Eleint 6, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
“We’re under attack!” Deb yelled to the others below. “They’re getting ready to fire at us with a trebuchet from the western tower.” The halfling ranger let go of the trapdoor leading down to the tower’s ground level and turned his attention back over the battlements.
As if the attack from the other tower wasn’t enough, Deb also spotted a lone figure—an adventurer perhaps—carefully making his way to the town’s open gates. At the top of the other tower, he saw three Zhentarim soldiers, by the looks of the black cloak and scale armor they wore. The soldiers were busy turning the siege weapon—a light trebuchet—towards the tower Deb was on. Deb knew he only had moments before the soldiers would get the trebuchet into firing position.
Deb knocked an arrow and fired. He aimed high, allowing for the downward arc his arrow would naturally take. His arrow struck the soldier in the leg. Screaming, the Zhentarim’s injured leg buckled. He fell down, clutching the arrow still sticking out of his upper leg.
A second shot from the halfling brought another soldier down, severely wounding but not killing him.
The remaining soldier managed to push the trebuchet into position on his own, directly aiming it at the tower Deb and his fellow adventurers were at.
Below, the other adventurers had just readied themselves for the day when they heard Deb’s yell from above.
“Ang, go up top and help Deb,” Winslow said. “Lo-kag, Caldreas, and I will attack the western tower from the ground.” The paladin of Amanautor then commanded his warhorse, Valiant, to remain while he lifted the wooden bar from the tower’s thick wooden door. He then opened it, allowing the goliath and the eladrin to quickly make their way out.
Back up top, Deb took a shot at the first Zhentarim who was trying to stand up. Like before, his shot struck him in the leg. Again, the soldier dropped but Deb wasn’t sure if his shot was fatal.
Meanwhile, the other two Zhentarims finished loading the trebuchet and fired. Deb mentally noted the trajectory of the incoming shot. In his mind, he saw exactly where the shot was going to strike. Knowing this, he ducked behind a nearby crenel barely avoiding a shot that slammed into the battlement at the exact spot where he stood seconds before.
Immediately after, the trapdoor opened. Ang emerged, took one look at the trebuchet and headed for it. “Deb, help me with this. We can use it against their tower.”
The ranger, looked back over the battlements at the other tower. “Do you even know how to use one of those?”
“Ah…not exactly.” Ang said.
“Then, I’ll keep my trust in my bow if you don’t mind.” As if to emphasize a point, Deb took a quick shot at the distant Zhentarim he struck earlier. His arrow found its target, burying deep into the soldier’s arm.
Even the nearly two-hundred feet of space separating the two towers couldn’t keep Ang and Deb from hearing the Zhentarim utter a spiteful curse after being shot at.
Unfortunately, Ang didn’t have any range weapon capable of reaching the other tower so he quickly made his way back down to rejoin the others.
Never looking away, Deb saw the three soldiers trying to quickly reload the trebuchet. He shot the nearest one he struck earlier in the leg. The Zhentarim dropped and never stood back up again. He then took shots at the trebuchet destroying it in the process.
The two remaining soldiers cursed in frustration.
Barely able to see one of the soldiers through the broken siege weapon, the halfling ranger took careful aim and fired. He struck one Zhentarim in the head! The soldier, doubled over and fell down. Within a breath, it foolishly tried to stand back up. Another shot from Deb struck the Zhentarim dead.
The remaining soldier, although wounded, managed to make it to the tower’s trapdoor to escape to the tower’s interior.
Back down below, Caldreas took a few steps then stopped as he emerged from the tower. Calling a spell to mind, the arcanist focused on the nearby ground while pointing his finger at a spot just visible at the ground floor of the distant burned inn. A breath later, two magical portals simultaneously opened. Caldreas stepped through the nearby portal and emerged out of the other portal appearing in the middle of what was left of Hluthvar’s only inn, The Watchful Eye.
Caldreas also spotted a figure move behind a nearby wall on the other side of the inn. Whoever it was moved with determination and was also headed towards the western tower. He quickly moved to follow the mysterious newcomer.
Lo-kag, rather than take the portal, rushed out into the street in front of the burned down inn. Moments later, Ang joined him.
They both saw something to the north that stopped them in their tracks. Several ghouls were leaping from building to building and were headed their way!
“You seeing what I’m seeing, Lo-kag?” Ang asked. He gripped his weapons tightly.
“I sure am.” The goliath responded. “And you know what this means, Ang?”
“It means this day turned out better than I expected it to.”
The goliath readied himself, all the while taunting the incoming ghouls coming for them to face him.
With ease, the four ghouls leaped from building to building making their way towards the intruders that dared to enter their master’s demesne.
One ghoul, noticed a figure trying to hide around the corner of building a short distance away. It moved in that direction. It first leaped onto the ground from atop a blacksmith’s rooftop then sprung forward clearing a wooden fence. It landed in mid-stride on the other side intent on reaching its prey.
Two other ghouls spotted the goliath. One leaped down to the ground. The other bounded towards the slanted roof of a nearby cottage then leaped nearly twenty-five feet, coming to a sudden stop as its sharp, hardened toenails and fingernails dug into the side of what remained of a burned down tower just north of the ruined inn.
