Eleint 9 – 12, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
Everyone waited for the arrival of the High Swords from Bear’s Head.
While some rested, others took pen to journal and recorded entries, or wrote letters to loved ones. Some were simply lost in their personal thoughts of what had transpired earlier, and of the death of a fellow adventurer or soldier.
Taerin and Leoneiros, the former Zhentarim soldiers, approached the group and asked if they can leave. Since they were given the opportunity for freedom if they helped fight the ghouls, they felt that they had deserved their freedom. They were afraid of dying or worse, turning into a ghoul like Arroway, if they remained.
The others allowed them to leave and handed them their crossbows. They were warned not to head towards Darkhold, nor south towards Asbravn. Instead they should head west to Longpine. Deb suggested they speak to Rowan Greenmantle, a ranger at longpine for help. Therand also suggested that they change their evil ways and abandon their Zhentarim armor and uniform once they reached Longpine.
Lo-kag then moved up to Taerin. He took off his helm and offered it to the soldier, who was shocked to see the goliath part with his helm. Unbeknownst to everyone else, the Helm of the Madman’s Blood had whispered to Lo-kag that it wanted to go with the Zhentarim soldiers. In return, the helm promised to leave Lo-kag with a Phoenix Helm.
Lo-kag agreed. The soldiers bid the group farewell and left the jailhouse.
By mid-afternoon, someone knocked on the front door to the jailhouse. Lo-kag went downstairs to investigate while Deb peered out of a window and spotted a rider on a griffon hovering above the town a short distance away. Deb recognized the rider as a High Sword from Bear’s Head.
Lo-kag, after opening the door, met two High Swords who greeted him.
Everyone met to formulate a plan to attack Vrikus and his small army of ghouls. While the High Swords took to the air to assault Vrikus’s lair from inside the pit, the others entered the tunnels below the town’s jailhouse. Thanks to Deb, the group was able to see in the dark and navigate their way through the tunnels.
Below the town, the Company of the Siren Song carefully made their way through the tunnels. The tunnels were naturally carved, clearly dug out by kruthiks that have turned the ground below Hluthvar into a vast hive of sorts. Everyone wondered how the people of Hluthvar could have lived without realizing they were living on top of a hive of kruthiks. Although, the occasional remains of a dog or cat suggests that they may have had some run-ins with the kruthiks.
The group continued along the tunnels. They came upon a large cavern. Two side tunnels led farther in the hive. The group stopped to discuss their next option. However, Winslow marched past the group.
“I will not skulk about like a cowardly rogue,” Winslow said defiantly. “Not while a woman and her child’s lives are in danger.” With that said, the paladin quickly marched right into the large cavern.
The others saw the ghouls trying to hide in the nearby tunnels. But before anyone could warn Winslow, the ghouls rushed out to attack him. Winslow barely managed to survive the rush of ghouls that came at him. Severely injured, the paladin retreated back down the tunnel, while the others held their ground.
Meanwhile, the Highs Swords flew down into the pit. They dismounted their griffons and ordered the majestic creatures to fly above the town for safety. Brandishing their weapons, the Highs Swords entered the lair of Vrikus.
Inside the lair, the battle was fierce. The Company of the Siren Song fought with all of their might, while the High Sword destroyed every ghoul unfortunate enough to stand in their way.
Inside the lair, the High Swords saw a cage. Sara was inside, crying in fear for her life.
One of the High Swords, who was still mounted on his griffon then opened a portal which allowed him to pull the cage through. Vrikus, upon seeing his captured prey being rescued, howled in anger! With the girl’s rescue, Vrikus knew it was only a matter of time before his army of ghouls would be destroyed by the clearly powerful intruders. With no other choice, Vrikus escaped down one of the tunnels, leaving the other ghouls do deal with the intruders.
In time, the battle against the ghouls was won. Although some in the Company of the Siren Song were injured, healing spells were used upon them.
A thorough search of the tunnels leading out of Vrikus’s lair yielded nothing. Vrikus, along with one other ghoul, managed to escape through a small tunnel. The ghoul lord had collapsed the tunnel behind him to prevent anyone from coming after him. Everyone knew that perhaps someday, they would come across Vrikus again.
With a storm coming in the from the north, everyone decided to remain in Hluthvar until the storm passed.
Three days later, under clear skies, everyone gathered themselves together and prepared to return to Bear’s Head. But just as the High Swords soared into the sky above Hluthvar, they spotted an army marching in from the northeast—from the Far Hills.
The army turned out to be from Cormyr, from Castle Aris at the edge of the Farsea Swamp. Led by Onrion (Major) Onfel Dhardra, the army of one hundred elite Purple Dragon soldiers marched into the eastern Vale after scouts sent from Castle Aris nearly two rides ago reported that Hluthvar may have fallen to the Zhentarims.
In a heated meeting held with the High Swords and Onrion Dhardra, the High Swords argued that adventurers from Bear’s Head had just freed Hluthvar from the ghoul lord, Vrikus and his foul minions, and that they now wish to see Hluthvar returned to its people. The High Swords argued that Cormyr had no right to enter the Eastern Vale and occupy Hluthvar. The Vale, they said, belonged to the people of the Vale.
Onrion Dhardra countered that until the citizens of Hluthvar returned to once again govern the town, he and his army would remain to ensure the safety of the town and its future. He said that until that day, Hluthvar would remain a protectorate town of Cormyr. Any interference from Bear’s Head, the Onrion warned, would be considered a provocation of war against the Forest Kingdom.
The next day, a message was magically received from Bear’s Head. Zaachaeus and the others had returned from their mission in the southern Sunset Mountains. The Regent of the Western Vale told the High Swords to return to Bear’s Head and leave the future of Hluthvar to the forces of Cormyr.
At this point, Winslow Crestkeeper met with the Company of the Siren Song. He thanked everyone for the opportunity to fight alongside them. He said that he would be returning to Cormyr. Eventually, he will return to Hluthvar to help rebuild it. He added that he will be asking the citizens of Hluthvar if he can start his family’s trading coster in Hluthvar instead of Bear’s Head as he previously planned to do.
The paladin also announced word had arrived that a powerful adventuring company from Iriaebor, calling themselves Faerun’s Fabulous Five had apparently freed Asbravn from the vast horde of undead there. Everyone found it hard to believe but it seemed the scourge that had been plaguing the Sunset Vale had finally been stopped.
With some final words said, the adventurers from Bear’s Head—along with the High Swords—left Hluthvar.
As they left, they all wondered what the future of Hluthvar, and in fact the future of the Sunset Vale, held for its people.
Here ends the “Scourge of the Sunset Vale” story arc.
Bear’s Head High Swords