Campaign of the Month: February 2012

Legacy of the Realms

"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

Damagers Guild Story Arc

23 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One

The pirate ship, Red Dwarf, dropped anchor within sight of the port town of Skaug.

Four days had passed since the Red Dwarf’s previous captain was slain by Abyss. Under new command, the ship and her crew set sailed for the pirate town of Skaug in the Nelanther Isles. A storm struck along the way. Despite the crew’s skillful attempt, the Red Dwarf had sustained some damage to her hull and rigging.

When they reached Skaug, Abyss and his fellow travelers learned that Skaug was a rough-and-tumble port that welcomed pirates of every stripe, and actively discouraged bounty hunters and others who threaten the flow of grog and coin. Above all, lawless Skaug was a good place to fill a ship with scurvy seadogs who value plunder over all else.


“There is much we can learn here,” Salil said. He stood on the ship’s deck and looked out on the pirate town. Ships of varying sizes were anchored in the wide bay. The cacophony of seagulls mixed in with the sounds of ships’ crews and dockworkers reminded Salil of his days back in Baldur’s Gate.

“What do you mean?” Lyrica asked. The bard—a changeling like Salil—stood next to the rogue. She inhaled deeply the salty late-afternoon sea air.

“A place like this holds many secrets; secrets we can use to our advantage”

“If only one knows where to look for it.”


“Lyrica, Salil,” a gruff voice announced from behind them. Both turned to see Brogan approach followed by Ronak the paladin, and Damascus, cleric of Oghma. Brogan was dressed like a wealthy shield dwarf merchant. “We need to consider our next course of action.”

“Lyrica and I were just discussing that,” Salil said.

“I have an idea,” Lyrica offered. “I’m going to Skaug to see what I can find out about the Damagers Guild and their dealings here.”

“I should go with you,” Salil said. “We can find out more if there were two of us asking questions.”

“That’s a reason why I should go alone,” Lyrica countered. “Pirates tend to be suspicious of strangers and too many people asking questions or skulking about. It would be best if I were on my own.”

“That’s fine lass,” Brogan said. “We’ll tell Abyss of your plan and see you upon your return.”

“Where is Abyss anyway?” Salil asked looking around the deck. Abyss was nowhere to be found.

“He’s been busy talking to his officers ever since we arrived.” Ronak said. “We’ll tell him of our plan as soon as we can gain an audience with the captain.”


Nearly two hours later, a small skiff carrying Lyrica pulled up alongside the Red Dwarf. The sun was just setting, which set the sky ablaze with fiery colors.

As soon as she was onboard, the changeling bard quickly made her way to the captain’s quarters where she was told the others were waiting.

“Well met,” Abyss greeted Lyrica. “It’s good to see you back safely onboard.”

“Thank you Captain,” she replied with emphasis on the last word.

“What did you learn?” Damascus asked. He quickly took out a small book and writing implement.

“Plenty,” Lyrica said. “For one, the Damagers Guild is here in Skaug.”

Everyone looked at one another.

Lyrica went on. “A human named Lanador owns a smuggler’s warehouse at the edge of town. From what I’ve gathered, Lanador employs minotaurs as guards and is currently entertaining several members of the Damagers Guild.”

“Is he with the Guild?” Damascus asked.

“Not according to what I’ve heard,” Lyrica added. “They’re led by someone named Torch. I couldn’t find out who or what Torch is. No one seems to know much about him.”

“So we take out Lanador, Torch and any other members of the Damagers Guild we run into,” Ronak said. “Sounds easy enough.”

“Not so fast,” Lyrica warned.

“Sounds like there’s more to tell,” Brogan said casting an amusing smile at Lyrica.

The bard gave him a wink. “Indeed there is. Apparently Lanador is also awaiting the arrival of a drow wizard for whom he has gathered elf slaves to sell.”

“Drows?” Salil asked? “What are drows doing here in Skaug?”

“Maybe they’re just buying slaves,” Damascus said.

“Or there could be more involved than just purchasing slaves,” Brogan added. “This is worth looking into.”

“I agree,” Lyrica said. “We need to find out more about the drows’ involvement with Lanador and the Damagers Guild.”

“But we need to do so without scaring off the drow wizard and whomever he’s traveling with,” Damascus warned.


After they had carefully made their plans, everyone boarded a skiff and made their way to Skaug.

At the docks, they met a harbormaster and negotiated payments for the Cottonmouth and Red Dwarf’s dock fees. Soon after, they went to the local tavern, The Murky Grog.

The tavern’s interior resembled the inside of a ship. Patrons sat on kegs converted into make-shift chairs. Barrels tied together and topped with a large piece of round wood served as tables. Windows were cut to look like portholes while dozens of candles placed on top of old helms wheels hung from the ceiling offered dim lighting; enough to see by but also gave the tavern a shadowy demeanor.

The tavern’s master, Florus, an old half-elf with gray thinning hair worked behind the bar. He and another half-elf, a middle-aged female, were the only two people busy serving everyone.

