elemental Chaos can be manipulated through a ritual that I will provide to you. This is the boon that I pray you grant me. Bring me to Fortress Graystone and free me from this prison.
When asked about the ritual, Amyria said: The ritual will free me from my current form, restoring me to my rightful body. I can say no more than that. Though I am granted the power to speak to you, my memory has been fractured by long years of sleep.
She elaborated on the ritual, saying: In opening the conduit to the Elemental Chaos, Fangren unwittingly set the stage for my restoration. The ritual will alter the conduit such that it can channel energy from other planes to fuel my transformation.
Samhain took all of this in with a blank stare on his face. He face paled a bit. When asked why he looked so concerned, he said that Amyria seemed to be connected to the dreams and visions he had been having. As he told the tale of Amyria and the power she ones possessed, the breaking of glass followed by an explosion of flame interrupted Sam’s story. The locked front door was kicked in as 4 menacing looking humans burst into the room with malice in their eyes.

The battle that ensued saw Dunedin and Kort fall, grievously wounded but not dead. The remaining heroes fought hard, though, and killed 3 of the 4 men. With his companions dead, the last man attempted to feel but was cut down by an unseen person. The person who aided them stepped into view. It was none other than Rix, the half elf who warned them about a bounty on their heads as they were looking for Alys in Overlook.

Bloodied and gravely wounded, the party stands in the smoke filled Hall of Valor staring at the open front door to where Rix is cleaning the blade he extracted from the last of the men to attack you.
“Well fancy seeing you all here” he says, wiping this bloody blade clean on the garments of the dead attacker. He rifles through the dead man’s belonging briefly before extracting a folded piece of paper from the man’s tunic. Opening the paper, he glances at its contents before holding it up for all of you to see: “It would appear I was correct in warning you about the bounty on your heads.” On the paper is all of your names as descriptions of each of you.
He scans the carnage in the room: “Although, it would appear anyone looking to cash in on that bounty will have their hands full.”
Shells shocked by the sudden turn of events, the heroes stare blankly at Rix.

“Well, then…. Right” Rix says somewhat confused. “I’ll be going then.” With that, he departs.

A Difficult Decision
Den of the Destroyer

The party sets out for Brindol

Making their way into the Westdeep, the first day of travel goes without much worry, though the night watch gets the feeling they are being watched.

The next day, they camp in the Wyrmsmoke mountains, where disaster nearly strikes when a massive wyrm flies over the campsite at night. Fortunately, the beast moves on without striking the party down, though nerves are rattled as they proceed toward the Witchwood.

Another day’s travel brings the company of heroes to the Skull Gorge Bridge, where they camp near the water, recalling previous dangers in other adventures. Again, the watch is cautious, but uneventful.

Entering Nimon Gap, the party is surprised when a young woman appears, being chased by a man with an axe… he is quickly subdued, but rants and raves about the fact that the young girl is a demon walking the Earth, killing villagers.

The girl explains (after the assailant is tied up) that she and another group of children are not monsters, they are simply being blamed for the work of a vile local wizard. She is reluctant to lead the party to where the children are hiding, but with the promise of food and aid, she changes her mind. They leave the man tied to a tree, but he escapes by the following morning.

The party discovers the children in a lodge, huddled and afraid. Many of the children are terribly sick, and the party realizes, through combined knowledge, that the children who are sick can only be cured by the source of the illness, the host, being killed.

One young man steps forward, offering stories to the infected of how the wizard is doing this to them. Through investigation, the team learns the boy is lying. They disregard this momentarily, however, waiting until the following morning to verify their suspicions.

The following morning, they lead the children into the sun, where they are fine, ruling out vampirism.

They explore the Wizard’s tower, and find that he is, in fact, dead, and that the boy’s story is false.

The team heads into town to explore the possibility of the town’s involvement, given the strange behavior of the man with the axe. The townsfolk seem honest, if misguided, and they even send the man with the axe with them as an emissary to find out what’s really going on with the children.

Once at the lodge, the team reaches an impasse. It seems the boy is the host, but they are torn, as they cannot hurt a child, surely.

Samhain, in an act of bravery that could end terribly, launches an acid orb at the lying boy. The boy shows his true colors, reverting to form, and, with the young girl, turns into a ferocious beast that attacks the party.

In a long and treacherous battle, the team manages to defeat the pair without killing any children. The sickness fades, and even the man with the axe (turned in the battle) recovers.

The team huddles with the frightened children, distributes what little food they have remaining, and rests.

Strange Bed Fellows
Den of the Destroyer - RP Email 2

After several hours, Samhain returns to the Mountain’s Hearth where the rest of you are enjoying a last meal before heading out to Brindol. You gather your belongings and set out down the Dwarfroad towards the eastern gates of Overlook.
You’ve travelled no more than two blocks when someone calls out from behind you: “Heroes! Wait!” a gruff voice calls from behind. “Boreas, Sink, Samhain…. Wait a moment”
Turning, you see Kalad coming down the street behind you at a jog. He stops in front of you and catches his breath before continuing: “Elder Cadric would like to have a word with you before you depart. Please, follow me to Caer Overlook.”
Turning to follow Kalad, you twist and turn through the streets of Overlook before arriving at Caer Overlook. The massive stone structure is no less impressive today than when you first laid eyes on it. Kalad leads you inside and to a small conference chamber where Elder Cadric, the youngest of the Council of Elders, and an Eladrin await your arrival.
“Welcome, Heroes and thank you for coming on such short notice. I know you are due to leave for Brindol on a pressing task so I will do my best to keep this short.”
Gesturing towards the Eladrin: “This is Dunedin. He was sent here by his mentors in the Fey Wild. He has some work to do in the Vale, near Brindol and I would like him to accompany your group as you travel the Vale so that he can safely go about his investigations. Will you allow him to accompany you on your journey?”

