Campaign of the Month: February 2012

Legacy of the Realms

"First Encounter"
Shadow of the Spider Queen (Rise of the Underdark™ Adventures)

2 Marpenoth, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
Village of Twin Grove, Sunset Vale


Rowan came upon the ruined remains of the village of Twin Grove.


To be continued…


Hero:

Rowan Greenmantle

NPC:

Greggor Tamthiir

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"Steading of the Hill Giant Chief", Part 3
Against the Giants (Sunset Mountains)

26 Eleint – 2 Marpenoth, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
Far Hills, Sunset Vale


Dred, the dwarven hunter from Hammerfist Hall, fell to the muddy courtyard below.

Looking up, the dwarf found himself facing a courtyard full of hostile giants, ogres, and dire wolves. He caught his breath, stood up, and kept to the nearby wall to quickly make his way towards the nearby gate.

Dred also saw Lo-kag nearly die, surrounded by giants, dire wolves, and ogres. Fortunately, Caldreas was able to rescue the dying goliath. The eladrin risked his own life when he climbed down to the courtyard and ran to his fallen ally. Despite the danger posed by two more giants who appeared after one of the hill giants ran to the main building, opened a door, and warned the entire steading of an attack, Caldreas managed to reach Lo-kag.

With cover provided by Therand and Deb as they rained death down into the courtyard from the rooftops, Caldreas dragged the unconscious goliath a few steps back towards the smaller dwelling. Using his innate eladrin ability to Fey Step, Caldreas teleported Lo-kag and himself back up to the rooftop. He then took out Lo-kag’s Handy Haversack, and shoved the unconscious goliath into the magical bag.

In the courtyard below, ogres appeared as well as two more giants dressed like cooks with their grease-stained leather aprons. Each had a large wooden meat tenderizer that hung at their sides. The giants also came out carrying wooden barrels in hand.

One of the giants threw a rock at Dred who barely managed to leap away in time to avoid being crushed against the wall. Suddenly one of the cooks threw a barrel at Dred. It broke upon striking the dwarf, spilling its contents. Dred found himself covered in thick honey which impeded his movement. Focusing upon one of his ranger abilities which allows him to move as fast as a hawk, Dred barely managed to escape from the courtyard after climbing over a nearby gate.

The others, too, made their way across thatched rooftops, climbed down, and made their way across the grassy plain to regroup a good distance from the giants’ steading.

Once together, the adventurers tended to their wounds and planned their next attack against the hill giants.


Find out what happens next when the adventurers find themselves hunted by giants in “Hunter Prey”


The Company of the Siren’s Song:

Caldreas, Lo-kag, Therand, Deb, Dred

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"Steading of the Hill Giant Chief", Part 2
Against the Giants (Sunset Mountains)

26 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
Far Hills, Sunset Vale


The next day found the group rested and anxious to see what it had in store for the brave heroes.

The previous day, the Company of the Siren’s Song followed tracks that led deeper into the Far Hills. Before the sun had set upon the travelers, they came within sight of a massive timber stronghold hidden among the hills.

Steading1
A pair of 15-foot-high doors made of ironbound logs formed an entrance to the stronghold. Thicker logs comprised the walls of the stronghold. Wooden roofs inclined toward the middle, reaching a height of thirty feet at its peak. The stronghold had no visible windows, but a squat watchtower overlooked the entrance. Smoke rose from numerous stone chimneys. Plumes of grayish smoke curled into the equally graying sky which foretold of an incoming storm.

A log guardhouse stood apart from the main stronghold, but was connected by a palisade wall of vertical logs some 15 feet in height. Heavy log doors set into the palisade lead to a courtyard lodged between two buildings.

The peal of thunder echoed across the hills. Soon, a wall of rain was seen moving in from the northeast as dark clouds rolled in over the hills.

“Did Deb happened to mention when he would return?” Caldreas asked the others. The eladrin mage searched the area for any sign of the halfling ranger who, at the break of dawn, had chosen to reconnoiter the area near the stronghold. It was in the halfling’s nature to wander away from the group to scout or flank opponents, but Caldreas and the others were beginning to wonder how they were going to approach the giant’s steading without Deb’s help.

Dred, the dwarven hunter from Hammerfist Hall, loaded his crossbow and approached the others after gathering his gear and finishing off the last of his cold, dry ration which served as his morningfeast. “I’ve seen the area leading to the stronghold from the west,” Dread said. “If we make our approach that way, we’ll avoid the guardhouse and can use the terrain to provide enough cover to mask our approach.”

“What of Deb?” Therand asked. The elven ranger-seeker was concerned about approaching the stronghold without everyone. He knew it would take all of them to accomplish their mission.

“He’ll find his way to us,” Lo-kag, the goliath barbarian said as he gripped his greataxe tighter anxious to get the fight started. “You know he always does.”

“Good,” Dred said with finality. “Then follow my lead and stay close. The rain and thunder should help us get close, hopefully without being detected.”

The four carefully made their way towards the stronghold, staying close to the dwarf as he had instructed. It took some time, but eventually they reached the western gate without incident.

“Well done, Dred,” Lo-kag whispered loud enough to be heard. He grinned at the dwarf who was already busy examining the gate. “I take back everything I ever thought about you.”

Dred returned the grin. “Then, I will do the same regarding my thoughts about you.”

This side of the palisade ran the entire length of the stronghold some two hundred feet or more. Three stone chimneys were visible along the wooden wall. Each rose an additional five feet above the palisade.

“Now how are we getting inside?” Caldreas asked. He looked at the fifteen-foot high palisade towering above him. Above that, the thatched roof angled towards the stronghold’s center.

Lo-kag answered the question. He put his weapon away, gripped the thick logs that made up the massive gates, and started to slowly scale his way up. Within a breath, he had reached the top of the gate and was looking inside into the courtyard beyond. He saw the main building and a more modest giant-sized dwelling is a muddy courtyard. Three heavy wooden doors led into the main building, but he couldn’t see the entrance to the smaller dwelling from where he was.

The others suddenly heard a loud high-pitched bark, followed by a deep feral growl come from the other side of the gate.

Lo-kag lowered himself slightly to avoid being seen from inside but maintained his grip to avoid falling. “There’s two very large wolves inside. I think they’re dire wolves like the one Deb rode. I think one may have seen me,” he called down to the others.

“Kyrr!” everyone heard someone yell from somewhere inside. Immediately the dire wolf’s barking and growling stopped.

After waiting a few breaths, Lo-kag peeked over the gate again. “The wolves have settled themselves across the other side of the courtyard.”

“Then let’s all make our way up to the rooftops,” Dred said. He walked over to a nearby chimney and carefully made his way up. Therand and Caldreas walked over to the other chimneys and did the same.

A short while later everyone was on the rooftops. Therand almost fell when he reached the top of the wall but was able to save himself from falling to the ground below. Both he and Caldreas carefully made their way on top of the smaller dwelling, while Dred made his way along the main building’s rooftop. Lo-kag stayed on top of the gate and kept an eye on the resting dire wolves while trying to avoid being detected.

Dred followed the slanting rooftop of the main building and stopped at a point where he could see the courtyard below. He spotted the two dire wolves Lo-kag mentioned, but also spotted a third dire wolf resting right below where Caldreas was. He also saw a large wooden door near where the wolf lay.