Two locals were quietly enjoying bowls of chowder and drinking locally brewed beer. At the edge of the bar, a man sat lost in thought, his food barely touched. His clothing suggested he may have been a merchant.

Salil got up and walked over to the merchant.

“What troubles you goodman?” Salil asked as he took a seat next to the merchant. Salil noticed his eyes were red and his face wet with tears.

“My business is of no concern to you.”

“Perhaps I can be of help. My friends and I recently arrived. Like you, we are also merchants looking to sell goods here in Skaug.”

The merchant looked at Salil and back at the others who were busy talking and eating at their table. “What I am in need of are swords for hire or adventurers.” He took a long drink from his mug of beer.

“Why would you need the likes of them?” Salil asked.

“My warehouse was taken from me by thugs employed by the Damagers Guild.”

“What happened?”

“They were extorting money from me and I fell behind on my payments.”

“How much did you owe?”

“Five hundred gold; a sum I recently paid off. But they claimed the payment came too late, so they seized my warehouse.”

“Well friend, let me see what I can do. Perhaps my friends know people who can be of service to you.” Salil said. He left the depressed merchant to rejoin the others.

After telling the others of the merchant’s plight, Brogan slapped the table and yelled loud enough to be heard by all, “We don’t do business with people who can’t handle their own affairs. We’re slavers, not mercenaries!”

At that, the merchant rose from his place at the bar and left the room. “You’re all a cowardly lot, you are. To the Hells with you!”

To be continued…

Player Characters:

Salil Bok, Ronak Tripp, Abyss, Brogan

Non-player Characters:

Lyrica Osbourne, Damascus of Candlekeep

"Quest for Fire" Part 2
A Legacy of the Realms Side Arc

Eleint 28, 1479, Year of the Ageless One

The sun’s oppressive heat beat down on the four travelers as they made their way across the hot Netherese desert. For nearly a day, the group had been traveling east. According to Lo-ghath, the goliath they were traveling with, it would be another day before they reached the desert fort where Oathem was holding Kelek, Quan’s son.

Sudenly, from the east, the group heard an elemental roar, like that of a powerful blast of air. They saw a huge twenty-foot high, fifteen-foot-wide funnel of swirling air and sand cut a swath across the top of large dune less than a hundred feet from where they stood. Like a thing driven by an unseen force, the funnel turned north, then suddenly switched direction.

Everyone watched as the cyclone bellowed an elemental roar, then bore down towards them.

“By the gods,” Lo-ghath the goliath thug yelled above the cyclone’s deafening roar. “It’s Vaarduun!”

“Who or what is Vaarduun?” Caldreas asked out loud as he gripped his magical staff tighter in his hands.

“It’s an elder dust devil,” Lo-ghath yelled with fear in his voice. “It’s said that a powerful wizard from Rasilith summoned that elemental years ago. In a rage, it broke free of its magical bonds, slew its summoner, and fled into the desert. The stories told say that the thing has gone mad and has left a path of destruction in its wake.”

Lo-kag, the goliath barbarian raised his weapon and turned to face the oncoming dust devil. “And so have we.”

To be continued…


Lo-kag, Caldreas, and Deb

"Enter Valin and Talaer"
Dungeon Games Side Arc

Day 3

Valin looked at the elf seated across the room from him. Armored and armed with scimitars, the elf was beginning to wake up. Like him, the elf was seated upon the stone floor and leaned with his back to the wall.

Only fifteen feet separated the two dungeoneers.

Valin’s instincts were warning him, but his limbs were not responding fast enough.

The elf wrapped his hands around the hilt of his scimitars and slowly began to stand. Valin, his muscles fighting his will to stand, managed to do so using his warhammer as a make-shift cane.

“I have no quarrel with you,” the elf said as he brushed back his long hair to reveal a face with aquiline features. Even Valin, a dwarf who knew no love for the race of elves, noticed an air of confidence about the elf.

“And I have none with you,” Valin said.

“I’m glad we resolved that potential misunderstanding,” the elf said with a touch of sarcasm. “My name is Talaer Greydawn, a tracker in Her Majesty’s service. Do you know what or where this place is? How I got here is not clear to me. As a recall, I and another ranger were investigating a secret underground passage we found in the woods along the kingdom’s northeast border. I do not remember much more beyond that.”

“And I am Valin.” The dwarf looked around the room. Four torches in sconces lit the room brightly. Against one wall stood a statue of a white-robed bearded human man with arms outstretched in greeting. He also noted three passages leading out of the room—perhaps to the south. For some strange reason, he was finding it difficult to judge the cardinal directions and depth while in the room. He wondered if some ritual had been placed in the room that prevented him from using his natural dwarven instincts. “I’m not sure, but this place looks different from the last place I—.”

Talaer quickly put his finger to his lips to signal the dwarf to be quiet. From somewhere nearby, the elven ranger heard what sounded like someone dropping a pebble or small rock on the stone floor. He turned his head in the direction where he heard the sound come from. For several seconds, he kept still and signaled for the dwarf to do the same.