Sam eyes the eladrin. “Another set of eyes would be welcome on the road, Dunedin, what with all the rumors of gnoll raiders. What kind of work do you do?”

“Ah, Halfling friend. As Captain Kalad hinted, I have been sent by my elders to investigate the disruption of planar energy in the Vale. The Eladrin have been keeping a watchful eye on the portals within the Elsir Vale for many years. Suspicion has lingered since the time of the Red Hand that this area was vulnerable to another incursion of evil. I am here to gather information, do what I can to forestall a major recurrence of the Vale’s fate of a decade ago, and control as best I can the comings and goings of beings through the portals.
“Word has spread widely of your heroic efforts of recent. Your valor has impressed my elders. They have been following your adventures and have determined that our aims overlap and that we can be of assistance to each other. I am concerned though, as one can travel more easily unnoticed by the forces of evil. It is not only the Eldarin who have noticed your recent efforts.”

Sink scoffs, “The lonely one offers his hand too quickly to whomever he encounters. Dunedin, we have no need for an elven secretary with a fowl fetish. What advantages will you bring to The Brigade?”

Please excuse our friend here, Dunedin, he is prone to the libations, but is an excellent healer. As long as we can keep him dodging the clubs of our enemies, and away from the spirits, you shall get along fine. We have been through much, and are battle tested. What scars do you have to show? We will take you, but you must prove your mettle. I will fight to the death to protect my brothers, but if you cross us you will feel the mountain’s thunder.

At the words “mountain thunder,” Khort slams the handle of his weapon on the ground and snorts.
“Any help is welcome, as our enemies have been great in both number and strength. Information is a better weapon to use, at times, and if we can help you gather some, that would be my pleasure. Speaking of which… I have some new information that I gathered, while seeking a worthy informant. There is not only evil brewing in the heart of this city, but danger aimed squarely at us. Someone has set a price on all of our heads in the amount of one thousand gold pieces. Who has done this, not one is sure but the odds are on Sarshan. Are you sure you wish to travel with us, Eladrin?"

Sam grins at his brothers Boreas and Khort, then turns to the eladrin. “Yes, we have a price on our heads, and The Lost Ones have their own grievances against us. In short, traveling with us is inherently dangerous, but then, in these times, traveling alone is arguably suicidal. I say Dunedin travels with us. One with his skills could be invaluable, and besides, we’re burning daylight.”
With that, Sam snaps the reins and gets the wagon moving again.

“I was told by my elders that traveling with you was not without it’s perils. They seem to have withheld some information regarding the degree of danger I would be putting myself in by accepting you as my escorts.” Dunedin takes a slow scan of the party, smiles and says, “Though every time that I’ve been in mixed company such as the sort of yours, I must admit trouble found a way of escalating. Little ones traveling with giants. What is the world coming to?”
A scent is in the air. It catches Dunedin’s attention. “Ah, is that pig bellies? A delightful aroma. However, if you do not mind my recommending it, we should be on our way. Let us put perils before swine and make haste.”
Licking his lips and then focusing his attention back to Sink, Dunedin says, “Ah, yes. What advantages will I bring to the Brigade? Everywhere I go, friends travel with me. I am one with nature.”

At “one with nature”, Khort scratches behind his ear, glances around nervously, then looks straight ahead as the wagon bumps along

Loose Ends and Leads
Den of the Destroyer - RP Email 1

Feel free to pick this up as an RP email. You guys can do as you wish. Options include but are not limited to the following:
• Chat with Alys more
• Investigate the hit list
• Investigate any of the other clues the party as received
• Resupply
• Reach out to contacts in Overlook
• Etc.

“There are so many potential leads we could follow. This hit list is most disturbing, but we’ve been on hit lists before. We are low on rest, some of us are surely low in supply, and there is much that needs to be uncovered in Overlook, but I can’t help but feel concern for Brindol. Overlook is a large place, with many who might defend it, while Brindol <ooc> is a smaller town, in need of defense that perhaps a large city with a major security force might lack.

However, that said, I am extraordinarily concerned with these gnoll attacks. It seems to be causing a mass exodus, and perhaps the needs of the many outweigh the need of the few. If Gnolls are decimating the countryside, and there is something we can do about it, I propose we do.

What say you, gents?"

Sam downs the last of his ale, and waves the bar wench over. “Another round, lass, if you please.” He lays some coins on the table to pay for the drinks.

“Sertanian sent this girl to find us, something to do with that damn relic. Alys says he’s frightened. That’s good enough for me. Besides, I’ve just about had enough of Overlook, the Hell’s cursed Lost Ones, and whoever else wants our heads. I say we get a good night’s rest, grab some supplies early, and head out. The more we delay, the more likely we’ll be ambushed yet again, and I’ve had enough of that, too.” He takes a large gulp from his tankard, wipes his mouth with his sleeve.

