The World of Arith

End of the Valley 2

After having a fitful night in the gnoll packlord’s den, the party decided to more fully explore the secret passage and the area it led to. They found the storage room just as they left it, except for a thin coat of slime covering the floor, remnants of the gelatinous cube. The slime was still acidic, but passing through quickly caused no harm.

Following the passage out of the storage room, they encountered a side chamber ending in large ornate doors. Feolas and Luinwe tried to determine what the symbols meant, but soon realized that they were religious in nature, and neither Eldar had much time for religion. Soon Nork caught up and identified the symbols and carvings as signifying a tomb. Choosing to let the dead rest, they moved on.

Around a few more turns, the passage had side corridors heading off left and right. Choosing the left corridor, they came to a torture chamber where two acolytes were discussing the finer points of pain. They quickly dropped one of the acolytes, but the other healed his brethren and both joined the battle. However, the two initiates were no match for the more experienced party.

Back in the main corridor, they took the passage to their left and came upon a cell door. Inside a cowled woman was softly sobbing. Luinwe called the woman over to the door and attempted to sooth her. When Luinwe told her he was leaving her there, the woman pulled back her cowl to display a snake-like hair. The medusa tried to turn the wood elf to stone, and when Luinwe averted his gaze in time, she kicked the cell door open with supernatural strength. The rest of the party came running until they realized what kind of monster they now faced. Using her feet as guides and looking through polished surfaces, their attacks went off-course more often than normal, but they were able to defeat the creature before any of them were turned into statues.

The corridor they followed soon came to an end. The doorway at the end opened into a large ceremonial hallway decorated with reliefs and frescoes of Erythnul’s worship and his realm of Chernoggar.

Near their own door was another portal through which they could hear a group of human voices arguing over the benefits of summoning of demons and devils. Listening for a bit, Feolas could tell that these summoners didn’t have as good a grasp on the topics as they should – most likely more initiates. Using the robes of the previous acolytes, Feolas and Nova entered the room to try and bluff their way to a better position. However, the two acolytes slain were male – the bluff only lasted as long as it took Nova to speak. She was soon surrounded by the acolytes, and while she gave as good as she got – maybe a bit better – they began healing each other during the battle. Two could play at that game, so when Nova fell to their maces, Nork quickly healed the swashbuckler.

The battle was furious, as the acolytes surrounded and took turns beating on Nova, the other members of the party began dropping them one by one. Soon finding themselves out of healing spells, the five acolytes were defeated.

Passing a lesser temple, they party continued their journey, using the frescoes as their guide to the main temple. They soon found another room with many voices. Realizing that the room had two entrances, they attempted the ruse again. Entering the chamber from the far entrance, Feolas and Nova brought the “prisoner” Nork with them. As soon as they began speaking, Luinwe kicked open the other door and fire his bow while Nova charged the nearest cultist. While seemingly more skilled than the initiates, these lesser priests fell quickly to a well-executed plan.

Soon they found themselves in the main temple. Nova entered while the others backed off a bit. The high priestess, scoffed at their little war on the valley and explained that during mid-night on the eve of Pelor’s Tithe all of the humanoid armies were planning to turn on their employers. The orcs of Darcos would wipe out the Darcosian armies, the hobgoblins of Sarten doing the same to Sart, and so on. The goblins would lead the derro through the sewers to attack Elteare, the only human city not to have employed humanoid mercenaries. When the sun rose for Pelor’s holiday, his longest day of the year, it would rise on bloodshed unknown in the modern age. Once the armies were defeated, the mercenaries would march on the capitols and the Empire of Arvanor would be wiped from the face of Arith.

The priestess boasted that it was too late for anyone to stop them, Pelor’s Tithe was the day after tomorrow. Even if she allowed them to live and return home, by the time they reached the city the deed would be done and the end of the empire would have begun. At that, Nova raised her rapier and charged.