Another ghoul made its way to the edge of a warehouse rooftop. It then crawled down the building’s side to the ground, took several steps, then leaped up to the roof of the town’s jailhouse.
Deb, still on top of the stone tower, saw the ghoul appear on the jailhouse’s roof. He took aim and fired. An arrow lodged deeply into its arm. Thick oily blood oozed out of its wound. The ghoul turned in Deb’s direction, over-extended its jaw, and emitted a loud angry wail. It then moved toward the other side of the building, stopping at the rooftop’s edge upon seeing a lone figure on the ground below.
Winslow looked up as a ghoul appeared at the edge of the jailhouse’s roof.
Calling upon the holy name of his deity, Amanautor, the paladin pointed his finger at it. Radiant ribbons of light shot forth and spiraled towards the undead. The creature howled in pain as ribbons of light engulfed it, searing its flesh with divine, radiant energy.
Seconds later, an arrow struck the ghoul deep in the chest. It fell on the roof and never rose again.
As the ghoul rushed towards Lo-kag, the barbarian took out a handaxe and hurled it at the ghoul. The axe tumbled end over end striking the ghoul in the chest, lodging itself in the creature’s ribcage. Undaunted by the attack, the ghoul kept on coming. Lo-kag steeled himself, ready to destroy the undead with his great weapon.
Like a feral animal, the ghoul ran on all fours then leaped nearly twenty feet.
Lo-kag stopped the undead’s charge with his weapon just as it came within reach. It dropped to the ground in front of him. It screeched in anger. Then its long black tongue curled out of its mouth as if tasting the air around the goliath.
The barbarian swung his massive weapon in a deadly arc, cutting deeply into the thing’s arm.
Another breath later and Ang joined in the fight. He came up right behind the ghoul flanking it. The fighter took a slice of rotting flesh off of the thing’s arm with his deadly blade.
At the other side of the burned inn, Therand Adran of Longpine used the weaver’s building as cover. He kept his bow aimed at the ghoul rushing towards him. He had shot at it earlier but had missed although another shot had struck, wounding it but not slowing it down at the least.
The elf, trained as a Ranger-Seeker, bravely traversed the eighty-some miles from Longpine a hamlet at the edge of the Reaching Woods to the west. He had heard that adventurers were venturing into the Sunset Vale, seeking fortune as they encountered undead after undead.
It took over two days to make the journey. Along the way, he carefully avoided hordes of undead wandering the areas near the trail. Using his training, he sought out safe places to sleep during the two nights he spent traveling.
Just as he was about to let loose another arrow at the fast approaching ghoul. He spotted the figure he had seen step out of a portal. An eladrin, the figure emerged from an opening in the ruined inn’s wall. By the figure’s garb, he guessed the eladrin may be an arcane-user of some kind. The figure turned to look at his direction, clearly noticing him as well.
The eladrin then stepped out from the inn. “Who are you?” He asked looking at the newcomer.
“I am Therand Adran,” Therand responded. “I just arrived having made my way from Longpine.”
Satisfied that the newcomer may be an ally, Caldreas quickly noticed a nearby ghoul clinging to the wall of a smoldering tower. He quickly moved towards it. Caldreas uttered a spell, sending bolts of lighting dancing across its entire body.
The ghoul angered by the attack, pushed against the wall and hurled itself at the eladrin below. Caldreas sidestepped easily as the ghoul landed next to him. The eladrin uttered a spell that struck at the ghoul’s will.
The effect was exactly what Caldreas anticipated.
The ghoul clutched its head then swung its arm in defense, as if it were being attacked by something only it could see.
Just then, Caldreas felt a sharp pain as crossbow bolt struck him.
Quickly stealing a glance in the direction the attack came from, he spotted a Zhentarim soldier using a fence for cover. The soldier was in the middle of reloading his crossbow. Another soldier quickly joined him, fired his crossbow. Fortunately, the bolt missed.
The same could not be said about the ghoul in front of Caldreas. An arrow fired from Deb’s bow struck the undead creature slaying it instantly.
Caldreas, free to move, sought cover from the Zhentarim’s deadly barrage.
Meanwhile, Therand rushed out from hiding and made his way towards the inn. Halfway, he let loose an arrow at the ghoul still coming in his direction. His shot missed it’s head by mere inches!
Therand made it to the inn and quickly knocked another arrow ready to shoot the ghoul.
Just then, he heard heavy footsteps and the familiar jingle of chain armor behind him.
“Stay your ground and tell me who you are,” Winslow Crestkeeper commanded the elf before him. “Or you will find yourself staring at your headless body on the ground!” He held his enchanted sword at arm’s length, pointing at the elf.
The paladin had earlier made his way toward’s Lo-kag’s position, then told the goliath he was going to assist Caldreas.
“Sorry…but I’m quite busy right now,” Therand said as he peeked around the corner and saw the ghoul still coming in his direction. “You’ll have to simply trust that I’m on your side.”
“Very well then,” The paladin said. “But if you want to live through this, then stay near me.”
Therand rolled his eyes at the paladin’s arrogance.
