Shards of an Empire

Into the Hive

We ventured into the Kruthik Lair

Kruthik First Encounter

More to be written latter, but we found and killed some bugs.

Vale Mapping

Afternoon of Turoth, the 10th day of Laeneven, in the 10th year of the rule of Oduth VI and Umista III.

We finished resting and regrouping after our short, but intense, fight with the flight of hippogriffs. Narmoran, being more carnivorous than the rest of us, suggested we gather some meat off one of the carcasses for dinner that evening. No one else seemed particularly interested, but it only took a few minutes to cut out some choice pieces. After a short rest, we continued to the east, following the directions Brenna gave us. We stopped for our evening camp just short of the area we were to begin mapping in detail. The night passed uneventfully.

Waraeth, the 11th day of Laeneven, in the 10th year of the rule of Oduth VI and Umista III.

Banjo informed us this morning that he had felt some odd vibrations in the ground while standing watch. According to him, they were never particularly strong, so he didn’t think too much of them. As nothing happened, we dismissed the matter and set out.

Off to the north of our camp rose a hill with a good view over much of the area we were to map; hoping to simplify matters, we headed to its summit so our cartographer could examine the area from a good vantage point. While Brenna made notes about what she could see from the hill top, Kementir and Narmoran scouted around the crest to see what kind of wildlife we might expect in the area.

Aside from the normal tracks expected in these wilds, they uncovered some very odd markings after a half hour of searching. Unfamiliar to all of us, they looked like someone had taken a series of sharp sticks and alternately poked them into the ground and dragged the points through the dusty soil. None of us had any idea what kind of creature might have left them, nor had any of us heard stories of similar markings. We followed them back and forth for about a mile, but they disappeared when the ground grew rocky.

Having observed much of the area from the hill, Brenna suggested that we ought to head south towards a small creek. It looked to be flowing west from a lake in the middle of our area, and the land around the lake appeared to be a rich meadow. Tall grasses, much healthier and stronger than any we had seen in the last day, grew around the lake for more than a mile. Breena mentioned that such a location might make for bountiful farming if the area could be secured.

We quickly reached the creek and headed upstream towards the lake, noting the excellent soil around us. Brenna was right, this land could be very useful to any farmer. However, such idyllic surroundings could not last.

After following the stream for a little over a mile, a sudden tremor in the ground was all the warning we felt. With a yell, Kementir felt the ground give way beneath him, as a large creature grabbed at his feet and began to thrash up to the surface. Thinking fast, Nakta stunned the beast with a quick mental blow and carried Kementir clear of danger on an enchanted wind.

Calling to the spirits, Adas brought Tasha into the fight, sending her to distract the bug emerging from the ground where Kementir had been. Hoping to further slow the monster, Adas also focused a mental blast at it, but was unable to connect with the peculiar mind of the creature. The giant insect attempted to bite down on Tasha, but was unable to connect with the fleet spirit.

Narmoran let out a chilling howl and leapt at the bug, cracking open its carapace with a mighty blow from his glaive. Though badly wounded, the insect was not without allies, as another bug worked it way towards the surface and tried to snare the barbarian. Remaining quick on his feet, Narmoran dodged the unexpected assault.

Hoping to distract the new arrival and give Narmoran a chance to recover his balance, Banjo sent a mystic bolt at the creature, but his aim was off and the missile flew wide of the monster.

Thrain rushed forward towards the melee, hurling a hammer at the first bug injured by Narmoran, further breaking its hard shell and nearly dropping it to the ground. Nakta hurled a bolt of chaos at the badly wounded creature, and her well aimed magic slipped through the cracks opened by Narmoran and Thrain, killing the bug. Not yet spent, her magic leapt to the second insect, hammering into its shell.

Adas advanced toward the melee, bringing Tasha to his side. he channeled a spirit through his companion, striking at the monster and healing the nearby barbarian. However, Adas quickly let loose a warning yell as he felt the ground beneath his feet shake. A third bug surged to the surface, grabbing Adas in its vise-like mandibles. His face paled from the pain as its acid-like saliva began to eat through his clothes.

Narmoran shifted towards and struck at the second bug, but hearing Adas cry out, he hastened to aid the shaman. With a roar, he vaulted to where the newest bug held Adas fast and struck out with his glaive. Unfortunately, the armor of this bug proved stronger, turning the blow and avoiding injury.

Wounded by Nakta’s magic and maddened by the injuries the spirits channeled through Tasha had inflicted, the second beast tried to grab the spirit lion in its jaws. Though it appeared to make contact, the bug was unable to find any purchase and couldn’t contain the spirit.

Kementir, freed from the enchanted wind that Nakta had used to move him t safety, leapt back into the fray, striking out at the monster folding Adas in its jaws. Shifting into his cat-like form as he moved in, his claws tore gashes in the armor of the bug. The creature appeared to feel the attack, as its mandibles tightened and Adas again cried out in pain.

Banjo, fearing for his companion, used more of his bardic magic to heal Adas some, hoping to buy him time until the party could finish off the bug. He struck out at the insect, but his blade couldn’t break through the armor.

Continuing his advance, Thrain hurled another hammer at the newest foe, again connecting with a solid crack. Perhaps drawn by the sounds of combat, a fourth monstrous insect burst free of the soil and tried to grab Thrain. Unable to find purchase on the dwarf’s armor, the insect moved to flank him.

Adas tried to work himself free of the bug holding him, but couldn’t escape the powerful jaws clamped onto him. Bringing Tasha in to aid him, he channeled a powerful spirit through the totem he could barely grasp. It swirled out with a roaring noise, striking at all three of the bugs still moving. Though it dealt no visible wounds, all three appeared to be buffeted and pummeled by the mystic force. Despite this, the bug holding him maintained its grip, its jaw holding him tightly as the acidic saliva continued its work.

Howling in rage, Narmoran hurled himself at the creature still holding Adas. With a whirlwind of blows, he opened several cracks in the carapace of the creature, and a dark ichor began to seep from the many wounds.

Having suffered the dual blows of Thrain’s throwing hammers, and the powerful spirit summoned by Adas, the third creature rose up and sprayed acid at all of us. Distracting all but Nakta with the sticky, burning fluid, the creature bent over and began to burrow back into the safety of the soil.

Banjo, having held his close position through the acid spray, focused on an opening that Narmoran had created in the armor of the bug holding Adas. With intent focus, he lined up his blade and rammed it home into the monster. With a shudder, it released Adas and fell to the ground. A gout of the dark ichor gushed from the wound, and the bug thrashed a moment before falling silent.

As the tunneling creature fled from sight into the ground, Thrain was able to focus on his last foe. With a mighty blow, he staggered the creature in front of him, tearing open a hole in its shell. The pain-maddened bug lunged back at the warrior, but was unable to hit the dwarf.

Nakta stepped forward and stunned the bug with her psychic assault. Gathering his strength, Adas healed much of the acid burns on himself; the magic washed over Kementir and strengthened the druid as well. Calling on his faithful companion, Adas channeled through Tasha and struck the last of the insects down.

Fearful that the one that had fled might return, possibly with allies, we held our ground and waited for the tremors that would herald a renewed attack. After several minutes of stillness, we decided that the bug had been driven off. Thinking on the matter, Kementir suggested that if the acid Adas had felt was indeed the saliva for these creatures, the spray the departing bug had used had likely depleted its supply. If that was the case, then it wouldn’t be back for at least a day or more.