“Gothe is right. Kalad and the Watch can deal with the problems in town for a while. Let’s go home. I’m sure,” he says, grinning at Khord, “there will be lots of gnolls to meet along the way. That’s just how our luck goes, sometimes!”

“Perhaps we should pay someone to look into our… dilemmas while we are away. That way, if we must depart completely, we can at least be kept abreast of what went on while we are away. Or maybe have someone try to infiltrate, as we are known faces and names.”

“Should we stay, or should we go away now? If we stay there will be trouble. Shall we away there will be double. This grog has soaked me to the scales. I could not, would not be able to leap if I tried. Did we purchase a domicile here in overlook? We should quickly be rejoined with Sertanian. This said, I agree we must remain aware of goings on here in Overlook. I sense that we have not seen the last of this forsaken city. I would be willing to contribute to hiring trusted agents to monitor this hell hole. Let’s rest then make haste to Brindol.”

With this Gothe starts to slur his speech and smoke rises from his nostrils. He starts to make semi-controlled snorts. Finally when he has achieved three consecutive successful attempts to blow smoke rings, Gothe smiles and tries to leap from his stool without standing. He chortles.

Sam pipes up, “I think we can probably rely on Kalad to keep us abreast of things here. He certainly has recently, and with his contacts as a captain of the Watch… On the other hand, it may not be a bad idea to employ other avenues of inquiry, assuming we can find someone trustworthy, and not a spy for the Lost Ones.”

Oh, and yes, cuz wool doesn’t burn? Heheheh. Let’s soak it first! A dragonborn with a sneezing head cold could be funny, and keep us on our toes (reflex saves all around!).

Sink looks up from his grog and mutters, “And what’s with The Powers That Be always tearing our sweaty clothes off. What’s up with that?” (glug-glug-glug)
“Anyhoo, I concur. There’s no gnolls like dead gnolls.”

He leaps up on his stool, steadying himself with his foot on Gothe’s shoulder.
“Here’s a little diddy my old bard friend, Emo taught me…”

(more shouting than singing)

If you can play on the fiddle…
How’s about a Dwarven jig and reel?
Speaking with Deep Speech in quotation…
As Overlook feels,
The Karak Lode rusts.
Water froze
In the generation
Clear as Winter ice.
This is your paradise.

There ain’t no need for ya!
There ain’t no need for ya.
Go straight to hell, boys!
Go straight to hell, boys.

Wanna join in a chorus?

Boreas, sitting alone in the corner, with a half-cocked, enormous cask of ale, starts to loudly mutter, “See what I like about this place here…what I like about it is….”

[Trails and nods off for 5 minutes]

…“they have really long comfortable beds. And the thing you see [talking to know one in particular] is that that’s real, I mean real”….
[nods off for another minute]

…."important when you are a goliath. And I think it would behoove us….our whole party….if we should take up resideseses..
[Nods off]

….“In this nice neck of the woods………so to speak. I was just talking to this guy here, and he was telling me about this…..”
[nods off for a full 10 minutes]

….“and the wheel fell of the cart. I mean a goliath ain’t a goliath, if he can’t call a place home….with long, comfortable beds.”
[dozing again]

Agent?!? Who’s an agent?!? All I know is I’m ready to fight, after I lay down in that nice long, comfortable bed.

Boreas falls face-first out of his chair, knocking over a table on his way to the floor.

Gothe leaps to his feet and says, “Forgive us, fair ”/campaigns/exploits-of-the-brindol-brigade/characters/reggan" class=“wiki-content-link”>Reggan. We have been through many days of adventuring and seem to have forgotten about the ways of civilization. Well, except for bits and pieces of some gentler companionship that we may have been fortunate to come across. Speaking of which, could you please let me know if the beautiful lass who tucked me into bed last night is still at the inn? I would very much like to, uh, show her my appreciation for her consideration. I remember her looks not, but her backside felt scalier than a horned toad’s crest."

Den of the Destroyer
Den of the Destroyer

Upon returning to Overlook, the Heroes learned that while they were gone, Kalad and the Overlook Watch had been investigating the information the group found regarding the Elsir Consortium, the Warehouses Sarshan used and the attempt on their life.
It was discovered that:
• A member of the Elsir Consortium, Brahm Ironfell was indeed working with Sarshan in some capacity.
• He was who rented the warehouses out on Sarshan’s behalf.
• Furthermore, it was discovered that he was the one that paid the assassins to attack the heroes at the award ceremony. Whether he was paying for the hit himself or acting as a go between for Sarshan, is not clear.
• Brahm gave some sort of map to someone as a Thank You for allowing Brahm to be his liaison in Overlook. Could this have been the map to the Lost Mines that was supposedly discovered when Sarshan’s warehouses were raided?
• No one else in the Elsir Consortium has been implicated.

The players also learned that a young woman from Brindol was looking for them. After some investigation they found that Alys has been kidnapped by the Lost Ones as a means to ambush the players and get some revenge on them for past insults and beatings. The poor messenger girl was being help in an abandon temple of Pelor

As lighting bisected dark, bloated rain clouds, the players made their way into the Nine Bells district to the abandoned temple of Pelor where Alys was being held by The Lost Ones. It somehow seems fitting that on this dark, rainy day they would be investigating the rotten husk of what was once a tribute to the Sun God, Pelor.