The priestess was faster however, and using a hammer she held in her hand, she struck a large iron bell in the center of the temple. While the party raced into the temple, so did ten of her skeleton minions. She began the battle by silencing the area near the entrance to the temple as the skeletons began flooding out of a hidden side chamber. Nork backed up down the corridor and out of the silence, while Feolas entered the temple proper and moved towards the high priestess. Nova and Luinwe were soon held at the entrance to the corridor by the skeletons. Soon four separate battles were being waged in the temple. Feolas was surrounded by the high priestess and her skeletons. Casting a spell to inflict wounds on her mace, she managed an almost perfect shot on the Eladrin and Feolas fell dead. The rest of the party was enraged, and having defeated most of the skeletons hedging them in, Luinwe and Nova turned their sights of the priestess. While they threw everything they had at the evil cleric, Nork tried in vain to revive Feolas, but the Eladrin was too far gone to be healed. Soon the last arrow hit its mark, and the priestess joined the Eladrin in death.

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End of the Valley 1

The next morning, Luinwe realized that his offering to the fey watching the caves had gone untouched. They knew now that they needed to attack the hidden masters of the valley, the clerics of Erythnul. Liam asked to join them and give these filthy things a piece of his mind (and axe), while Torus asked for a day to reconnect with his chakras (or something of that sort). Approaching the valley, they thought about their options. While they discussed going after the owlbear, the gnolls or the clerics, they decided that they had to take out the gnolls first, making sure they had a way out if things went bad.

With less caution than previous days, they ran up to the gnoll cave. Immediately on entering, they were attacked by the three gnoll sentries, all dressed in the white of Calastan. Heading further in, they defeated another five gnolls standing guard over a locked room. Following a side passage they found the main living area, with the six gnolls left giving them quite a challenge.

They then found the packlord and his five mates. Though difficult, between Feolas’ flaming sphere, Liam’s axe, Nova’s rapier and Luinwe’s bow the leader of the gnolls soon fell.

Searching the area turned up the entrance to another secret corridor and the skeleton of a former adventurer who had died in the tunnel. The secret tunnel emptied out into a strangely clean storage room. The smell of death and decay permeated this area, giving the party hope that they had found a secret entrance into the cleric’s caves. While still carefully checking for traps, Luinwe was grabbed and absorbed by a gigantic cube of clear slime. Now knowing what had happened, the others leaped into action.

Luinwe struggled to free himself as the acidic nature of the gelatinous substance ate away at his flesh. Getting free, he was soon reabsorbed into the cube. The rest of the party engaged the ooze, but Feolas got too close and was absorbed as well. The acid bringing the Eladrin to death’s door. Finally, Nova and Liam cleaved the thing into two and that seemed to be enough to discorporate the thing and free their companions. Nork’s quick action saved Feolas, but they were too spent to move further into the area.

They chose to hold up in the gnoll caves until rest gave them the edge they needed to succeed. If that was the first of the cleric’s guardian creatures, what were they in for.

Luinwe took watch on the valley.

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Who's Next

Looking for the passage into the rest of the hobgoblin lair, the party found a secret door in one of the guard rooms. Three more battles saw the end of hobgoblins. Feeling completely spent, the party made its way back to the safety of their cave.

Once back at the cave, they found their rescued prisoners standing and sitting in the cave somewhat stupefied. While the prisoners seemed to come out of their daydreams on the party’s return, any suggestions made to them were readily accepted and they seemed to be in a most agreeable mood.

The next morning, the party made the now familiar trip back to the caves. As they got close to the valley, Luinwe scouted ahead and found bugbear tracks with the tell-tale signs of dragged prisoners mixed in. Though the party knew they would have to assault the bugbears, they realized they couldn’t do that without putting the second orc lair at their backs. Feeling somewhat brazen, they chose a heads-on assault of the orc caves.