We decided to head further south, moving up out of the grassy meadow about the lake. Now that we knew what to look for, several other tunnel exits were visible. Though we felt no more vibrations in the ground, we all breathed a sigh of relief when we moved again onto rougher ground.

A mile or more south of the grassy meadow, we approached another hill, rising to the southeast of our location. Again hoping to find a good vantage for further observations, Brenna suggested we head up to its crest. Along the way, Narmoran noticed odd tracks in the ground. Though they appeared to be reminiscent of a badger, there were many tracks as if several of the creatures had followed one after the other in single file though here. Furthermore, the tracks were far to deep; something very heavy had left these prints.

Again, we had no idea what might have left these markings, nor did Brenna. We followed them for a short distance, as they approached an expanse of brush with a copse of trees on the eastern flank of the hill. As we moved along, Kementir and Narmoran took point along the trail. After a short time, they signaled to us that they could hear sounds, possibly a struggle, coming from ahead, deeper in the brush. As they hurried along the trail, the sound resolved into a low growling noise that quickly quieted. Not wanting to stumble upon an angry creature, the barbarian and druid slowed their pace, letting the rest of the party draw nearer.

Hearing no more noises after a few minutes, they continued forward. In a small clearing amongst the brush, they found the remains of a struggle: several bodies lay about. Obviously dead, five orcish casualties were strewn about the opening, all having died from vicious bites or raking claws. More than one had clearly had its throat torn out, while other sported multiple, deep claw marks on their chests. Whatever or whoever had torn apart this patrol had done so with little or no injury to itself, however. We could find no other bodies besides the orcs, and their weapons, though in their hands or nearby where they might have been dropped, remained clean. Whatever had shredded the orcs had done so while avoiding any attacks from them.

We decided against following the tracks further, instead investigating the bodies while Thrain harvested some ears; none of us really wanted to meet whatever creature had done this in the tight quarters the trees and underbrush provided. One thing struck us as odd: though something had killed these orcs easily, it hadn’t stayed to eat. The injuries we could see were all combat related, nothing like what we would expect had something been feeding on the remains.

Eventually, we decided to move on. We would keep an eye out for more patrols, as well as whatever creature or creatures had done this.

We circled south around the hill, as Brenna had indicated several outcroppings of rock that we needed to examine. She mentioned that it was possible we might find ore bearing layers in the area. Sighting a likely patch of bare rock, Breena scrambled out ahead. She wandered along the rock face for several minutes, then let out a triumphant shout. She bent over and, using a small rock hammer, knocked loose a piece of the face. Securing it, she worked her way back towards us. Holding out the chunk of rock she had removed, we could all clearly see small specs of gold glittering on the rough edge she had broken off.

As it was drawing near nightfall, we decided to make camp near the crest of the hill; we would have ample opportunity to see any enemies coming. Further, the ground was rocky enough that we didn’t think any more of the bugs from the lake could tunnel up here.

Starith, the 12th day of Laeneven, in the 10th year of the rule of Oduth VI and Umista III.

Though the night passed uneventfully for most of us, Adas had a strange story to tell the next morning. One of the traits of his people is the ability to dream of lives long past. Though often little more than vague memories, sometimes a useful piece of knowledge, long forgotten, filters through. He said that in a previous life, he had encountered a creature that matched what we knew of the beast that had destroyed the orc patrol. Though similar to a badger from the front, once seen in profile, none could mistake the Aurumvorax, as he called it. Possessing eight legs tipped with solid metal claws, the Golden Gorger, as it was also known, was a fierce foe. Extremely territorial, these solitary creatures could fight off foes many times their size. Their metallic claws and hide were due in main to their diet. Adas told us that the gold ore we had found was the final clue: for the golden gorger lived up to its name, it would eat raw gold ore right out of the rocks. Between the extremely dense hide, capable of resisting all but the strongest blows, and the wickedly sharp metal claws driven by powerful muscles, Adas feared that if we encountered the beast, we would end up much like the orcs.

Though we were hesitant to accept his story at face value, we were also worried hi might be right. We resolved to report our findings to the Captain back in Kurtan, and to give this area a wide berth while mapping the rest of our area.

We circled wide to the east, approaching the last of the hills in our area, hoping to finish soon with our expedition. Along the way, we located more of the odd stick-like tracks on the ground, though the surface was rough enough that we couldn’t follow them for any length of time.

As we drew nearer to the hill before us, we could see a dark opening in the slope. Perhaps a cave of some sort? We decided to check it out. Perhaps the slaughtered orc patrol had come from here. If the cave were still occupied, then the soldiers would want to know, but if it were open, then it might prove to be a useful staging point for patrols in the area. Either way, it was worth investigating.

Aerial Ambush

The afternoon of Oneath, the 9th day of Laeneven, in the 10th year of the rule of Oduth VI and Umista III.

We made it back to Kurtan around noon today. We immediately headed for the main square to turn in the bounties we had collected. There we found a table manned by a squad of the guards on watch. The officer overseeing the bounties was a Lieutenant Mitchel. We related our story to him, describing the tail end of the raid on the village, our pursuit of the commander, our raid on the orc camp, and the exploration of the ruins we found. The lieutenant seemed a bit disturbed by our tale, and had a trooper summon the officer of the day, a fellow he referred to as Captain Garin. The captain asked that we relate the story to him again. We showed him the scroll we found in the commander’s possessions, and while he didn’t appear to be able to translate it at all, he did give us a note referring us to a sage that the guard had used in the past for other translations. He then turned away to speak with some other troops, while the lieutenant brought us our bounty gold. While counting out and dividing the spoils, we overheard the captain dispatching a patrol of soldiers to the lair we raided to secure the area. Incidentally, we agreed to divide the bounty evenly amongst the party, with a share for each and two shares reserved to provide for future magic or healing needs.

We bid the troops good day and left to seek out the sage that captain Garin suggested. Eventually, we found the address he provided, not too far from the main square. We knocked on his door, and after a few moments an elegantly attired elf opened the door. We introduced ourselves and provided him with the note from captain Garin. After reading it, he introduced himself as Carlin Redtree and invited us into his home. We stepped in, and encountered a room filled with wonders: ancient tomes, odd skulls, artifacts that probably dated from the Empire or even earlier, and a small miniature dragon carving that perched atop an overflowing bookshelf. As we moved into the room and seated ourselves, the creature we had thought was a carving flew down off the bookshelf with a hiss. It flared its wings and landed on the sage’s shoulder. He spoke to it, telling it to relax and that we were guests. We made ourselves comfortable and began to relate our story to him.

He seemed very interested in both the mysterious scroll we took from the orcs, as well as the materials we removed from the ruins. Banjo took care of negotiating for the sage’s services, and we eventually provided the materials for study in exchange for four ritual scrolls and a small pouch of magic residuum. The sage thought it would take several days to make any progress, so we promised that we would check in when next we were in town.

We left the sage’s house and headed back to the square to seek employment for the next week or so while the translation progressed. Posted were advertisements by a merchant looking for an escort down the Valkerp river, and a notice from the garrison about mapping expeditions. Not sure which would be the best option, we decided to investigate both.

We first headed across the square to the garrison, looking for more details about the mapping expedition. Captain Garin seemed pleased to see us again, and he was happy to explain the mapping expedition to us. We would be tasked with protecting a surveyor as they explored a section of the wilderness to the east in the hills. We would be paid a stipend for bringing back the surveyor unharmed, with a bonus for anything interesting found. The entire trip was supposed to take a week or so. Although some of us thought this sounded like a good opportunity, we agreed to check up on the other opportunities before agreeing. We told the captain we’d be back before the end of the day with our answer and left the headquarters to check up on the merchant caravans.