With all of the subtlety of a Minotaur in an apothecary (no offense Kort), Boreas kicked open the door to the temple and bound through the doors; prepared to level any that stood before him. What he found was a large abandoned. A massive hole was torn into the roof, allowing a torrent of rain water to pour into the center of the room. Laying in the puddle created by the incessant rain, was a bound and gagged woman. With eyes filled with panic, she looked to Boreas and the others and then back to the shadows that rimmed the room. Dark forms moved in the shadows. Without hesitation, Boreas hefted his mighty pick and, with the fury of an avalanche, plowed into the awaiting attackers. Kort lowered his massive head and charged right behind Boreas; skewering a hapless fellow with one of his massive horns. Samhain circled the perimeter of the room and picked out targets with devastating effect while Sink moved to Alys and protected her and his allies from the onslaught of attacks from the Lost Ones. Just as it seemed the heroes would rout the Lost One ambushers, a new group of enemies moved into the foray from their hiding places in the shadows. These attackers, however, were not lost ones. With efficiency possessed only by assassins, these new foes maneuvered the battle field and stuck at the part with deadly accuracy. It was clear that these new attackers were not members of the Lost Ones and had to be a hit squad that the group had attracted the attention of while looking for Alys. Sorely pressed, Sink regrouped the party and bolstered their attacks and soon the tide was back in the favor of the Heroes. Though badly injured, the group coordinated their attacks and finished off the last of the assassins. Gravely wounded but able to move, they quickly searched the bodies and freed Alys before fleeing the temple for someplace more safe.

Once back at the Mountain Hearth in, the party set about making sure Alys was okay. With wounds bandaged and mugs full of ale, Alys thanked all of them for coming to her rescue. She confirmed that she had been sent here from Brindol by Sertanian to seek out the Heroes that had saved not only Brindol from attacked but had rescued her from imprisonment at the hands of Sinruth and his newly formed “Red Hand” band of Orcs.
“I’ve been sent to ask you return to Brindol” she timidly said to the party. She then steadied herself then began to recite a memorized tale: “Greetings from Sertanian, castellan of the Hall of Great Valor. I beseech you to return to Brindol with all haste, as your presence is needed here. The matter concerns one of the relics that you recovered while saving myself and our town’s other captives in Rivenroar, and is most urgent.”
Alys knows nothing more than what she has been told, though she confides to the heroes that she has never seen old Sertanian as fearful as when he sent her forth.
As he sat at the table, Gothe rummaged through the items they found on the assassins that attacked them at the Temple of Pelor.
“Ehhh, it was time to leave this Dwarven dung hole anyways,” he said as he slid a piece of paper across the table for the others to read. “Looks like someone is looking to rid the town of all adventures that might sick their noses in this or that”

The group picked up the slip of paper and found a list of names. The names of the heroes were on this list, including that of Runtwold and Artin, whose name had been crossed out. The group immediately noticed their names on the list as well as the names of several other adventures the players had meet when a call to arms was made by Overlook (the gathering at the Siege of Bordin’s Watch)

Once Again, Back to Overlook
The Lost Mines of Karak

After a long night of celebration, the party of adventurers dons their freshly laundered clothes and once again, set out on the road back to Overlook.

The Thornwaste is no less unforgiving the second time through it. The harsh sun bears down on you, while iron like thorns tear at your clothes and equipment. After a few short hours, your clothes are once again soaked in sweat and sand rasps your skin raw. If you never have to set foot in this forsaken land again, it will be too soon. After two grueling days, you emerge from the sand and brambles of the Thornwaste dehydrated, sunburned and exhausted but alive.
A day long journey on The Dawn Way will take you to Drellin’s Ferry where the party resupplies and takes a much needed break from travel. After taking a day or two to rest and mend torn clothing, the party turns north on The Dawn Way.

Traveling on foot the party finds few merchant caravans to hitch a ride with as they travel north past Vrath Keep towards the intersection of The Dawn Way and The Dwarf Road. The ones they do encounter are heavily guarded and seem to be hyper vigilant. Rumor and tales of Gnoll attacks are shared by the few travelers the party does encounter. Many of these travelers are families who have packed up all of their possessions and decided to leave the Elsir Vale all together. With all that is going on and now with the gnoll attacks, it is all too much for them. The Vale just does not seem safe.

This fear is punctuated by screams of terror and panic shortly after the players cross the Old Skull Bridge. From somewhere not far off the road, a woman and children can be heard screaming for their lives. With haste the players rush down a small side road to a homestead where they find a woman and her children being abducted by a group of Gnolls. Further down the road, the father is being led off in a separate direction by another group of Gnolls.

With little time to react, the group set about freeing the women and her children from their captors. The battle was viscous yet swift, however, the group could not save the man before he was loaded onto a river boat and taken away. Traumatized, the woman told the group that her husband was a notable councilman in the area and that the Gnolls appeared to be lying in wait as the family prepared to set out on a picnic. Through tears, she politely asks if the part would escort the children and her to Overlook where she has a sister who can take them in.
With the woman and children in tow, the brave adventurers make their way to Overlook. The journey takes several days, which is spent continually telling stories of your exploits to the children as a means to take their minds off the loss of their father.