Charging in the front cave, they heard the sounds of sleeping orcs to the left and guards to the right. They chose to engage the guards and quickly defeated the four orcs. Sneaking into the orc quarters, they found that all seven of the orcs were still sleeping in their cots. There was ample evidence that this group of orcs came from Aradoran, judging by the coinage found and the gold on purple uniforms. Positioning themselves around the room, they slew most of the orcs before the few left awoke. However, the orcs awoke too late and were quickly defeated.

Further in, they found the orog chieftain and his orog mate Though the two orogs were much tougher than their orcish kin, they were unable to stand against the adventurers.

They then turned their attention to the bugbears in the next cave complex. Heading into the caves, they found a guard room to the left with five alert bugbear guards. Though physically larger and more powerful than men, the bugbears fell to the party’s tactics. Luinwe again scouted to the right, where a ramp south headed down to a lower level and continued north to an upper level. Down the ramp Luinwe found three bugbear jailors. Trying to lure one out, Luinwe rolled a ball-bearing down the ramp, and found that one of the guards came scouting. Unfortunately, the sounds of combat attracted the others from the guard room, and another five bugbears from the north.

Feolas’ flaming sphere spell was able to divide the attackers and keep all but a few at bay, allowing the party to tackle the bugbears in more reasonable numbers rather than be surrounded. The battle found the party triumphant, although more than a little beat up, bloodied and bruised.

While some members of the group rested and re-energized, Luinwe went down the ramp and found another set of prisoners. A human couple, Liam and Sonia, explained that they were prospectors captured by the bugbears recently and two wood elves, Shara and Vindil, were captured as they wandered the western Loupenholt. The dwarf introduced himself as Torus Swayingoak and asked to accompany the party to “discuss” his capture with the bugbear chieftain. Three kobolds, Nirk, Peg and Meepug seemed shifty and unreliable while the last captive, Gleep the goblin introduced himself with all the flair of a coutier. Explaining that he served the winter court, Gleep informed the party of the clerics of Erythnul’s cave and engaged the party in dialogue, answering most of the party’s questions. Another cell held more violent prisoners, a human madman, a rebel bugbear, a gnoll and three hobgoblins. None of these prisoners were released.

The group decided to bring all of the most recent prisoners to the cave mouth and leave them there as they delved further into the lair to find the chieftain. Deeper in the lair they found the bugbear sub-chief with his mate. The two bugbears alone proved no match for the party and their new-found dwarven companion Torus. After the chieftain fell, the mate made for a secret door, but was stopped before escaping. Passing through the secret tunnel, the party found themselves in a maze-like cavern with heavy animal smells and the clicking of large insects. Surmizing that this may be the minotaur’s caves, they beat a hasty retreat back into the bugbear caves. Feolas made a note that all bugbears were dressed in the green livery of Brineven, as he suspected in the first place.

Making their way back to the cave mouth, they found the goblin Gleep had disappeared, leaving the rest of the prisoners. Liam and Sonia had grabbed a greataxe and some hand axes from the bugbears. For a second day in a row, the party then escorted rescued prisoners back to their shallow cave.

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Taking on the Hobgoblins 2

Fullsun – Second Tenday

Traveling back to the valley of humanoids, the group started sneaking back to the hobgoblin caves by passing through the ogre cave when Luinwe noticed that they had been spotted from one of the orc caves. Running across the valley, they hastily entered the orc caves and quickly engaged the sentries. Hearing orc voices all around them, Luinwe scouted deeper into the cave complex and found the common room. From the common room he heard voices from a passage parallel to the one he used and more voices ahead. Luckily, these orcs were not quietly resting and sounds, screams and bellows didn’t seem out of place. While the other took a brief rest, Luinwe taunted another group of orc guards and led them back to the entrance. Unfortunately, he found himself flanked by the two remaining orcs before he made it all the way back to his companions. Hearing the commotion, his companions helped him defeat the last two.

