USD Scales of War

Introduction: The Winds of Change

Theldrick Kane felt weary. Though it had been ten years since he had fought the Red Hand, his body ached as if it had been one hundred. As he hobbled through Brindol with his cane, he could still hear the screams as man and monster died; he could still see the smoke as Brindol burned; he could still feel the sweat on his brow and palms as that horde rushed through the shattered gates. Much was different now for Theldrick. Though he had moved on, he couldn’t help but feel an impending dread. Something was stirring; He could feel the winds of change and it was killing him to be powerless to stop it this time.

Theldrick needed to pray for guidance this night. Though, like him, the temple was beginning to show its age, the old priest knew the temple of Bahamut would always stand in Brindol. As he neared the temple steps, he smiled. Only in service to the Platinum Dragon could Theldrick Kane find peace. For over 50 years the man had faithfully served his god, both in peace and in war, and he knew his end was fast approaching.

Pulling open the door, Theldrick glanced back; the sun was setting red. Merely a bad omen, or a sign of things to come? In the priest’s experience it was often both; and almost always, it was only the beginning. For himself, for Brindol, for the Elsir Vale, for the rest of Thesus, and even for the gods themselves, Theldrick prayed that night.

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Prologue One

Brindol. 10 Years Ago.

Silence ruled the courtyard. Windows were smashed, paving ripped up, the central fountain was befouled, but worst of all, Vimak’s clan lay dead. Talmack Stormcrow, Vimak’s father and leader of the Stormcrow tribe was heaped atop a pile of dead goblins next to his wife and Vimak’s mother, Tabra. The destruction and horror of the Red Hand was so complete that Vimak half expected to hear the echoes of the violence that had raged there, but heard only the splashing of the fountain and his beating heart.

Vimak was strong. His spirit was fierce and at the same time more disciplined than most others, even other members of the the Stormcrow clan. As the goliath ran toward his parents, he picked up the Stormcrow axe and began to hack at the dead goblin bodies. He felt a rage inside of him let loose as he mercilessly mutilated the corpses. With tears streaming down his face, the goliath raised the axe again. This time, however, the sight before him was too much, too terrible, too extreme. The goliath fell, senseless and despairing. In his head, all he could hear were the screams of the dead.

It was another two hours before Fargrim Stonehaven found the goliath. Initially worried the boy had suffered the same fate as his parents, the dwarf rushed to his side. After discovering he had only fainted, Fargrim slung Talmack’s axe behind his back, and picked the unconscious goliath up.

Brindol. Present Day.

CRACK

The large axe swung down, splitting the target in two. Vimak followed through with the motion and brought the axe high. As he turned, Vimak gave the weapon a single twirl above his head and slammed the sharp axe down into another target with all the strenght of the goliath’s muscles. With a yell Vimak charged across the training yard, digging his axe into another target. Pulling it free, he did his best to maintain his momentum and barreled into one of the last targets, knocking it down. As his mind counted, he realized the count was off. This will not do., he thought. Glancing over his shoulder, he turned and hurled the axe end over end towards the last target. Splinters of wood flew into the air and the loud thud echoed through the training yard. Crying out with a rage-filled roar, the goliath finally stopped for breath. Vimak looked around him, and slowly went over and retrieved his weapon.

The axe he carried was an old one; one his father had always carried, and his father before him. All of the Stormcrows had wielded the axe, as far as Vimak knew, and that that meant he must carry it too. From the outskirts of the yard, the voice of Fargrim Stonehaven called out. “Fine work, lad. Against wood targets.” The challenge was clear in the dwarf’s tone. “Ye think ye can do the same against a real one?” The dwarf had moved in now, and picked up a shield and iron-shod hammer. Vimak knew that hammer well; it had given him many bruises over the years.