Caldreas, meanwhile, made his way across the thatched roof and looked down at the courtyard below. He spotted the two dire wolves. He called to mind a simple prestidigitation spell he used often to help clear a room full of people in a hurry. Within moments, the area was blanketed by the strong, foul odor of a skunk’s spray. Even Caldreas had to suppress a gag from the stench that was being spread by the wind.

One of the a dire wolves, a smaller breed with almost snow-white fur, raised its head and sniffed the air. It shook its massive head and sneezed once. It whined a little then put its head back down.

The other, a large black-furred beast, seemed to notice the smell but stayed where it was.

Caldreas signalled for the others to wait, and then called to mind another spell. He pointed to a spot near the edge of the roof directly above the muddy courtyard. Colorful sparks suddenly started to burst from the spot followed by tiny explosions.

This got the wolves’ attention.

Both got up, howled, and moved to a spot just below where the sparks could be seen popping in all directions.

Caldreas also heard a third wolf bark out a warning. He looked over and saw the third dire wolf move over to the nearby door. It began pawing at the door, while barking at the same time. He quickly brought to mind a spell and casted it at the wolves below. A sprinkling of sand-like motes rained down on the wolves. All shook their heads as if fighting off sleep.

Therand, who had stayed out of sight to avoid being spotted by the dire wolves, stood up and fired an arrow into the dire wolf with snow-white fur. His arrow struck the muddy ground right behind the wolf.

Dred aimed his crossbow at the black-furred dire wolf and fired. It struck the beast above its eyes. Blood ran from the gaping wound, blinding it. Not wasting time, the dwarven hunter quickly loaded another bolt and this time struck the wolf near the base of its skull. The wounded dire wolf yelped in pain. Dazed by the shot, the dire wolf sprang off blindly and slammed into a wall a short distance away.

The snow-white furred dire wolf looked to where Dred stood on the main building’s rooftop. It hissed in anger and sprinted towards the dwarf. It managed a few steps then fell to the ground fast asleep, unable to fight off the effects of Caldreas’s spell.

The door into the small dwelling opened. A large muscular hill giant, clad in thick furs stood just inside. The giant held a greatclub in its hand.

“What’s the matter with you, Killer?” Caldreas heard the giant yell.

Caldreas casted a spell at the dire wolf by the doorway. Still growling, the wolf suddenly launched itself at the surprised giant. The giant raised its greatclub it time to avoid the dire wolf’s bite.

Therand shot the black-furred beast twice but struck it once. The dire wolf, still blind and dazed, let out a loud yelp.

Lo-kag, who had been waiting to see what everyone was going to do, pulled himself over the gate. He touched the amulet around his neck as he fell to the muddy courtyard below. The amulet’s enchantment immediately slowed his descent. He landed on the ground in mid stride, reached for the greataxe strapped to his back, and charged at the sleeping dire wolf.

His weapon struck deep into the animal. Despite the wound inflicted by the barbarian, the wolf did not awaken from it spell-induced sleep.

Dred saw Lo-kag standing above the sleeping dire wolf. He looked across the courtyard and saw the giant and the wolf who had just released the giant’s greatclub after sinking its teeth into it. Dred took aim and fired twice. One bolt struck the wolf while the other buried itself in the giant’s leg which didn’t seem to faze him at all.

The giant looked out at the courtyard and saw Lo-kag, the goliath raising its greataxe ready to bring it down on the sleeping dire wolf.

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To Lo-kag and Dred’s horror, the giant suddenly and violently arched its back and let out a feral howl of his own. He screamed in agony as his lower legs reversed direction and bones shifted inside his large frame. The giant’s face contorted and extended into a long wolf’s muzzle. What were once teeth grew into razor-sharp fangs. He then fell foreward onto his hands. His screams turned into another long howl as dark fur sprouted from his body. His fur-lined clothing tore itself free from his body as his muscles grew in size and strength.

Pushing the wolf aside, the hill giant werewolf rushed at the goliath. It sank its fangs into Lo-kag who tried to fend off the werewolf’s onslaught. But to Lo-kag the hill giant werewolf’s form was just a blur as it let go, shifted several feet to stand behind him, then tried to sink its bloodstained fangs into him again. Fortunately, the goliath was able to avoid the werewolf’s vicious bite.

Just then, two more giants appeared from inside the dwelling. Both wore thick hides, carried bags of rocks, and were armed with greatclubs.

As Caldreas looked at the battle unfolding before him, he couldn’t help but wonder if any of them were going to make it out of the encounter alive.

The dire wolf by the doorway shook its head then turned its attention towards the goliath fighting its hill giant master. It charged and leaped at Lo-kag. The goliath batted the leaping dire wolf aside with the handle of his greataxe.

As the two giants followed the wolf out into the courtyard, Caldreas dropped a spell on top of them both. One of the giants found himself unable to move, while the other’s muscles tightened making it difficult to move any faster than a slow walk.

From atop the dwelling’s rooftop, Therand nocked an arrow and drew the string back of his magical longbow. He carefully aimed at the werewolf fighting Lo-kag, not wanting to hit his ally.

His shot went wide. He nocked another arrow and struck the dire wolf that had just attacked Lo-kag. It gave out a loud yelp but would not leave its master’s side in battle. Without wasting another second, Therand shot at the werewolf again. This time, his arrow struck the hill giant werewolf at the nape of his neck. The creature howled in pain and desperately tried to pull the arrow free.

With the werewolf leaving himself open to attack, Lo-kag swung his greataxe in an upward motion, cutting a deep gash across the werewolf’s torso. He then reversed his swing and sliced the werewolf again.

Dred reloaded his crossbow and fired at the werewolf. The werewolf saw the bolt flying towards him. He turned his head to avoid the deadly bolt, but the dwarf’s shot grazed an eye. Blood flowed freely from an opened wound making it difficult for him to see.

One of the giants in the courtyard suddenly roared in pain as an arrow tore into its arm. It looked up at the direction the attack came from. It gritted its teeth in anger at the sight of a halfling on the main building’s rooftop.

Before he could cry out a warning to the others in the courtyard, Deb was already reaching for another arrow and was preparing to shoot again. The giant watched helplessly as the halfling let fly an arrow that nicked the other giant in the calf. It wasn’t a serious wound, but the giant’s steps faltered.

With blood—literally—in his eyes, the hill giant werewolf tried to bite Lo-kag twice but missed, the goliath easily sidestepping each attack.

Lo-kag also sidestepped a dire wolf’s attempt at biting his leg.

The other two hill giants each took a rock out from large sacks that hung at their sides. As one they both hurled their rocks at the eladrin mage standing on the rooftop directly above them.

One rock flew past Caldreas narrowly missing him. The other rock struck his shoulder causing him to spin and drop. He hit the roof hard and heard his shoulder blade crack. Before he could recover, Caldreas suddenly found himself rolling towards the rooftop’s edge!

He desperately flailed his arms and tried to gain a handhold on the thatched roof. Just as he was about to drop into the courtyard below, he felt his right hand grab a thick handful of wheat used to thatch the rooftop.

His entire body came to a sudden stop inches from the rooftop’s edge.

Caldreas’s muscles strained as he pulled himself back. He looked back down into the courtyard. Lo-kag was surrounded by dire wolves, hill giants, and the largest werewolf he had ever seen.