Back in the common room, the group chose to pull another group of orcs from the nearby quarters. Nork attempted an illusion of himself to fool the orcs, but they didn’t take the bait. The orcs moved into position, surrounding Nova while one of their number split off to take on Luinwe. Nova soon fell dying before their axes and another orc split off to attack Feolas. Nork was able to heal Nova, who was quickly rendered unconscious again by the orcs around her. However, the tide had turned.

With one orc asleep from Feolas’ spell, Luinwe soon slew one, then another. Nork again revived Nova, who stood up (barely alive) and dropped one of the orcs still next to her. Nork even took a few good bow shots against the last orc battling Feolas, who was soon defeated.

Making their way deeper into the complex, they found the lair of the orc leader and his bodyguards. While they made short work of the bodyguards, the leader proved much tougher. Standing toe to toe with him, Luinwe soon fell to his axe. With Nork’s healing spells, Luinwe stood again to face the orc subchief, and was felled again. Standing a third time because of Nork, the orc leader bellowed while Luinwe explained that “I am immortal”. Soon he dropped a fourth time, but this time, the subchief tried to inflict a killing blow. He failed to strike a deep enough blow to permanently slay the elf, who was again revived by Nork.

By this time, Nova and Feolas had finished off the rest of the bodyguards. With all of them targeting the sub-chief, it soon fell. Though not before Luinwe collapsed a fifth time.

With the caves finally cleared, the party looked for some type of intelligence to return to Aramis. It was apparent throughout the complex that these orcs were mercenaries from Darcos and that the common area had recently been host to near sixty orc mercenaries, most of whom had vacated the complex. Luinwe remembered that he had tracked some of the orc leaving this valley heading north. They also found a document written in orcish among the sub-chief’s things.

Searching for secret doors revealed another room beyond the orc chieftain’s lair. This room had two secret doors out of it and on the walls around a table for two hung two shields, one displaying the colors of Darcos, the other was an Aradoran shield. They surmised that the two orc leaders probably met in secret in this room. Taking the time to cast a language spell when back in the Darcos orc caves, Feolas found that the orcish document was a command to seek out the priests of Erythnul in the caves and determine if their plans were something that “The Host” could support. This sub-chief was apparently given the authority to negotiate with the priests and “other tribes” for “The Host”.

Knowing they had valuable intelligence and were taxing their resources, the party contemplated leaving the caves, but realized that they would not have another chance to surprise and defeat the hobgoblins without raising the alarm. They snuck back across the valley into the ogre lair and searched the area to decide how dangerous their path would be. Finding no evidence that their previous foray into the cave this morning had been discovered, they decided to attack the hobgoblins from the secret door behind the goblin storeroom. Before heading in, Luinwe scouted the caves further into the valley. Using the overgrowth and small copses of trees for cover, he found bear-like tracks with some obvious bird-like features as well near the far-western cave at the floor of the valley. Upon returning to the party, he and Nork puzzled that the tracks may have been made by a monstrous creature known as an owlbear. They decided that the hobgoblins were a safer enemy to tackle.

Through the secret door, they quickly dispatched the lone hobgoblin guard in the hobgoblin storeroom before heading up a set of stairs and confronting a set of three hobgoblin guards ready for battle. They quickly defeated those three and found three more guards beyond another door, one of which went up to a third door and knocked loudly. As they were finishing off the three guards, the hobgoblin leader and her four consorts/bodyguards moved out to confront the party and were soon defeated.

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Taking on the Hobgoblins

Fullsun – Second Tenday

After returning to their own shallow cave, Luinwe found that his offerings had been taken. The night was again uneventful and the next morning they began the trek back to the valley after Luinwe replenished his small offerings.

As they approached the valley, they discussed the best way to assault the hobgoblin lair. They had three ways in that they knew of. The stairway near the goblin entrance, the secret door further in the goblin caves and the cave mouth gaping above goblin cave in the valley.