Welcome Back to Dunesand
The Lost Mines of Karak - RP Email 3

As Queen Shephatiah’s tail disappears over the edge of the chasm and into the Elemental Chaos, you are all left alone deep within the once great Karak Lode. Amid the pulsating light of the chaos infused ore, the group sets about searching the queen’s chamber for other clues and valuables left behind by the wicked serpent. Back among her skull pile you find a coffer containing what is left of the payments she has been receiving from her mysterious benefactor. All told, there is 600 GP in the small chest. In addition to the gold, you notice that piked Dwarven skull near the queen’s pile of skulls. Upon closer inspection, you notice that the pike is in fact a finely crafted Dwarven javelin. Intricate carvings and inlaid materials wrap the haft of the weapon which radiates arcane power.

Picking up the weapon and the gold, the party makes their way back up to the main building of the Karak Lode and rest up for the night. While the group dines on trail rations and rests on their bedrolls, Samhain inspects the magnificent javelin and realizes this weapon is one of the legendary Javelins used by the finest Dwarven warriors to lay waste to enemies with its thunderous blasts. (+2 Thundering Javelin)

After a somewhat restful night sleep, you all set out on the dangerous trek across the desert to the frontier town of Dunsand. With little water left in your water skins, you trudge through the inhospitable land. The sun and wind blasts your skin as you walk for three days though the ever shifting sands before you spot the serpentine wall that protects Dunesand. As you enter the town, you are met with stares of disbelief and excited chatter.
“Well met, friends!” calls out the defacto leader of the town. “We had thought for sure you had perished out there. What news have you of the mines you sought?”

The Minotaur snorts and slams the hilt of his weapon into the sand. “We almost did, but we came through. We faced a great many dangers. The Halfling had a great fall. Any accommodations you could provide would be greatly appreciated.”

“Of course, of course, friends” says Lotho Elbersek, defacto leader of Dunesand and owner of the Dunesand Caravansary. He gestures towards the Caravansary where you stayed the night before leaving for the mines nearly ten days ago. As he ushers you towards the building, he calls out “Maria! Maria, get some hot water going. Our friend here will most certainly want a bath.”
He then shouts across the street to Bebe’s Bakery: “Bede, can you get a meal prepared? The Heroes have returned. We shall have a town celebration tonight and hear their tale!” he voice gets louder and he finishes the sentence to announce the celebration to the whole town.
You enter the small general store and caravansary: “Did you find the mines? What of the queen? Please, tell me all that happened while Maria fetches water to bathe in.”

After a long dousing and de-lousing, Khort settles in and tells the story to surrounding townsfolk, then, after many a mead and many more hanks of meat, he turns to his companions and asks, “Well, what now? We know that Sarshan’s power is stretched farther than we’d imagined before, and there was the issue of the marching legions. This is obviously bigger than the lot of us put together.”

Samhain has been staring distractedly into his pint. With a start, he looks up at Khort. "Wha..? Sorry my friends, but I am tired, and many questions weighing on my soul. Nevermind. Here’s what I think; Sarshan may be the link between our recent adversaries, but I believe he is merely a tool of someone we need fear more, much more. Sarshan may be providing an army, but he and his legions are just that: mercenaries, hired swords for the highest bidder. We must find out who that bidder is… No, something is missing, some vital piece we aren’t seeing. Who has the power and resources to hire Sarshan’s entire army, to force this naga “Queen of Kardak” to heel, to persuade the orc tribes to undertake an attack on Overlook? And, yes, I do think the orcs’ assault was orchestrated, through Modra, Sarshan’s wayward minion, by the same entity who is conducting the other activities. Conducting an orchestra… Yes, that is what is going on. But whom, and to what end…?" Sam’s voice trails off once more as he stares into the the distance, pondering memories and visions he can’t quite connect.
Shaking his shaggy head to rid it of visions and dreams, he grins at the gathered townsfolk. “Ha! I am a bit into my cups, ’twould seem! Ah, but my hirsute brother speaks truth, for our quest to the legendary Karak Lode was indeed successful. Over the course of our many battles against monsters most foul, and our awe upon sights most inspiring, even the freeing from his prison an avatar of the god Bahamut, no less, we have much cause to celebrate! Yet we also bring words of warning, for Karak may well be as lost now as it has been in legend. For the mines are corrupted by rifts between the planes, and the Plane Below seeps into the very stones, air, and ores of the place. Yes, the ancient dwarves delved too deeply, and the consequence was their downfall into madness.”
He chugs the contents of the wooden jack of ale, which looks huge in his small hands, and waves for another. “Yea, Karak may be lost, but we are here, my brothers, the good folk of this town, and tonight… Tonight is a night to drink and sing and dance! Yes, music! WHO HERE PLAYS!? Hahaha!” Sam slams down the mug and jumps up, looking for a pretty girl to dance with…

Boreas smiles at his little friend and mutters in dwarven, “Damn right, little buddies. I need to go get my heavy war pick polished, if you know what I mean.”