We headed out to the waterfront, looking for the Blue Eel inn where we were supposed to meet our second contact: the dwarf Argin Ironheel was a merchant said to be exploring new trading routes in the region, and in need of some muscle to protect his wagons. After a bit of wandering, we found our way to the inn; it wasn’t the best inn in Kurtan, but it was a step above some of the other waterfront dives we’d passed. Inside, the inn was about half full with patrons, most talking quietly over a meal or drinks at their tables. Not knowing what Ironheel looked like, we headed over to the bar and made some inquires of the barkeep. He pointed out a solitary dwarf at one of the tables, and we sauntered over to speak with him.

We asked if he was indeed Argin Ironheel, and introduced ourselves. Expressing our interest in his escort offer, we joined him for a round and discussed the details. He had a group of three wagons lined up to trade up the Valkerp river with the settlements along the banks. We would take boat to where the river joined to the Arin, then proceed overland so we could trade with settlements along the bank. Eventually, we would end up a day or two past the first rapids, where he planned to sell the wagons to a farmer whom he had spoken with last time he was in the area, and we would ride back to the navigable parts of the river, where we would take boat back to Kurtan. Wanting to discuss our options, we said we would be in contact with him by the end of the day and bid our farewell.

Thrain immediately expressed his interest in joining the dwarf and his caravan, while the rest of the party seemed far more interested in working with the army. After debating the merits of both courses open to us, we eventually agreed on the mapping expedition as the most worthwhile course open to us; there would be merchants to guard in the future, but the mapping party offered the chance to further improve our standing with the garrison and rulers of the town.

We returned to the garrison, where captain Garin introduced us to Breena Halin, our surveyor. She appeared to be a relatively young gnome, dressed in forest colors, and carrying a pack that we could see included map cases, writing implements, and objects we could only assume helped her in her work. After a bit of conversation, we set off for the region we were to map, a day and a half to the east.

With Taeanruil and Narmorana scouting ahead, we travelled for the rest of the day, putting about ten miles behind us before setting up camp for the night. Drawing upon his magic, Kementir secured us a hidden campsite. We posted a watch through the night, but nothing eventful happened.

Turoth, the 10th day of Laeneven, in the 10th year of the rule of Oduth VI and Umista III.

We were off early in the morning. The party continued to the east, again with scouts in front. The terrain about us was becoming rougher, and we had left behind the settled lands nearer the river, so we remained on our guard. As the sun rose high in the sky, we could make out several small, dark specks circling in the sky off to the north. As we watched, they began to grow larger, as they appeared to be heading towards us. As they draw nearer, the specks resolve into 5 large, bird-like creatures flying towards us. Fearing we may soon be attacked, we began to withdraw towards a small grove of trees south of us, across a small stream.

By this point, we could identify the creatures as hippogriffs, fierce hunters of the wilds. Perhaps hoping to frighten them off, Taeanruil fired several arrows at the lead flier. One arrow struck, wounding the leader. With a fierce cry, the injured beast swooped down towards the archer. The rest of the flight screeched in answer to the leader and also flew closer to us; one swooped at Thrain, but missed him by inches.

Kementir, again in his cat form, leapt at the grounded creature that had attacked Thrain, but the beast managed to dodge out of the way of the pounce. Worse yet, Kementir left himself exposed to another monster’s swooping attack. It connected, tearing at him with talons and knocking him down.

Swiftly following up on the strike, the third hippogriff managed to connect with Thrain, drawing blood and knocking him from his feet. The creature landed near the dwarf, its speed spent in its dive.

Narmorana let out a chilling howl, vaulted over the narrow stream, and charged the beast threatening Thrain. His charge seemed reckless, but it paid off when his glaive cut deeply into the monster’s side, giving Thrain a chance to get to his feet.

Seeking to aid his companions, Adas channeled the energy of several spirits through Kementir and Thrain, healing both of them. The spirits continued around the battlefield, striking three of the hippogriffs and granting further healing to the rest of the party. He summoned in Tasha, hoping to provide a distraction to one of the monsters.

The fourth hippogriff struck and knocked prone Narmorana, and landed nearby to continue to threaten the barbarian.

As yet unthreatened, Taeanruil continued to fire arrows at the creatures, striking the beast menacing Narmorana and wounding it.

Seeing several foes grouped near each other, Nakta unleashed a starfall on them, injuring three of the creatures, one of them badly.

Having taken several wounds, the hippogriff menacing Kementir attempted to take to the air. Banjo landed a parting blow, but was unable to prevent the creature from taking off.

Kementir regained his feet and stuck at another hippogriff, this time landing on the creature and tearing into it with his claws. UNnfortunately, he again left his guard down enough for the fifth and final hippogriff to strike him, again knocking him to the ground.

Thrain rushed the beast in front of him, forcing it back, then struck out at the other monster near him with a burst of speed. Though he missed it, he managed to pull its attention to him. Both creatures returned blows, but were unable to break through his armor.

Banjo seized the opportunity to flank of of the creatures on Thrain; he saw an opening and struck a powerful blow into the back of his foe, finishing it off.

Narmorana regained his feet and tried to send his wolf spirit to aid Thrain. However, the spirit cut too close to one of the hippogriffs, and it struck the spirit with its beak, causing the spirit to dissipate. The backlash of energy struck the barbarian, and with a cry for his injured companion, he unleashed a mighty blow against the hippogriff.

Adas moved in closer to the fight, bringing his healing magic to bear on Kementir and Narmorana. He sent a haunting spirit to attack the barbarian’s foe, staggering it. The beast backed off and took to the air, attempting to escape, but not before Tasha got in a strike as it dropped its guard.

Taeanruil, trying to capture the remaining uninjured hippogriff, made a running leap to land on its back. His mistimed his leap, however, and the creature bit at him with its beak.

Nakta ran after the first flier, and launched a burst of chaos magic at it. Her attack barely managed to catch it, but was strong enough to finish it off. The creature’s wings folded up and it crashed to the ground, obviously dead.

Kementir tried to pounce on the uninjured hippogriff, but it adroitly dodged the attack. Thrain advanced towards the same creature, but his attacks fared no better than the druid’s. The ill luck continued as the monster lashed out and struck Thrain, wounding him through his armor.

Sneaking around, Banjo managed to position himself behind another creature. He again launched his devastating backstab, felling another beast.

Narmorana launched himself from the ground onto the back of the last hippogriff. Though it bit him, he managed to secure a precarious grip atop the beast. Working together, Taeanruil and Kementir tried to calm the beast, perhaps hoping to capture it.

Either to far from the combat to determine what they were doing, or unwilling to risk their lives, Nakta launched another bolt of chaos at the monster, striking it from behind and destroying whatever calming influence the ranger and druid had managed to exert. It violently shook itself, trying to throw Narmorana off its back.

Unsure exactly what his companions were attempting, Thrain bashed the creature in the face with his crag hammer, badly wounding it.

Narmorana managed to keep his seat on the back of the hippogriff for a few more moments, but it eventually threw him off and took to the air. A volley of magic and metal from Thrain, Nakta, and Banjo finished it off before it managed to get very far from the party.