Taking some time to observe the valley they saw an orc patrol appear in the southern caves above the empty kobold lair, but they chose to stay with the original plan and raid the hobgoblin caves. Combing through the goblin lair, they found evidence that the something had been through them. The caltrops on the stairway were gone and the ogre cave had been opened. Deciding that the secret door was too far into the goblin caves, and there was too much of a risk of being surrounded, they chose the stairway.

Listening carefully, Luinwe determined that the hobgoblins didn’t seem to be waiting for anything. They seemed to be talking normally beyond the door. Maybe their ruse of leaving scraps of the kobold livery among the goblins worked. Bursting into the hobgoblin room, they found that the hobgoblins had their weapons close at hand. The five hobgoblins in the room were no match for the party and quickly fell. Searching the area, they noticed that this room was set to hold fifty or so hobgoblins. Like the goblins and kobolds, the hobgoblins had vacated the area in the last few weeks, leaving behind only a fraction of their forces.

Scouting further in, Luinwe soon began to hear groaning and cries of pain, from human sounding voices. Following the passage, he led the group to the hobgoblin torture chamber. There two hobgoblins had a human woman strapped to a bench, while three other humans were manacled to the walls of the chamber along with an orc and a gnoll. Charging in, they defeated the two torturers and released the human captives. After attempting to question the orc, Feolas grew annoyed and slew the creature while it was still manacled. The gnoll began insulted the pitiful humans until Nova grew angry enough to release it and challenged it to a clash of blades. After circling each other for a few seconds, the gnoll lunged and soon found itself dead at Nova’s feet.

The human woman introduced herself as Anara. She and her husband Finn were traveling through Darcos from Brieven and down to Sarten with their guards Eddard and Peyrot when they were assaulted by the hobgoblins and taken captive.

Though Anara, Eddard and Peyrot seemed somewhat capable, Finn was a babbling mess. The group decided to take them back to their cave and return later that day.

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Goblins Galore

Fullsun – Second Tenday

During the night, Luinwe and Feolas detected signs that a fey presence may have been protecting the cave in some way. A large wolf, possibly a dire wolf passed within feet of the cave mouth and yet did not detect the group. Also, a darkness covered the cave mouth, but when they exited the cave to see what it was, they detected nothing. IN the morning, before heading off to the humanoid caverns, Luinwe weaved a small wreath of nearby grasses and left a small bit of wine and food.

Heading off to the caverns, the group decided to enter the southern caves across from the kobold lair. When Luinwe went to scout, he heard a voice, possibly goblinish yell an alarm. Backing off for almost an hour, they saw the goblins make a few checks of the outside of the cave, but then the patrols seemed to stop. Sneaking in, they ventured southeast and soon encountered a patrol of goblins. Expecting these creatures to be as easy a target as the kobolds, they were surprised when the goblins soon dropped Luinwe and Feolas. If not for the healing powers of Nork and Nova’s brave defense, the party’s story may have ended there. Avandra smiled on them in that moment and soon they defeated the band of goblins. Proceeding through the guard room beyond, they found a stairway heading up. Luinwe scouted the passage and soon came upon a door. While the voices beyond the door were goblinish, they were much deeper, possibly hobgoblins. Spreading caltrops around the stairs, Luinwe rejoined his companions and they took the western passageway.

Soon they came upon another band of goblin guards, stepping out of the shadows, Luinwe took out two of the goblins with well-placed arrows while Feolas took out another with his lance of frost. That’s when one of the remaining goblins grabbed a sack and shoved a section of wall with a lareg “x” painted in blood on it. The wall gave way and he threw the sack into the other chamber and ran down the western corridor. As the party moved to kill the remaining guards and stop the goblin from raising the alarm, the secret door was ripped open and in stepped the ogre they had seen the previous day.

It moved to engage Nova and dropped her with one strike of the tree limb it used as a greatclub. It took a combined effort to fell the monster and keep Nova alive. Venturing further into the cave system, they soon found the main living quarters and like the kobolds, there was evidence that a large force of goblins had vacated the caves about a week ago.