Across the way, he saw Dred with his crossbow. The dwarf kept firing into the melee, careful to avoid hitting Lo-kag. Over his left shoulder, Caldreas spotted Therand firing his arrows the monsters below. Atop the main building, Caldreas noticed Deb. The halfling ranger’s shortbow kept on twanging with each deadly shot.

For several more breaths, the battle raged on in the courtyard. But as the group would soon discover, the luck of Tymora was not with them that morning.


Read what happens next in “Steading of the Hill Giant Chief”, Part 3


The Company of the Siren’s Song:

Caldreas, Lo-kag, Therand, Deb, Dred

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"Revenge of the Dragon"
A Shadowblades Story Arc

30 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
The sewers of Daggerford



To be continued…


Heroes:

Gaerd De’barronn, Sgt. Carric of Daggerford

Companions & NPCs:

Gomorrah Entreri

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"The Good Soldier"
Land of the Purple Dragon (Adventures in Cormyr)

24 Ches, 1481, The Year of the Grinning Halfling
Eastern Cormyr


Falco Shortwick complained the whole time he was being led to his trial.


To be continued…


Heroes:

Cormyrian Purple Dragons: Bryan, Brando, and Midas

Companions & NPCs:


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"Sins of the Father" Part 1
A Shadowblades Story Arc

30 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
The sewers of Daggerford


Nightshade
Nightshade’s breath filled the tunnel with a cloud of acid that burned every inch of Gaerd De’Barronn’s body.

His eyes watering, he struck at the large black dragon’s exposed neck. Dark, thick blood flowed as his sword sliced deeply through thick muscles. However, he was barely able to see from the stinging effects of the dragon’s acidic breath. He therefore found it difficult to avoid the creature’s wicked claws that struck relentlessly at the cornered drow.

“After I kill you Gaerd De’Barronn,” Nightshade hissed in anger. “I will feast upon your flesh until there is nothing left to bring back from death!”

Gaerd caught his breath as pain threatened to engulf him into oblivion. Despite Nightshade suffering under his own attacks, Gaerd began to wonder if he could survive this deadly encounter with a black dragon."

**

“We’ve got to find a way to open this damned gate!” Gomorrah yelled to Carric, her voice sounding grave and urgent.

Sergeant Carric, of the Daggerford militia, was frantically looking for a means of opening the huge wooden gate that separated Gomorrah and him from Gaerd De’Barronn who was waging a deadly battle against a large black dragon. With the unguent of darkvision providing him with the ability to see in total darkness, Carric could see Gaerd and the black dragon locked in combat.

He and Gomorrah needed to get in there and help Gaerd, and soon!

“I’ve looked everywhere, and I can’t find any way of opening this gate!” Carric yelled back to Gomorrah. The female human fighter/rogue was also focused on looking for any way to open the gate that came down as soon as Gaerd entered the cavern on the other side. “Nightshade’s going to kill him!”

Moments earlier, both of them saw the dragon fly out of a large murky pool of sewage in the middle of the fungi-lit cavern. The dragon, easily bigger than a destrier, landed in front of a side tunnel where Gaerd had just slain the same female shadar-kai they saw earlier in the Coffer’s Secret. The dragon had roared in anger and proclaimed itself as Nightshade, daughter to the legendary black dragon, Nightwing.

Carric, like most of the people of Daggerford, knew well the history surrounding Nightwing. As the story went, Nightwing had magically transformed himself into a human cavalier who managed to gain the confidence of the then ruler of Daggerford, Duke Pwyll Greatshout, long before the Spellplague. There was much turmoil and chaos within the duke’s court as Nightwing’s poisoned words manipulated Duke Pwyll’s actions.

Fortunately, Gaerd De’Barronn and his brother, Zaachaeus—two unlikely drow heroes—arrived in Daggerford. Their actions would eventually uncover Nightwing’s evil plot as well as reveal the black dragon for what it really was. A mighty battle ensued near the river docks which ended in the death of Nightwing.

Both drows were proclaimed as heroes of Daggerford soon after.

That was over a century ago.

It seemed the great wyrm, Nightwing, had a daughter who was now looking to avenge the death of her father.

If anyone could survive a dragon attack, it would be Gaerd, Carric thought.

He had seen the drow fight since he ran into him and Gomorrah back in Golden Acres. He and three other soldiers, while on patrol, came upon Gaerd and Gomorrah fighting against a bullette, or land shark, as they were commonly called.

Against goblins and common street thugs, Carric felt that his skill with the short sword was adequate. But against the land shark…well, he may as well have been poking at the armored creature with a twig for all the good he did. However, Gaerd’s relentless attacks kept the creature at bay. At one point, the creature tried to escape only to have the drow kill it before it had the chance.

Even against the Oni which now lay dead, its body half submerged in the foul water, Gaerd had all but killed it singlehandedly.

The ogre-like creature had flown off in gaseous form after the drow had severely injured it. They then followed it to a sewer pipe with rusted bars that were easily broken.

Unfortunately, Ivan the sorcerer had to leave and recover from the injuries he sustained in the fight with the Oni and later, with a gelatinous cube.

Past the sewer pipe, the three followed a narrow tunnel that led farther into Daggerford’s sewer system. Rats and cockroaches were everywhere.

Gaerd led the way when three more shadar-kais tried to ambush them. After a short fight, the three shadar-kais lay dead. Clearly getting closer to where the shadar-kai’s hideout might be, the group pressed on.

They then came upon the cavern.

Sewage water flowed into the cavern where it gathered in a large, foul-smelling pool in the cavern’s center. Knee-high mushrooms grew in large patches near the pool’s edge.

While he and Gomorrah stayed back, Gaerd went in alone to investigate the cavern, knowing that the Oni could be hiding anywhere. Carric wasn’t sure what happened next, but he saw Gaerd leap through the air farther into the cavern. The drow landed near a patch of mushrooms which exploded in reaction to his landing. A thick cloud of gas and spores burst out of the fungi but didn’t seem to affect Gaerd in the least.

Carric and Gomorrah quickly moved to follow Gaerd but were suddenly cut off by a huge wooden gate that came crashing down in front of them. To make matters worse, a large gaseous cloud flew towards them both, flowing through the bars to solidify into the Oni. Fortunately, the Oni was missing its deadly morningstar which Gaerd had disarmed from him when they first fought.

With only its fists to fight with, the Oni desperately tried to fight off Carric and Gomorrah. Although having healed itself slightly, the Oni was clearly still wounded and had not fully recovered from its last battle.

Within several breaths, Gomorrah and Carric were able to slay the Oni.

With the Oni dead, Carric and Gomorrah turned their attention to the gate blocking their way. Both hoped that they could find a way to open it so they can help Gaerd in his battle against the black dragon, Nightshade.


To be continued in “Revenge of the Dragon”


Heroes:

Gaerd De’barronn, Sgt. Carric of Daggerford

Companions & NPCs:

Gomorrah Entreri

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"Underworld"
A Shadowblades Story Arc

29 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
The sewers under Daggerford


“You look none the worse for what you’ve been through Sergeant Carric,” Gomorrah said.

Sergeant Carric of the Daggerford Militia stepped into The Coffer’s Secret, a small curio shop which stood across from the Happy Cow tavern. He still wore bandages a healer and priest from the temple to Chauntea used to bind his wounds. “I’m a bit sore, but can manage.”

“Good,” Gaerd said. “Because we’re going down to the sewers.”