We paused to catch our breath and check our wounds. A spirited discussion between the members of the party ensued, debating the virtues of trying to capture such a wild, but potentially useful, beast, versus killing a fierce predator to make the area safer for settlers. Though we didn’t all agree on what we would like to do next time, we did agree to let our party members know if we were trying something unusual in the future. Hopefully, the next conflict won’t have us working at cross purposes.

Under the Ruins (Part 2)

That same evening

After disposing of the last of the slime creatures, we took a short rest while further exploring the room we found ourselves in. We could see a doorway that would bar our progress a short distance down the western passageway. The northern passage took a sharp turn to the right shortly after leaving the chamber we were in, also preventing us from seeing very far down it. Upon closer inspection, Adas reported that he found something written in orcish on the door. He couldn’t translate if for us completely, but he said it looked like a warning of some sort. This, added to the way the door was barred shut from our side, convinced us to try the other passage first.

We followed the passage for perhaps fifty feet or so before entering another chamber. It appeared mostly empty, with three columns supporting the ceiling and three dusty chests along the walls. No other entrances were visible. We investigated the room more closely, paying particular attention to the chests. Upon closer examination, each chest appeared to be trapped: a small wire was connected to the lid of the chest, through the hinge, and into the base of the chest. A deep, narrow hole was present in the base of each chest as well.

Before we could go grab Banjo to have him try his hand at picking the chest locks, Thrain decided to have a go at them. After the rest of us back well away, he used his dagger to cut the wire near the hinge on the southern chest. Unfortunately, the cut ends immediately pulled into the chest, and a cloud of spores burst out of the base of the chest. Quickly holding his breath, Thrain grabbed the chest, picked it up, and pulled it free of the spore cloud. Using his craghammer, he then bashed in the top of the chest. No further spores exploded out, and inside he found a leather bag with many gold coins in it.

Elena, wanting to try her hand at this kind of “lock-picking” decided to try breaking open the chest from a distance. She took a rope and tied it around the northern chest. She looped the rope around a pillar in the room, hoping to break open the chest by pulling it into the column. Unfortunately, she didn’t warn Taeanruil; he appeared to be lost in his inspection of the room. When she pulled the chest into the pillar, it also blew forth a cloud of spore. Unlike Thrain, Taeanruil didn’t hold his breath quickly enough, and he began to cough and choke on the spores, nearly passing out before shaking off their effects and stumbling out of the cloud.

About this time, we remembered the iron key we had found in the commander’s tent. Nakta dug it out of her pack and tossed it to Thrain, who was approaching the last chest. Having watched the mechanism trigger on the first chest, he wanted to try holding onto the wire before cutting it. Carefully getting a grip on the wire, he cut it near the hinge again. The end he held tried to pull into the chest, but he managed to wrap it around a crossbow quarrel to hold it in place. Not wishing to break the chest open like the last one and triggering the trap again, he used the iron key on the chest’s lock. The lock easily fell open to the key, and inside he found an odd looking item: a small bone carving of a panther adorned with feathers and large fangs on one end. After a short inspection, Adas identified it as a magical totem; he took the item for further study. It had been wrapped in what looked like cloth rags of some sort, but on closer inspection the rags were in fact an old robe; though threadbare now, it must have been quite ornate when originally woven. Nakta claimed she felt some magic in the cloth still and took the robe for further experimentation. There was also a pair of leather bracers in the chest, adorned with an elven arrow motif. Taeanruil thought they might assist him with his archery, so he took them.

Looking over the contents of the chest took several minutes, by the time we had finished, the spore clouds had settled to the floor of the chamber. We used the key to open the last chest, but were unable to find anything interesting inside. Adas managed to channel some of his magic through the totem and healed Taeanruil of the lingering effects of the spore cloud.

We gathered up our treasures and headed back to the central room. Cautiously, we approached the barred door leading out of the last passageway. The writing was definitely orcish, and was a warning to keep the door sealed, according to Adas. Despite this, Thrain went ahead and removed the heavy beam holding the door shut. Carefully, he pushed it open and continued down the passage. After a length similar to the last passage, this one also ended in a room supported by several pillars. Unlike the other room, this one had many furnishings. In the center of the room was a large and dusty round table. On each wall were several bookshelves that might have been originally stacked with a wide variety of books and scrolls. However, someone had ransacked the room, pulling much of the material off the shelves and creating several large piles in front of them. Each set of shelves had a small, waist-high statue next to it, depicting a humanoid creature with large wings and pronounced claws and fangs. On the floor to our left, we could also make out what looked like two corpses, obviously dead for quite some time. The floor they lay on was stained dark with blood.

Thrain advanced into the room, the rest of us filtering in behind him. He approached the northern statue and studied it. Fearing that it might be a magical creature of some sort, he pulled out his hammer and tapped on it. To our surprise, the statue let out a hoarse cry and fell back from the blow. With grinding noises, the other statues in the room began to come alive as well. One lunged out from behind one of the columns in the room and struck Elena, biting her with its fangs.

Adas quickly summoned Tasha to the south, hoping to distract the third statue before it could chase down one of our magic users. He then tried to help Thrain with the first statue, but it proved much more agile than expected, eluding his blow. The statue struck back at Thrain, but he managed to get his shield in line to take the brunt of the attack. We began to hear several ghostly wails, coming from different parts of the room.

Moving into better position, Nakta launched a bolt of energy at the creature facing Thrain. The bolt struck the monster, tearing into its wing. From the direction of one of the wails, she noticed a hazy figure fade into view across from us; she yelled out a warning that new enemies were appearing. Kementir, again in his cat form, lunged forward to assist Elena with her foe.

Taeanruil, hearing another wail practically at his side, moved further into the room. He focused in on the creature Tasha was keeping occupied to the south, loosing several arrows into the beast that appeared to hurt it some.

Hoping to free himself of his current opponent, Thrain launched a powerful blow against the statue he faced. His blow connected, tearing a huge chunk of material from the creature’s chest. With a dry sigh, it collapsed into dust at Thrain’s feet. He moved up to confront the ghostly warrior that Nakta had seen.

As Thrain moved towards the new opponent, another ghost shimmered into view in the back of the party. Narmorana launched several quick attacks at it, but he was unable to connect with its insubstantial form. He continued to focus on the new ghost and sent his wolf spirit to assist Tasha against the southern statue-creature.

Elena and her foe exchanged blows; Elena’s armor proved much more effective at protecting her, but the stony hide of her opponent began to crumble under her assault. The new ghost drew a insubstantial-appearing blade and struck at Adas with incredible speed. As the ghostly blade passed through him, Adas could feel some of his life leeched away by the spirit. Seeing the warden otherwise occupied, Adas recalled Tasha to help hold off the nearby ghost.

Nakta drew upon her magic to cast a bolt of chaos at the ghost, but her attack misfired, hurling everyone near her away in a small explosion. Fortunately for him, the burst blew Adas and the ghost that had just struck him apart before it could do more damage to him.

Thrain struck out at the ghost he faced following the magical burst and managed to connect. Off-balance from the push, however, he left himself open to a brutal counterattack by the ghost. Its sword tore at his life force, chilling him to the bone. He drew deeply on his dwarven strength and tried to shrug off the stinging attack.

Taeanruil’s keen hearing picked up on another ghostly wail above the sounds of combat. Yelling out a warning, he launched another arrow at the statue creature to the south and shifted to prepare for the imminent arrival of another spirit. Namorana moved into better position and landed a powerful blow with her glaive, cleaving Taeanruil’s target in two. It, like the first statue, crumbled to dust.

