Campaign of the Month: February 2012

Legacy of the Realms

"Separate Ways"
Scourge of the Sunset Vale Arc (Final)

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.

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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.


Adventurers:

The Company of the Siren’s Song: Winslow, Lo-kag, Deb, Caldreas, Therand

Companions:

Bear’s Head High Swords

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"Harpies Fall"
Tomb of Horrors Arc (Virtual Table Session)

Eleint 2, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


The roar of the cascading waterfall all but drowned out the foul screeching of two harpies flying straight at Kallin Rourke.

The closest one, which moments before was perched on a tree on the other side of the narrow river, stopped within twenty-five feet of the elven ranger. It let loose a brutal, piercing scream that shook Kallin to the core and pulled him along the ground, closer to it.

Seeing the elf on the ground, the other harpy flew to middle of the large pool of water and began singing a song. He tried to ignore the harpy’s alluring song, but couldn’t.

The harpie’s melodic voice lured Kallin to the water’s edge. Just as he was about to fall in, he slipped and fell. His head struck the ground hard, the jarring impact causing him to regain his senses.

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Quickly, he took up his bow and fired at the harpy near the waterfall. His arrow struck true. With a piercing cry, the harpy plunged into the water below and disappeared from the ranger’s sight.

Meanwhile, the other harpy flew down and tried to rake him with its talons. He dodged its attack and stepped back far enough to take a shot at it. His arrow buried itself in the thing’s chest. It fell to the ground dead. Or so the ranger thought.

To Kallin’s horror, the harpy got back up on its talons. Its head drooped to one side while it hopped clumsily along the ground as if being controlled by some unseen puppeteer.

Kallin took aim and fired. This time, the harpy stayed dead.

In anticipation, Kallin turned his attention towards the waterfall. Sure enough, the harpy he had just killed earlier flew out of the water and came straight at him.

A well-placed shot stopped harpy before it could reach him.

Looking around to make sure the area was safe, Kallin carefully made his way to the other side of the river. He walked towards the north side of the waterfall. There, he found handholds and sure-footing along the cliff’s face. With some effort, Kallin was certain he can make the sixty-foot ascent to the top of the cliff.

But just as he reached the top, two more harpies flew into view. Kallin, tired but with plenty of fight left in him, made quick work of the two creatures.

After making sure that there were no more harpies in the area, Kallin looked at his surroundings. In front of him, a strangely-shaped white building stood before him. He saw strange markings carved all over the building’s walls. Something about the carvings reminding him of something, but he couldn’t place it. He spotted two door that afforded entrance to the building. A wide river—the source of the waterfall—stretched to the west as far as he could see. Across the river, he spotted other buildings, some bigger than the one nearby. All were also built at odd curving angles and were covered with similar markings.

Stranger still, he spotted a boat nearby. It was elven in design. It sat at the river’s edge not far from the building.

Knowing he had to solve the mystery of where he was, Kallin Rourke knocked another arrow and prepared to face whatever creature the Feywild was going to send his way.


Continued in “The Garden of Graves” Part 2


Adventurer(s):

Kallin Rourke

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"Camp Undead"
Scourge of the Sunset Vale Arc

Eleint 7 – 8, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


The smell of a smoldering campfire caught the attention of the group of adventurers from Longpine.

Farther along the road, the group spotted a brown canvas tent just visible within a thicket. Save for the soft rustling of leaves nearby, the area was deathly quiet.

Rowan scanned the surrounding area for any sign of an ambush. Recently, he had heard of robbers who have taken advantage of the undead scourge that had been plaguing the Eastern Vale. Some, it seemed, would willingly risk encountering undead to get their hands on a coin purse. Soldiers from Bear’s Head, now stationed in Longpine, have been patrolling the northeast road to Hluthvar, along the edge of the Reaching Wood as well as parts of the Eastern Vale to ensure that the area was safe.

Adventurers too, have been helpful in that regard. Many fortune seekers from across the Realms have been slowly making their way into the Vale. News of a horde of undead terrorizing the Sunset Vale had spread far and wide. Longpine even began selling charters to adventuring companies. Many made their way into the Vale from Longpine and were never heard from again, while some returned to the Wolf House, the only tavern in Longpine, to talk about their escapades into Death Vale, as some adventurers were starting to call the Sunset Vale.

A sudden rustling from a nearby large bush caught his attention.

“Come out, whoever you are,” Rowan yelled. He aimed his bow at where he had heard movement coming from. “No use hiding. We know you’re there.”

A man—or rather what was left of a man—came stumbling out of the thick bushes. Half of his face was missing, although parts of it were still clinging to his exposed skull. His outstretched arms looked as though they had been ripped to shreds by some powerfully clawed animal.

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Immediately, Galenndan and Brandis noticed other similarly looking figures emerge out from behind bushes and nearby trees. The remains of a half-elf, its throat torn open, started walking towards the group at a slow pace. A large burly man with its bloody chain mail rent in places, ambled out from where the group saw the camping tent. An elf, his bowels half hanging out of his midsection, followed close behind. It still carried a crossbow slung over its shoulder. The others too had weapons—like longswords still sheathed—on them.

It looked as though they were surprised by someone—or something—and had died before they even had the opportunity to fight back.

“They’re zombies!” Rowan yelled.

Brandis raised his bow and fired at the nearest undead—the man with what was left of his face. The arrow flew straight and struck the thing in the leg, puncturing through its skin and then shattering bone. The zombie teetered once and collapsed on the ground.

Rowan turned and shot at another zombie and struck it in the arm. Galenndan followed up the attack by focusing his mind and unleashing a psychic attack on the zombie Rowan just shot with an arrow.

All of a sudden, everyone saw an undead creature leap out from a large pine tree a short distance away. It leaped towards another tree some forty feet away. Hanging on to a large branch, the undead growled in fury at the adventurers.

Rowan immediately recognized the creature as a ghoul.

Dead elf
He knew what may have turned the former adventurers into zombies. Many in the Eastern Vale had heard that a Zombie Plague was spreading across the Vale. Adventurers reported how slain comrades turned into an undead within a day or more after being attacked by an undead creature they encountered—even after they had rested and regained their strength. It became apparent that the Zombie Plague was exactly that, a disease. Some, with stronger constitutions it seemed, were able to stave off the effects of an undead attack, while others required curing spells from clerics or by the use of scrolls.

With all that in mind, Rowan can only hope that he and the others can make it through the deadly encounter unscathed.

Two zombies were now making their way down the road, while the third zombie was trampling its way through bushes to get at the adventurers.

Brandis shot one of the zombies on the road in the torso. His shot caused it to stop dead in its tracks.

Meanwhile, Rowan took two quick shots. One hit the ghoul on the tree while the other struck the zombie pushing its way through the undergrowth. The arrow struck the zombie’s arm. The shot tore the arm off and caused the zombie to spin and then drop to the ground. It never got back up again. Rowan then made his way towards the ghoul.

Back on the road, Galenndan, a sun elf psion from Iriaebor, focused on the immobilized zombie on the road. His psionic attack easily broke through the zombie’s mental defense. Galenndan then quickly sifted through what was left of the zombie’s mind for the mental representation of himself that was still within it. As soon as he found it, Galenndan brutally ripped it out!

The effect was twofold. First, it damaged a part of what was left of the thing’s brain. Second, it made him temporarily invisible to the zombie.

The ghoul up on the tree climbed down and was starting to make its way towards the adventurers.

At the same time, Brandis ordered his hawk companion to fly over the still-moving zombie on the road. The zombie tried to reach for the bird darting in and out around it. With the undead distracted, Brandis was able to get a shot in with his bow, striking it in the chest.

Rowan saw the incoming ghoul and shot it. It didn’t slow down as it tried to leap at the half-elf ranger. But, it misjudged the height of a large boulder between it and Rowan. Its legs struck the boulder in mid-leap and fell to the ground.

The zombie that was immobilized started to move again. Moaning out loud, the undead thing quickly covered the distance between it and Brandis. It clawed him as soon as it reached him.

The other zombie was also coming as fast as its torn and decomposing legs would allow.

Brandis, hurt by the zombie’s attack, took a careful step back and shot past it, striking the other zombie in the leg as it was making its way towards Galenndan. The zombie moaned and nearly fell, but it lurched forward, intent on making a meal out of the psion.

Brandis took another action and shot at the same zombie. He struck it in the leg again. This time it did fall to the ground. But, to his surprise, the zombie was still desperately clawing its way forward.

Rowan quickly moved up to the ghoul as it rose. From a few feet away, the half-elven ranger pulled back at his bowstring with all of his might and shot two arrows at the thing’s chest. Both arrows buried themselves to the fletching. Rowan then took a careful step back while he kept his bow trained at the ghoul in front of him.

The ghoul desperately tried to move and reach for the ranger who—to the ghoul’s surprise—quickly fired yet another arrow. The arrow struck the ghoul, again in the torso. But this time, the arrow kept going. It broke through the thing’s ribcage and severed the spine as it continued its deadly flight through the ghoul.

With the surprised look frozen in its face, the ghoul fell face-first on the ground at Rowan’s feet.

Galenndan, trying to avoid the zombie that had reached him, fey-stepped on top of a nearby boulder. The zombie, momentarily having lost its meal, looked around. It saw the elf on top of a nearby boulder and ambled over. It tried to claw at Galenndan’s leg but missed as the elf kicked its arms away. Galendan retaliated with a psychic mind thrust that hurt but did not kill the zombie.

Brandis aimed his bow at the zombie who moments earlier was on the ground. It had just stood up when Brandis shot it in the leg. His arrow shattered its left knee. Its useless leg gave out and the zombie fell to the ground, never to rise again.

Rowan quickly looked around and saw the zombie desperately trying to claw at Galenndan who was standing on top of a boulder. He knocked another arrow and fired. The arrow sped towards the zombie and struck it in the torso. It fell on the grass in front of the boulder.

**

With the battle against the undead won, the group searched the area.

They searched the zombies and found coins on them. They rummaged through the tents and found an adventuring charter that was recently purchased from Longpine. It had the stamp of Bear’s Head on it. The charter stated that the adventuring company known as The Company of the Broken Blessing had just recently formed and were going into the Sunset Vale.