Talaer cautiously moved towards one of the passages and peered around the corner. A room, cloaked in dim light, lay beyond. He suspected someone—or something may be nearby—so he was ready for anything. Immediately, he noticed a short figure hiding in the shadows a short distance away. What appeared to be a sling was being spun in the figure’s hand.

The ranger charged into the room.

He was met by a halfling dressed in leather armor. An adventurer’s pack hung from his back while a sling was clearly visible in his hand. A dagger was also sheathed at the slinger’s waist. The halfling quickly spun his sling and let loose a bullet that zipped past Talaer striking the wall somewhere behind him.

Suddenly, two more halflings equally dressed and armed rushed into the room from a nearby exit. One of them quickly climbed down a short four-foot wall that offered a view of a large hallway beyond. The hallway was lit by a large square “well”, its water glowing a bright teal.

Two more bullets shot past Talaer.

Talaer prevented the halflings from using their slings by moving into their midst, purposely surrounding himself. As he moved past two of them, they tried to hit him with their slings using them as makeshift saps. He easily dodged the attacks while striking one just under his arm.

Their slings useless in close quarters, the halflings dropped their slings and drew out their daggers. One stabbed at the ranger who easily sidestepped the feeble attack. Another quickly followed barely missing Talaer’s leg.

Talaer, still surprised that halflings whose kind were not commonly known to be so violent, swung his scimitar in a wide arc that sliced through leather and flesh. The halfling screamed in pain but survived the attack. Talaer then turned on his heel, spinning to strike at another halfling.

Valin meanwhile had heard the sounds of battle and rushed in after Talaer. He moved up to the nearest halfling whose chest was covered in blood and brought his warhammer down with a sickening crunch to the halfling’s head. The halfling dropped to the floor lifeless.

Another dagger thrust forced the ranger to step back. Talaer turned his own blade sideways, slapping the halfling’s arm away. He followed up with an upward slice that all but took the halfling’s arm off. The halfling fell to the floor screaming in agony. He writhed for a few seconds then died.

The ranger turned to the remaining halfling. “Put down your weapon!” he commanded.

The halfling took a careful step back.

“I’d listen to the elf,” Valin said. For added emphasis, the dwarf pointed his warhammer at the halfling whose eyes grew wide at the sight of his former companion’s blood, skull fragments, and brain matter still stuck to the dwarf’s weapon.

“You two must have the key,” the halfling half-whispered through clenched teeth. “The voice said you two would get me the key.”

“You should put that dagger away,” Talaer said. “Maybe we can help each other escape this place. What else did the voice tell you?”

“I don’t need your help!” the halfling yelled back. “I’ll find my own way out of here.”

“Suit yourself,” Talaer said with finality. He lowered his blade and waved the halfling to leave.

The halfling then turned around and quickly disappeared from view around a few corners and passageways.

“I’m sure we’ll be running into that one soon enough,” Valin pointed out.

“So where exactly are we?” Talaer asked as he began rummaging through the halfling’s accoutrements.

“I don’t know,” Valin said as he searched the other dead halfling for anything useful. He held up a sun rod he found. He then placed it in his own backpack. “I woke up in this cursed dungeon with very little memory of where I hail from. I know my name, my profession and skills, but not much else.”

“So, we’re in some dungeon—Larethian knows where—brought here against our will. For what reason?”

Valin dropped the halfling’s backpack on the floor. “That’s what we need to find out.”

“May as well search this place then.” Talaer said. He fixed his backpack and with scimitars in his hands, left the room for the hallway he saw earlier.

The hallway they stood in was fairly wide. Two wells with glowing water sat in the middle of the hallway. At the far end of the hallway, they saw the small body of the halfling encountered earlier. The halfling was lying facedown on the floor. “Told you we’d run into that halfling soon enough,” Valin remarked.

They also spotted a shimmering curtain of blue blocking the entryway into a small room. Inside the room, they saw a large golden key sitting on a pile of wooden debris. When Talaer touched the shimmering curtain with his scimitar, he felt a wave of force vibrate uncomfortably through his arm. Valin, meanwhile, tossed the body of a halfling he had dragged from the other room straight at the wall of force. The body bounced off like a rag doll.

To test the well and its glowing water, Talaer then dunked the halfling’s body in it. Nothing happened so they deemed the water safe…for the moment.

As one they both suddenly turned in the direction of a sound that was familiar to the dwarven battlemind. They heard a buzzing sound grow louder with each passing second.

“I know that sound,” Valin said as he gripped his warhammer tighter. “Ready yourself!”

Stirge   lars grant west
From the end of the hallway, the two spotted three small creatures fly into view. About the size of housecats, each had two sets of bat-like wings and four wicked claws ending in pincers. Each also had a nightmarishly long proboscis protruding out of their heads.

With a loud buzz each one flew straight for the two dungeoneers. Valin easily batted one that threatened to stab him right in the neck. Another one however clawed into his leg. He felt a sharp pain as it drove its dagger-like proboscis into his leg. “Damn these wretched mosquitoes!” the dwarf bellowed in half rage and half pain.