Finding the storage room, the party discovered a secret door which led into the hobgoblin caves. With some investigating, they determined that the hobgoblins were stealing the choicest items from the goblins. Careful not to wake the hobgoblin guard, they made their way back into the goblin caves and continued exploring.

Defeating several more bands of goblins, the party soon found themselves facing the goblin boss, his concubines and guards. After interrupting his festivities the party was able to defeat the goblins.

Searching his chambers, they found a curled up flag of Elteare and inside a map of the city of the Eltearan sewer system and a note describing underground chambers connecting to a derro lair. In many places on the map were notes suggesting magical traps and wards, but the goblins seem to have found several untrapped and unguarded ways into the city of sorcerers.

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Something Fishy in Sarten I

Fullsun – Second Tenday

Setting up camp in the shallow cave on the border of the Loupenholt and the Endeleu Highlands, the party has a restful sleep before heading out to the humanoid cave complex scouted by Luinwe. The next morning, they made their way the few miles left until Luinwe explained that they were getting close. As they discussed strategy under the forest canopy, they were nearly surprised when nine kobolds came up behind them with various game animals on spits. The kobolds seemed to be following the same path the party was following. While their first battle was fast and furious, the kobolds seemed ill-prepared for the conflict and soon lay dead at the group’s feet.

As they approached the valley of caves, Luinwe found the kobold tracks leading out from one of the bottom caves to the north of the valley. Feolas was convinced he saw something BIG in one of the soutern caves, so the party crept quietly over to the cave mouth they felt the kobolds had come from. While waving his companions in, Luinwe got a better look at a very large ogre moving about one of the southern cave mouths.

They had barely gotten into the cave when a pit trap opened below them and six kobolds rushed out from a side alcove to spear the unfortunates stuck in the pit. Luckily, Luinwe was agile enough to avoid the pit opening under his feet, and when the kobolds got the the edge of the pit and looked, they saw four hale adventurers on the other edge of the pit glaring back at them. A phantasm of a earthen wall sealed the kobolds’ escape and they were soon dispatched.

Venturing further into the complex, the party encountered several more bands. They eventually found themselves in one of the kobolds’ main nests. Here they found evidence of another fifty or so kobolds who seemed to have vacated the caverns recently. In the main nest, they also found a banner from the Kingdom of Murena and most of the kobolds carried Murenan coinage. Further evidence and bric-a-brac seemed to strongly indicate that these kobolds were some of the mercenaries whom the Murenans hired along with the lizardfolk to protect themselves from the orcs of Aradoran and the gnolls of Calastan.

Scouting deeper into the complex, Luinwe encountered a quartet of armored kobolds guarding a doorway. They seemed to have heard the party and began advancing as Luinwe joined his companions around the corner of a previous corridor. When the sounds of the armored kobolds advancing stopped, the party began to make its way up the corridor behind silent illusions cast by Feolas and Nork. They moved halfway up the corridor when the kobolds jumped out behind heavy gray curtains which hid alcoves along the walls of the corridor. Nork, about ten feet behind his longer-legged companions was completely suprised when two of the kobolds appeared beside him. The battle was brutal, and Feolas fell unconscious from the kobold blades. Although the party emerged victorious, all were bloodied and slightly beaten.

Moving up to the doorway the armored kobolds had been guarding, the party assumed with the quieter and seemingly more comforting yips and yaps that it was a den of kobold females or young. Deciding to piton the door closed, they were surprised when the door was whipped open and a kobold with a mad gleam in his eye poured something into a flask and threw the flask at the back of the party. The flask shattered, filling the room with fire. Then the kobold retreated while his five consorts made a shield wall in front of him. As the consorts began dropping to Luinwe’s arrows, Nova’s rapier and Feolas’ ray of frost, the mad kobold mixed a larger flask and firebombed the area. Although he took out both Feolas and Nork, his remaining two consorts also died in the flames. While Nova took care of the mad kobold, Luinwe acted quickly to heal Nork with one of the potions they had purchased and Nork soon stabilized and healed Feolas.