After climbing down the ladder from the curios shop, the group found themselves in a large sewer tunnel. Normally it would be extremely dark in the sewers. Fortunately, Gaerd had purchased several containers of unguent of darkvision from Marlon Spellson, Daggerford’s resident wizard and maker of potions. Each container contained enough unguent to provide its user with darkvision for up to an hour.

Waist high murky water, reeking of filth, filled the middle of the tunnel. There were ledges, wide enough to walk upon on either side, provided one walked carefully on its slippery surface.

In one direction the tunnel had collapsed, while the other lead deeper into the sewer system.

The group made their way cautiously along the ledges to avoid stepping into the murky water.

That’s when they noticed faint light coming from around a bend in the tunnel.

Farther down, they spotted an old man laying on the ledge, his back against the wall. He was balding in places and had a long scraggly beard, although with his face turned away from Gaerd, it was hard to completely see his features. He was dressed in an old torn shirt and his pants were patched up in places and was covered in mud. A faint flickering torch, lay on the floor next to him. The torch looked like it was ready to burn out at any second.

The sewage continued in the area where the man lay. Everyone noticed that the water near the old man didn’t seem to swirl as would be expected. It also rounded another corner and disappeared from sight.

Gaerd moved closer to the old man who continued to moan as if in pain. When he reached the water’s edge, he called pon his power of levitation. He slowly drifted towards the man on the other side of the tunnel. From where he hovered, he couldn’t see any visible wound but the man sounded hurt.

Gomorrah made her way to the opposite side. Ivan followed, while Carric remained behind.

As Gaerd floated to within a few feet of the man on the ledge, he started to notice that the man had no visible wounds on him at all!

He was about to say something, when suddenly the old man jerked his head towards the drow. An evil grin began to spread across his face.

His feature suddenly melted away as his body grew in size. The torch on the ground also began to transform, turning into a wicked-looking morningstar almost as long as Gaerd was tall.

“It’s an Oni!” Gaerd yelled to the others as he ducked under the creature’s powerful swing. With its morningstar, the Oni was able to reach an opponent nearly ten feet away! Gaerd returned the attack with his own, cutting a deep gash across it’s chest.

Gomorrah moved back out of the creature’s reach, while Ivan struck it with a conjured magic missile.

The Oni roared in pain and turned to face the sorcerer. It swung it’s morningstar and struck Ivan, lifting the sorcerer off the ledge sending him hurtling into the water with a loud splash.

Gomorrah moved in, easily dodging the Oni’s reach while Gaerd cut the creature across its arm.

The Oni ignored the drow’s attack and struck Gomorrah. She flew back and landed in the water hard. Gaerd looked down. He couldn’t see either Ivan nor Gomorrah. He feared they may have sunk into the murky sewage and could be drowning.

Carric, armed with only a short sword, had no way of attacking the Oni from range.

“Help the others!” Gaerd yelled to the sergeant. He turned in time to avoid being hit by the Oni’s weapon. He lunged with his sword, twisting the blade around the Oni’s wrist which held the bloodstained morningstar. With a quick twist of his blade, the morningstar flew out of the Oni’s grip. Rather than catch it, which he could have don, he let the weapon plunge into the murky water below.

Roaring in rage and anger, the Oni’s form shifted once again. This time, it became a large gaseous cloud and flew under the levitating drow and into a side tunnel.

Gaerd swung his sword as it flew past, but his blade met very little resistance as he cut through the thick cloud that was the Oni.

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He turned towards where the Oni had flown to when his attention was suddenly drawn to a large form that began to emerge from out of the sewer.

At first it looked like Ivan and Gomorrah where both emerging out of the water, suspended it seemed in midair.

To both Carric and Gaerd, the truth became quickly apparent.

Both Ivan and Gomorrah were inside a large cube of transparent ooze! Skeletal remains also floated inside the creature. It was hard to tell whether Ivan or Gomorrah were alive or not.

Gaerd wanted to chase after the fleeing Oni but his companions needed his help.

Carric trie to help free Ivan who was within his reach. But as he reached out with his arm, the creature suddenly engulfed him as well.

Gaerd landed on the ledge near where Carric was pulled in by the creature. To his relief, he noticed that the others, although trapped inside the gelatinous cube, were still alive. He could see them moving, struggling to free themselves. He struck at it again, careful to avoid hitting any one of his companions.

Gomorrah suddenly fell out of the creature and landed on the ledge nearby having freed herself. Carric, too, managed to extricate himself from the creature as he landed next to Gaerd. Only Ivan lay trapped inside the creature.

Each then struck at the creature, killing it instantly.

They then immediately pulled Ivan out of the large ooze. They placed the unconscious sorcerer on the ledge. Gaerd then took out a healing potion and administered it to Ivan who quickly regained consciousness.

“We thought you were dead,” Carric said to Ivan who sat on the ledge. Carric was slightly hurt while Gomorrah too looked like she was barely injured in the encounter.

“I nearly was,” Ivan replied. He looked towards Gaerd. “I thank you for the healing potion, but I’m afraid my wounds are far worse than the potion could heal.”

“You’ll need to rest for a day before you can continue,” Gaerd said. He turned towards the tunnel where the Oni flew into. He saw a large chamber where the sewer flowed into. Four large stone pipes allowed the sewage to flow out of the chamber. From one pipe, they could see faint light just beyond a thick set of rusted metal bars. He turned back to face Ivan. “Go up and recover. We’ll continue on ahead without you. Catch up as soon as you are able to.”

Ivan started to protest but Gaerd cut him off. “The unguents which allows us to see in the dark will not last beyond the hour. In your condition, I’m afraid you’ll simply slow us down. And we can’t give that Oni a chance to recover.”

The injured sorcerer knew the drow was right. The others helped him up. He then carefully made his way back to the ladder that led up to the Coffer’s Secret.

He looked back at the others who were busy searching the area before moving on.

A sense of dread began to fill the sorcerer from Waterdeep. Ivan couldn’t help but wonder if he would ever see them alive again.


The battle rages on in “Sins of the Father” Part 1


Heroes:

Gaerd De’barronn, Sgt. Carric of Daggerford, Ivan Moonshade

Companions & NPCs:

Gomorrah Entreri

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"Welcome to Daggerford"
Shadowblades Story Arc

28 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


The rain drenched the town of Daggerford, turning its walls and shop facades a darker shade of grey.

To Gomorrah, the town had always been home. Despite her infamous surname, she was accepted there. She even drew the attention of the ailing ruler of Daggerford, Duke Dresden Greatshout. With her reputation for gathering information, he had hired her to find out what she could about the Shadowblades, a ruthless group of assassins whose murderous rampage dated back even before the Spellplague struck Toril over a century ago.

Daggerford overview gimp
What she found led her to travel east and seek out Zaachaeus De’Barronn and his brother Gaerd. They both lived in and ruled the town of Bear’s Head in the Western Sunset Vale. But before the Spellplague, Gomorrah learned that the two drow brothers had once lived in the Daggerford area, specifically somewhere in the Misty Forest. She suspected they may have had a secret hideout or hidden keep deep in the forest.

She also found information about an abandoned temple to a long dead god somewhere in the High Moor. She learned that the two drow brothers, along with others, had fought their way through the temple. Eventually, they met and fought Jericho Entreri, leader of the Shadowblades and the bastard son of the famous assassin, Artemis. Jericho was also Gomorrah’s great-grandfather, although it was well known that he sired many children during his forays across the Realms.