Fargrim made no moves but nodded towards the barbarian. Vimak rushed ahead and brought the axe down hard. Fargrim stepped aside choosing to let the blow hit the ground. For a stout and strong dwarf, Fargrim was extremely mobile. “Keep moving your feet,” the dwarf grumbled. Vimak obliged him, and reset his body for Fargrim’s new position. Feinting left and swinging right, Vimak did better with his second attack. The goliath’s axe caught the dwarf’s shield once, twice, thrice, and yet he still stood strong. On the final hit, Fargrim pushed, sending Vimak stumbling backwards off balance. “If ye don’t learn that lesson, I’ll beat ye every time!”

Vimak fell to his rump. From the ground, he judged the distance between him and the dwarf. The goliath smiled. Scrambling to his feet, the barbarian rushed ahead intending to charge the smaller dwarf. “Are my feet moving enough now?” Vimak’s question was accentuated with the loud crack of axe connecting with shield. Though he did slide back several feet, the dwarf remained on his feet. The barbarian’s confidence, however, was immediately shaken; his axe was embedded in Fargrim’s shield, and he knew what was coming next.

Fargrim dropped the shield, turned and smacked Vimak on the shoulder with his hammer. It stung his pride more than anything else. Fargrim always hit him in a non-lethal spot with enough force to remind him of his mistakes, and this one would be a sore bruise for at least a few weeks.

“Yer still sloppy, boy. You need t’always be ready t’move.”

“Maybe I’m just not meant to fight with style,” Vimak yelled as he charged back towards the dwarf, bringing his axe across in a vicious cut. “Finesse just isn’t my thing.” The barbarian could feel the anger welling up inside of him. He pressed the dwarf hard. Fargrim quickly gave ground to the goliath onslaught, using his warhammer to knock blows aside and his speed to avoid others. There were a few close calls, but the fighter was good.

After parrying the last blow, Vimak kneed the dwarf in the midsection, and flung him to the ground. Kicking the hammer from his grip, he then swung the axe down hard.

All was quiet in the yard as Vimak stood over the dwarf catching his breath. His axe was stuck in the ground next to Fargrim’s head. Though he had been surprised at the goliath’s grab, he hadn’t flinched at the near killing blow. “Good work, laddie. Yer gettin’ better.”

Vimak smiled and helped the dwarf up. Patting his bruised shoulder encouragingly, the dwarf smiled. “Ye still need t’move yer feet, though.” Before Vimak could react, Fargrim had thrown him to the ground and knocked the wind out of him. Rolling over to his stomach, the goliath gazed after the retreating dwarf.

“Tell Modyom we need some better shields. I’m gettin’ sick o’ ye breakin’ ‘em.”

Vimak chuckled to himself as he lay on the ground. He lay next to where his axe’s head was half-buried in the ground. Glancing at the gleaming metal, he smiled. It was a masterful axe and was proud to wield it in his clan’s name. He stared at the axehead and wondered, what could possibly have made this axe so special that it had lasted for so long. The answer came from the axe as a chorus of screams echoed inside his head.

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Prologue Two

Brindol. 23 years ago.

Chorlyndyr, went to the door of the temple; the pounding sounded urgent. It was not entirely unusual to have a knock at the temple door in the middle of the night; soldiers, townsfolk, or someone from outside the settlement often needed urgent healing or ritual work. The priest groggily opened the door and was surprised both by what he did see, and by what he did not. Chorlyndyr did not see a group of weary folk standing at the door looking in dire shape. Instead, the priest found a wicker basket holding a sleeping infant.

Quickly walking into Cathedral Square and looking left and right, Chorlyndyr saw no one. Curious and confused, he returned to the steps. The infant was sleeping; its pleasant slumber was uninterrupted as the cleric lifted the child from the basket. As he did so, something caught his eye. Two scrolls lay within the basket, one sealed and one unsealed. Carefully picking up the unsealed scroll, Chorlyndyr awkwardly spread the document with his fingers.

As his eyes scanned the parchment, the cleric’s features widened in shock. Immediately he pulled open the swaddling blankets and stared at the infant’s chest. “Pelor’s grace…it has returned.” The child stirred slightly. Suddenly alarmed, Chorlyndyr skeptically peered out into the night, snatched up the basket, stepped back inside, and quickly locked the door. There would be no visitors tonight: he had books to examine, priests to awaken, and a letter to write. Chorlyndyr carefully took the infant boy to his quarters. Only one thought kept racing through the old priest’s mind. If the world knew what this boy carried, Brindol would be razed within a week.