Just then, the eladrin Therand saw moments before stepped out in the open.
The ghoul saw the eladrin and lunged at him.
But just as the ghoul was about to strike, Caldreas uttered a single word teleporting himself to the the nearby weaver’s upper balcony. The arcanist then turned his attention back to the ghoul below him. He pointed his hand at it and brought to mind a spell he knew was going to hurt the foul, undead thing.
A blinding light suddenly shot down vertically from directly above the ghoul, who stood wondering where his prey had inexplicably disappeared to. The shaft of light fully engulfed the ghoul sending pain shooting down his entire body. The pain was unlike it had ever felt before—even those he had suffered from a ghoul while he was still alive.
Therand took advantage of the situation. He quickly fired his bow striking the ghoul he could barely see through the searing light. He did, however, hear the creature fall to the ground. When the light cleared, the ghoul was laying still.
A loud thunk next to the eladrin stole his attention from the dying ghoul. Looking over the balcony, Caldreas spotted three Zhentarim soldiers making their way out of a nearby stone watchtower. They were all dressed in scale armor, carried shields across their backs, and were armed with crossbows and longswords.
Ang and Lo-kag, having slain the ghoul they were fighting, quickly made their way towards where the Zhentarims were.
Meanwhile, Deb shifted his position on top of the tower to allow himself an obstructed view of the Zhentarims. He fired repeatedly, striking any soldier unlucky enough to be caught in his line of fire.
Seeing the goliath and the elf confidently walking towards them, the Zhentarims changed their tactics. They dropped their crossbows. They then equipped their shields and unsheathed their longswords. Two more soldiers rushed out of the tower. They numbered five now.
“Attack!” one of the soldiers ordered. The others held their shield up, and charged as commanded.
They all rushed as one unit. One soldier yelled, “You heard Sergeant Petrus. Kill them all. For Zhentil Keep!”
Unfortunately for the Zhentarims, the tide of battle quickly turned against them. Ang easily slipped past two soldiers and found himself surrounded—exactly as he had planned.
His attacks wounded two Zhentarim soldiers and the sergeant. Meanwhile Lo-kag came at them with his great weapon as Deb rained death down on the soldiers—his well-placed shots not threatening his allies.
Lo-kag brought his weapon down upon Sergeant Petrus, killing him. Around him, two other soldiers lay dead, killed by Ang and Deb’s attacks. “I’d surrender if I were you,” the goliath said to the remaining three soldiers. “Or face certain death.”
As one, the three soldiers dropped their weapons and shield.
Except for Deb, who remained vigilant atop the tower, the others gathered themselves around the captured Zhentarim soldiers. Lo-kag had bound them with rope, while Winslow, Caldreas and Therand searched the nearby tower.
It seemed as if the soldiers had holed themselves up in the tower for quite some time. By the looks of it, they probably had only enough provisions to last another day or two. The group also found an enchanted weapon—a Vicious Longsword—upon the slain sergeant. Inside, they discovered a sealskin sack containing 400 Cormyrean minted gold coins stashed amidst the soldier’s personal accouterments.
When interrogated, the soldiers revealed that they had spent over a month on patrol outside of the Zhentarim-occupied town of Hluthvar. Their orders were to patrol and keep clear the lands south of town. As they encountered more and more undead during their patrol, they sensed that something was wrong. Returning to Hluthvar, they were surprised to see the town overrun with ghouls. Even fellow soldiers had been turned into ghouls and were attacking them. They lost three of their fellow soldiers in the attack, but they managed to survive in the tower for some time. They killed what ghouls they could using their crossbows and the trebuchet. When the ghouls climbed their tower, they retreated to the ground level after securing the trapdoor which led to the top of the tower.
Taking what rations they could gather, the adventurers—with Therand now joining them—marched the captured soldiers back to their tower. There, they planned their next move.
It was agreed that the prisoners would be taken to the jailhouse and locked up with enough provisions to sustain them. It was also agreed as suggested by Deb that the group has no choice now but to free Hluthvar of its “ghoulish” infestation.
When asked for a volunteer to stay in the tower to keep it secured as well as watch Valiant, Winslow’s trusty steed, Therand offered to do so.
The others agreed and told Therand to make his way to the jailhouse if he felt the tower would be overrun with ghouls. Winslow added that he just needs to let Valiant loose. The trained horse would know what to do next.
So as Therand bolted the tower’s door, safely securing himself and Valiant inside, Winslow turned to the others. “With our might and the blessings of Amanautor, we will prevail against the hordes of undead. We will free Hluthvar!”
The others cheered at the prospect of battling more undead and freeing the town.
“…And I have one more thing to add,” the paladin said. “By my sword and my word, once we have cleansed this town of its unholy invaders, I will claim this town as a protectorate town in the name his majesty, King Foril and of my country…Cormyr.”
Winslow, Ang, Lo-kag, Deb, Caldreas, Therand
Pact Longsword +2; Plate Mail of Vitality +2; 5sp; 7cp; a dirt encrusted jug with Zhentarim symbol and the name “Sergeant Petrus” inscribed on it; Vicious longsword +2; a sealskin bag containing 400 Cormyrean minted gold coins.