“They’re not mosquitoes,” Talaer corrected. "They’re commonly known as stirges, bloodthirsty beasts that can clamp onto their victims and drain their blood. We’re lucky there’s only three of them. Usually they travel in “storms” of fourteen or more."

One flew at the elf. Talaer tried to swat it with his scimitar but managed to only anger it. It’s buzzing grew louder as it weaved to the right then drove its proboscis into the elf’s arm. He let loose a cry of pain that caused the dwarf to laugh despite his injury.

“Feeling lucky now?” Valin asked sarcastically.

The dwarven Battlemind then took a deep breath and began focusing his thoughts. He cleared his mind of everything and looked at the stirge attached to his leg. As a Battlemind, he was a warrior of thought and action, able to fight any foe with the combat skill of a fighter. But it was his mind that served as his ultimate weapon and armor. With his psionic abilities, Valin could tear through an opponent’s mind channeling his pain into counterstrikes that could leave even the strongest enemy reeling.

The stirge suddenly felt a mental command that had to be followed. It pulled its proboscis out of Valin’s leg which caused the dwarf to let out a grunt of pain. It then let go of the dwarf’s leg and flew at the other stirge buzzing around him and attacked it. The other stirge however was quick and darted out of range buzzing angrily at its mate.

Talaer meanwhile felt a new surge of pain as he felt the stirge attached to his arm suck out what felt like all the blood that his body had. Grunting in pain, he wedged his scimitar between the stirge and his arm tearing the thing off of him. It nearly fell to the floor but flapped its leathery wings and came at him again.

Nearby, Valin took advantage of the two stirge fighting each other. He swung his warhammer and connected with the stirge he just mentally commanded to attack the other stirge. It crumpled to the floor, dead. The other tried to attack the dwarf and missed, unable to find an opening in the dwarf’s scaled armor. The dwarf quickly followed with his warhammer sending it hurtling against a nearby wall where it exploded on impact.

The elven ranger dodged the stirge’s attack. He quickly sliced at the creature hovering in front of his face, cleaving it in half. Blood—some of it his own—sprayed outward from the stirge and covered Talaer.

The two dungeoneers were tired but considered themselves fortunate to have survived the stirges’ attacks.

“Three was enough,” Talaer said. "I hope I never encounter a “storm” of those things."

“I’ll agree to that.” Valin said.

For the next several minutes, Talaer bandaged his wounds while Valin searched for a possible secret entrance to the room with the key. He examined the halfling’s body. As he suspected, the halfling had been attacked by the stirges judging by the number of stab wounds he saw. He took a dagger and what provisions he could from the halfling’s backpack.

Valine looked around. Despite the light from the glowing water nearby, most of the hallway was cloaked in shadowy darkness. Not wanting to waste a sun rod, Valin walked back to the room he appeared in and examined one of the torches. He found that it gave ample light but emitted no heat. Valin took it off the sconce and held on to it.

In the other room where they fought the halfling, Talaer had just finished lighting a small fire on the floor using some pieces of wood he found nearby, when he heard something scrape the floor behind him. Turning to look over his shoulder, he spotted three small scaly humanoids with hairless hides, reptilian heads, and tails. Not more than three feet in height each wore leather armor and held small wooden shields. All were armed with short swords, which at the moment were all pointing at the elf.

Kobold knight by c21 d36h58k
One of the humanoids yelled what sounded like a command and they quickly charged at the elf who recognized them as Kobolds.

The first kobold took a swing at the elf, cutting him. Talaer winced in pain, angry that he had just finished binding his wounds from the stirge encounter only to be injured by these wretched creatures. He parried an attack by a second kobold and followed it up with a deep cut to the kobold’s arm. It howled in pain but kept on fighting. It yelled something that sounded like an obscenity at the elf; spoken in Draconic Talaer didn’t doubt. He knew some basic facts about the strange humanoids, but he didn’t speak their language.

Hearing the battle from the other room, Valin entered the room to find himself facing a small creature that tried to stab him with a short sword. The blade glanced harmlessly off his scale armor. He noted two others who were deftly circling the elven ranger in the middle of the room, trying to flank Talaer on either side.

“If I should fall in battle, there are healing potions in my backpack,” Talaer said to the dwarf. “I found them in a secret compartment in the statue back in the room where we woke up.”

“Good to know!” The kobold flanking Talaer said excitedly in the Common tongue. “You hear that fellas? We have potions in case we need it.”

Both Valin and Talaer exchange surprised glances as the kobolds all squealed with delight.

“Did you know they spoke Common?” Valin asked.

“I did not,” Talaer replied.

A sharp pain tore through the elf as the kobold behind him stabbed him from behind. Ignoring it for a brief moment, Talaer stepped up to the kobold he had injured earlier and swung his scimitar straight at the humanoid’s neck.

The kobold’s body slumped to the ground just as it head rolled to a stop several feet away.

Meanwhile, Valin parried another attack. In response, he swung his warhammer in a wide arc that crushed the kobold’s head on impact.