They were novices, Rowan thought. They never stood a chance against the more powerful ghoul.

Their search also yielded an enchanted shield. On the elven zombie, they discovered a map showing a huge forest with a portal of some sort drawn on it. Two words were written above the drawn portal: Shadow Gate.

They then gathered the undead bodies together and burned them, lest they somehow return to harm other travelers.

When all was done, the group returned to Longpine to rest and recover.

Along the way, all knew that Brandis had been struck by a zombie during the battle. They wondered if he had contracted the Zombie Plague. But they all knew that only time would tell if their worst fear would be realized.

Will Brandis turn into an undead?


Adventurers:

Galenndan, Brandis, and Rowan

Treasure Gained:

100 gp, 200 sp, and +1 light shield

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"The Garden of Graves" Part 1
Tomb of Horrors Story Arc

Eleint 2, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


The elven boat made its way downriver closer to the ruins. The forest, with its vibrant colors, surrounded the river on both sides.

From the boat, the group could clearly make out the ruins with its stark-white walls. One building stood on the east side of the river, while more ruins stood on the west side. Every building was a single-story structure that was spread out over a large area.

They also saw an old wooden bridge that spanned the river just north of the ruins. Just passed the bridge, they also spotted a stone column rising out from the center of the river. The column, some thirty feet high, was topped by a large iron sphere.

From where they were, everyone could hear the distant roar of a waterfall farther down the river, just beyond the ruins.

“There,” Luthan said pointing to a spot along the river’s eastern edge just passed the wooden bridge. “We can beach the boat there and explore the structure on that side of the river first.”

Monro gripped the tiller and guided the boat towards shore.

No sooner had the boat stopped when everyone heard loud screeching coming from the east, above and beyond the structure before them.

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Everyone immediately looked up and spotted two winged females flying towards them. Their arms ended in wicked claws, while their legs ended in sharp talons. With each flap of their large, powerful wings, the creatures were quickly making their way towards the group.

To Luthan, a ranger by profession, the female creatures were as beautiful as they were terrifying.

Most in the group recognized the approaching creatures as harpies—one of the most deadliest creatures of the feywild.

Patch knocked an arrow and aimed his greatbow at the closest harpy. He let loose an arrow that struck it in the chest. The harpy screamed in pain, nearly dropping in flight. But it beat its wings once and dove towards the awaiting group. It was quickly closing the gap between it and the adventurers. Patch quickly jumped off the boat and waded onto shore.

Jobek, seeing the fast approaching harpy, shot at it with his bow. His arrow tore into the creature’s leg. Undaunted, the injured harpy soared past the boat, turned, and hovered some fifteen feet from the boat, above the river.

The other harpy shot past the bow of the boat and it too, turned to face the adventurers while hovering above the river.

Patch, safely on shore, shot again at the harpy he struck earlier. A second arrow sprouted from the creature’s leg.

Jobek also took a shot, but his aim was off. His arrow zipped past the creature, which screeched at the dwarf in anger.

Meanwhile, the uninjured harpy let loose a brutal scream. Like a peal of thunder, the harpy’s scream reverberated through wood and bones alike. Only Patch, who was safely off the boat, didn’t suffer any painful effects from the harpy’s cream. Quickly taking advantage of the injured Fredara, the harpy focused her scream at her, forcing the human fighter to stumble and fall into the river where she quickly went under.

Luthan, his ears still ringing from the attack, fired his bow at the hovering harpy—and struck it.

For the next several breaths, both sides fought each other. One harpy was killed in short order, thanks to the powerful range attacks brought on by everyone, like Monro who struck it with a radiant beacon of light.

But the other harpy proved far more formidable than the first. It used its alluring song to coax people into the river. Some, like Luthan and Monro nearly drowned or were nearly swept downriver towards the waterfall.

At one point in the encounter, Patch found himself risking his life by jumping into the fast-flowing river and swimming after anyone unfortunate enough to be lured into the river by the harpy’s song.

To add to the danger, the iron sphere whirred to life—perhaps activated by the proximity of the adventurers to the obelisk and sphere. The large iron “eye” on top of the stone column opened. A white ray of light flared then streaked towards the unsuspecting adventurers fighting the remaining harpy.

Those struck by the iron eye’s ray found themselves moving slower, their muscles aching with each strained step. And to the group’s horror, the sphere completely ignored the harpy and shot its ray only at them!

And moments after being shot by the ray, Luthan went unconscious. Fortunately, he was on shore, exactly where Patch had dragged him to after rescuing him from the river.

Patch
While the others continued to fight the remaining harpy, Patch—using his enchanted boots that allowed him to tread on water—made a dash for the obelisk. When he reached it, he began to climb, forcing his fingers into thin cracks along the column’s slick surface while finding footholds wherever he could.

Within a few moments, Patch had nearly reached the top of the column just as his friends had finally slain the remaining harpy. The creature fell into the river and was quickly swept downriver. Seconds later, everyone saw the harpy’s lifeless body disappear over the waterfall.

With every ounce of strength he could muster, Patch pulled himself up and stood precariously on top of the iron sphere. He almost lost his balance when he made the mistake of looking down at the river, some thirty feet below him. Focusing on his balance, Patch unsheathed his sword and brought it down hard on the iron sphere he stood upon.

Jobek, safely on shore, shot but missed the sphere since he was trying to avoid hitting his friend, Patch. Luthan having awakened from the effects of sleep brought on by the ray that struck him earlier, shot and struck the sphere. At the same time, Monro moved his beacon of light and shone its radiant beam directly on top of the sphere. Although it seared the iron sphere, it did nothing but illuminate Patch on top of it. To the others, the elven fighter shone like some epic heroic figure from a chapter book they had read as children.

Orva, the gnome arcanist, shot a scintillating bolt at the eye, while Vyn threw his shield at it, leaving a dent on the sphere’s surface. Just as before, the shield boomeranged back to Vyn.

Suddenly, the eye beneath Patch began to glow brightly. The fighter knew what was going to happen next.

Keeping his grip on his sword which was deeply imbedded in the sphere, Patch leaned back as far as he could. He nearly slipped and fell when a brilliant shaft of light suddenly shot straight up—just missing him by mere inches!

Regaining his balance, Patch saw the others attack the sphere from where they stood at the river’s edge. Arrows and a wildly spinning shield whizzed past Patch and the sphere. Only Monro’s beacon of light damaged the eye as Patch planted his feet firmly on the sphere to keep his balance as the iron sphere spun beneath him to face his allies below.

A ray of light suddenly shot straight towards his friends. Fortunately the ray did not seem to have affected anyone.

This has to end now, Patch thought.

Pulling with all his might, Patch freed the sword from the sphere and then brought its sharp point straight down into it. The blade bit deep. Sparks flew as wires and oil-filled tubes were cut.

With a final twist of his blade, Patch destroyed the iron sphere.

Curios, Patch examined the eye. Using what knew of the arcane, he determined that the sphere was a magical construct, as he suspected. The etched runes that covered the sphere, and even the tubes inside, further indicated that the eye’s ray caused anyone struck by it to suffer effects from sleep-like magic.

Patch was just glad it was all over.

Below him, the others cheered in triumph at having successfully slain two harpies and a magical construct.

To Patch, it was just another day in the life of an adventurer.

**

Back on shore, everyone caught their breaths and congratulated everyone for fighting well. In particular, everyone praised Patch for his heroic act of climbing the stone column and destroying the iron sphere.

With the deadly encounter over, the group turned their attention to the building before them.

The wide building was stark-white in color. Symbols and words—or rather names were engraved onto its surface in a random pattern. Everyone noted that the names were all written in elven and were in fact, elven names.

As the group carefully scrutinized the names and symbols, a sudden and horrifying thought occurred to them.

“Are these—” Vyn began to ask.

“—gravestones?” Monro finished for the drow paladin of Mielikki. “Indeed, Vyn. I do believe they are.”

“By Moradin’s beard,” Jobek swore as he walked up to touch the structure. “The entire building is made up of gravestones mortared together. No dwarf would have built such a foul thing.”

“And no elf either, I can assure you.” Monro said.

“There must be hundreds of elven gravestones here.” Fredara said.

A sudden realization swept across the entire group. As one, they turned around and looked across the river to far side. There, they saw even larger structures built similarly with white elven gravestones. Thousands of gravestones. Enough to fill a cemetery the size of a town.

It seemed as though an entire cemetery had been turned into a madman’s architectural creation.

Turning back, the group walked to the closed wooden door that afforded entrance to the building. They found it unlocked. They walked in and saw that it was as strange inside as it was outside. Walls were built with sharp angles and curves that disappeared into shadowy recesses.

The sundial

Inside, the group saw a lit brazier suspended from the ceiling. It swung around like a pendulum above a sundial, and offered the only illumination in the otherwise dark interior.

The brazier’s oscillation caused the sundial’s shadow to move quickly across the hours carved into it. To the group, the rapidly moving shadows seemed to suggest that time was moving at a fast pace in the room.

The group suddenly heard a soft whimper come from around a nearby corner.

When they approached, they saw an eladrin woman manacled to the walls. She looked disheveled.

Chained woman

As the group approached, the woman leaned forward. “Oh please, help me!” she pleaded. “The others were captured and taken, while I was brought here instead. I’ve heard that I am to be sacrificed!” She began to cry for joy at the sight of her would-be rescuers.

“Who are you and what others?” Patch asked. He looked closely at the manacles that held the woman’s wrists closely together. Something about them looked odd to the fighter. To him, the manacles looked…fake.

“We were traveling through the woods when several strange flying creatures—women with wings like birds—swooped in and attacked us. One of my companions was killed, while the others ran. I ran for cover. I saw the others get snatched up and taken away.”

“So how did you come to be here?” Monro inquired.

Patch turned to the others. “My friends, let’s step to the side and discuss something before—”

The fighter didn’t get a chance to finish what he was saying.

Suddenly, the woman pulled her arms apart. The manacles easily snapped away from her wrists.

As the group stepped back, they were horrified to see the woman’s image transform before them. Her legs melted away to form hundreds of beetles that swarmed over each other. Her arm, too, became an appendage made up of hundreds of scuttling beetles.