Elena and her opponent again traded a flurry of blows with each other. They each managed to land attacks on their opponent, but neither is was too injured to continue. At the same time, another ghost had begun to fade into vision where Taeanruil had been standing moments before.

Adas tried to strike the nearby ghost with magic channeled though his spirit companion, but the ghost proves to be very hard hit. It ignored the attack and lashed out again at Namorana, landing another draining attack on the barbarian. Likewise, Thrain’s opponent managed to get another strike in, draining more of the dwarf’s strength.

Kementir lunged at the remaining statue creature facing Elena, but the small beast managed to avoid all of his attacks. Taking advantage of the distraction, Nakta launched a bolt of chaos at the monster. Her assault connected, pouring energy into the creature and tearing it apart. Retaining some energy, the magic bolt flew on towards the ghost that Thrain was fighting, but it lacked the strength to damage the spirit.

Appearing impressed by the magical display she had just provided, the nearby ghost turned from Narmorana and lunged at Nakta with its sword. It struck the sorceress, but she drew upon the magic coursing through her and weakened the draining attack. Though the blow hurt, she resisted much of the assault.

Taeanruil fired another arrow into the ghost Thrain was holding off. This last attack appeared to be to much for the spirit, as it began to dissolve and fade away. The ranger then turned and put two more of his arrows into the ghost that had just wounded Nakta. Despite its insubstantial appearance, it staggered back from the assault.

Freed from the ghost he had been facing, Thrain turned and charged at the ghost by Nakta. He let out a thunderous warcry and landed an incredible blow on the ghost. It, like the last ghost, began to dissolve and fade out of sight.

Feeling the momentum of the fight, Narmorana struck out at the last ghost with a flurry of blows and a howling cry. One of the blows connected, halting the ghost’s advance. Elena moved up to assist the barbarian. Though her attack passed harmlessly through the spirit, she pulled its attention onto her and away from the wounded barbarian.

Adas shifted Tasha into range of the ghost for an attack, but was unable to hit. At the same time, the ghost lashed out at Elena; its sword bit through her shield and armor and drained some of the strength from her. Kementir leapt into range, distracting the ghost with his attack, while Taeanruil drew a bead on the spirit and fired an arrow at it. His shot connected, and the final ghost began to dissolve and fade away.

We paused to gather our strength and shake off the chilling effects of the ghostly strikes. Adas drew upon the power of his spirits and restored some strength to Elena and Narmorana.

We spread out and investigated the room, now that we believed it to be safe. Narmorana took a closer look at the two bodies that had been in the room before we entered. He reported that they were an orc and possibly a goblin. Perhaps they had tried to loot this room and were attacked by the guardians we had just defeated? He also took the glaive that the orc had been holding; he said it felt like a powerful weapon. We spent a fair amount of time looking through the contents of the shelves for anything legible. Unfortunately, the writings all appeared to be in foreign scripts, and many were heavily damaged. We bundled up those that looked strong enough to survive the trip back to town; hopefully we can find a sage who might be able to translate them for us.

Among the clutter of the room, we also found several interesting items. In a narrow space between two bookshelves, Thrain found a wooden staff topped with a reddish crystal. In a small, plain wooden case on one shelf, Kementir found a thin, vicious looking dagger. Under several dislodged books, Nakta found a metal flask, very similar in appearance to the healing potions we took from the commander’s tent.

We couldn’t find anything else in the underground chambers, so we headed back up to the surface. The trip up the well was much less eventful than the trip down, and we quickly assembled on the surface. We had a moment of worry, as we couldn’t see Banjo, but Taeanruil’s keen hearing picked up on his snores, coming from one of the shelters in camp. We woke him up, and began to retreat from the camp while filling him in on what we had found. We had been underground for a little over two hours, and it was nearly midnight. Since we were all fairly exhausted, we withdrew a few miles to the west and set up a hidden camp. Kementir called upon several friendly nature spirits to hide our camp from the raiders we thought might be around, though we also posted a watch to be safe. After such an exhausting day, we all needed some rest.

The next morning, we broke camp and returned to the village where this pursuit had begun. We found the villagers out and working in their fields, trying to salvage what they could from the previous day’s attack. The elder we had spoken to was elated to hear we had finished off the raiding party and offered to share a meal or two with us if we wanted to stay. We decided that the villagers had enough work on their hands, and we politely declined the offer, saying that we wished to return to Kurtan as soon as possible to report back to the military commanders everything that had happened. The villagers bid us farewell, and we headed west along the stream towards Kurtan.

Under the Ruins (Part 1)

Later that evening.

We took a short rest to catch our breath and take stock of the situation. The tracks of the goblin that had run off were almost impossible to follow – the entrance to the camp had been heavily traveled and we quickly lost the newer tracks amongst the older ones. Several of us searched the tents of the encampment, while the nameless barbarian (though I’ll start using ‘Narmorana’ now, as he seems to prefer that) investigated the wolf pen and Adas took another look at the well north of the encampment.

Adas quickly noticed that the well appeared original to the ruins; the stonework matched that of the fallen towers, almost certainly from the Hydran Empire. Furthermore, the well had a very strong frame built over it, with a rope far too strong for the simple task of raising and lowering a bucket of water. Further investigation revealed an opening in the well shaft about 30 feet below the ground. It appeared to open into a passage heading off to the north.

The commander himself had been using some magical equipment; we recovered a vicious looking great axe and a gleaming suit of chain mail. Elena discarded her plain axe in favor of the commander’s, and Thrain replaced his more utilitarian chain mail with the commander’s superior armor. Though it was a bit long on him, he seemed quite happy with it. In the commander’s tent, we discovered a small iron-bound wooden chest with a simple lock. We examined it closely, but couldn’t find any traps. Thrain put his dwarven strength to good use, and tore the chest open before Banjo could pick the lock. Inside, we found several items – a bag of coins, mostly silver with some gold mixed in; a flask with a potion of healing in it; a large iron key; and an ornate scroll case with a scroll inside. The scroll was covered in fine writing of some kind; we think it might be orcish, but can’t read it. The little we tried to translate made no sense – the script was definitely orcish, but it almost seemed to be another language entirely. Adas speculated that there might be class or sect differences amongst the members of the horde; perhaps this belonged to a much higher ranking individual than we had yet encountered.

Meanwhile, Taeanruil and Narmorana had been making attempts to communicate with the wolves in the pen. They ultimately decided to let them run free, despite the fine mount that the Dire wolf might have made. The two of them followed the wolves to the east for a time, but were unable to determine where they were heading to.

We returned to the well where Adas had located a hidden tunnel to investigate it further. Thrain started to climb down the rope into the well, but he lost his grip and fell into the water. Fortunately, he was able to grab the rope again and pull himself out before he drowned in his new armor. He worked his way over to the opening and moved inside, using a sunrod to light his way. He reported that the passageway was very narrow, but that we would be able to make our way along it single-file. He slowly advanced along the passage as the rest of us moved down to join him. Wanting to keep a watch out, Banjo volunteered to stay near the surface and warn us if anyone else ventured near the camp.

The narrow passage sloped up away from the entrance to the well. It lead mostly to the north with a slow bend to the left as we advanced along it. The stonework we could see was well crafted and appeared very old. We doubted the orcs or goblins built this tunnel; it was probably as old as the ruins themselves.