Looking towards where the elf was fighting, Valin noted how the remaining kobold was carefully weaving in and out of the elf’s sword range. Just as it ducked under Talaer’s scimitar, it stabbed upward. Its short sword cutting into Talaer’s ribs, puncturing his lungs.

Coughing up blood, the elf crumbled to the floor.

With a yell Valin charged at the remaining kobold. It tried in vain to block the dwarf’s warhammer with its shield, but the dwarf easily knocked it to the side. Turning the warhammer back, he brought it down on the kobold’s shoulder, crushing bones as he knocked the kobold down to the ground.

Remembering what the elf had told him, Valin quickly searched the elf’s backpack.

“I thought I was dead there for a while,” Talaer said a short while later. The two had just finished searching the remains of the kobolds. Save for a few personal items, they didn’t find anything of value.

“You almost were,” Valin said. “If you didn’t tell me about the potions, my healing skills probably couldn’t have saved you. By the way, I noticed that the wall of force leading to the room with the key is gone.”

“How did you manage to disable it?”

“I didn’t. It disappeared soon after the last of those small humanoids was slain.”

“They’re known as Kobolds.”

“Well, whatever they are, it seems their death caused the wall to drop.”

“Good enough then,” Talaer said. Gathering his equipment, he and Valin walked back to the hallways where they encountered the stirges. After making sure the area was safe, they proceeded to enter the room with the key.

Inside the small room, they found two bronze statues at opposite ends of the room. Both had broken off their bases and were leaning against the wall. Strangely, one statue was that of a dwarf holding a warhammer in its hand. The other statue was that of an elf. It held a scimitar in its hand.

Valin, wary of traps, carefully removed the warhammer from the statue’s hand. After inspecting it for a several minutes, he determined that it was enchanted with the ability to siphon life from whomever it struck and heal its wielder. Talaer, after examining the scimitar he found, also found it to be similarly enchanted.

With enchanted weapons in their hands, both dungeoneers looked at the key lying on top of a pile of wooden debris.

“What do you think this key opens?” Valin asked as he picked it up.

“There’s only one way to—,” Talaer started to say.

In a blinding, brilliant flash of light both dungeoneers vanished—along with the key.

To be continued in future Dungeon Games writeups.


Valin, Talaer

"Garden of Graves" Part 3
A Tomb of Horrors Story Arc

Eleint 3, 1479, Year of the Ageless One

Everyone heard the sound of a door opening somewhere nearby, but no one was certain where.

To be continued…


Fredara, Jobek, Monro, Patch, Vyn, and Kallin Rourke


Luthan Graythicket (male half-elf ranger companion, from Elturgard), Orva (female gnome arcanist companion, from the Feywild)

"Got Silk" Part 1
Planeswalkers' Chronicles (Planescape Adventures)

The second Void of Mortis

To be continued…

"Sea of Swords" Part 2
Damager's Guild Story Arc

19 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
The Sea of Swords

Captain Blackheart’s watery form rose from his captain’s chair.

The other ghosts, sailors who served their captain faithfully in life, continued to do so even in death.

One ghost, a semblance of its former self, came straight at Damascus and struck the cleric in the arm with its insubstantial short sword. Excruciating pain swept over the cleric.

Drowned ghost
Another watery ghost faced Wraith and shrieked. Wraith suddenly felt a nauseating wave of despair slam into him. He looked at his hands and gasped in horror. His skin seemed to be melting, or rather aging quickly before his eyes.

Abyss blocked an incoming sword thrust from the ghost which tried to flank him. He then turned and broke his blade down on the spirit’s arm. It was like cutting through smoke, but the sailor screamed as his arm withered away to nothing.

Wraith suddenly screamed and clutched at his head. He turned to see Captain Blackheart staring at him. Fighting off the intense pain surging through his head, Wraith took out a vial from his pack then gulped down its content. He immediately felt the potion’s healing effects wash over him.

Lyrica moved to face two ghosts. She cleared her throat and sang in a falsetto, a short piece from an elven aria she learned from a traveling minstrel.

Their watery form wavered in painful reaction to the bard’s song, their movement slowed by Lyrica’s aria.

Meanwhile, Salil loaded a bolt into his crossbow and fired at the nearest ghost. The bolt passed through the spirit and thunked into the ship’s hull.

The spirit turned to move towards Salil when Ronak swung his enchanted greataxe at the ghost. His weapon passed through the phantom sailor’s midsection. The ghost dissipated into a puddle of water.

Within a few more breaths, the adventurers defeated the phantom sailors leaving only Captain Blackheart to contend with.

_To be continued…


Salil Bok, Ronak Tripp, Abyss, Brogan


Lyrica Osbourne, Damascus of Candlekeep

"Quest for Fire"
A Legacy of the Realms Side Arc

Eleint 28, 1479, Year of the Ageless One

The tangled maze of streets in the Netherese city of Lundeth was an easy place to get lost in.

All around the three travelers from the Western Sunset Vale people went about their business with seeming disinterest to the three visitors walking among them.