The eladrin woman had become a thing straight out of their worst nightmare—a lamia.

Lamia


Continued in “The Garden of Graves” Part 2.


Adventurers:

Fredara, Jobek, Monro, Patch, and Vyn

Companions:

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

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"The Best Laid Plans"
Scourge of the Sunset Vale Arc

Eleint 8, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


The plan was simple enough.

But as the great dwarven writer from Luruar, Jonn Steinbeckoned, once wrote, “The best laid plans of mice or men can often go cockeyed.” And soon enough, the Company of the Siren’s Song was going to find out just how “cockeyed” things could get.

Everyone knew they were walking right into a trap.

But the plan was to spring the trap that Breeanan said was being laid for the adventurers. Everyone agreed to play along in the hopes that Vrikus, the ghoul lord, would free Breeanan and her daughter, Sahra, if she followed Vrikus’s command to lure the adventurers into the trap.

At least everyone hoped that Vrikus would keep his word.

**

The halfling ranger, Deb, along with Therand took a good look at the street they were all on.

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To them, it looked like a perfect place for an ambush. There was a small tunnel entrance on the east-side of the street just before where the street suddenly disappeared into the center of town—or rather what was left of the center of town. The tunnel, based on how it connected a tower and a house, suggested that it may serve as an entrance to a courtyard or may lead to another street.

At the end of the street to the north stood a large two-story building. The sign in front of it—that of an earth elemental holding a foaming mug of ale—proclaimed it as The Stone Brewery. Everyone immediately remembered the fine ale—The Defiant Bastard’s Ale—that was brewed from The Stone Brewery and was then exported to many places across the Realms, including the town of Bear’s Head.

Meanwhile, a single-story building, Hluthvar Merchants’ Guild Hall—as the sign above its door indicated—cordoned off the street to the west.

Just as they saw earlier, the town’s center which they suspected served as a marketplace or an area for gathering and hearing the latest news in the Vale, had long ago sunk into the ground. Now, a large gaping hole dominated the center of Hluthvar.

From about a block away, everyone could see that the hole was at least twenty feet deep and very wide—perhaps nearly a hundred feet judging from what they could see of the northern part of town. There, they spotted other buildings—homes and businesses—standing precariously at the pit’s edge.

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While the others walked towards the pit’s edge, Deb and Therand stealthily made their way down a narrow street to the east. The halfling went around a large building and squeezed his way through a narrow gap between the building and an adjacent house. There, he stopped and peeked around a corner. He saw a small courtyard. He could also see the tunnel entrance and the street beyond where his fellow adventurers were. A small pine tree stood in the courtyard’s center. He carefully scanned the courtyard and the surrounding rooftops.

He spotted four ghouls. Three were laying flat on rooftops, while one was crouched in the shadows above the tunnel entrance overlooking the street below. He then heard movement above. He realized a fifth ghoul was on the roof above him.

It was a perfect place for an ambush!

Deb held his right hand, palm up, behind him. Therand came around the corner and saw the halfling. He also saw Deb’s signal for him to stop.

Meanwhile, back in the street where the others were, Breeanan ran ahead of the rest of the group as they kept walking. Everyone’s weapons were drawn, ready for anything. All looked around—carefully scanning rooftops, hidden niches, and shadowy doorways where a ghoul could lay in wait. The early morning shadows afforded impossibly dark areas where ghouls can easily hide.

Caldreas, the eladrin mage, made his way forward. He stopped by a horse that lay dead on the street. Its belly was torn open; it’s innards were spilled out and was torn in pieces. It looked to Caldreas like it had been dead nearly two tendays. He continued to look around, paying careful attention to the shadowy areas where he suspected ghouls would be hiding.

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It was then that he spotted nearly a dozen ghouls above them, on rooftops on either side of the street and on top of the brewery.

Their group was surrounded!

As one, all the ghouls came out of hiding. They bared their fangs and growled at the adventurers as they leaped upon the adventurers.

Everyone found themselves fighting a ghoul. No one was spared the horrific onslaught from the undead.

Lo-kag, the barbarian from the Sunset Mountains, reacted quickly. He sliced at an incoming ghoul. The other hurled itself at him from a nearby rooftop. Fortunately, it missed him, instead landing next to the goliath. The ghoul hissed in anger, its tongue lolling out as if trying to taste the goliath’s flesh.

Ang fared the worst. He quickly found himself surrounded by several ghouls. Two had knocked him to the ground and were clawing at him. He desperately tried to fend them off.

The soldiers from Darkhold, Taerin and Leoneiros, tried to hold out against the ghouls’ attacks. Two teamed up against one ghoul while Winslow, the paladin of Amaunator, was busy fending off a ghoul on his own. From where they fought, they saw Ang fall and was immediately surrounded by a throng of undead intent on feasting on him.

Caldreas immediately let loose a fireball at the ghouls attacking Ang. He aimed it at a spot that would ensure that the elf would not be harmed by the spell’s deadly burst.

Meanwhile, as the ghouls from the courtyard made their attacks against the others, Deb fired at the tower’s front door. His arrows struck the door’s hinges and broke down the door. The halfling ranger, with Therand following close behind, dashed for the doorway and quickly entered the tower. He found himself standing in a small living room. Nearby, he saw stairs leading up and quickly ran up the stairs. Therand entered the tower and followed after Deb.

On the tower’s second floor, Deb entered a bedroom and quickly made his way to the window overlooking the street where his comrades where fighting for their lives. “Therand, make your way to the next floor!”, Deb yelled.

Therand ran past, running up to the third floor. He pushed open a door and found himself in a study or a library. Various books and scrolls of all sizes filled shelves or were strewn about on the floor. Therand quickly made his way to a nearby window. He opened it and looked down at the carnage below. “I’m in position,” he yelled down to where Deb was. “Let’s rain death down upon these ghouls!”

Deb smiled. Both he and Therand let loose a volley of death upon the unsuspecting ghouls below.

Lo-kag held his own against the two ghouls in front of him. He struck one in the leg, nearly severing the creature’s leg off. Not stopping, the goliath struck the other ghoul as well.

From the other side of the street, Taerin, screams in pain as a ghoul clawed at him, while nearby, a ghoul was busy trying to get through Caldreas’s defensive spells without any success.

Lying on the ground, Ang swung his weapon in a deadly arc that struck at every ghoul surrounding him. Unfortunately, his strikes weren’t enough to drop any of them. Suddenly Ang screamed. He felt an intense surge of pain as a ghoul bit down hard on his ankle. He felt the thing’s sharp fangs tear through leather and skin, finally stopping at his bone. He screamed again as another ghoul bore down upon him, biting off a chunk of flesh from his leg. The world began to spin as intense pain wracked his body and threatened to overwhelm him.

Caldreas, unscathed, casted a spell at three nearby ghouls. Mirrors suddenly appeared in front of them. Runes of magic flowed through the mirrors’ reflective surfaces. Three ghouls found themselves staring at the mirrors as intense pain assaulted their will. To the mage, he knew his spell had forced the ghouls to see themselves in a maze of mirrors, desperately and painfully trying to find their way out.

From the nearby tower’s second-story window, Deb continued to shoot at the ghouls surrounding Ang who was still being pinned down by two ghouls. Unbelievably, Deb saw the elf desperately trying to attack the ghouls on him, even managing to kill a ghoul. Deb also spotted Winslow who was only a few strides from the fallen elf. The paladin was too busy fighting a ghoul, which had just struck him, to offer any assistance. If only someone—like Lo-kag—could get to Ang, he thought. Perhaps then, Ang may have a chance.

Then Deb saw something that he couldn’t believe was happening.

He saw Lo-kag suddenly stop fighting. Deb saw the goliath run past a ghoul that clawed at him. Lo-kag ignored the ghoul’s attack and sprinted down the street towards the center of Hluthvar. What he saw next was beyond belief. As soon as Lo-kag reached the pit’s edge, he leaped through the air and fell into the pit, disappearing out of sight.

“Did you see that?” Therand yelled from above. “What in the Nine Hells is going on?”

Deb couldn’t even begin to explain what he had just witnessed.

In the streets below, the battle raged on. Everyone was fighting for their lives.

A final scream from the critically wounded Ang echoed in the street. The smell of blood drove the remaining ghouls into a frenzy. Some, like the one on Winslow, desperately tried to get at the fallen elf. Winslow struck at the creature, nearly severing its arm off, but the creature—drooling in hunger—leaped upon the mortally wounded elf on the ground.

Ang’s dying scream was drowned out as the feral ghouls feasted upon his elven flesh.

Another terrified scream tore through the street as Arroway, who moments before was helping Lo-kag suddenly found himself face-to-face with two ghouls.

Below, in the pit, Lo-kag found himself lying on top of a dead horse. He was in pain. He cleared his head and tried to recall what had happened.

He remembered hearing a voice whispering in his ear. He realized it was the enchanted helm he wore. It had been quiet for so long that he almost forgot it was sentient. The helm had served him well in many battles since he acquired it. The silver helm had glowing red tracery amid silver filigree. As Lo-kag moved his head, the red glow flowed through the tracery as if it were liquid.

He also knew it had a darker side to it. He vividly remembered hearing of mysterious fires that destroyed homes and businesses wherever he had traveled in the past. It was only after he left those places that the dreams came to him. In his dreams, he saw himself standing in front of a house while it burned. A sense of satisfaction and pride filled those disturbing dreams each time. He always wondered if somehow, he had caused the mysterious fires, but the helm was strangely silent about such things when he asked it.

No one suspected Lo-kag of any wrongdoings, but his friends noticed how he seemed obsessed with the helm. Some wondered if it were a cursed thing. And despite urges and pleas from his fellow adventurers, Lo-kag would not part with the helm. It strengthened his attacks and even caused psychic pain on his enemies. To the goliath, the helm was a part of what made him deadly. And he wasn’t about to let anyone change that.

Why did you do that? Lo-kag whispered to his helm. Why did you take me out of battle? You just jeopardized my friends.