Everything Gomorrah knew about Jericho was only what she heard spoken about him in dark taverns and alleyways.

With the defeat of Jericho, it was widely believed the Shadowblades had disbanded and had fled to the four winds.

Or so it was thought.

Gomorrah also learned that after defeating Jericho, Zaachaeus and Gaerd had confronted and revealed the true identity of a black dragon named Nightwing who had taken on the guise of Duke Pwyll Greatshout’s trusted advisor. In an epic battle, which took place in the streets of Daggerford, the dragon was slain near the River Gate.

Gomorrah watched as Sgt. Carric dismounted and walked over to speak to another sergeant of the militia. Together the two walked over to examine the burnt remains on a wagon. Gomorrah couldn’t tell if the body was that of a human, elf, or half-elf so badly burned as it was.

Other members of the militia stood with weapons drawn and kept the crowd at a distance from the wagon and the burned-out building.

Gomorrah looked towards Gaerd who stood motionless next a mounted militiaman. Gaerd had pulled up his cowl when they entered Daggerford to avoid people gawking at him.

Gomorrah saw a commotion just beyond the wagon.

A cloaked man was jostling his way towards the two officers. After a short discussion, the man pulled back his cowl to reveal a human man with sharp features. The man then walked up to the burnt remains on the wagon and examined it. Moments later, the man spoke with the two officers again. The officers could be head thanking him as he walked back to his horse, mounted it and rode towards the direction of the Happy Cow tavern just a street away.

Carric walked back to the other soldiers and ordered them to return to the barracks while he and the others made their way to the Happy Cow Tavern.

Inside, the tavern looked like any other throughout the Realms. A human bartender kept busy behind the bar while two half-elven barmaids with ladened trays worked the straw-covered floor, hastily moving from table to table. Another woman, a strikingly voluptuous human, danced sensuously for the patrons enjoying their eveningfeast.

Gomorrah and Carric, who was now off-duty, took a seat at a vacant table near the bar, while Gaerd sat at the bar.

The cloaked man Gaerd saw earlier talk to Carric and the other sergeant was also sitting at the bar near him.

Gaerd turned to the bartender and pulled back his cowl. He greeted the surprised bartender.

The room fell silent.

“I see the place has not changed since I last drank here,” Gaerd announced loud enough for everyone to hear. He turned and looked across the tavern. “After my brother Zaachaeus and I helped Daggerford and its people in her time of need over a century ago, we raised a toast here in celebration.”

“You and your brother’s exploits are well known to us all,” the bartender said.

Gaerd dropped platinum coins on the bar and ordered a round of drinks for everyone who then gave the drow a rousing cheer of gratitude. He then ordered a meal for his companions and him.

While everyone drank heartily, Gomorrah walked over and sat next to a lone patron who sat near the tavern’s front door. She struck up a conversation with him, then a short time later walked back to rejoin the others including Gaerd who was enjoying a bowl of thick soup.

“The man I was talking to is one of my contacts in this town,” Gomorrah said. She picked up a table knife and cut a slice of sausage for herself. “He said he saw strangers enter the Coffer’s Secret, a curio shop across from where Council Member Yeris was found burnt to death at his home hours later.”

“Do you trust your contact’s information for its accuracy?” Carric asked. He glanced over to where Gomorrah’s contact was sitting, but the man was nowhere to be seen.

“I do,” Gomorrah said. “He said three cloaked people entered the shop which was suppose to be closed since its gnome proprietor is said to be traveling in the Western Heartlands.”

“We should look into this then,” Gaerd said. “The Council Member’s mysterious death, along with the strangers’ proximity to his home cannot merely be a coincidence.”

“I agree,” Carric said. “We were about to question the owner of the Coffer’s Secret after he opened his shop. However, before we could, we got word that he left Daggerford for business reasons. That was nearly three tendays ago.”

After finishing their meal, Gaerd, Carric, and Gomorrah left the tavern and walked across the street where The Coffer’s Secret stood.

Ivan who had been watching the three since he entered the Happy Cow, followed soon after but kept a safe distance.

They entered the curio shop and were greeted by four men and a woman seated behind a small table. The shop contained racks upon racks of items, mostly trinkets and common charms.

Shadar kai witch
The woman was dressed in a lavish gown of dark velvet which did little to hide the myriads of tattoos, scarifications, and piercings which decorated her body. Her dark hair was tied in loose braids, while the men had elaborately shaved heads. Like the woman, the others had pallid skin, raven-black eyes, and markings over their exposed skins.

Unlike the woman, the men were armored in chainmail and armed with two katars each, dagger-like blades commonly found in the lands of eastern Faerûn.

Gaerd recognized them as shadar-kais, fey folks whose souls were poisoned by shadow. They were also known to pay homage to Kelemvor, god of death.

“We’re closed,” the woman said in an unwelcoming tone.

“The door was not locked,” Gaerd said.

“A mistake easily corrected. Now, if you’ll leave—”

“Our business here is not over,” Gaerd said. The others walked in behind him and started to fan out. The four shadar-kai warriors all raised their greatswords in a defensive manner. “I’m sure, this will just take a moment.”

The woman began to rise from her wooden chair. She turned to the others and ordered a command. “Kill them all!”

With a thought and a flick of his wrists, Gaerd’s weapons appeared in his hands. He leaped at the two nearest shader-kais warriors. One tried to deflect his blade only to have it pushed away with Gaerd’s sword. The drow quickly followed up by bringing his blade straight up, cutting the warrior’s arm deeply.

Not wasting another breath, Gaerd spun and sliced the warrior across his chest.

Img 2033
Bloodied, the warrior attacked Gaerd who easily parried the shader-kai’s blade.

Carric moved towards another warrior and stabbed at him with his short sword. The warrior blocked the sergeant’s blade and followed up with an attack of his own, slicing through Carric’s leather armor.

To Carric’s surprise, the warrior did something unexpected. Strands of shadows flowed out of the warrior’s katar and coiled around Carric and restrained him. Unable to move, Carric could only attack or defend himself against his deadly opponent.

Gommorah faced the fourth warrior, who suddenly vanished only to reappear behind her just outside the door. She turned and saw through the warrior, who stood insubstantial but visible to the fighter-rogue.

Gomorrah swung her blade only to have it pass through the warrior. It was like slicing through thick porridge. There was a slight resistance which caused some injury to the shadar-kai.

A magic missile struck the warrior.

Gomorrah spotted the same man she saw earlier talk to Carric and the other sergeant. She also recalled seeing him in The Happy Cow tavern. A raven was perched on his shoulder.

Moments later, the shader-kai became solid again. Furious at the new attacker’s audacity, it turned and rushed at Ivan Moonshade who barely blocked the warrior’s onslaught.

Gomorrah moved to flank the shadar-kai striking. She struck it through the back. With an agonizing scream, the warrior fell and died.

With a nod, Gomorrah thanked Ivan for helping in the fight.

By the time Ivan and Gomorrah entered the Coffer’s Secret, three shadar-kais lay dead on the shop’s floor. Carric was wounded and was busy bandaging his wounds.

Gaerd said the female shadar-kai vanished as soon as the fight started.