Burnt, bruised and battered, the party made their way out of the caves and the valley and began heading back to their hideaway. The mystery remained however, what were Murenan kobolds doing in Sarten?

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For Queen and Country II

Fullsun


First Ten-Day

At that moment, a small shadow in the back of the room stepped out and introduced himself as the halfling Nork Shortwart, cleric of Avandra. Once Aramis left the room, the foursome decided to take the gold to the Temple of Fates in the district of Muselier and purchase some healing potions – just in case. Luinwe asked what bag of gold, for it had disappeared off the table. At that point Nork knowingly volunteered Luinwe as treasure keeper. Nork led them to the temple and introduced the three to Olinra Ravevine, the high priestess of Avandra. After attempting to talk her down a bit in price, which seemed to amuse the older Olinra, she agreed to part with two potions for 70 gold.

They chose to save the remaining 30 gold for traveling expenses, trusting Luinwe to keep good faith with the group. Nork, however, seemed to be keeping track of the amount – just in case. Agreeing to meet the following morning, each went off to finish their business in town. That night, Nova left a servant a message for her father stating that, “I’ll be safe. I’ll be back, don’t worry.” Feolas explained his quest to Master Maeule, who wholeheartedly endorsed the endeavor, telling his apprentice that there comes a time when real experience counts far more that study.

That next morning, the foursome met in the Loupenmart and set out to the northern village of Saxau. The trip took the better part of the day, and as night stretched her mantle across the landscape, they found themselves at the Black Steer Inn.

Fullsun – Second Ten-day
After taking the only available room and having the maid Lanel bring in some extra cots, they made their way down to the common room, which was filled with lumberjacks, a few fey from the Loupenholt, and some prospectors, including a hobgoblin prospector. After the innkeep Benet finished his story of a huge, wagon-sized, midnight black, steer who left the woods to punish lumberjacks that had been disrespectful of the Loupenholt, everyone got around to drinking and carousing. A few seemed interested in the foursome and when they said they were heading to the Endeleu Highlands looking for gold, the hobgoblin warned them of some flying monsters in the northern hills. Nork sensed that the hob wasn’t telling the entire truth and Luinwe noticed that one of the goblins had nearly disappeared into a corner and was studying the group intently.

Still, after a suitable time had passed, the group headed upstairs to their room. Luinwe and Feolas decided that watches were called for, with Luinwe taking the first watch while Feolas tranced. During Luinwe’s watch, he noted a shadow at the door. He judged the shadow to be a small creature and heard some fiddling with the lock and a very quiet snap. The shadow grumbled under its breath and left. A little while later, the shadow returned, fiddled with the lock for a few seconds and left again. Nothing else occurred that evening.

The next morn, the group left Saxau and entered the Loupenholt. At home in the wood, Luinwe kept them on course. A few miles form their destination, Luinwe spotted a large pair of eyes watching them from the branches of a nearby tree, and then they were gone. Sensing the magic of the fey nearby, the party made no hostile moves. In that grove, they located a shallow cave that could serve as a camp point for their forays into the valley three miles away. Although it may take an hour to reach the caves, the distance would provide safety. Camping for the night, careful to gather only dropped wood for the fire, they contemplated what they would find in the morning.

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For Queen and Country

In the year 2186, Emperor Aradorus VII passed away without issue. The Imperial Senate, faced with no immediate heir, chose to delay the issue until a suitable heir presented himself. The High Priest of Calastan informed the senate that only an heir chosen by Pelor and the Sun Fane should rule the Empire and the senators from Sarten informed the senate that they should choose the Sart Queen Genevieve as the next Empress. After three months of debating, the Commodore of Darcos chose to take the crown by force. The Darcan legions were let loose on Aradoran, and the city just barely held. Sarten forces soon bolstered the Aradoran forces (after all the Queen had still to be crowned Empress) and the Darcan’s retreated. Soon the Calastani military tried to annex Brineven in their push towards Darcos. The Aradoran forces marched on Elteare to firm up their position, but were attacked in turn by the burnt corpses of their own army, animated by necromancy and sent back to the aggressors.