The helm’s whispered response was cold and without remorse. I just wanted to see how well your friends could fight without you, that’s all. Don’t worry. It they are truly your friends, they’ll forgive you. Now pay attention! We may not be alone down here.

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Sure enough, the helm was right. A loud, low moan caught the goliath’s attention. Looking up from where he lay on top of the horse, Lo-kag saw a hulking shape coming at him. The creature resembled an overly bloated man with pieces of fatty flesh still clinging to it. It lumbered as it ran to him.

Instead of getting up, Lo-kag waited for the zombie to come to him.

He attacked it as soon as it came to within striking distance. Despite fighting from the ground, Lo-kag struck a serious blow to the creature.

The undead monstrosity struck back hard, slamming both of its fists into the goliath. Already hurt by the fall, Lo-kag was reeling in pain as the creature tried to slam him again. Fortunately, it missed.

Back up on the street, Caldreas, free of any ghouls upon him, ran to where the street had fallen into the pit. He saw Lo-kag below, some distance away. A zombie of some sort was attacking the barbarian. Immediately, the mage brought a spell to mind.

A shimmering gate formed of arcane magic appeared next to the prone goliath. A second gate appeared a few feet from Caldreas. “Lo-kag!” Caldreas yelled. “Enter the gate and it will bring you back up here.”

Meanwhile, the battle on the street behind Caldreas was coming to an end. Former Zhentarim soldiers and members of the Company of the Siren’s Song fought with tenacity, despite having lost two of their own.

Deb, from his window, yelled for everyone to retreat as the last ghoul was slain. People were hurt, and two had died. The others quickly helped drag the dead bodies of Ang and Arroway back to the jailhouse.

Both Deb and Therand went to rejoin the others.

Caldreas ran past Deb as Lo-kag emerged out of the arcane gate. The gate disappeared a second later.

With everyone safely making their way back to the jailhouse, Deb made his way to the pit’s edge. He spotted the zombie-thing below. He took shots at it. Within moments, it was on the ground—having been slain by the ranger’s deadly barrage.

Before Deb left to rejoin the others, he yelled a curse at Breeanan whom he figured entered Vrikus’s lair somewhere below. He cursed her out loud for leading them into a trap. He cursed Vrikus too.

He hoped the ruse would be enough to help Breeanan get her daughter back.

**

Inside the jailhouse, everyone tried to catch their breaths and heal themselves.

After, everyone immediately began arguing with Lo-kag about what happened. During the argument, they overheard Lo-kag talking to no one in particular, but they soon suspected he was talking to the helm.

Lo-kag, after hearing the helm whisper an apology and a promise not to do it again, defended his actions and told the others not to worry about him nor the helm. The others weren’t entirely convinced.

Meanwhile, as Winslow was trying to determine what happens to those slain by ghouls, the answer became obvious.

Ang—or rather what was Ang—let out a feral growl as it tried to grab at Winslow. The ghoul that was Arroway also attacked. The others quickly engaged the two ghouls.

The battle was fast and furious. Deb had slain Ang/ghoul with a well-placed arrow to its head, while Leoneiros destroyed Arroway/ghoul with his longsword.

As what remained of the group surrounded their fallen comrades, everyone became sadly aware of the reality of what had just happened—especially those from the Company of the Siren’s Song.

They had just lost their dear friend, Ang…forever.


Adventurers:

The Company of the Siren’s Song: Winslow, Ang, Lo-kag, Deb, Caldreas, and Therand

NOTE: At the end of this gaming session, our campaign lost one of our original characters, Ang.

Arroway, the former Zhentarim soldier was also lost. Both were slain by ghouls during the deadly encounter, became ghouls after and attacked the group. The others had no choice but to slay them.

We mourn the loss of Ang, one of LotR’s finest character. Read about his great legacy that goes back to, What Transpired Before the Spellplague.

Ang’s presence in the campaign will be sadly missed.

Companions:

Breeanan (citizen of Hluthvar), Taerin, Leoneiros, and Arroway (former Zhentarim soldiers)

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"A Matter of Trust"
Scourge of the Sunset Vale Arc

Eleint 8, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


A terrified scream tore through the silence that shrouded the town of Hluthvar like a veil.

On the tower’s rooftop, Deb looked down and saw a solitary figure—a human woman—running in terror. She was running down one of the dirt streets that made up one of several “spokes” that formed the wheel-shaped town of Hluthvar.

Below, the others had just finished preparing themselves for the day when they heard the scream outside. Immediately, weapons were drawn. Everyone rushed outside while Therand ran upstairs to join Deb.

Deb quickly scanned the surrounding area near the tower just as Therand made it to the top. Two miles to the southeast, Deb could still see the large murder of crows circling above the road that led south to Asbravn. He had seen them earlier, while the sun’s rays were still barely peeking over the Sunset Mountains to the east.

That was nearly an hour ago. The crows were still there and he didn’t like the looks of it.

“What do you make of it?” Therand asked. He too, looked around to make sure there were no other unexpected encounters.

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“Not sure, but it can’t be good.” Deb said as he turned his attention back to the woman running frantically down the street below. She looked like she came from the direction of the town’s center. From his vantage point, he could make out the large gaping chasm that was left of what was once the town’s center.

When he first saw it yesterday from an upper-story window in the jailhouse, he couldn’t believe what he saw. It looked like the center of town had been swallowed up by a gaping hole. What was left of a large building—either a temple or a fortress—had fallen into the chasm. Other buildings nearby seemed to have faired better, though many stood precariously at the chasm’s edge.

“Look, there!” Therand said, pointing to an area behind the woman.

Deb looked and spotted four ghouls gaining ground on the woman. They were chasing her like wolves on a hunt for a fresh meal.

The ghouls were fast. Like those they’ve fought since they arrived in Hluthvar, these ghouls were leaping from rooftop to rooftop. The closest one was running on the roof of a long building.

Deb knew it would only be a matter of seconds before the creature would leap upon the woman below it, so he took aim and fired.

The ghoul’s leg nearly buckled as Deb’s arrow buried itself deep into its thigh. A quick second shot also tore clean through the leg of another ghoul on the street just below the first one. Both shots did what Deb expected them to. The ghouls suddenly slowed down to barely a limp.

For the moment, the woman seemed safe.

Suddenly, he and Therand both heard the woman scream again as she looked back and spotted two more ghouls quickly making their way towards her.

Therand saw a ghoul leap on top of the roof of a nearby building that may have served to store supplies for the town. It quickly sprinted across the roof. Then, incredibly, it leaped and cleared over twenty feet to land on the edge of a house’s rooftop.

Therand fired his bow and struck the creature just as it landed. Quickly knocking another arrow, Therand fired again. His arrow pierced the creature’s arm, nearly severing it at the elbow.

Lo-kag, along with Ang, ran in the direction of the woman.

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Winslow and Caldreas were also making their way towards the woman when they spotted two ghouls nearby. One was on top of a roof. The other was on the ground, running faster than any humanoid possibly could.

Caldreas quickly brought a spell to mind and cast it on the ghoul on the roof. The spell broke through the undead’s mental defense, forcing it to imagine its worst fear. It clutched its head, then shrieked in terror as if some imagined assailant was attacking it.

Deb, having trained well in coordinating his attacks with those of his allies, saw an opportunity and shot the ghoul Caldreas had just casted a spell against.

Without skipping a beat, Caldreas then shot and struck the same undead with a well-placed magic missile to the thing’s head destroying it instantly.

Meanwhile, the woman ran past Ang who just made it to the street. He saw the two ghouls far behind her, limping along, desperately trying to catch up to their prey.

The woman ran up to Lo-kag and Winslow. Both noticed that she was human, perhaps in her mid-twenties. She was disheveled and looked as though she hadn’t eaten for days. Under normal circumstances, Winslow thought she might have been quite attractive to gaze upon. He mentally thanked the fact that Amanautor’s order had no restrictions regarding celibacy—although being a noble of Cormyr meant that he should take a bride from the other noble families and not marry beneath his station.

“Please,” the woman screamed in shear terror. She began to sob uncontrollably. “Help me!”

Lo-kag ran towards the street where Ang stood. Together they formed an impenetrable wall of death no undead could pass without being torn to pieces.

“Do not fear, Goodwoman,” Winslow said with a gallant nod. “You are now safe. I am Sir Winslow Crestkeeper the Third, noble of Cormyr. Upon my word, I will protect you or die trying.”

The woman—if she even heard the paladin—didn’t slow down, instead running towards the safety of the nearby tower.

Back on top of the tower, Deb saw the fourth ghoul quickly making its way towards where Winslow was standing. He wasn’t sure if the paladin had spotted it. Nevertheless, he took aim and fired, striking the creature in the leg and slowing it down.

Ang and Lo-kag both stood their ground waiting for the two ghouls farther down the street to make their way towards them both.

Caldreas, seeing the undead thing rushing towards Winslow, shot it with a magic missile. The spell blew out a chunk of flesh from its shoulder but it hardly reacted to the attack.

The first two ghouls, the one on the rooftop and the other one on the street, picked up speed as they made their way towards the awaiting barbarian and fighter. The one on the rooftop reached the edge of the roof and launched itself at Ang some thirty feet away. Ang anticipated the attack and was ready to confront the foul undead.

The attack never happened.

Ang heard a loud WOOSH, followed by the wet sound of a body slamming into the ground in front of him. Ang blinked in disbelief. The ghoul, which moments before was hurtling through the air at him, was lying on the ground—in two pieces. Apparently, Lo-kag had stepped up next to him a second before and with a powerful swing, had cleaved the ghoul in two while it was in midair.

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The other ghoul, just a short distance away, saw what happened. Rather than confront the two deadly foes before it, the ghoul turned and noticed the lone paladin standing just on the other side of a stone wall that ran the length of the street.

It leaped, easily clearing the stone wall. It landed on the other side and leaped again straight at Winslow. The paladin tried to block the incoming ghoul with his shield but the full weight of the undead struck his shield with enough force to knock him down. His head struck the ground hard, while his shield arm went limp.

Winslow felt as if his chest was on fire. Blood—his own—splattered against his face as the ghoul clawed at his chest tearing through magical links as if they were made of paper. Bleeding profusely, Winslow fought to keep conscious as the intense pain threatened to overcome him.