After about 60 feet, the tunnel opened out into a round chamber of peculiar construction. There were a total of three entrances to the chamber, including the one we stood in. Between them, the floor of the chamber sunk down ten feet, roughly to the level of the water in the well. In front of each opening were a set of steps leading down to the floor. The floor itself was littered with rubble; the footing looked treacherous. The oddest feature of the room were a series of walk-ways that connected the entrances together in the middle of the room. A narrow path, less than a foot wide, led out from each door. They met together on a pillar in the middle of room, about ten feet above the floor. The passage off to our left looked to have been knocked down at some point, most of its length was nothing but debris now. Each walkway was built up from the floor and was supported by a series of arches in several layers. They resembled a smaller version of a structure I once heard described called an aqueduct used in the time of the Hydran Empire to move water from one place to another over valleys and chasms.

Not liking the looks of that narrow ledge, Thrain (who had been leading the party) walked down the steps towards the other entrance to our right. He tripped through some of the rubble on the floor, making a loud clatter but catching himself before he fell down. Smirking at the clumsy dwarf, Taeanruil headed out along the pathway, effortlessly balancing with his innate elvish grace. The rest of us moved out to the landing fronting our entrance, just as Taeanruil reported hearing an odd, gurgling sound, almost like a liquid flowing over the ground. We didn’t see anything immediately; but off to our right, where the wall met the floor, a thick, yellowish-brown liquid began to flow out of several small holes in the stonework. It quickly assembled itself into some sort of amorphous blob, with a pair of lashing psuedopods reaching up from its center.

Thrain rushed in to attack – his swings seemed to hurt the odd creature, though it did seem to close around any wounds he opened. Taeanruil used his superior position to rain several arrows down into the monstrosity, though it proved remarkable flexible and adept at avoiding several blows. The creature struck back at Thrain; it possessed great strength in its psuedopods, and worse yet, its touch burned like acid, continuing to eat away after the blow landed. As the rest of us rushed in to help Thrain, Taeanruil reported hearing the gurgling sound behind us, off to the west. Wanting to dispatch our foe before it gained reinforcements, we redoubled our efforts. Just as another of the jelly-like blobs was forming up out of the wall to the west, Thrain landed a massive blow on our opponent. It shrunk back from the blow, and began to violently quiver in place. It seemed incapable of closing off the new wound, and we hoped we had defeated it. Before we could begin to celebrate, however, it cleaved itself into two smaller creatures, each of which resumed the attack.

We divided our efforts to cover the new opponent to the west, as well as the two smaller creatures we now faced in place of the original monster. Elena managed to get the attention of the newest foe, while Kementir assisted her, attacking whenever he thought he had an opening. The rest of us made quick work of the smaller blobs we faced. They still hit with painful acid tentacles, but they didn’t have the same durability as the larger beast that had spawned them. As we killed the last of the smaller blobs, Taeanruil reported hearing more sounds to the north. Thrain and Narmorana headed that way to prepare for our next foe, while Adas and Nakta turned to help Elena and Kementir.

Despite her best efforts, Elena seemed to be taking a lot of hits from the blob, and was having to draw on her strength of will to shrug off the pain of the acid that continued to burn away at her skin. Adas was able to give her some help by drawing upon the strength of his spirit companion, but it was barely enough to keep her on her feet. Taeanruil shifted aim and sent several shots into the creature, trying to wound it and give Elena a chance to regain her focus.

The third ooze worked its way into the chamber and was met by Thrain and Narmorana by the walkway that lead to the northeastern entrance. Striking out, the creature gravely wounded Namorana, but he just used the injury to draw on his deeper reserves of strength.

We continued our assault, trading blows with the horrible creatures. Elena and Kementir managed to wound their foe enough to cause it to split; though she took several more hits, Elena landed a powerful blow on one of the smaller blobs and destroyed it. Thrain and Namorana likewise wounded their opponent enough to split it as well. Unfortunately, one of the halves got in a lucky hit against the barbarian, weakening him to the point where he could barely keep his feet. He looked to be fading in and out of consciousness as the acid etched away at him, drawing upon his indomitable will to continue the fight.

Elena managed to finish off her last opponent with barely enough strength left to stand, using her last strength to shake off the pain of the acid on her. Seeing Narmorana in dire need of assistance, Nakta drew upon her magic to strike down the remaining foes. Unfortunately, her wild magic misfired, and instead managed to nearly push Taeanruil off his perch on the walkway. Regaining his feet, Taeanruil sent a pair of arrows into the blob in front of Thrain, finishing it off. In an amazing display of strength, the barbarian let out a primal yell and rallied long enough to land a mighty blow on the last monster; it began to fall apart and dissolve into the cracks in the floor of the chamber. Looking around, we couldn’t see anymore opponents, so we paused to gather our strength before continuing the exploration.

Chase to the Ruins

Later that same day.

We followed the trail of the fled orcish commander to the northwest. He was setting a fast pace, but we had expected that: he was running for his life and had a mount, we were just pursuing on foot. Hopefully he’d stop before nightfall – maybe we even wounded one of them enough to eventually slow them down?

We stayed on the trail for about 3 hours; it’s now early evening. The land around us has turned more arid and barren. The tall grass we’ve been following the trail though has diminished to a short scrub grass. Fortunately, the tracks are still fairly clear. Taeanruil and the unnamed barbarian tell us that we’re gaining ground – our prey has finally slowed down. Just ahead, the trail leads into a small hollow in the hills. We can see and smell the smoke of a campfire, so we might be getting close to the raider’s camp.

Ahead of us lies a small depression in the hills, it looks like it might be a ruin of some sort. We can see two collapsed piles of building stones; maybe a pair of towers or something? We can’t make out the rest of the depression – we’ll need a better angle on it. Several of us have reported hearing wolves or dogs from the general direction of the ruins. Taeanruil and Banjo have suggested that they scout ahead while the rest of us wait off to the side of the trail in some underbrush, by a small pond.

While they waited for our scouts to return, the barbarian without a name and Thrain had a short discussion about giving him a name. Though the dwarf favored “Fido” (calling it “a fine dwarvish name”) the barbarian didn’t seem impressed. Lacking anything better to do, Adas and Banjo joined the conversation, trying to get some more details from the barbarian. Apparently, a mage he once knew called him “Narmorana.” Adas and Thrain continued to discuss the merits of different languages and names, exchanging some friendly(?) banter. Fortunately, before the conversation could completely wander away into the topic of dolls and racial pride, our scouts returned.

Banjo related to us that he thought the wolves in the camp had heard him or Taeanruil, so they had retreated. However, they were fairly sure this is a camp of some sort, as they saw a goblin sentry patrolling around the hill. He’s suggested that we circle around to the west and try to get a better view from the hill we can see to the north. None of us have a better plan, so we’ve agreed and are following them.

We spent about 20 minutes making a wide circle to the west of the camp, and approached the hill we were aiming for from the northwest. The slope ahead of us was covered in brush; we slowly worked our way into it, heading for the top of the hill. Adas, keeping a sharp eye out for anything unusual, noticed movement near the hill crest. He quietly warned us, and we paused while examining the hill. After a short time, we noticed two goblin sentries; fortunately they were inattentive and didn’t appear to have seen our approach. They were conversing quietly in some foreign tongue; the conversation had helped to cover the sounds of our approach.