Watching Samhain make merriment, Khort considers the situation, and tries to find solutions outside of an unseen, nameless enemy.
“Brothers, who do we know that might have such finances? More to the point, is there a kingdom nearby we might be able to appeal to, in order to raise enough funds to potentially turn a conquering army of mercenaries into an army to sue for peace? Forgive my sarcasm, but as the goblins that imprisoned me taught me, a creature who may seem your ally may become a nemesis for gold, greed, or simple malice. I am positive it can work in reverse.”

Just to set the scene a little: you are all on the outdoor patio of Bebe’s bakery. There are large overstuffed pillows and chairs for everyone to lounge on. It is past dusks in the desert town of Dunesand and a pleasant breeze is blowing through the town and across the patio. A spread of braised lamb, fresh pitas and various dried fruits and goat cheeses has been spread out for all to enjoy. Many of the townsfolk are here with you, singing and dancing.

Samhain takes a break from dancing with the barmaid. “Allies should not be too hard to find. The dwarves of Overlook will assuredly stand fast if we can but show a link. And I am sure they can call upon others. First, we need more information and hurriedly for we know not who our enemy is, nor when he may set the endgame in motion. When we return to the city, I must consult with the sages. Mayhap they can educate me, or direct us to those who would know more. Whatever we do, we must cease this chasing of leads, and discover how we can become the ones forcing our foe’s reactions. We have to turn the tables!”

“Perhaps the secret lies in provoking the anger of those responsible. We must have, already, caught their attention with our actions. Perhaps we can get closer to our enemy by craft, skill, or cunning. Pretend to wish to ally ourselves with them, and get closer to the heart to strike at it. Beyond that, as Samhain has made clear, it appears we chase many ends, but we seem not to be slowing the overall progress of our larger enemy.”

Breaking the silence, Sink drunkenly deadpans, “Wait. I remember now…”
“Sorry, guys. I’ve been distracted by all the hospitality and the killer suite Sister May Elbersek has provided us with.”
“On the other hand, I’ve been waiting for 22 moons for somebody to refill my goddamn stein…”
“Where was I? Oh yeah. The electric requiem of the fallen at the Karak Lode still rings in my skull.… The madness of that place. Anarchy-eXuded from the very walls! Even as we speak, there is revolution calling. The mission ahead of us is to dig through this haystack of deceit and discover where the needle lies. And if it lies as well, for that matter.”
“Oh, and Boreas? See there? That wench? The flirtatious eyes of a stranger? While I don’t believe in love, per se… be sure to wrap that wyvern, lest you help with spreading the disease that I assume these Cooze-sand ladies are plagued.
((((the room begins to sway))))
“Would someone please help me to my empty room…”
Sink vomits all over the table.
He trails off muttering, “Operation: Mindcrime…”

Khort looks over, nods approvingly, and snorts. “Pass that.”

With Sink passed out face first in the sand outside Bebe’s Bakery and Gothe off doing who knows what, Samhain, Boreas and Kort are a left sitting comfortably among the over-stuffed pillows that adorn the outdoor patio of the bakery. With cups full of the local moonshine ( the only ale this poor town had ran out early in the evening) the friends sit back and enjoy the peaceful desert night. With the towns folk shuffling home and the party dying down, the Halfling baker Bebe and Lotho sit down with you. Carrying a glass bottle Lotho offers to fill your mugs.
“Sorry for only having moonshine left” he says. “We don’t get much trade out here and the celebration tapped our resources.”
“Don’t bother them with our troubles” Bede says between puffs on his pipe. “Now that the Queen and the Warden are not around to burden us, we’ll get back on our feet.”
“Yeah. I suppose your right” Lotho responds, sitting down and putting his feet up. "Oh! Say, that reminds me…. I have something I’d like to give you all as a little ‘Thank You’ from the good folks of Dunesand. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a finely crafted necklace consisting of a beautiful ruby carved into the shape of an eye and set on a silver chain. “Please, take this” he says, holding it out. “It’s been something I used to wear when I was a young explorer. It will sharpen your senses and help you to spot the minutest detail.” (This is a +2 Ornament of Alertness)

Into the Mines
The Lost Mines of Karak

The heroes ride a shaky wooden platform secured with ropes and pulleys – an elevator if you will – down into the inky black below. After several hundred feet they arrive in a worked stone room with one exit. Exiting the room they encounter more troglodyte guards, affirming that they are on the correct path. In one of the guard rooms they discover a rotting journal buried under a pile of refuse. The journal tells the tale of the Karak Lode and most interestingly, what brought about its demise. Contrary to Bram Ironfell’s version of the story, the mines were destroyed from within by the very dwarves who lived here. When a new tunnel was opened, it was found to contain ore that was imbued with pure elemental chaos. The power of chaos radiated from the ore and eventually drove the dwarves mad. The dwarves turned on themselves until none of them remained.
Pressing on, the entered the mines and found that much of the ore here, pulsed with energy from the elemental chaos. The red, glowing veins of ore caused the walls and floors glow with a pulsating red light. As they ventured deeper into the mines, they began to encounter troglodyte slaves who were mining the ore and collecting it into large drams, which were then lugged down a rail system to somewhere deeper in the complex. The slaves wanted nothing to do with the heroes and cowered when approached by them.