The group then carefully searched the shop and found a trapdoor in the shop’s storage room. After opening it, they found an iron ladder leading down into the sewers. Rather than investigate, everyone decided it would be best to let Carric recover first.

It was then that a group of town militiamen arrived at the shop. A dwarf with broad chest and square-set jaws entered the shop. Carric immediately recognized him as Sir Kindel Stronghart, the duke’s master at arms and commander of Daggerford’s militia. Carric knew full well the dwarf’s dislike for anyone who didn’t hail from Daggerford.

The dwarf’s disparaging glare towards the seated drow spoke volumes about how the master at arms was feeling at the moment.

“I heard there was a drow in Daggerford,” Sir Kindel spat. “I had to see it with my own eyes.”

“And you are…?” Gaerd asked. He shifted his boots on the small table he had propped them up on. He remained seated. He then took a small cloth he found and wiped a spot on his boot where shadar-kai blood threatened to stain it.

“His Grace’s master at arms,” Sir Kindel said with obvious disdain for Gaerd’s presence. “Your lack of respect, clearly demonstrated in how you do not rise to greet me, does not surprise me, drow. You know, I could have you thrown out of Daggerford…or worse.”

Gaerd looked at the dwarf for a few breaths but didn’t move. “I would like to see you try. And your lack of respect for someone who helped save this town speaks as much about you as well. If it weren’t for my brother and I, you wouldn’t be enjoying your auspicious position, nor would your Grace for that matter.”

From where Gaerd sat, he could see Sir Kindel turning red in anger who then turned to face Carric. “Sergeant, I want you to personally see to it that this drow never leaves your sight. I, for one, have not ruled him out as a possible suspect in the murders of the town’s Council of Guild members.”

Carric nodded.

Derval ironeater
Just then, the door opened. Another dwarf, this one much older but just as muscular entered. Gaerd immediately recognized him as Derval Ironeater, the town’s most skilled dwarven blacksmith. He recalled how he and Zaachaeus had conducted business at Derval’s shop many times during the course of their adventures in the Daggerford region.

Derval walked past Sir Kindel and took Gaerd’s hand and clasped his hands up to Gaerd’s wrist in the manner warriors greet one another. “I thought it was you I was hearin’ about all over town,” Derval said.

“It’s been some time, but it’s good to see you again old friend.” Gaerd said.

“How fares your brother?”

“He’s fine. Busy ruling the town of Bear’s Head in the Western Sunset Vale.”

“Good to hear he’s alive and well. And I can relate to how busy leading a town can be.”

Gaerd looked at him quizzically.

Carric stepped up next to the aged dwarven smith. “What Derval Ironeater means is that he’s the only unmasked member in the Council of Guilds, and as such openly leads the other exulted members.”

“Well, it seems my brother isn’t the only one who has risen in his station,” Geard said respectfully.

“Bah,” Derval said. “It’s not as glorious as you’d think, especially with the recent events.”

“Speaking of which,” Gaerd said. “Aren’t you worried about your own safety?”

Derval shrugged his shoulders. “If Moradin sees fit to bring me back home to his grand halls then so be it. But damn them to the Nine Hells if I’m going to be frightened into hiding under a rock like some gutless goblin.”

Sir Kindel coughed.

“Ah, Sir Kindel,” Derval said turning to face the master at arms. “I had forgotten you were there.”

Before Sir Kindel could speak, Derval cut him off. “It comforts me knowing that Gaerd here is helping solve this mystery of ours. A more brave and trustworthy drow you’ll never find in all of Toril. I expect that you’ll be giving him all the support he needs to help put a stop to these foul murders once and for all.”

“I’ve ordered Sergeant Carric to watch…er…I mean aid Gaerd in the investigation,” Sir Kindel said. “I’ve also ordered the gates closed until we find the killer or killers responsible. I’ve posted militiamen by the sewer’s river exit. No one is allowed to leave Daggerford. Archers have orders to shoot anyone trying.”

“Good to hear,” Derval said. “These precautions are unfortunate but necessary. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a meeting to attend to in the River Shining with the other members.”

“I will personally accompany you to the tavern,” Sir Kindel said.

“Good. You can then address the Council of Guilds as to the progress you’ve been making in this investigation. As you know, many folks in town are turning suspicious eyes towards His Grace. For centuries, it’s well known the dukes of Daggerford and the Council of Guilds have always been at odds over rulership of Daggerford and its commonwealth in matters of trade. If these murders are not stopped, I’m afraid there could be an uprising against His Grace that could plunge Daggerford into a bloody civil war.”

With that said, Derval Ironeater and Sir Kindel Stronghart, along with Carric who returned to the barracks to recover, left the shop.

While the militia helped clean up the shop of bodies, Gaerd, Ivan, and Gomorrah decided to remain at the shop to make sure no one entered through the trap door they had found.

There, they would wait until the next day when Sergeant Carric returned.


The adventure continues in “Underworld”.


Heroes:

Gaerd De’barronn, Sgt. Carric of Daggerford, Ivan Moonshade

Companions & NPCs:

Gomorrah Entreri

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"A Gift Fit For a King"
Shadow of the Spider Queen (Rise of the Underdark™ Adventures)

20 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


The four adventurers from Bear’s Head made their way deeper into the Shallows of the Underdark, eventually finding themselves directly beneath the town from which they came from.

“How deep are we?” Kursk asked Think, the group’s tinkerer.

“We are approximately five hundred and thirty-two feet, according to the striations on these walls,” Tink said pointing to the tunnel’s walls.

“I agree with the tinkerer,” Quinn added. “I’ve studied a thing or two about dungeoneering, and we are deep indeed. I’d say we’re right below the lake.”

“What’s that sound?” Skamus asked as he quietly walked ahead of the others. The wide tunnel led downward and turned sharply to the right. The tiefling stopped and peeked around the corner. He then raised his finger to his mouth to signal the others to be quiet, while waiving for them to come towards him.

Beyond, the tunnel opened into a vast cavern brightly lit by torches and large patches of glowing moss and fungi which seemed to cover much of the cavern’s rough walls.

The sound of chiseling and hammering can also be heard echoing throughout the cavern. Over a dozen dwarves were busy working in the cavern. Hammering or chiseling away at the walls or rocks. All seemed busy at work collecting crystals that seemed to grow in abundance in the cavern.

At the tunnel’s end, the group saw a lone dwarf dressed in leather armor. The dwarf’s skin was ashen gray, while his beard and hair were bone white and spiky. The dwarf had a warhammer slung over its shoulder as he paced back and forth.

It was clear he was guarding the tunnel.

“I have an idea.” Tink whispered as she urged the others to quietly moved back down the tunnel.


**

The duergar turned to gaze down the tunnel. With his darkvision, he noticed a small four-legged creature unfamiliar to him. It was covered in fur and wore a collar around its neck.

The duergar looked back over his shoulder at the cavern where the dwarven slaves were busy at work. Unfortunately, the nearest guard he could call upon was too far away.

Despite having been ordered to stay alert, the duergar’s curiosity got the better of him. Gripping the warhammer tightly in both hands, the duergar walked into the tunnel towards the strange animal.


To be continued…


Adventurers:

Kursk, Skamus, and Quinn

NPC:

Tink

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"Steading of the Hill Giant Chief", Part 1
Against the Giants (Sunset Mountains)

25 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
Far Hills, Sunset Vale


The massive iron doors opened into the grand hall of Farsten Hammerfist, clanlord of the Hammerfist Dwarves.