Taeanruil and Banjo crept closer to the sentries, trying to get into a good ambush position. After a few minutes, they signaled to each other that they each had a target. Taeanruil took aim at his goblin and fired first, the shaft of his arrow leaping from his great bow though the goblin’s heart, felling it without a sound. The second goblin barely had a chance to notice his companion’s fall before Taeanruil shifted aim to him, launching another arrow. This flew less true than the first, and was deflected by some of the intervening cover. However, before the goblin had a chance to call out, Banjo fired a crossbow bolt into the goblin, bringing it down as well. We moved up to the crest of the hill, dragging the bodies back under cover (minus one ear each) and looked out over the hollow below us.

South of the ruins, surrounded by a low earthen berm, we saw an encampment. Several goblins and orcs were moving about, tending to gear, eating dinner, or preparing to bed down for the night. Four large tents surrounded a bonfire in the middle of the hollow; we saw some goblins going in and out of the tents. To the north of the fire was a stone well with a wooden frame for a bucket and rope built over it. Patches of old cobblestones and pavers were visible throughout the hollow, though they were more common in the northern part. The southwestern part of the encampment was taken up by a large wooden cage with straw bedding. Several Grey wolves were visible through the heavily reinforced bars, as well as a creature that resembled the Dire wolf the commander had used as a mount. The wolves appeared to be finishing up a dinner of some sort, and were also bedding down. A chest high stone wall circled the camp on every side but the north, with a small opening in the east that a trail of some sort lead through. The two collapsed stone structures we had seen earlier were clearly visible now, they were obviously collapsed stone towers of some sort, though we couldn’t determine their age. The towers served to anchor the ends of the walls; the rubble was piled up to about 10 feet above the ground in some places.

Looking over the encampment, Adas claimed that he thought something looked odd about the northern, unwalled approach to the camp. Though he claimed the stones there looked newer, none of us could be sure from this distance. He also muttered something about the stone well, but none of us paid it any attention.

Looking over the approaches to the camp, we decided to try vaulting the wall on the west side. Several trees there could give us some additional cover. As we were planning out our approach most of the goblins and orcs retired to tents, presumably to sleep. The commander and several small goblins appeared to take up guard positions around the camp as evening settled over the area. Guessing that we wouldn’t get a better opportunity, we crept towards the camp in the deepening twilight. Banjo thought he saw a route through the ruble of the western tower; he split away from us and began clambering over the fallen building stones. Despite several clumsy mis-steps, we managed to sneak up to the low wall surrounding the camp without alarming the sentries.

The party vaulted over the wall, to the surprise of the commander and his goblins on sentry. Unfortunately, Elena, Thrain, and Kementir lost their footing as they landed, falling prone on the ground. Similarly, Banjo lost his footing in the rubble in a clatter of stones. The unnamed barbarian (Fido, or Narmorana, depending on whom you ask) leapt over the wall and charged the commander, loosing a bloodcurdling howl that was echoed by the wolves in the pen. He struck the commander a heavy blow with his glaive, but much of the force was absorbed by the commander’s fine chain mail armor. Somewhere during the charge, the barbarian summoned his wolf spirit companion to the gate of the wolf pen, in a desperate attempt to keep it closed.

Adas and Nakta slowed to help Thrain and Elena to their feet, giving them the chance to charge towards the center of the camp. Before they could get there, the commander growled and returned a heavy blow to the barbarian, grievously wounding him. Worse, the noise of the combat had begun to awaken goblins throughout the camp. Elena made it past the northern tent just as they began to boil out of it. She turned on them and tried to hold them back from joining their commander.

Nakta and Taeanruil moved to better vantage points and begin to assault the commander and his allies with arrows and magic. By this time, Banjo had regained his feet, and moved up to support Kementir as more goblins came out of the western tent. Thrain finally closed the distance to the commander; though his opening blow missed, he pulled the commander’s attention away from the wounded barbarian. Taking advantage of the respite, Adas cast a spell of healing over the barbarian, allowing him to regain his strength.

A lone goblin to the east, not liking the surprising attack, took advantage of the melee beginning by the fire to slip out along the path to the east.

By the northern tent, Elena had managed to focus the attention of the goblins on herself, fending off their attacks and returning mighty blows. Though she controlled the situation for now, it was only a matter of time before they overwhelmed her.

Taeanruil continued to carefully pick his targets, launching his arrows into exposed goblins, managing to fell one of them. Kementir, wearing the shape of a mighty hunting cat, pounced on another goblin, struggling to end its life. To the south, Tasha had engaged in a struggle with a goblin warrior that was attempting to open the wolf pen. Retreating from combat with the commander, the barbarian came to Tasha’s aid, launching a powerful blow at the goblin by the pen. The attack instantly killed the goblin; in victory, the barbarian unleashed a primal howl, echoed by the wolves in the pen. The orcish commander and the goblins near him were visibly staggered by the yell.

Adas watched the fight intently, waiting for an opportune time to use his healing magic again. He had his chance almost immediately, as a goblin warrior landed a wicked strike on Kementir. Calling upon the spirits, Adas healed the druid-cat; some of the magic also washed over Thrain, knitting closed wounds on both. Adas then struck out at a goblin warrior, staggering it with a powerful mental blow.

The flaps on the southern tent were violently thrown aside; an orc skirmisher emerged and hurled a handaxe at the barbarian by the wolf pen. The axe tore across the barbarian, inflicting another wound on him. The orc then withdrew slightly, looking for a better opening, and drew his greataxe.

Taking advantage of an opening left by a fallen goblin, Taeanruil withdrew and circled around the western tent, getting a good line on the commander. Embroiled in combat with Thrain, the commander let his guard down, and Taeanruil took advantage by firing an arrow into the commander’s leg. The arrow tore through the leg, slowing the commander’s movements. The barbarian took advantage of the distraction to charge the commander from behind, landing a vicious blow. He dispatched his wolf spirit to harass the orc skirmisher before it could launch another axe at the party.

Finishing off the goblin he had pounced upon, Kementir withdrew a step, and resumed his human form. From a pouch at his waist, he drew a small seed. With a mystic word, he hurled it at the northern tent full of goblins that Elena had been holding back. As it flew through the air, it burst into flames and stuck one of the goblins with a small, fiery explosion. The tent began to smolder from the heat of the attack.

Thrain swung a low attack at the commander’s kneecaps, hoping to capitalize on the arrow that Taeanruil had fired moments before. He connected with a grunt, and the commander was visibly staggered, favoring the wounded leg. Thrain gestured rudely at the commander, attempting to keep the orc focused on him.

One of the goblins in the northern tent, maddened by flames, swung at Kementir and connected, but his burnt limbs lacked the strength to do much damage. The druid shrugged off the blow, and pushed the dying creature away from himself. Taking advantage of the distracting sight of the burning tent, Adas struck at a goblin on Thrain’s flank, dropping it to the ground with his mental assault.

The commander narrowed his eyes, letting out a incomprehensible yell while swinging his greataxe at Thrain. The mighty swing connected with Thrain and slashed into him. Taking heart at the sight of his foe’s blood, the commander appeared to regain some of his strength. Rallying to his commander’s cry, the orc skirmisher avoided the wolf spirit and charged into melee, heading for the wolf pen and hoping to free his allies for the fight. The orc was intercepted by the waiting barbarian, and lashed out at him when he couldn’t reach the cage. Off balance from his efforts to reach the cage, the orc missed the barbarian and growled in frustration.

Nakta advanced towards the melee, and blasted away at the orcs with a powerful burst of psychic energy. The commander managed to shrug off the assault, but the skirmisher was struck by the full force of the blast, and was hurtled back ten feet through the air by the strength of Nakta’s will.