Following the rail cars deeper into the mines, the Brindol Brigade found themselves in a large cavern which was divided by a chasm that opened directly into the Elemental Chaos. They watched as large beings of pure elemental energy picked up the cards of ore, and transported them into the elemental chaos and beyond. Behind them, are piled hundreds of dwarven skulls, a gruesome bier on which coils a serpentine creature with a human face – a vile naga.
“Who dares enter the domain of Queen Shephatiah!” hisses the Naga. “Mortal scum, you will pay dearly for your intrusion! Kill them!”

The battle is dynamic and fierce. The heroes leap across the chasm between planes and attack the queen and her minions. With precise, coordinated attacks, the heroes focus their attacks on the queen’s minions and tear them both into pieces in a few short moments. With all of their might now directed towards the queen, she quickly realizes that she is not match for this dangerous group. She barters for her life – she will tell them all she knows if the heroes will let her live. Reluctantly, they agree.

Shephatiah details how she was hired to discover the portal leading to the Karak Lode from the Elemental Chaos by an unknown benefactor. This benefactor is also financing the reopening of these mines. These unknown masters have claimed the wealth of the Karak Lode for themselves, and are having that wealth shipped to them by way of the elemental rift. She explains that lately, she has been instructed to ramp up production in the mines in response to an increasing need for the ore. What the ore is being used for, she does not know. Who is paying her, she does not know. Based on what they say of Sarshan’s foundry and operation in the Shadowfell, they can only assume that he is behind this. With their questions answered, the heroes allow Shephatiah to escape back to the elemental chaos.

In Search of the Mines and the Birdman
The Lost Mines of Karak

After tending to their wounds and resting, the heroes explored the rest of Ironfell Fortress and were unable to find little else in the Fortress – of most concern was no evidence at all of mines or a way to access any mines. In fact, once the few remaining enemies were taken care of the entire fortress was deserted save for a strange little man they discovered locked in a cell by the Trogs. The curious old man, was quickly dubbed ‘The Birdman’ because of the seven yellow canaries that perpetually flew around him and seemed to communicate with him. The Birdman never spoke to the heroes and simply smiled and nodded to any questions they had. Befuddled, they returned searching the Fortress any evidence of the lost mines and soon found that the birdman was gone. Frustrated, they prepared to leave the fortress and return to Overlook empty handed when they noticed a single set of human footprints leading out of the Fortress and into the desert beyond. More troubling, though, was the ferocious sandstorm that bore down on the fortress. Surely the little old man would perish if caught out in that storm so the adventurers searched in vain for him but were forced to retreat back into the fortress by the increasingly angry storm.

Content to spend another night inside the fortress instead of being ripped apart by the violent sand storm rampaging outside, the players settled in for another night of rest.
Several hours into the night, Samhain detected the faint rattling of a portcullis being raised. He stood to investigate when, suddenly, the silence is shattered by a frantic chirping. The Birdman’s canaries are nowhere to be seen, yet their shrill warnings echo from the stones. The heroes took up their weapons and readied themselves. They spotted sudden movement at the arrow slits along the south wall. Three gray-skinned creatures with long, spindly arms squeezed themselves through the narrow gaps. To the east, a hulking Troglodyte with a skull mask and staff bursts into the room, another gray-skinned choker behind him. Assessing the situation, the Brindol Brigade spread out and pressed an attack on the would-be ambushers. While the troglodyte hexer was able to do some heavy damage initially, he was soon closed on by Khort and neutralized. The battle was over in just minutes.

Searching the bodies of their attackers, they heroes discovered a trail of yellow canary feathers that head from the site of the battle down towards the dungeon area. Following the feathers, the group found a perfectly circle hole in the floor of one of the cells that was not visible or present when they searched the area before. Who was this mysterious Birdman? Drawing on his knowledge of religion, Khort recalled stories that told of similar figure with yellow birds being an aspect of Bahamutt. Could it be true? Did the heroes just encounter the god of metallic dragons? Regardless of who has been helping the, the heroes pressed on and investigated the vertical passage that lay beyond the perfectly hidden passageway.

Battered, Bloodied and Whole Again
The Lost Mines of Karak - RP Email 2

With the Dryad and her minions defeated, you and your companions searched the lair she had made for herself in what was once the Main Hall of this Dwarven Stronghold. Along with Samhain’s belongings, you discovered 4 finely cut gems and set of robes worn by the Dryad that radiate with magical energy. While exploring the rest of the area before settling in for a rest, you are able to discern that this complex is most certainly of Dwarven construction, however, you find little to indicate that this area houses a mining operation. Perhaps the stairs leading downward will yield more clues? After ensuring that the upper areas are cleared on enemies, you find an easily defended hallway with adjoining rooms on the second floor to hunker down in for the night.
The moan of wind passing over the collapsed roof of the once great entry hall in the Karak Lode has steadily increased to a wail since you and your companions settled in for a rest; a storm appears to be coming.
The floor is hard stone and the furniture has rotted to the point of making it unusable. Over the wail of the wind outside, little can be heard in the eerily silent stronghold as you sit and eat a meal of dried fruits, nuts and cured meat.