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Prologue Three

Brindol.

The loud ring of hammer on steel echoed out into the night of Brindol. A dwarf, illuminated only by the orange light of the forge behind him stood at the anvil; his arms were thick and strong; his body, dark with soot, was streaked with sweat. Modyom Ogreender relentlessly pounded into the hot metal resting on the anvil, maintaining his hammer’s rhythm. After turning the blade twice, Modyom angrily doused it in the bucket of water next to him, and tossed it back into the forge. He was restless and frustrated.

The dwarf stepped out into the cool night, feeling the evening breeze flow through Brindol. Modyom felt lost. The Ogreenders were famous warrior-blacksmiths; renowned for their impressive prowess in battle and their skilled craftsmanship. The Ogreenders were one of the few to know the ancient dwarven techniques of working metal. Modyom’s father, Kazrack, had been particularly skilled and Modyom was becoming a skilled artisan in his own right, but he felt there was more to life than this. The dwarven fighter felt agitated, cooped up, and impatient. His father had been strong, and that same strength was inside Modyom. But unlike his father, he had a choice. Certainly, Modyom could make a fine living making the famed Ogreender arms and equipment, but that was not what he wanted; at least, not yet.

Dogs barked in the streets of Brindol, and a patrolling watch strolled by, nodding at Modyom as they walked their rounds. The Ogreender dwarf stood outside for a few more minutes; smoked his pipe a bit, and then went back inside.

As Ogreender went back to work on the heated metal with renewed fervor, he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. Leaning against the doorway was another dwarf, Fargrim Stonehaven, his uncle and friend. Fargrim had adopted a young goliath, Vimak, who Modyom liked and was good friends with, and had taken in the warrior-blacksmith after his father was killed by the Red Hand.

Modyom stopped his pounding, and smiled. Fargrim had brought two mugs with him.

“How goes the work, laddie? Have ye mastered Kazrack’s technique?” Fargrim walked in as he spoke and handed one the mugs to Modyom. It contained a strong ale.

Modyom leaned against the anvil and drank. “Not yet. The process is complicated and it requires a patience I haven’t had for weeks.”

“Aye, I know. Your da would work in here for hours, much like ye do now, lad. It’ll come, and if it don’t, then it doesn’t matter.” Fargrim drained the rest of his mug and wiped his mouth the back of his hand. “Those pieces were the finest yer father ever made,” Fargrim said as looked over Modyom’s shoulder. “But they took ‘im an entire year to forge.” Glancing over his shoulder at the axe, armor, and shield hanging on a wall, Modyom smiled. They were masterfully crafted by his father, and he hoped one day they would serve him as well as they had served his father. “He told me once that he put everythin’ he had into those, and I suspect he was right.”

“Too bad they don’t see much use hanging up on that wall.”

His uncle smiled and clasped Modyom’s shoulder. “You’re a good lad. I know ye want to follow yer father, but I can see yer restless. There are greater things than bein’ a blacksmith in Brindol. Even yer father made trips as far south as Karak in his youth. No matter how skilled ye may be, there’ll be plenty o’ time to hammer away; that’s the best part o’ being a dwarf: we live damn near forever.”

Modyom chuckled, finished the drink and handed the mug back to Fargrim. “Thanks, old friend.”

“Ack, laddie, shut yer mouth. Get back to work and finish the blade. Moradin knows Vimak would love t’break another one of yers.” Fargrim turned to leave.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t end up as bad as last time,” Modyom called out.

As he reached the door, the dwarf turned back to the blacksmith. “Yer time’ll come. Sooner than you think, but always before yer truly ready. I suspect you’ll do yer family proud; Ogreenders didn’t earn the name easily.” With a wave, the dwarf walked out the doorway.