Ignoring the dazed skirmisher, the barbarian turned and vaulted towards the commander, striking out and landing a blow on him. He attempted to call his companion forward to capitalize on the strike; however, the skirmisher managed a swing at the spirit as it moved past him. Though several blows had passed harmlessly though the spirit already, the strength of the skirmisher was enough to disrupt and banish the spirit. The barbarian reeled back from the shock of his companion fading away.

Kementir pounced on one of the remaining goblin warriors, staggering his foe back, away from Thrain. Taking advantage of his secured flank, Thrain drew upon his inner reserves and recovered some of his strength to continue the fight. He followed up by swinging out at the commander; though his attack missed, it was enough to keep the orc’s attention.

The northern tent was fully engulfed in flames by now, the blaze having killed the two goblins that had been trapped in it. Elena tried to dodge back from the collapsing tent, but was struck by burning debris. She paused a moment once free of the blaze to rally her strength and look over the melee between Thrain and the commander.

Adas continued his mystic assault, leveling another of the remaining goblin warriors. His attack continued on towards the commander. It struck the orc as he turned to track Thrain, and the commander did his best to ignore the new wound. Still hobbled by the wounds to his legs, the commander stuck out at Thrain but missed. Taking advantage of the turned back the commander was presenting, Taeanruil sunk two more arrows into the commander.

The barbarian shifted closer to the skirmisher, and struck with his falchion. The orc managed to dodge the blow, and remained on guard for further attacks. As the barbarian shifted away, Kementir pounced on the skirmisher, knocking him back into the bonfire he had been maneuvered towards.

Thrain struck at the commander, his craghammer like a vicious steel serpent. The cruel blow bit into the commander, gravely wounding him. Elena dispatched the last goblin warrior with a terrible blow from her axe, and advanced to flank the commander. Adas brought Tasha up to help surround the commander, and struck with his magic through his companion. The surge of primal power blasted away at the orc, and it allowed the barbarian to regain some health.

Howling in pain, the orc skirmisher rolled out of the bonfire. Too enraged by pain to attempt a retreat, the orc struck out at Kementir. His frenzied blow connected with the druid, slicing a cut through his armor.

Taeanruil sighted an arrow in on the commander and landed the telling blow, bringing the orc to the ground. Before the enraged skirmisher could strike Kementir again, Nakta focused on the orc and struck him with a bolt of chaos. The wild energy was too much for the skirmisher, and it also fell to the ground.

We paused to regain our breath as the last of our foes fell. The wolf pen was still sealed; its occupants had fallen silent with the death of the last orc. Now what were we to do?

The Adventure Begins

Otuth, the 8th day of Laeneven, in the 10th year of the rule of Oduth VI and Umista III.

Today, the party gathered together in the town of Kurtan. Brought together by a chance encounter of a raiding party last week, we have joined together to help combat the forces of the horde, to make a name for ourselves, to seek riches, and diverse other reasons.

Upon our arrival in Kurtan, we were able to exchange the ears of our foes for a modest bounty. We also learned that several outlying areas had reported the presence of raiders and had requested some assistance. Eager to prove our worth, we journeyed the several hours east to the small, unnamed hamlet.

We knew something was wrong even from a distance, as a haze of smoke and the smell of burnt crops greeted us before we had even sighted the settlement. As we drew near, we saw that some of the surrounding fields had been put to the torch, and that the inhabitants were working to prevent the fire from spreading to their buildings. Although at first fearful, the villagers quickly realized we weren’t the raiders they had driven off, and were able to extinguish the last of the fires.

We spoke with an old man named Nerous, the patriarch of the family whose land this was. He described the raid, pointing out to us where the raiders had attacked, the bodies of the two goblins they killed, and the trail they left when driven off by the farmers’ bows. He assured us that his family could handle the remainder of the fire, and suggested we try and catch the raiders before they got too far away. We agreed, and set off after the raiders.

Several miles past the hamlet, we noticed we had a companion – a large mountain lion of some sort. Upon confronting it, however, we discovered it to be none other than Kementir, a druid that had helped us out last week with a small raiding party. He agreed to join us and help in the hunt. We resumed our tracking along the trail.

An hour or so past noon, as we continued to follow the trail over the gently rolling grasslands of the Arin Valley, we eventually encountered a small stream where the raiders appeared to have paused for some time. Deciphering the trail, we made ready to follow it, but stopped when we heard a noise off to the east in a small copse of brush and trees. Looking more closely, Kementir flushed out a goblin who had been observing us. Pouncing on the goblin, he quickly dispatched the foe – but not before the goblin let out a yell, alerting his comrades.

Around a rise behind the copse came a group of orcs and goblins, led from behind by a large and fierce looking orc riding a dire wolf. Thrain let out a roar and jumped into the fight, the rest of us fast behind. As we engaged the orcs and goblins, Nakta and Taeanruil focused on the commander, who was staying back from the front lines of the fight. Their initial efforts were desultory; Nakta even managed to have one of her wild evocations backfire and surge through the party.

After a short time, the commander took a horn of some sort from his belt, and bringing it to his lips, called to his allies. From the brush to our north, four ambushers revealed themselves and crossbow bolts began the rain down on the rear of our party. Turning to deal with the threat, Taeanruil began firing on the partially concealed goblins, but had little luck hitting through the dense underbrush the goblins had hidden themselves in. All the while, the melee with the original goblins continued: Kementir launched a fireseed into the midst of the melee, knowing that Thrain’s dwarven stamina would hardly notice the blaze, but hoping that the orcs and goblins wouldn’t be so sanguine about the situation. Banjo and the unnamed barbarian shifter began to peel away the edges of the goblins and orcs surrounding Thrain. The barbarian’s features became more bestial as he tore into our foes, becoming more savage with each attack.

As the crossbows of the ambushers continued to strike into the party, Nakta demonstrated the virtues of wild magic, with a chaotic bolt that lanced into the commander and his mount, and from there into the mass of the goblins engaged in melee. By the time the bolt had exhausted its energy, the commander had been knocked from his dire wolf and several goblins and orcs had been gravely wounded or killed. Adas followed up with by invoking the spirit of a great flood, healing his allies in melee and finishing off additional goblins. Regaining his mount, the orcish commander began to withdraw from combat, and the rout was on. Urging the ambushers on in the Orcish tongue, he continued to back away from the fight.

The goblin crossbowmen in the brush to the north redirected their attacks against our magic users, severely wounding Nakta. Thrain, Kementir, Banjo, and the unnamed barbarian continued to press their foes in the melee, striking more down. Seeing the imminent failure of his ambush, the orcish commander fled the area, heading to the north east. Pinned down and with no place to go, the melee fight was soon finished, Thrain dealing two staggering blows to drop the remaining fighters in quick succession.

By this time Taeanruil, assisted by Adas’s spirit companion Tasha, had managed to finish off one of the ambush goblins. The remaining three goblins began to retreat into the brush after a final volley. Unfortunately for one of them, Tasha was close enough to pounce, fatally slowing its retreat. While its two companions threw down their crossbows and fled, the remaining goblin turned and struck out at Tasha. It soon fell to the fangs of the powerful spirit lion. The last of the blood filled-cries and echoes of clanging weapons diminished, and calm again descended on the battle-torn hillside.

We searched the bodies of the goblins and orcs for anything unusual, collecting their ears for the bounty when we returned to Kurtan. After a short rest, we returned to the trail we had been following, hoping to run down the commander and his dire wolf before they could find reinforcements.


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