His council of advisors stood nearby as the heroes were welcomed into the hall. As the heroes came to stand before Farsten Hammerfist, the council members bowed respectfully to the assembled heroes from Bear’s Head. For indeed, the dwarves of Hammerfist Hall owed much to those from the town in the Western Vale. It was not that long ago that another group of heroes from Bear’s Head fought bravely against the forces of the Winter Witch who had imprisoned the clanlord and countless other dwarves in her icy embrace, while she forced others to work in the mines.

Thanks to those brave heroes, the Winter Witch was slain and would never threaten the Sunset Mountains again.

And now, something entirely new threatens the short-lived peace in the Sunset Mountains and perhaps even those who call the Sunset Vale, home.

It seemed giants have returned to their ancestral lands in the Far Hills and the southern Sunset Mountains. To make matters worse, hill, stone, frost, and fire giants have seemingly banded together for a common cause. The Hammerfist dwarves fear that the giants may be planning to strike against the dwarves and may even launch an attack against the civilized folks of the Sunset Vale.

Farsten hammerfist

Clanlord Farsten Hammerfist has asked the heroes of Bear’s Head for help. He believes the hill giants, stone giants, frost giants, and fire giants have hidden strongholds in the mountains. He asked them to look for a map or some other clue that will reveal where these strongholds are located. He and his council have also wondered how the hill giants could have gained in strength and power so quickly since their recent arrival. He suspects that the hill giants may have built their stronghold atop an old dungeon complex, within which is rumored to be an abandoned temple. He further asks the heroes to find this temple, explore it, and bring back proof of their discovery.

Finally, the hill giants have captured several dwarves who were sent to scout the Far Hills and eventually meet with the Cormyrians in New Hluthvar. The dwarves had not returned at their appointed time, so the Clanlord sent a search party to locate the missing dwarves. The search party returned and reported that the dwarves had made it to the Far Hills and had obviously ran into a group of giants and their hireling—as the signs they discovered indicated. However, they did not find any of their lost kin leading them to believe that the dwarves had been captured. When they followed the trail deeper into the Far Hills, they met up with a small band of hill giants and ogres. The dwarves lost half of their group before they were forced to return to Hammerfist Hall.

Farsten offered the heroes the sum of five hundred gold coins for each dwarf brought back home safely.

The heroes then gathered their belongings and made their way down the mountain towards the Far Trail that led southwest to New Hluthvar and northeast towards Castle Aris in Cormyr.

**

A grisly sight greeted the heroes as they came upon the trail late in the afternoon.

They saw two upturned wagons in the middle of the trail. Casks and crates littered the area as well as several bodies of slain caravan guards, their bodies left to rot where they were killed. A lone horse lay dead in front of the closest wagon. Strangely, the other horses were missing.

Flies buzzed around the area and the foul smell of decomposing bodies made it hard to breathe.

Carefully, the group made their way towards the wagon. Caldreas kept to the northern side of the trail while the others stayed along the southern end. As the wizard reached the safety of a tree, he spotted something large hiding behind a tree just passed the ambushed caravan.

He pointed towards the tree and called to the others. “There’s someone behind that tree!” Caldreas warned.

Just then, two hill giants followed by eight bugbears charged down the trail from behind where the trail turned and was obscured by thick bushes and a copse of trees.

Only Caldreas understood the giant’s command who was hiding behind a tree above the trail.

Hill giant 2

“Kill them all!” it bellowed in the language of giants. “Spare no one!” It then hurled a rock at Lo-kag, but the rock fell short of its intended target. Lo-kag realized the giant’s throwing range was limited. Unfortunately, he also realized that he would have to risk getting struck by a rock if he was going to get in close and fight with his melee weapon.

Therand moved in and took cover behind a large bush. He spotted the giant who just bellowed out something that sounded like a command. He fired and struck the giant in the arm.

The giant yelled in pain as Therand’s arrow struck deep. The giant suddenly screamed again as a second arrow buried itself in the giant’s shoulder.

Therand looked at where the second shot had come from. From across the trail, he spotted Dred who had just taken his shot at the giant as well. Both looked at each other, momentarily celebrating their skills in accuracy.

A cacophonous cry of eight bugbears charging towards the adventurers from Bear’s Head suddenly tore through the air.

“Here they come!” Caldreas yelled above the din of the bugbears’ charge. The moon elf mage began to recite words of power and moved his hands in a circular fashion. Within a breath’s passing, a small pinpoint of light appeared within the mage’s moving hands. The pinpoint of light became a small floating wisp of fire which then suddenly blossomed into a roaring ball of fire that brightly illuminated the mage and the surrounding area. Uttering a final magic word, Caldreas hurled the fireball towards the charging monsters where it exploded upon reaching the precise spot the mage focused upon.

An intense conflagration blasted outward. Several bugbears and one giant caught in the fireball’s blast screamed as magical fire—born from the depths of the elemental plane of fire itself—washed over all unfortunate enough to be caught in the firestorm.

When the smoke cleared, Caldreas saw that four bugbears had been killed, their charred remains were all that was left. The giant managed to survive the blast but was severely wounded in the attack.

Lo-kag, taking advantage of the giant’s condition, charged right in and buried his greataxe into its stomach. The giant looked down upon the goliath and let out a fearsome roar.

Lo-kag, too, roared a barbarian’s roar. With a powerful tug, he pulled his weapon free. He then spun and brought the greataxe to bear upon the giant’s exposed belly once more. Blood and innards burst outward as Lo-kag sliced the giant’s stomach wide open. Blood, mixed with innards, flowed out. The giant, too stupid to know he was already dead, looked at Lo-kag defiantly.

Lo-kag saw the giant’s eyes roll back into its head. It then fell back, dead before it had even struck the ground.

A nearby grunt stole the goliath barbarian’s attention momentarily away from the dead giant before him. A bugbear was coming at him, its spear leading the attack.

It never reached Lo-kag.

An arrow’s point suddenly appeared out of its forehead. The bugbear fell forward, twitched once by Lo-kag’s feet then died. Lo-kag looked past the bugbear and saw Therand, the ranger, nocking another arrow a great distance away.

Lo-kag heard a loud grunt behind him. He turned and saw the hill giant standing behind the tree above the trail raise a rock above his head. The giant took a step forward and was about to hurl the deadly missile when he faltered in his step. In his attempt to steady himself, the giant dropped the rock and bellowed what sounded to the goliath like a foul-mouthed giant’s curse.

Before the giant could recover, an arrow fired by Dred suddenly buried itself in the giant’s right eye! It roared in excruciating pain, reached up to its face and yanked the arrow out. It screamed even louder and threw the blood-soaked arrow to the ground.

A bugbear moved up to Lo-kag and tried to stab him with its spear. The goliath easily deflected the sttack while avoiding another bugbear’s spear-led charge.

Caldreas, who was watching Lo-kag fend off two bugbears by himself, raised his arm, pointed a finger at one of the humanoids, and uttered a single word.

A glowing missile materialized on the tip of the mage’s finger and flew unerringly at the unsuspecting bugbear. It struck the bugbear in the head, killing it instantly.

Lo-kag, ignoring the remaining bugbear who attempted to strike him, charged at the nearest giant. A second giant was moving towards the goliath barbarian as well. Two of ’em, against me, Lo-kag thought. I like these odds!