Modyom ignored the half-worked metal heating in the forge. Instead, he walked over to the armor hanging on the wall. He ran his hand along the axe edge, and tested the strength of the shield. Beautifully done, these pieces were the most valuable Ogreender possessions. As Modyom ran his hand over the armor, he smiled with pride. As he looked at the metal with satisfaction, he could almost hear it calling to him.

This armor was special, indeed.

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Session One: The Raid on Brindol
And so it begins...

Trouble comes to Brindol when Hobgoblins claiming lineage to the Red Hand raid the town, starting fires, taking captives, stealing items, and causing mayhem. The Antler and Thistle tavern, the regular watering hole for five friends, is no exception. Having their evening meal interrupted by these goblinoid raiders, the occupants of the bar fight back alongside the heroes and stop the small pocket of raiders just as the tavern is about to be overcome by fire. Thankfully, through the heroic actions of the heroes, many of the patrons, the workers, and the bar itself are all saved. After stopping this threat, a lieutenant of the town Guard, Alek Tercival, passes by and asks about the captain of the guard, Kartenix, noting that he is missing. There is little time to talk, however, as an ogre pulling a wagon filled with pitch casks rounds a corner, with two Hobgoblin Archers riding along with him. As the ogre and hobgoblins begin to destroy more of Brindol, the heroes act valiantly, managing to destroy the pitch casks and wagon after only a few buildings are set aflame. Though it was a dangerous foe, the ogre was eventually felled, and several citizens note the heroes’ impressive performance.

The next day, the heroes are called to the chambers of Councilman Eoffram Troyas, the newest member of Brindol’s city council. There, they discover that Brindol was ravaged by this attack. Despite recent raids within the region (and various disappearances), the Elsir Vale, and Brindol, were caught completely unaware, and the town guard has been decimated. The Councilman is known to advocate the use of adventurers to deal with problems and is impressed by the heroes performance against the goblin band. His fellow council members have a disdain for adventuring bands (and their drain on Brindol’s coffers), and have publicly denounced them as defenders of the city. There are, however, rumors of graft and embezzlement among the council, causing many to wonder if such members of the council would rather see the funds that are used to hire adventurers end up in their pockets. This information notwithstanding, Troyas asks the heroes to mount a daring rescue mission. Seven prisoners were taken by the goblins, including Kartenix, the captain of the guard, and his 8-year-old son, Thurann. Furthermore, treasured relics from the Red Hand Invasion 10 years previous were stolen from the Hall of Great Valor; the Councilman indicated that these were of less importance than saving the citizens, but still important to the morale of the battered populace. Councilman Troyas points the heroes towards the stockades and a single Hobgoblin prisoner taken: Morrik (the Dogslayer).

After going to interrogate Morrik, the heroes see that Fargrim Stonehaven (family to two of the band [Modyom and Vimak], and a friend to the whole party) is guarding the prisoner. The interrogation is a mixed bag. Morrik seems to oscillate between being frightened and defiant, reflecting the differing degrees of success the heroes have in their attempts at interrogation. Nevertheless, the heroes learn that the leader of the Hobgoblin band, Sinruth, is hiding out in the catacombs beneath the ruins of Castle Rivenroar. He intends to raise an army and carve out a fiefdom of his own, using the ruins of Brindol as his seat. Furthermore, Sinruth has struck a bargain with undead occupying the catacombs. In addition to causing mayhem and destruction, Morrik and the other hobgoblins were ordered to take a few prisoners during the raid to feed to the “undead horrors” that guard part of the goblins’ lair. As far as he knows, these prisoners were random. It is clear, however, that these ‘descendants’ of the Red Hand have no idea what they are doing. They have no real connection to the Red Hand (especially since they are flying the Red Hand insignia upside-down). Morrik draws the heroes a crude map leading into the Giantshield Mountains.