“I would think the locals would at least look at you Lo-kag with curiosity,” Caldreas Arannis said to the goliath barbarian. The great eladrin pyromancer walked with his magical staff in hand. He choked back a cough as a cloud of dust settled down on his companions and him from above.

Looking up, Caldreas spotted an elderly woman shaking a dusty rug outside of a second-story window. She gave the pyromancer an apologetic shrug then disappeared back inside her home.

“I thought of that too,” Lo-kag said shaking dust off of him. “Maybe they’ve seen my kind before.”

“Or they’ve seen enough strange folks that you’re no different to them,” Deb Merryfoot the halfling ranger said as he brushed off sand and dust from his cloak. “We are, after all, in Netheril. Strange to us is what’s ordinary to them.”

“Speaking of strange,” Caldreas added. “Are you sure we’re going the right way? The directions we were given by the stable master sounded confusing to me.”

“Wasn’t it?” Deb said. “Fortunately, you have my expertise to call upon. To be honest, I ignored the man’s direction soon after we left him. I can trust him with our flying mounts, but his sense of direction left a lot to be desired.”

“You did what?” Lo-kag asked. “You mean we’re lost then? Maybe we should have asked another ranger to join us. Was Rowan busy? Maybe we should have asked him.”

“Lost?” Deb said. “I don’t even know what that word means. Besides, who guided us all through Elturgard without so much as a map to rely on? And who navigated us through the streets of Berdusk while fighting off crazy Gauntlars? If I recall correctly, a certain goliath once got himself lost in Berdusk when—”

“Enough you two,” Caldreas interrupted. “We’re here.”

The three stopped in their tracks and gazed at the magnificent structure before them. Made from polished stone, the great Colosseum of Lundeth loomed majestically in the center of the city, it’s presence towering above nearby shops and homes.

“If Cain Justice saw this…” Lo-kag said.

“…He’d have one built in Bear’s Head.” Deb finished. Both looked at each other and chuckled.

“Except it would be floating a mile above the town.” Caldreas added. “Well, let’s get on with this and find Quan One-Eye.”

Once inside the colosseum, the three were guided to where Quan One-Eye was busy instructing other gladiators in a small but well-equipped training room.

“Well met,” Caldreas said as they walked up to the gladiatorial instructor.

As Rolando had described, Quan One-Eye was a powerfully built human. He stood just a few inches taller than Caldreas. He wore a simple crimson robe that opened in the front and exposed his scarred muscular chest. His face, too, bore a scar that ran from his forehead, over his missing right eye, and down to his chiseled jaw. His thick arms were covered in tattoos and scars.

Rolando mentioned that Quan was an old friend of his who fought his way up through the gladiatorial ranks, until an unlucky swipe of a sword took out his right eye. Since the unfortunate accident occurred, Quan all but gave up his career. Instead of fighting in the colosseum, he now trains Lundeth’s finest fighters. Rolando also mentioned that Quan was a highly respected man in Lundeth with many powerful friends and equally powerful enemies.

“Well met,” Quan said. “You three are obviously not from around here.” He turned to look at both Deb and Lo-kag who stood to either side of Caldreas. “I’m afraid I don’t train halflings, but perhaps I can train the goliath or even work miracles with you, although you’re going to need some muscles if you expect to survive in the arena.”

“I’m afraid you misunderstand the reason for our being here,” Caldreas said as he brought his staff down on Lo-kag’s foot which stopped the goliath in mid-chuckle. He gave Deb a stern look as well. “We were sent here by Rolando of Bear’s Head. You are a friend of his. He said you would have information regarding a magical item known as the Cloak of Flames.”

“I see,” Quan said looking around. “If you’ll follow me, it’s best we speak of such things in a more private place.”

Later, the three found themselves with Quan in a comfortable room. Rich carpets covered the floor. Bronze goblets filled with rich wine sat at a nearby wooden table along with bronze platters full of sumptuous fruits. Lit scented sticks cloaked the room in an ambrosia of exotic scents. Paintings hang on walls while marble statuettes occupied recessed niches.

After they had served themselves, Quan asked everyone to sit upon huge padded pillows scattered about the floor.

“Are you familiar with the Cloak of Flames?” Caldreas asked.

“I am,” Quan said. “It was once worn by Margretor, a mage Rolando and I adventured with in our youth.”

“I didn’t know Rolando was that skilled as a wizard,” Deb said as he took a bite out of a plump pear-like fruit. “I thought Caldreas here surpassed his skills as a wizard.”

“His skills as a wizard was not why our adventuring company hired him,” Quan continued. “We had heard that he had a knack for the arcane. Since our company was interested in finding lost magic items, we hired him to travel with us. He didn’t go into the dungeons with us but stayed with the horses and equipment. Once we returned ladened with treasure, we had him examine them for their value and magical properties.”

“So, Magretor has the cloak,” Lo-kag said. “Where can we find him?”

“You can’t,” Quan said. “He’s dead.”

“This trip was for nothing then,” Deb conceded.