The nearest of the two hill giants—the one with the injured eye—brought its massive club down on Lo-kag who easily sidestepped it. Chunks of dirt and rocks blasted upward and outward from the club’s impact.

Lo-kag had just managed to clear dirt from his face when he was struck by the other giant’s club—a tree trunk with sharpened limbs and banded with metal.

The goliath was sent hurtling backwards to land on the ground, on his back, some ten feet away!

Dred, maintaining his distance from the deadly battle between giants, bugbear, and goliath, took aim and fired at the giant he struck earlier.

The giant screamed once again as Dred’s arrow struck the giant, this time near its remaining good eye.

Meanwhle, Deb the halfling ranger, had arrived to see his friends fighting a battle against hill giants and bugbears. He had volunteered to reconnoiter the lands east of the Western Sunset Vale when the others left Bear’s Head to answer the Clanlord’s summon for help. While scouting, he ran into a small band of adventurers on their way to Elturgard after having stopped by the town of Asbravn. The adventurers spoke of how Asbravn—recently dubbed “Asgraven” because of the hordes of undead that had occupied the town—had been freed by a skilled and powerful group of adventurers who called themselves Faerûn’s Fantastic Four. Deb also learned that Faerûn’s Fantastic Four had established themselves as the town’s leaders, and were helping to restore the town.

The halfling raised his bow and took two shots at a giant, hoping to help end the battle.

Caldreas finished casting another spell and directed it one of the two giants fighting Lo-kag. In the giant’s mind, an illusion of its greatest fear took form and attacked it. To all others, it looked like the giant was battling some unseen foe.

Lo-kag, still on the ground, reached into his backpack and drew out a potion of vitality and drank it. The pain in his chest, caused by broken ribs he was certain, began to fade.

He saw one of the remaining bugbears rush towards Caldreas. The mage took a few steps back and casted another spell. Caldreas sent a magic missile slamming into the bugbear’s chest, which surprisingly did not kill it. Caldreas quickly called to mind another deadly missile which struck the bugbear full force in the face and then exited out through the back of its skull.

“Nice work, Caldreas,” Therand yelled to the mage. He then aimed his bow at the remaining bugbear who stood by the fallen wagon. It seemed to be contemplating whether or not it shold run. Therand quickly put an end to all thoughts of escaping by burying an arrow into its chest. It slumped against the wagon and slid down to the ground where it died seconds later.

The ranger then ran to the wagon and looked towards where Lo-kag was busy fighting for his life against three hill giants intent on crushing him under their mighty clubs.

Deb shot one of the giants, his well-placed shot ensuring that Lo-kag would not be struck by accident instead. It screamed in pain and tried to reach behind to dislodge the arrow stuck in its back.

Lo-kag, while still on the ground, found himself surrounded by three hill giants. He hefted his greataxe and struck at a giant’s knee, which shattered on impact. The giant howled in pain then struck the goliath with its club, causing Lo-kag’s legs to almost buckle from the tremendous force of the attack.

Lo-kag was covered in his own blood and it felt like every bone and muscle in his body was on fire.

Dred ran over to where Therand stood. “Lo-kag’s not going to make it if we don’t kill those giants fast,” he said. He let loose two arrows—one after the other. One arrow struck a giant in the eye, while the second arrow struck it in the leg. The giant howled in pain as it clutched its eye. Its leg also gave way, causing the giant to fall on one knee.

Deb and Therand both shot at the giants, their arrows striking true.

The giants, although badly wounded stil had fight left in them.

Grunting in pain, one of the giants raised its club and brought it straight down at Lo-kag. The impact forced the goliath to the ground.

Darkness swept over Lo-kag as he fell to the ground.

Dred saw the barbarian drop. He quickly ran over to help his fallen comrade, careful to avoid the giants’ deadly reach.

When he reached Lo-kag, Dred touched him by the arm and called upon primal powers which then accessed the deepest reserves of strength still beating within the unconscious goliath.

Lo-kag’s body suddenly heaved as his body fought to regain consciousness.

He opened his eyes. He saw Dred kneeling over him and heard the dwarf offer words of thanks to his dwarven gods. “You won’t be dying today, friend,” Dred said.

“No,” Lo-kag gritted as he spat out blood. “But these giant will.”

Both looked up and saw the three giants standing nearby. Though severely wounded, all three were still very much alive and no less dangerous.

Suddenly, a crackling clap of thunder reverberated through the area. Both Lo-kag and Dred were forced to shield their eyes from the nearly blinding light that briefly lit the surrounding trail.

A powerful bolt of lighting, unleashed by Caldreas bore down on all three giants. Two were struck while a third was fortunate enough to miss the bolt’s deadly effects.

When it was over, one giant lay dead on ground. Smoke curled up from its still form. A second stood badly wounded with burnt marks covering most of its body.

Lo-kag quickly got up, uttered a war cry and charged at the wounded giant. His greataxe buried itself deep into the giants’s leg. The giant screamed as blood poured out of the gaping wound. It then toppled, dead, to the ground.

Dred raised his crossbow and aimed it at the remaining giant who decided to run rather than fight. His shot took the giant in the leg. The giant’s leg collapsed and he fell to the ground, howling in pain as he tried to pull the bolt from out of his leg.

Deb, seeing the the giant fall to the ground, took aim and fired two arrows at it. Both arrows found their target, killing it instantly.

**

With the battle won, the group gathered themselves together. Lo-kag did what he could to bandage his wounds while the others searched the area.

In the wreckage of the wagon, they found a silk handkerchief with the initials, “ZC”, embroidered with gold letters. Everyone but Deb recalled Kira, the innkeeper of Bear’s Head Inn, asking them to travel to New Hluthvar to find out what may have happened to her Cormyrean merchant friend Zandor Caskerhill. Caskerhill had paid a wizard to cast a spell, and delivered a message to Kira announcing his intention to visit her soon. Kira became worried when Caskerhill had not arrived at the appointed day he said he would.

Since Caskerhill’s body was nowhere to be found, the group suspected he may have been taken prisoner, like the dwarves from Hammerfist Hall.

On the giants they found a necklace of animal fangs, a carved wooden idol which resembled some unknown figure, a half empty cask of ale, and necklace of mummified fingers.

Close examination revealed that the fingers were dwarven fingers.

“I’ve found tracks,” Deb said as he kneeled at a spot near where the first giant was spotted. Everyone moved to where Deb stood and looked towards the direction the halfling was pointing. “They came from the southeast.”

“Are they the ones who attacked the caravan?” Caldreas asked.

“No,” Deb said. “Their tracks are newer than the others in the area.”

“Deb’s right,” Therand said. He was also examining the area for signs that would reveal where the missing horses, supplies, and others from the caravan went. “These three giants and the bugbears who came with them arrived recently.”

“Aye, but there’s other tracks here as well,” Dred added. The dwarven ranger from Hammerfist Hall stood up after carefully inspecting the ground a short distance away from the others. “Two groups of giants and their hirelings came through here, yet all came from the same direction.”

“Then let’s see where they came from,” Deb said. He stood and started to walk southeast, deeper into the Far Hills.


The epic adventure continues in “Steading of the Hill Giant Chief”, Part 2


The Company of the Siren’s Song:

Caldreas, Lo-kag, Therand, Deb, Dred

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