The Heroes set off towards Rivenroar immediately, following Morrik’s trail. However, they run into a small pack of Kruthiks along the road. After defeating this small group of monsters, the heroes arrive at the ruins of Castle Rivenroar, discovering the entrance to the catacombs quite easily (there are dozens of tracks leading right to it). The Heroes, then, are about to attempt a ‘Rescue at Rivenroar’. Notes: Modyom Ogreender (Keith) survives a monster hit from the Ogre, thanks to his family’s tradition of fighting and ending ogres and their renowned weapons and armor. Erik, the priest of Pelor (Tom), impresses all with his substantial healing abilities. Despite having some trouble hitting, Vimak (Adrian) has the honor of exploding the pitch casks, causing the ogre (and his companions) to take some heat. More importantly, he learns to be cautious in moving by large Ogres wielding huge clubs. The Elven monk, Theren (Austin), uses his training in the art of hand and foot to great effect; there are numerous kidneys ripped out.

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Session Two: Into the Dark Crypt
Deep into that darkness peering...

The Heroes of Brindol descend into the depths of what was once Castle Rivenroar in search of the seven missing prisoners and stolen relics. Quickly, the heroes discover that the Hobgoblin soldiers of Sinruth’s band are well-trained and work extremely well in tandem. While the soldiers occupy the heroes, the goblin sharpshooters pepper the band with crossbow bolts. Both heroes and monsters desperately try to avoid the decorative (though surprisingly dangerous) moving braziers that shoot fire across the room. Whoever built these catacombs apparently was not expecting people to open doors very often.

After defeating the goblins and preventing one from escaping down a long flight of stairs, the heroes catch their breath. Following their short rest, the party enter a chamber labeled “Von Jallach Tomb” with glowing runes on the floor and alcoves filled with dead bodies. The runes appear to be an archaic and phonetic version of draconic, one that wizards used long ago. As they look at the runes, the heroes discover there are other dangers in the room. Two swarms of needlefang drakes rush the heroes still standing on the stairway, and constantly try to pull down the dwarf. Fortunately, the dwarf’s ability to stand his ground help him keep his footing (mostly). Theren is particularly effective against the swarms as his attacks kill many of the small creatures. Unfortunately, another combatant attempts to end the monk early: a small gnome. Surprised that Theren is still standing after his stealthy attack, the gnome turns invisible with the strong counter-attack. Neither the drakes nor the gnomes last much longer against the heroes.

Examining the runes a bit closer, Vimak notices that three of the runes are glowing slightly differently. Modyom is cautious after seeing the drakes take damage from the glowing script, but still activates the three runes, revealing a secret chamber hidden behind one of the alcoves. Finding gold pieces and potions of healing, the heroes see that the hidden room is a secret prayer alter for offerings. The altar reminds Erik of something, but he is unable to figure out what exactly it reminds him of.

In an adjoining chamber, the party discovers one of the prisoners. They release and rescue the Dwarf prisoner, Andronsius, who is badly beaten and chained to the wall. Despite his injuries, he is eager to get revenge against the hobgoblin band. Andronsius claims he knows that Mirtala is still alive but does not know where she is being held, and that Jalissa is alive, and he does seem to know where she is (or at least was) being held.

Leading them back the way they came and into another room, Adronsius allows the heroes to take the lead as they head further into the dungeon of Rivenroar. They find the sleeping chambers of the hobgoblin band, and note the battle standard stolen from the Hall of Great Valor is leaning against the wall. Theren makes short work of the hobgoblin grunts and soldiers standing ready in the room, but is surprised when goblin sharpshooters open a door and open fire with their crossbows. After defeating the first sharpshooter, the second attempts to flee and get help. Acting quickly, the party moves to stop him in the next room which contains a strange rippling image of a large camp next to a glowing river of LAVA! The goblin dies quickly, but something emerges from the image: a large yellow ooze! The situation is further complicated by Adronsius’s failure to leap over a hole in the hallway, and subsequent plummet into a dark room below. The ooze is a tough combatant, and the situation is further complicated when shadow specters materialize and begin to slash at the party. They appear to be the spirits of dead soldiers; perhaps of soldiers buried in these catacombs.

Eventually, the heroes are able to subdue all of the monsters and catch their breath. This last encounter was much longer than they had originally anticipated, but it proved worth it in the end.