Deb was quick to react. As soon as he saw the ghoul on top of Winslow, he pulled back his bowstring with all the strength he could muster. He then let loose an arrow that struck the undead in the leg, striking it with enough force to throw it off of the wounded paladin.

Therand followed suit, striking the undead with an arrow that tore a hole through its chest. It fell to the ground and never got back up again.

Caldreas walked up to Winslow and helped him to stand back up. Winslow thanked the wizard then proceded to walk towards the remaining ghoul.

The last ghoul hissed in anger at the sight of the paladin coming at it. It crouched on all fours, like some wild animal ready to pounce on its next meal. With a feral growl, it leaped straight for the paladin—its clawed hands outstretched in front of it.

It never reached the paladin.

Deb, who had momentarily lost sight of the last ghoul behind a small cottage, kept his bow aimed at where he suspected the ghoul would be. He saw Winslow move in the direction where he last saw the undead thing. Trusting his instincts, he never took his eyes off of the paladin.

As soon as he saw the ghoul come into view, he took his shot. His arrow took flight and sped towards his target.

Winslow, with his shield before him, raised his sword and was ready to strike down the ghoul leaping at him. But before he could attack, the ghoul was suddenly struck by an arrow that zipped past his left ear, burying itself in the thing’s leg and knocking it down to the ground.

The paladin knew the ghoul was dead…again. He hoped it would stay that way. He then turned and looked back at Deb, who was barely visible on the top of the tower behind him. He saluted the ranger in gratitude.

**

With the battle won, everyone regrouped inside the tower. Winslow healed himself and thanked Amaunator in prayer. However, he wished his god could grant him the healing power to do more. If only he could heal the zombie plague that may, at that moment, be coursing through his body. Winslow knew that only time would tell—a full day, in fact—whether or not he had contracted the disease.

The group then questioned the woman who said her name was Breeanan, a citizen of Hluthvar. She said that she believed she may be the only survivor left in Hluthvar.

Months ago it seemed, Zhentarim soldier attacked the town. Many died defending the town but in the end, Hluthvar fell to the invaders who came from the direction of Darkhold, a known stronghold of the Black Network. Though many in Hluthvar were taken prisoner and marched off to Darkhold, many were also kept prisoners in town.

Breeanan then spoke of how nearly two tendays ago, she and her daughter Sahra awoke one night to the screams of Zhentarim soldiers. Looking out from her home, where she and her daughter were allowed by the Zhentarims to continue living, she was horrified to see a horde of undead attacking every Zhentarim in sight. The ghouls didn’t spare anyone, attacking Zhentarims and Hlutvarian citizens alike.

For almost three days, the screams continued. Then suddenly it stopped. For almost a full day, she and Sahra continued to hide in the root cellar of her house. She was too afraid to even peek outside to see if it was safe enough for the two of them to escape. Eventually, when they both felt safe enough to come out of hiding, they made their way through the town, hiding whenever they saw signs of undead nearby. Eventually, they were captured by several ghouls. She feared the worst but was instead taken back to the lair of the ghouls’ master—Vrikus.

Vrikus’s lair was what remained of The Halls of Justice, the town’s only temple and one built for the worship of Bahamut, the dragon-god of justice. The temple had collapsed into a massive sinkhole that appeared under the town’s center soon after the undead horde’s attack.

In Vrikus’s lair, Breeanan said she and her daughter were held prisoner, but for how long she didn’t know. But by Bahamut’s blessings, she managed to escape when…

As everyone listened to the woman, Lo-kag became suspicious of how calmly Breeanan was telling the others what had happened. To Lo-kag, her story seemed scripted— or rehearsed. He looked at everyone else and noted how Caldreas too, seemed suspicious of the woman’s tale.

Lo-kag had had enough.

He walked to Breeanan and stood in front of her. He towered over her. “Your story reeks of lies, woman!” Lo-kag said with a tone that could have stopped an owlbear in its tracks.

The intimidating sight of the armored goliath in front of Breeanan was too much for her. Breeanan’s lips trembled in fear. She then burst into tears and collapsed to her knees.

“I’m sorry…I’m so sorry,” the woman said as she continued to cry uncontrollably. “You’re right. I haven’t been honest with all of you!”

Winslow tried to comfort the grieving woman. “Speak, Goodwoman,” Winslow said. “Speak truth, and you will find us more than capable of helping.”

Breeanan went on to confess that she was sent by Vrikus to lure the adventurers out of the tower and back to the ghoul lord’s lair. The ghouls chasing her were not going to harm her but were commanded by Vrikus only make her plight all the more convincing.

“What about your daughter Sahra?” Ang asked. “Did you make her up?”

“No! By Bahamut’s blood, no.”

“Then where is she?” Deb asked.

“And no more lies,” Caldreas added. “If we are to help you, then we must be able to trust you.”

Breeanan told about how she and her daughter were captured by ghouls and brought before Vrikus. The ghoul lord held them both hostage for days, threatening to turn them into foul undead servants who would do his bidding for all eternity. But the arrival of the adventurers changed everything. Vrikus sent ghouls to feast upon the newcomers, or turn them into undead. But the ghoul lord didn’t expect the adventurers to be as skilled as they were.

So, instead, Vrikus sent Breeanan as bait to lure them back to his lair. To ensure that Breeanan would do as commanded, Vrikus kept Sahra locked up in a small cage near him promising to personally slay the young girl if she failed in her task.

The group was sickened by what they had heard, but no one doubted the woman this time.

“Breeanan,” Winslow said. “Your plight is now our cause. As a paladin of the Keeper of the Sun, my sword now serves you. You will soon be safely reunited with your daughter. This I swear.”

“How many ghouls are there?” Deb asked.

“There are more than I count,” Breeanan replied. “Although I overheard Vrikus ordering another ghoul to send one hundred ghouls towards Darkhold.”

Therand couldn’t believe how many ghouls there were in Hluthvar. “What we need now is a plan.”

Deb turned to his friends. “I have an idea.”

Everyone gathered in a circle and listened to the halfling outline his plan.

It sounded simple enough. Since Vrikus expected Breeanan to lead them into a trap, that was exactly what they were going to do. Walk into a trap.

They would follow Breeanan into the edge of the pit at the center of town. Once there, the ghouls that lay in ambush—nearly a dozen as the woman claimed—would attack. The adventurers would then lead the ghouls away from the pit, towards the tower, and fight them there. Meanwhile, Breeanan would return to Vrikus and ask for her daughter’s freedom—as the ghoul lord had promised. Once her daughter was safely with her, Breeanan would flee back to the tower to rejoin the others.

Winslow questioned whether or not Vrikus would keep his word—considering his being an undead. No one knew for certain but hoped he would keep his word to the woman.

“We are sorely outnumbered,” Winslow warned. “But I have a suggestion. We speak to the Zhentarim prisoners. Give them the opportunity to fight for their freedom.”

Deb was catching on. “That is the best idea you’ve ever had!” Deb said.

Winslow smiled.

The group then made their way back to the jailhouse and freed the three Zhentarim soldiers. They offered them a proposition. If they were to fight alongside the adventurers, they would earn their freedom. Although, they were warned not to head to Darkhold because of the horde of undead that they knew were probably already terrorizing the dark stronghold.

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The Zhentarims were willing to give up being soldiers for the Black Network if they could have equal share of any treasures found. Everyone agreed to their request. Some even offered to pay them in gold if they gave up their evil ways as Zhentarim soldiers.

Winslow went further by offering the three soldiers full pardons by the crown of Cormyr if they returned with him to the Forest Kingdom. There, he said, they could live their lives as free men or perhaps even serve in the King’s army if they were deemed trustworthy.

The soldiers were open to all of their suggestions.

The Zhentarim soldiers were given back their shields and swords, but not their crossbows. Those, the group agreed, would be returned when their mission was complete. They were also warned that any treachery on their part would be met with a swift and deadly response. The soldiers, who said their names were Taerin, Leoneiros, and Arroway, knew that the skilled adventurers could easily carry out their threats.

So, with the group now stronger by three, they gathered their equipment. With Breeanan leading the way as planned, they all followed her towards the center of Hluthvar.

Everyone knew they were walking right into a deadly trap.


Adventurers:

Winslow, Ang, Lo-kag, Deb, Caldreas, Therand

Companions:

Breeanan (citizen of Hluthvar), Taerin, Leoneiros, and Arroway (former Zhentarim soldiers)

View
"The Jailhouse"
Scourge of the Sunset Vale Arc

Eleint 6-7, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


Lo-kag felt a drop of saliva land on his shoulder.

When he looked up, the ghoul was already leaping at him from the ceiling! The goliath stepped to the side, avoiding a sweeping claw that came dangerously close. The undead landed next to him. It hissed in anger, baring its sharp blood-stained fangs.

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At the other side of the room, another ghoul leaped away from a corner in the ceiling. It hurled itself at Winslow, striking the surprised paladin with its full weight. The two fell on the floor with the ghoul landing on top of Winslow. It clawed at Winslow’s arm, causing him to scream in pain.

Outside, Ang saw the ghoul on top of the paladin. Both were just inside the doorframe leading into the jailhouse.

Although the doorframe partially obscured the ghoul, the elf took out a handaxe and threw it at the ghoul, striking its arm.

Deb moved next. He quickly aimed his bow and fired. His arrow tore into the undead’s leg, its impact sending the ghoul sprawling back against the wall behind it. For the moment, Winslow was safe.

The ghoul in front of Lo-kag tried to attack him. He swatted the ghoul’s arm away with his weapon.

With the ghoul off of him, Winslow got back up and prepared to face the unholy creature before him.

Despite its wounds, the ghoul came at the paladin to claw him in the leg. With the pain threatening to overcome him, Winslow cut the ghoul across its chest with his Vicious longsword—an enchanted weapon the group recently acquired from the slain Zhentarim sergeant, Petrus. The ghoul howled in pain as thick, oily black blood poured out of its gaping wound.

Ang and Lo-kag, meanwhile, were also busy fighting the ghoul in front of them. Wounded by attacks from the elf and the goliath, the ghoul went on the defensive. It took a step into the room behind it. It then jumped onto the nearby wall and scampered like a spider onto the ceiling.