“Not quite,” Quan said. “I do know where the cloak is kept safely hidden.”

Caldreas looked at the gladiator. “I know where this conversation is leading,” Caldreas said. “We can pay you what the cloak is worth.”

Quan raised his goblet to take a drink. “I have no need for more wealth,” Quan said pointing to the various art pieces that decorated the room. “However, I am need of help at the moment. Perhaps we can strike a bargain. You offer to help me, and in return I will reveal to you the location of the legendary Cloak of Flames.”

“Ah, sounds familiar,” Deb said with sarcasm. “We offer our services as skilled and famous adventurers. In return we get rewarded for our efforts. Someday, it would be nice if people simply accepted money for what we wanted.”

Caldreas ignored the halfling’s quip despite its honesty.

“What can we do to help a respected gladiator trainer such as yourself?” Caldreas asked taking a sip from his goblet.

“I need your help in getting my son back.” Quan said.

“What happened?” Deb asked.

“Three weeks ago, agents working for Oathem, a rival trainer from the House of Salax kidnapped my teenage son Kelek. Yesterday, I was visited by five goliath thugs working for Oathem. They told me that if I ever wanted to see my son alive again, I would need to poison the drinking water of several of my finest gladiators to ensure specific outcomes in the upcoming gladiatorial games.”

“Of course you can’t do that,” Lo-kag said.

“Naturally,” Quan said. “I cannot betray my warrior brothers—even to save my son.”

“Do you know where your son is being held?” Caldreas asked.

“My sources tell me he may be in a fort somewhere between Lundeth and Rasilith but that much area would be impossible to search.”

“What of the goliaths?” Deb inquired. “Did you have them followed?”

“I considered it, but feared for my son’s safety if Oathem found out I was trailing his pets. I did find out today that the goliaths are still in the city.”

“Perhaps we can help there,” Caldreas offered. “As you said earlier, we are obviously not from around here. No one would suspect that we were helping you look for your son. We will help you get your son back. In return, you’ll get us the Cloak of Flames.”

Grateful for the help offered, Quan One-Eye agreed to the terms.

Back outside, the group busied themselves by asking around for any sign of five goliaths who may be traveling together in the city. It took a few hours but eventually, they learned that the goliaths were entertaining themselves in one of the city’s numerous brothels. However, one of the goliaths was seen leaving the city to the north.

Following a lead, the three made their way to the Nut Cracker, the city’s most popular house of ill-repute.

“Really?” Caldreas asked as he stood before the brothel. “The Nut Cracker? Couldn’t they have thought of a better name for a brothel?”

“I suppose they could have called it The Bears Head In!” Deb said bursting into laughter.

“Or simply, The Bear’s Head,” Lo-kag offered also bursting into laughter.

Caldreas couldn’t help but laugh along with Lo-kag and Deb. “Alright, alright. Enough. Let’s go and get this over with.”

“That’s what she said,” Deb said with a final chuckle.

Lo-kag slapped the halfling in the back.

“What was that for?” Deb asked.

“You’re funnier than I thought possible,” Lo-kag said with a grin. “For a small one, you’re big where it counts.”

Deb couldn’t resist. “That’s what she said.”

Inside, the brothel was a gaudy mixture of mismatching furniture and colors. Peanut shells littered the floor. In the main room, several people were mingling about with drinks in hand or snacking on small nuts with the shells being casually thrown on the floor. Working women were busy entertaining their guest with offers of pleasures beyond their imagination or price range.

In one corner, the the group spotted three goliaths surrounded by six scantily-clad women. By the looks of it, the goliaths were rough-handling the women who were desperately trying to fend the brutes off. Even the other guests were starting to notice the trouble brewing in the corner.

Lo-kag turned to the others. “Let’s go ask them a few questions.”

“I can only imagine what their answers will sound like through broken teeth,” Caldreas said.

Coughing up blood, the remaining goliath found himself staring up at Lo-kag’s rage-filled face, his weapon inches from the beaten goliath’s head. The two other goliaths lay dead on the floor nearby.

“Where are the others?” Lo-kag asked in fury. “Or I swear my weapon crushing your face in will be the last thing you’ll ever see!”

Nearby, Caldreas was busy comforting the women who moments before were being accosted by the goliath thugs. Deb, his bow drawn back with an arrow ready, kept guard.

“Lo-kag,” Caldreas called. “One of the girls said the fourth one is upstairs. He’s in a room with two elven women.”

Moments later, with the goliath upstairs killed and the women and other customers safe, the three adventurers gathered around the beaten goliath seated on the main room’s floor.

“What do you want from me?” the beaten goliath asked as blood flowed from his mouth. “Do you want money? I’ve got some gold coins—”

“We dont’ want your money,” Lo-kag said. “We didn’t like the way you were treating those women. Damaged goods is no good to the rest of us.”

“You know if Oathem gets wind of you killing the others,” the goliath said. “He’ll have you hunted down and slain. Lo-tor left today to talk to Oathem. They’ll wonder why we haven’t returned.”