Sam faces his companions, a contrite and troubled look on his face. “Thank you, my brothers, for the timely rescue…” He trails off, grimacing, then seems to find his voice again.
“I’m afraid your association with me has drawn you into something I don’t fully understand. I think I’m being… hunted. By whom, or for what purpose, I don’t know. He haunts my dreams, lurks in my nightmares. Always pursuing, always backed these beasts. Black, amorphous things of claws and teeth. Claws… just like that.” He points at Borneas’ weapon. “Do the legends of your people make any mention of a black-hooded figure tied to those monsters? Have any of you ever heard of a woman by name of Amyria?”

He gives a sheepish look to Samhain (odd, considering he’s a giant cow), and elbows him gently. “Next time, my friend, you should simply hold on to my back and let me take you up! Then, if we fall, you can land on me!” Then he gets serious. “I am, however, glad you survived. Now what is this woman named Amyria, and who does she represent?”

Boreas looks down at his War Pick for what seems like an eternity to those around him. Right before anyone could say anything further, Boreas slowly turns up from his pick with a smile and playfully slaps Samhain on the back. His massive hand covering the whole of Samhain’s battered posterior. With that Boreas offers to Samhain, “My baby brother, Boreas is so weary from battle, I can’t even remember how spell name. It very tough for to remember much. Boreas take many hits from a club OK, but don’t know much of the world. Whatever these things, they go through me before they touch you. Never, I let you be taken again.”

Boreas shook his head confidently and reclined back. He said still smiling, “I will rest, my little friend, and maybe remember tomorrow.”

[OOC] Ken, with regard to your pick: Boreas’ tribe was attacked by a group of monsters that seemed wrought from pure chaos. You defending your tribe single handedly after most warriors were killed. From one of these beasts you tore one of its mandibles and turned it into the pick you wield now.
The beasts in Sam’s dreams are the same beasts as the ones that attacked you village. Furthermore, in the monastery you guys trie to save (this is in the write up) you saw all saw a fresco that depicted a time long ago and the beasts were shown in the fresco. When you were in Sarshan’s foundry, you saw massive vats where Sarshan was using vile magic and energy from the elemental chaos to transform normal beasts into twisted monsters. In one of the vats, you saw, again, one of these chaos beasts. You struck at the vat, destroying the creature and ended up imbuing you pick with the power it has today.

“No, Khort, you don’t understand. These dreams aren’t normal. They are visions, images of the past, perhaps of the future as well. Amyria doesn’t represent anything; she is, or was, real. The hooded man killed her… I think…” His voice trails off in thought, muttering more to himself than the others. “She said, ’I’m sorry.’ Too me? But, he said she would no longer have to shoulder the burden of being the ‘Keeper of Chaos…’ I don’t understand. Is that why he wants me… ?”
Sam looks up again. "The dryad said that ‘He’ wasn’t interested in any of you, although she did ask if we were the Heroes of Overlook, and what we were doing here, I think just to confirm my identity. Whoever this ‘he’ is, he wants me specifically; for what, I can’t be certain. Perhaps for the same reason he hunted Amyria. I have too many questions, however, and too few answers, and I don’t even know where to begin asking them. From what the tree-witch said, and the events in Overlook after we went to the Shadowfell, I’m beginning to think that maybe Sarshan’s operation is being used as part of this. Why else would his warehouses there lead us here, into this trap? The dryad was definitely an agent of the Hooded Man, though. This is her base of operations. I need to know what is going on, and that means I need to find out whatever may be in the lower levels of this complex.
“Khort, and Sink, I know this is something personal, so I’m asking for your help. What say you?”

“I am definitely ready to charge down those stairs and fight, though I admit, I am unaccustomed to this cloak and dagger lifestyle. The last time I faced such a situation, people turned on me, and I found myself crafting my own web to be stuck in. If I can end that peril for others, I am certainly eager. This keeper of chaos baffles me.”
(I’ll apply that knowledge check to arcane, if that’s cool. Sorry I forgot to specify).
“They nearly took us apart, with their tree magic and their fortifications. It is obvious they are very powerful. If they’re associated with the armies of Sarshan you described, even with my great strength, I fear we may not be able to stop so many. One at a time, my friends, we will work our way through to whoever is behind this.”

……Boreas, trying to rest and remember starts to stir. His comrades, locked in conversation, don’t notice his sleeplessness until he jumps out of of his rest. He bellows, “I know these enemies. I fought them before, and will fight again. These enemies, very dangerous, but we defeat them. I protect my brothers to the death.” Now tapping his War Pick. “We go explore, and find what we need to take fight to them.”

With that, Boreas grabs Sink by the horn, who was huddled over a hollowed out stone (ha), and all the adventures head toward the stairs to search for answers……..

Sink mentions in passing, “You guys talk funny.”

::turns to Samhain::
“It’s nothing to me, this name, Amyria, alas.” He looks around. “But rest assured, we are in my element. Even if we are overwhelmed, I am at my best trying to find my way out of a situation like this. It reminds me of the maze. I made my way out of that; I will make my way into this place, fighting to its heart for what we need. Samhain, can you walk? Is there any lasting damage from your fall?”

The rest of the evening passes with little excitement. While the storm outside seems to be picking up, the interior of the ancient ruins is silent; DEAD SILENT. Soon, the first rays of dawn can be seen peeking through the arrow slits that line the corridor our side of the room you rested in. Belongings are gathered and armor is secured into place as your hearty group of hero’s sets out to examine the last place left to explore in the Karak Lode: the barricaded stairs leading down


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