Lo-kag kicked the door open and followed the undead into the room. Caldreas also followed the undead in. They both looked up at the ceiling and saw the ghoul. It roared in anger then leaped towards a nearby door which led outside. With a loud crash, the ghoul burst through the door. It landed on all fours just outside and was ready to escape when a magic missile tore through its chest destroying it instantly.

“Nice work Caldreas,” Lo-kag said to the mage standing next to him.

Ang looked back to where Winslow and the other ghoul were still locked in battle. Just as Winslow was about to attack, the ghoul suddenly fell over having bled out from the deadly wound it had sustained earlier.

With both ghouls destroyed, everyone regrouped.

Winslow said a silent prayer to Amaunator and healed his wound, though he suspect that the ghoul’s attack may have infected him with the zombie plague. Only time would tell for sure whether his system can resist the plague’s deadly effects or if he would need Caldreas to use one of his Cure Disease scrolls on him.

Lo-kag slowly started going down the stairs. He suspected it led to the jailhouse’s cells. Thanks to the darkvision Deb conferred upon everyone before they entered the jailhouse, the goliath was able to see in the dark as he made his way downstairs.

Everyone else followed while Deb and Winslow went back outside to watch over the captured Zhentarim soldiers.

Dungeon cells 2
Downstairs, the group ran into two more ghouls. However these ghouls were different from the others they had been fighting since they had arrived in Hluthvar. These were slightly weaker but reeked even more so than the others—if such a thing was possible. The adventurers were barely able to keep themselves focused on the fight due to the powerful stench that seemed to surround the ghouls like an aura.

They also came upon a swarm of undead rats that poured out of a storage room they found.

The battle against the ghouls and the undead rats was quickly won but not before Ang was wounded by one of the ghouls. Caldreas also nearly fell into a gaping hole that suddenly opened under the mage as he stood near one cell. Except for the mutilated remains of one prisoner, there were no signs of any survivors Matteas said were still trapped in the jailhouse.

They searched the jail cells but didn’t find anything. The hole on the floor appeared to drop into a tunnel that curved to the north and south. The group decided against investigating the tunnels for now.

Back upstairs, Winslow and Deb searched the rest of the jailhouse with their prisoners in tow. The soldiers’ hands were bound and they were all tied together, so Deb was confident they wouldn’t be able to escape. Besides, he knew he could kill them with his arrows if they even considered such a foolish action.

When everyone was back in the jailhouse’s main room, Deb searched the desk in the room. In it, he found a set of keys which opened all of the cell doors. He also discovered several bottles labeled Potion of Healing, an enchanted hand crossbow, and a pair of magical iron-plated gauntlets which were constantly trailing wisps of smoke.

In the end, everyone decided to lock up the Zhentarim soldiers in the jailhouse. They promised to bring food and water on a daily basis for the prisoners while they decide what to do with them.

Everyone then went back to the tower and rested for the remainder of the day. Fortunately, both Ang and Winslow were able to stave off any effects that may have been brought on by the ghouls’ attacks.


Adventurers:

Winslow, Ang, Lo-kag, Deb, Caldreas

Treasure:

7 Potions of Healing; Magic hand crossbow +2; a pair of Burning Gauntlets (lvl 6, AV, p132)

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"Attack of the Zhentarims"
Scourge of the Sunset Vale Arc

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.

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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.

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“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?”

“What?”

“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”


Adventurers:

Winslow, Ang, Lo-kag, Deb, Caldreas, Therand

Treasure:

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.

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"Hluthvar"
Scourge of the Sunset Vale Arc

Eleint 4-5, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


After two days of trekking through the Sunset Vale, the adventurers from Bear’s Head stood before the gates of Hluthvar. There was only over an hour of daylight remaining.

The escaped prisoner, Matteas, had led them here. Everyone recalled how he somehow managed to escape the town’s local jail in the dead of night. He said that the entire town had been captured by Zhentarim soldiers from Darkhold. Matteas also claimed that he heard horrific screams everywhere as he made his way out of Hluthvar and headed south in the Sunset Vale.

It was quiet and although there were no signs of life, everyone couldn’t shake the strange feeling of being watched. Crows perched menacingly atop the wall seemed to be staring at the group—or perhaps warning the group of impending danger.

The adventurers noticed that one of the town’s gate was left wide open revealing a dirt road that led deeper into the town beyond. As a light breeze blew in from the north, the group caught the scent of something dead and rotting.

But before you anyone can react, the dozen or more crows all around suddenly took to flight. Immediately, several holes appeared on the ground, sending clods of earth flying in all direction. From these holes, insect-like creatures emerged. Each had a long, thin body, roughly three or so feet long with a serrated spine and chitin the color of metal. The creatures had razor sharp teeth and a pair of mandibles that clicked menacingly at the group.

The group was surrounded.

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Not missing a moment, Ang launched an attack against a nearby creature he recognized as a kruthik—ferocious reptilian, not insect, creatures that dwell in carved-out hives beneath the surface. Although known to exist in isolated hives across the Vale, kruthiks tended to remain underground rarely raiding the world above.

“Why are these kruthiks aboveground?” Caldreas, also recognizing the creatures, asked.

“Something must have driven them to the surface,” Deb responded as the halfling quickly made his way to Hluthvar’s wall, easily scaling it to perch himself on top. He was aware that kruthiks do prefer to live and hunt below the surface, venturing to the surface only on occasion and usually when food was scarse underground.

“Makes sense,” Lo-kag added. “In my village, I remember a kruthik attack that came after a tribe of troglodytes forced the kruthiks out of their lair. A war party from our village later found the lair and killed every one of the troglodytes.”

“Whatever these things are, they look hungry and very angry.” Winslow said as he moved to put himself between two kruthiks and Matteas.

Both reptiles launched a volley of poison spikes that struck Winslow. Bloodied, the paladin of Amanautor uttered a prayer to the sun god as he healed himself. Behind him, he heard Matteas cry out in pain as several spikes tore through his legs.

Lo-kag faced off with two kruthiks of his own while Deb, from on top of the wall, launched a deadly barrage of arrows upon any nearby unfortunate kruthiks.

And so the battle went on between the adventurers and the kruthiks. For several breaths, both sides fought ferociously. In the end, not one kruthik was spared despite one managing to crawl back down the hole it came out of. Ang struck a solid blow to its thorax or midsection causing a gaping wound to open. The fighter knew the kruthik would have to have the wound healed magically or bleed to death. The kruthik did not make it far down a carved out tunnel before it did bleed to death.

Unfortunately, Matteas was not spared. He died from wounds he suffered from the deadly spikes and the poison they injected into his body.

“We’re not alone!” Deb yelled from his vantage point atop the town’s curving walls. “I saw something fly or leap from the burned-out building to the nearby roof of the bakery—and it’s still there.”

Caldreas looked at the direction the halfling ranger was pointing to. There, on top of the roof, the Eladrin arcanist spotted a figure clinging to the bakery’s second-story roof garden. The figure had pallid skin and wore remnants of scale armor and a tattered cloak. It was also trying to hide. Caldreas recalled seeing a creature similar to what he was looking at.

“It’s a ghoul!” Caldreas yelled to the others.

Immediately, the ghoul came out from hiding and—to the amazement of the adventurers—pushed off the bakery’s roof and leaped towards a nearby tall building that resembled a wizard’s tower.

But Deb was quick to react. Leading the ghoul, the ranger let fly two quick shots that found their target. One arrow struck the ghoul in the arm, while the second shot buried itself in the ghoul’s leg and spun the ghoul in midair. Unbalanced, the undead fell to the ground crashing on top of thick thorny bushes nearly fifty feet below. Surprisingly, the ghoul wasn’t slain yet. It stood up, snapped it’s dislocated arm back into place and emitted a guttural scream at the halfling.

Meanwhile, the others quickly entered through the open gate. Inside, The streets of Hluthvar was deserted. There were no signs of life anywhere. Doors into homes and trade shops were left wide open. An abandoned wagon was visible further down towards the town’s center. A decomposing horse lay on the ground in front of the wagon, its belly torn open and its guts missing. The horse was still harnessed to the wagon.

It looked as though every living soul in the small town had simply vanished without a trace.

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The group heard a loud crash coming from a nearby building, still slightly smoldering from having recently burned. What may have been an inn now sat in smoldering ruin. A charred sign still hung above a burned doorframe. Barely legible, the group could still make out the words, “Watchful Eye”.

“Ghouls! Come out and face your destruction.” Lo-kag bellowed a defiant challenge at the top of his lungs.

This town is ours! It belongs to the master.” The group noted that the voice was coming from somewhere inside the upper story of the burned inn.

Lo-kag pointed in the direction of the inn. “Then tell your master we’re here to take it away from him!”

Just then, several ghouls emerged from where they hid atop nearby buildings. Down one street, the group spotted a ghoul emerge from the balcony of a large weaver’s shop. On top of a two-story building with a sign proclaiming it as the town’s jail, two ghouls showed themselves and growled threateningly at the group. While another stood upon the rooftop of the burned inn.

“Brothers,” the ghoul on top of the inn said. “it’s time to feast!”

As one, the ghouls bounded across rooftops intent on slaying the adventurers. Caldreas used a spell against the ghoul on top of the inn, pulling it down onto the street below. The ghoul landed hard. Lo-kag immediately was on it with his deadly weapon. In vain, the ghoul tried to fend off the attack only to have its fingers lopped off by Lo-kag’s deadly blade.

Winslow, remembering the crossbow he left in the saddlebag of his mount, Valiant, ran back out to retrieve it.

Nearby, a ghoul clambered down onto the ground from atop a small cottage. It then sprung forward, clearing some forty feet before crashing into Ang and knocking the fighter. Ang grunted in pain as the ghoul clawed at him.