“Who’s this Oathem guy?” Deb asked as he stood looking eye-to-eye at the seated goliath. “And if he does send others, he’ll just end up losing more thugs. Eventually, he’ll run out of people for us to kill.”

“You saw how quickly we took care of your friends,” Caldreas added. He tapped one of the dead goliaths with the tip of his staff to emphasize his point. “I can’t imagine the others being much more of a challenge.”

“What if we came and worked for Oathem?” Deb offered. The goliath’s surprised look made the halfling ranger smile. “We can offer our services to replace the skilled thugs he lost.”

“You three are pretty good in battle,” the goliath said. “I can vouch for that.”

“I’m sure you can,” Lo-kag said.

“Oathem is always looking for more people to hire,” the goliath said. “I’m sure he’d like to have you three join us at the fort.”

“The fort?” Caldreas asked as he looked at the others in mock surprise.

“Yeah, the fort.” the goliath said. “It’s where Oathem and the others are. It’s in the desert, about two days journey from here. I can take you there if you like.”

Deb looked to his fellow adventurers with a wolfish grin. “We would like that very much.”

The story continues in “Quest for Fire” Part 2


Lo-kag, Caldreas, and Deb

A Legacy of the Realms Side Arc

20 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One

The forest erupted in chaos.

Lo-kag, the mighty barbarian goliath, let out a roar of pain as U’Cla’s massive claw tore through armor and flesh.

Seconds before the surprised attack, the three skilled adventurers from Bear’s Head were carefully making their way through a dense part of the Reaching Wood. Deb, the halfling ranger, had earlier scouted the area and found a cave which they suspected was large enough for a dire bear to use as a den. Caldreas, the eladrin wizard, kept to the sky just above the canopy upon his winged mount.

But as Lo-kag walked past a dense overgrowth of bushes, U’Cla suddenly emerged catching the goliath by surprise.

Deb quickly launched an arrow at U’Cla. The deadly shaft buried itself deep into the dire bear’s flank but it didn’t even seem to phase the beast.

Lo-kag quickly recovered and lunged at the bear delivering a savage blow with his weapon that would have ended the life of any other creature right then.

From atop his flying mount, Caldreas too launched his own deadly spells upon U’Cla careful not to use any fire-based spells lest he accidentally start a forest fire.

U’cla took a swipe at Lo-kag and struck again. Ignoring the pain, the barbarian attacked back in kind tearing through thick fur and sinews which hardly seemed to slow the dire bear down, while at a safe distance Deb kept hitting it with his arrows. Caldreas kept up his spell-attacks, doing what he could to help end a battle the eladrin already suspected was going to take some time.

And so the battle with U’Cla did rage on for quite some time.

U cla
While the ranger and the wizard kept their distance, the goliath relentlessly pressed the attack against U’Cla. The greatest of dire bears delivered her own deadly onslaught against the goliath who like her refused to surrender to the welcoming embrace of Kelemvor, the god of death.

Soon enough, the battle was taking its toll on both sides. But just as it seemed U’Cla was about to be slain, the greatest of dire bears broke free from the battle and tore through the forest to escape.

Caldreas quickly gave chase, urging his mount to keep up with the bear. However, the thick canopy at times hid the forest floor below. At one point the eladrin spotted U’Cla run through a small clearing only to disappear back into a thick copse of trees and equally thick brambles at the clearing’s edge.

Knowing the others may have lost sight of U’Cla, Caldreas flew back to tell the others where the U’Cla went.

The group carefully made their way across the clearing with Caldreas keeping to the air.

But as they searched the area where Caldreas last saw the dire bear, they could not find U’Cla. It seemed as though she had simply melted into the forest. Signs of her passing were evident to the skilled ranger, but they still couldn’t find her.

“How can something that big just disappear?” Lo-kag asked Deb who was also searching nearby.

“This is her home,” the halfling said. “She knows these woods well.”

“Do you see her Caldreas?” Lo-kag yelled up to the eladrin. He didn’t care about being heard by U’Cla. He wanted her to come out from hiding and end the fight.

“No,” the eladrin yelled back. “But she couldn’t have gone far or we would have seen her.”

The three kept scouring the area but after a while it was obvious that they had indeed lost U’Cla. Despite her size, Deb was right in that the Reaching Wood was her home and she knew well enough how to hide her great bulk amidst the thick growths and trees that grew in abundance in the forest.

Disappointed in that they could not slay U’Cla, the group made their way back to the dire bear’s den and searched it. There, they took whatever they found and traveled back to Bear’s Head to heal wounds and rest.

Perhaps someday they thought, someone would eventually find and slay U’Cla.

But for now they recalled the poacher’s warning that no one alive could ever slay the mightiest of dire bears.


Lo-kag, Caldreas, and Deb

"Bubble Bubble, Toil and Trouble" Part 2
Shadow of the Spider Queen (Rise of the Underdark™ Adventures)

Eleint 18, 1479, Year of the Ageless One (three days before the Autumn Equinox)

To be continued…


Kursk, Skamus, and Quinn




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