With the senate foundering, and the claimants evenly matched the war dragged on for a few years until 2191, when Darcan forces released their newest weapon on Aradoran, orc mercenaries from the Wildlands. In response, Aradoran hired their own orcs, Calastan hired gnoll mercenaries, Murena bought a contingent of lizardfolk and their kobold assistants to protect them from their neighbors and Queen Genevieve hired hobgoblin mercenaries. Soon the war for the Empire became a war fought by humanoid mercenaries.

Fullsun

First ten-day

So it was interesting that in the year 2195, an elven ranger named Luinwe, discovered the signs of a large contingent of hobgoblin tracks leading away from the Endeleu Highlands, north of Sarten. While hobgoblins and their allies were not uncommon in Sarten, such a force should not have been in that area at that time. Rather than try and catch up with the warband heading into the open plains, Luinwe followed the tracks back to their source.

On the way, he observed other tracks leading away from the same area, orcs, kobold and gnolls all seemed to be coming from the same place in force. He found a ravine filled with cave mouths, and after a few days of watching, he realized that the caves were inhabited by the various humanoids.

Humanoid caves player

Realizing that he didn’t understand the full nature of the threat, Luinwe made his way for the capital Sarten and contacted a Gendarme named Aramis. Told to say nothing, but find his way to the Starving Chicken tavern in Ghaeldelais and ask for a “room with a view” the next night, Luinwe kept a low profile until the meeting.

Nova Crystallis had applied for admittance into the Gendarmes, and as allowed in as a Squire, a provisional title from which she would have to prove herself worthy of the rapier pin. One day, out of the blue, she received a letter which gave her a chance to prove herself. She was to meet at the Starving Chicken in the evening and ask for a “room with a view”.

Feolas Finfarrin was annoyed. He knew that his elder sister had been the one to get him sent away to study magic in Sarten instead of being with his family, but one more day of scrubbing his mentor’s (Merrowyn Maeule’s) pots would just be too much of a dishonor. Instead, Master Maeule asked him into the study. It seemed that a friend had asked Master Maeule to help with a small concern and Feolas was just the eladrin for the job. He was to meet the contact that night at the Starving Chicken, a dank and rowdy tavern in the southern portion of Ghaeldelais and ask for a “room with a view”. At least it wasn’t washing pots.

It was in such a way that the three young adventurers found themselves in the same room. Soon a hooded, cloaked figure entered and revealed himself as the Gendarme Aramis. He asked Luinwe to give his report to the others and suggested that the three of them investigate the humanoid caverns to see if there was a danger to the Kingdom of Sarten or the Queen. Tossing a bag of 100 gold on the table, Aramis explained that if nothing were to come of this, then he would be guilty only of setting a few souls on the path of adventure, but that he needed to be contacted if they discovered any threats to Queen or Country.

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A New Chapter Begins

That evening, the Krall Elders, House Valdur and most of Clan Loremark gathered in the clanhold to celebrate Brost Valdur Loremark being chosen as a Scion. At the feast were Brost’s friends and allies, Zin, Elias, Torra, and Diego, the first non-Dragonborn to witness the ceremony raising Brost to Scion of Arkosia.

As the drinks flowed and the platters were passed around the room, the five companions heard a voice in their minds saying, “This is Jeoric, sending for Princess Adrianna. Bardenhold has been overrun by giants and ogres. The giants are in the Horgen Hills, not the Iron Hills, and advance on Hawkmoon. Your King Needs you”.

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