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Meanwhile, Deb climbed down the wall and made his way towards a nearby stone tower. As he entered, he noticed a well inside and iron stairs spiraling upwards towards the tower’s rooftop nearly a hundred feet up. The halfling quickly made his way to the top and came out through a trapdoor. On top of the tower, Deb saw a small catapult with enough ammunitions nearby to sustain a long siege. Crenelated walls offered a clear view of the town below as well as the surrounding land. He also noted six other towers spaced throughout the circular town which was laid out like a wagon wheel. Quickly looking over, Deb spotted the two ghouls on the jailhouse roof. He fired deadly arrow after deadly arrow, severely wounding both ghouls but not slaying them outright.

At that moment, Winslow came back inside the gate. He shot and struck one of the ghouls in the leg. Ignoring the paladin at the town gates, the ghouls focused their attention at the halfling raining deadly arrows upon them. The two ghouls quickly leaped towards another building desperately trying to make their way to the ranger.

Deb’s well-place shot to one of the ghouls in mid-leap sent it hurtling down to the street below. Even from the tower’s great height, Deb heard the ghoul hit the ground with a bone-crunching sound. The other undead, though shot, managed to land on top of a building just a short distance away from the halfling. It howled in rage at the ranger, threatening to leap towards him at any moment.

“Come to the tower!” Deb yelled to the others below. “We can use this tower for a defensive position.”

Back down in the street, Ang felt an intense pain as the ghoul on top of him bit into his arm, tearing out a mouthful of flesh. The fighter did all he could to keep the ghoul from killing him.

Meanwhile, Lo-kag was still busy fighting off a ghoul in front of him. With a swing that could have felled a tree, the goliath struck the ghoul, slaying it instantly. Lo-kag then turned to face the ghoul pinning Ang to the ground. Winslow joined him as well.

Knowing Ang had helped from the others, Caldreas took a quick shot at the ghoul on top of the prone fighter with a deadly magic-missile. He then moved towards the jailhouse. Turning to look at the direction the two ghouls leaped towards, Caldreas noted that one ghoul made it to a nearby rooftop, while the one Deb shot slowly rose up from the ground. Unbelievably, despite the ghoul having clearly broken an arm and its back, the foul creature still had a lot of fight left in it. Caldreas began to bring to mind a spell he knew should finish off the ghoul.

Suddenly, the eladrin arcanist was knocked off his feet as a ghoul struck him from behind. He fell forward and felt a great weight on his back. A ghoul was on top of him! The ghoul stretched its jaw, threatening to tear into the back of his head. He could smell the undead’s putrid breath. Immediately, Caldreas called upon the innate power all eladrins have—and teleported on top of the jailhouse’s rooftop a short distance away. But just as he made it to the rooftop, the ghoul with the broken back and the ghoul from the nearby rooftop leaped onto the jailhouse rooftop to join Caldreas. The arcanist uttered a word and brought a bolt of lighting down upon the two, killing one instantly. A shot from Deb brought the other one down a breath after.

Meanwhile, the ghoul on the ground nearby growled in rage at having lost his prey. Wounded by an attack, it ran back inside the jailhouse.

**

The adventurers, having survived an onslaught by several ghouls, tended to their wounds. Winslow took his horse Valiant by the reigns after dumping Matteas’s body down one of the holes a kruthik emerged from.

Ang, Lo-kag, and Winslow then quickly made their way to the stone tower to meet up with Deb. On the way, they all noticed the body of a dead ghoul nearby. Caldreas recognized it as being the first one he saw on the bakery’s rooftop. The ghoul’s tattered cloak and pieces of scale armor resembled those worn by Zhentarim soldiers.

At the tower, Winslow led Valiant inside. They then bolted the door from within, as well as bolting the trapdoor leading to the top of the watchtower.

For the rest of the night, everyone wandered if anyone may have contracted the zombie plague from wounds suffered from the ghouls’ attacks. After spending the night at the tower, it was discovered that Ang was suffering from the plague. Using a ritual scroll, Caldreas cured Ang. The process almost took its toll upon Ang, who barely managed to survive the ritual of cleansing his body of the foul disease.

The group rested well into the night, taking their turns at watch. As morning arrived, the group gathered themselves for what they knew could very well be their last day together.


Adventurers:

Winslow, Ang, Lo-kag, Deb, Caldreas

Treasure:

Recently acquired: Pact Longsword +2, Plate Mail of Vitality +2, 5sp, 7cp, dirt encrusted jug with Zhentarim symbol and the name “Sergeant Petrus” inscribed on it

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"Golden Acres"
Shadowblades Story Arc

Eleint 28, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


Gaerd De’barronn, stepped out of the Misty Forest and gazed upon the lush expanse of farmland known as Golden Acres. The farmland—all seven acres of it—was home to Goldentag Skaylebane, Rina his wife, and their young son Zak. Goldentag was a ranger who befriended Gaerd’s brother, Zaachaeus, when he left the Underdark and the drow city of Eryndlyn deep beneath the High Moor.

Since then, he had heard that Goldentag had died of old age. His body was buried next to an old cypress tree on his beloved farm. After the death of Goldentag, Rina and Zak lived on the farm for a while. They eventually moved away, but later returned to rebuild Golden Acres. Beyond that, Gaerd wasn’t sure what happened to Rina nor Zak.

A lone rider took Gaerd away from his thoughts of the past. Soon, a woman on horseback arrived. He immediately recognized her as Gomorrah Entreri, the young human woman he was suppose to meet.

“Well met, Gaerd,” the rider said as she dismounted. Fine leather armor covered her body accentuating her feminine features. A longsword—exquisitely crafted by the look of the pommel—was sheathed at her hip. He also noticed a shortsword at her hip.

Gaerd returned the greeting. “I wasn’t sure if you were going to make it,” he said.

“I wondered that myself,” the woman responded. “I ran into a patrol from Daggerford along the Trade Way. They wanted to know what I was doing on the road alone.”

Gaerd looked towards the distant farmstead. “And what did you tell them?”

“I said I was meeting a fellow member of my adventuring company near Golden Acres.”

“How far out of Daggerford do these patrols go?”

“They’re known to go as far south as Golden Acres and as far north as the Laughing Hollow.”

Gaerd started walking towards Golden Acres. “Let’s go for a walk. I need to pay my respects to an old friend.”


Halfway to the spot where Goldentag was buried, the ground suddenly began to shake. It was all Gomorrah could do to keep her horse from bolting. “What is it?!”

Gaerd unsheathed his weapon, ready for whatever was coming next.

Suddenly, something large burst out of the ground nearby. A monstrous creature, resembling a cross between an armadillo and a snapping turtle tore its way out of the ground sending huge clods of dirt raining down in all directions. The creature’s large head, covered in gray-blue plates and scales, turned to regard Gaerd and Gomorrah. It then looked directly at the horse whose reins Gomorrah was tightly holding to.

Bulette
Gaerd didn’t hesitate. He quickly cleared the distance between him and the creature he recognized as a bulette but commonly referred to as a landshark by most unfortunate enough to run into one. But as he got close to the landshark, it leaped. It’s powerful leg muscles propelled its massive frame clear over the drow. It landed next to Gomorrah’s horse and bit deep into its hindquarters, shaking its head from side to side. The horse desperately tried to break free tearing its rear leg in the process. The bulette chomped down hard on the equine’s leg dangling in its massive jaws with a bone-crunching sound. The horse managed to hobble a few feet before collapsing on the ground.

The drow reversed direction and launched himself at the bulette, driving his blade deep into the creature’s flank. It roared in pain and tried to bite Gaerd. He easily sidestepped the jaws and sliced the bulette just behind its head.

Just then, an arrow zipped past the drow, narrowly missing him. It bounced off the creature’s thick armored scales. Gaerd looked over his shoulder and saw four riders, range weapons aimed at his direction. The others fired as well, their arrows doing nothing more than to annoy the bulette. One of the riders, a sergeant judging by the insignia he wore on his armor, dismounted and ran up the bulette to fight it with his sword.

Meanwhile, Gomorrah tried to calm her horse. Blood flowed like a river out of its hindquarters. She knew it was just a matter of moments before it would bleed to death. But the tortured squeals it made made her wish she could end its misery sooner.

Carric took shots at the bullette but couldn’t penetrate its armored hide. The other soldiers who arrived with Carric also joined in the attack. They chose to use range weapons to keep a safe distance from the fierce bulette.

Gomorrah knew she couldn’t do anything to help her fatally wounded horse, so she drew her weapon and charged the landshark who was busy fending off attacks from Gaerd and the newly arrived soldier. She recognized the soldier. He was from the group of soldiers from Daggerford who were patrolling the Trade Way.

Her blade bit deep into the bulette’s leg. In respond, it twisted it’s massive body towards Gomorrah. It opened its massive jaws then quickly snapped it shut. Gomorrah barely had time to move her arm out of the way before the jaws closed, missing her arm by inches.

Meanwhile, Gaerd continued to cut into the creature. With each cut, the drow knew he was quickly wearing it down. If only he could get a clean strike, the battle would be over soon.

As if the bulette had heard him, it dove headfirst into the ground. It’s powerful claws tore through the soil like it was water.

But Geard was not going to let the creature escape that easily.

He drove his blade deep into the landshark’s side, tearing it wide open as its massive body continued its descent deeper into the ground. Within moments the bulette lay dead with half of its flank sticking out of the ground.

Gaerd turned to see a sword pointed at him. The nearby soldiers on horseback had their crossbows aimed at him as well.

“I hope you know who you’re pointing your sword at,” Geard said with a calmness that made the sergeant take a careful step back.

“I see a drow and that is enough,” the sergeant said. “Who are you and what is your business here?”

“I see that Daggerford has soon forgotten those who had helped her in times of need,” Gaerd said. He kept a firm grip on his weapon, but he held it with the blade pointing down at his side.

“I’m sure I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“No, it doesn’t seem so,” Geard said keeping his composure. “I am Geard De’barronn, brother to Zaachaeus De’barronn. Over a century ago, my brother and I—along with some friends of ours—helped Daggerford and its then ruler, Duke Ged Greatshout, against an evil black dragon that had cleverly changed its shape and appearance to win the duke’s trust. I must add, that if weren’t for our help, your town would be vastly different than it is now.”

The soldier must have been trained in Daggerford history, for he lowered his blade and quickly ordered the saddled soldiers to stand down. “I have heard of you, your brother, and your friends. Your deeds in helping Daggerford and its people have been the stuff of legends in tavern talk and fire hearth tales.”

Gomorrah, who had watched the entire exchange between Gaerd and the sergeant, moved back to her fallen horse. She tried to calm the dying creature but she knew it was useless. “Please do something,” she pleaded.

Gaerd moved up to stand next to the horse. He took his sword and brought it down mercifully upon the dying horse. It twitched once and died instantly.

Gomorrah unsaddled the horse and freed it of its reins and saddlebags.

“I am Sergeant Carric of the Daggerford Militia,” Carric said sheathing his sword.

Geard introduced Gomorrah as a fellow adventurer. He added that they were making their way towards the High Moor when the bulette attacked.

Carric said that the area has been recently plagued with attacks from landsharks. Many local farmers have lost valuable livestock to the creatures.

“Who currently rules in Daggerford?” Geard asked.

“Duke Dresden Greatshout does…in spirit,” Carric said with a tone that suggested he wasn’t happy with Daggerford’s current political affairs. “He is a descendent of Duke Pwyll and has legitimate claim as Daggerford’s ruler. But in truth, the Council of Guilds has more to say about how the town is managed these days. To add to this, Duke Dresden is old and is in ill health. The duchess died nearly a decade ago while giving birth to their daughter, who also died soon after. With no heir many fear that with the Duke’s death, the Council of Guilds will gain complete control of Daggerford, its coffers, and its militia.”

“And who commands the militia now?” Geard asked. He knew that ultimately, whoever commands the soldiers had command of the town as well.

“Well, that’s debatable,” Carric said. “By the old laws as stated by Duke Conan, rulership of the town’s economic affairs is completely controlled by the Council of Guilds. This was done to allow Daggerford to compete with the city of Waterdeep in matters of trade. But the agreement gave military power to the duke and to all his legitimate heirs. But now, that old charter signed by Duke Conan is being largely ignored. Duke Dresden’s ill health is giving many in the Council reason to wrest control of the militia.”

“With no heir apparent, the Council can certainly do whatever it wants to,” Geard said. “Duke Conan’s charter makes it so.”

“What if there was an heir that can lay claim to the town’s leadership?” Gomorrah chimed in.

Gaerd turned to regard the young woman by his side. “You heard the sergeant. Duke Dresden has no heir.”

“Well, if there was such an heir, even one born out of wedlock,” Carric continued. “Then he or she can claim the duchy. But it’s a known fact that Duke Dresden was very loyal to his beloved duchess and so—”

“I’m not talking about an heir descendent from the line of Greatshouts,” Gomorrah interrupted.

Both Geard and Carric gave Gomorrah a puzzled look.

“I’m talking about a Delimbiyrian!” Gomorrah said. “Everyone knows that the Delimbyr line goes back even further than the bloodline of the Greatshouts; back to the ancient Kingdom of Man. The Delimbiyr line is of pure nobility and can lay claim to any rulership of Daggerford.”

“Alright, I’ll agree,” Carric said. “But you speak as though a Delimbiyr exists. All know that the line ended when the last male Delimbiyr, Garth Delimbiyr, vanished without a trace and presumably died over a century ago.”

Geard noted a smile that slowly began to appear on Gomorrah’s face.

“But a Delimbiyr does exist!” Gomorrah exclaimed with a tone that sounded like a young girl opening a present on her birthday.

“And how would you know this?” Geard asked.

“Because Garth Delimbiyr’s great-great grandson is here in Daggerford.”

Geard was truly perplexed by this revelation. “And how would you know this?” Geard asked. “Anyone can claim to be a descendant of the Delimbyrs. But that doesn’t make it so.”

“I agree,” Gomorrah said. “However, my sources are reliable.”

“So, where do we find the last of the Delimbyrs?”

“In Daggerford.”

“Sounds easy enough—”

“Not entirely,” Gomorrah cut in.

“What do you mean?” Geard asked not liking where the conversation was going.

“There is a problem.”

“There always is in these situations.”

“The ‘last of the Delimbyrs’, as you put it…doesn’t know he’s a Delimbyr.” Gomorrah said.

“What?” Geard said perplexed. “What do you mean he doesn’t know?”

“It’s a secret that’s been kept from him…to protect him.”

Geard felt as though the path laid out before him had just become a lot more difficult. He had many more questions to ask, but he knew they would have to wait. Right now, he needed to visit Goldentag’s grave to pay his respects.

**

The grave was barely visible through some undergrowth that obscured part of the marker where the legendary ranger’s remains lay in eternal rest. The huge cypress tree stood nearby like some vigilant sentinel.

“Legend has it that the tree is a treant who silently watches over Goldentag’s grave,” Sergeant Carric said. “Even the forces of nature holds the fallen ranger in high esteem.”

Carric and his men had followed Geard and Gomorrah into Golden Acres. They also offered to escort the two to Daggerford after.

Geard welcomed the soldiers’ company. He didn’t know how Daggerford would react to a drow walking up to the town’s gates. It was best to avoid confrontations when possible.

While Geard paid his respects, the guards dismounted and fanned out. They kept their focus trained on the thick copse of trees a short distance away. Gomorrah stood near the edge of the nearby stream.

Geard recalled the story of how his brother first met the ranger at this spot and how a raiding party of orcs had come upon the ranger’s pregnant wife who was too busy washing clothes to notice the orcs’ approach. Fortunately Zaachaeus arrived when he did. After he had slain the orcs, Goldentag arrived and understandably mistook the drow as a threat to his wife, Rina. After Rina conveyed what had happened, Goldentag thanked Zaachaeus. The two quickly became friends.

Geard touched the soft earth with his hands. Has it truly been that long since the days of Goldentag and others like Garth Delimbiyr and Eapoe? To a drow, time is but a fleeting moment. A century goes by like a soft, gentle breeze; felt but for a moment, then is gone.

A surprised yell from one of the soldiers broke Geard’s reverie.

He quickly turned and spotted one of the soldiers desperately trying to control his mount. The soldier was tugging on the horse’s reins to keep it from bolting. Geard also spotted an arrow stuck to the ground within a few feet of the soldier and his mount. Geard also heard Sergeant Carric giving orders for the men to keep alert and find the archer in the woods.

Geard scanned the thick woods but couldn’t see anyone. Whoever it was had skills in hiding. No matter. Geard knew it would simply be a matter of time before the sniper would give himself away. And when he does, Geard would be there to greet him.

While Carric and two of the soldiers carefully made their way into the copse of trees, Geard got up and moved to the west, hoping to flank the hidden archer. He moved quickly, using the bushes and low branches to mask his approach. Gomorrah, meanwhile, quickly ran to the base of the tree and tried to hide.

Now would be a good time for the legend of the tree being a treant to be true, Geard thought. If nothing else, maybe the treant can protect Gomorrah and the soldiers while he confronted the archer.

An arrow sailing through the air caught Geard’s attention. Although fast, the arrow almost seemed to travel as if time moved slowly. He tracked the arrow’s flight. He saw the arrow fired from a distant pine tree and arc its way towards one of the soldiers. What surprised him was how the arrow went through two trees before striking the ground near the surprised soldier. The arrow had phased through the trees!

It was obvious that their attacker was not trying to kill them, but rather was trying to scare them off. The archer’s skills was not in question and his having a Phasing Weapon was further testament to the archer’s ability to put them all on guard.

Geard moved as fast as possible towards the tree where the archer was hiding.

“Whoever you are,” Geard yelled as he pushed his way through bushes that didn’t hinder him at all. “You have us clearly at an advantage. Why do you attack us? We are not your enemies. We are friends of—”

An arrow struck Geard in the leg, causing him to wince in pain. He had to end this quick! The archer was now a deadly threat, not just someone toying with the others and him.

He broke the arrow in mid-stride and moved faster.

But by the time he made it to the tree where the archer was hiding, the archer was nowhere to be found. Geard couldn’t believe how fast the sniper had moved from his hiding place.

A sound from behind Geard caught his attention.

He saw a thick patch of fog suddenly appear out of nowhere and surround one of the soldiers. Another quick movement caught his attention. It looked like someone—or something—quickly leap out of some nearby bushes and into the fog with the trapped soldier.

“Whoever you are,” Geard quickly yelled. “How dare you attack us in these sacred woods! We are friends of Goldentag and have meant no harm to you or this place.”

Suddenly, the fog swirled and instantly dissipated to reveal a cloaked man standing next to the soldier. The man held a sword—no doubt enchanted—to the soldier’s throat.

“And who are you to speak of Goldentag?” the cloaked man asked in a hoarse voice.

“I am Geard De’barronn. A friend to Goldentag when he lived. We are here paying our respects to a departed friend.”

The cloaked man seemed unsure of what to do next. Geard gripped his blade tight, ready to spring upon him if he so much as draws a drop of blood from the soldier.

But instead, the cloaked man released the soldier who quickly backed off and then pointed his sword back at the cloak man.

The archer lowered his sword and turned to face Geard. He let his hood fall to reveal a head that was in a state of decomposition. The man—or rather what was left of him—had no lips. His eyes were cloudy and to Geard, seemed useless. Even his ears were missing having long ago deteriorated.

Geard had heard of such beings. Here was an undead before him. But it was unlike any other undead, like zombies or ghouls. Geard knew he was standing before a revenant. Revenants were what became of those unfortunate enough to have their eternal rest interrupted by Kelemvor, Lord of the Dead.

But Geard knew that such acts, even by a god of death, was not done lightly. For this man to have been brought back as a revenant meant that he had been given an important task by Kelemvor. A task that he must complete or be denied the eternal sleep he deserved.

“Who are you?” Geard asked.

For a brief moment, it seemed as though the revenant didn’t understand Geard’s question. He seemed strangely confused. He looked around—at the forest and at the gravesite a short distance away. He even looked to the sky as if awaiting a message from some divine messenger.

Finally, the revenant looked back at Geard.

His answer struck Geard like a warhammer.

“I am…Goldentag.”


Heroes:

Gaerd De’barronn, Sgt. Carric of Daggerford

Companions:

Gomorrah Entreri, Four Daggerford Soldiers

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