Now the heroes must continue to move through the dungeon, eliminating monsters and saving the prisoners from Brindol. There seems to be something strange and mysterious in these catacombs, but can the heroes discover the answers in time? Will they rescue Adronsius before the dwarf succumbs to his injuries? Only time will tell. This adventure has only just begun for the Heroes of Brindol, and who knows what lies before them? NOTES – Paradoxically, Eric’s gaze is defiantly ignored by nearly all those in his purview but he does obliterate one of the haunting specters with his radiance. Fortunately, the cleric’s extraordinary healing powers kept the party alive and going during the super-double-hard Encounter. Modyom tries to rub his sweat on his friends in attempt to share his sweat’s supposed healing powers, Vimak the barbarian runs strange routes in constant charge attacks, and Theren opens the gate of battle which is self-explanatorily awesome.

Also, the party reached level 2!

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Session Three: Gnome Man's Land
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

The Heroes of Brindol move to a lower level to rescue the fallen Adronsius. Discovering a chamber filled with dangerous Mushrooms and large Rage Drakes, the heroes manage to come out on top and rescue the trapped Zerriksa from a magic circle, though the crabby old woman quickly gets on the party’s nerves.

With the two rescued prisoners in tow, the party moves deeper into the dungeon following Adronsius’s instructions to find Jalissa. Entering the Von Urstadt crypt, the heroes are ambushed by two invisible gnomes, who summon magma claw tomb guardians to stop these pesky heroes. Despite great effort on the part of the gnomes, the party is victorious. After combing through the tombs Modyom discovers several magical items, both of which are given to Erik.

The heroes then discover another prisoner, Sertanian, being held in a cell. He is gracious for being released, and is eager to continue the rescue. Moving towards where they believe Jalissa is being held, the party enters the Rivenroar family crypt. The heroes make short work of the initial occupants, though reinforcements quickly arrive. Pushed to their limits, the heroes are victorious nonetheless. While resting, Vimak and Erik find altars dedicated to Bane that were originally devoted to Vecna, Modyom finds more magic items while rooting through sarcophagi, and Theren quickly discovered a room with menacing Displacer Beast statues, dire rats, and another prisoner: Mirtala. Instead of resting, the group charged in heroically to rescue the citizen of Brindol and encountered two more gnomes. Modyom nearly contracted Filth Fever, but managed to shrug off the effects. Making short work of the rats and gnomes, the heroes now must try and calm down the hysterical Mirtala. With only a few citizens left to rescue, managing all of the prisoners is becoming increasingly difficult.

Having continually fought through nearly the entire first level of the dungeon without much rest, the heroes are tired, wounded, low on resources, and running out of time. Will they be able to rescue the other prisoners before it is too late? How much longer can the heroes go before they decide to extend their rests? What affliction has taken hold of Mirtala, and can the heroes rescue her? Find out NEXT WEEK! NOTES: Theren’s unarmed attacks continued to pummel enemies into submission. Modyom executed a cowardly hobgoblin (who offered to help the party in exchange for his life) and resisted the deadly effects of filth fever. Erik bounced back from his poor accuracy and continued to have a ridiculously impressive ability to heal. Vimak managed to kill nearly an entire room before they could even get their weapons out and something strange and mysterious happened with his axe—according to Erik, the magic involved is too complex to discover in the dungeon; a ritual, however, would do the trick.

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Session Four: Grave Danger
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

After calming down the hysterical Mirtala, the Heroes of Brindol move to the last room of the first level of the dungeon. With nearly all of the prisoners in tow, the party encounters a cobwebbed room filled with three Ettercaps. Though the heroes initially find themselves in a sticky situation, it does not take long for the party to deal with the web-spinning monsters effectively. Afterwords, the heroes discover Zerriksa’s claim to be true, Kartenix is dead. Fortunately, Theren finds some magical residuum and after a few minutes manages to enchant his fists with a magical energy and glow.

Finally, after reaching 5 and 1/2 milestones (a new record!) the party takes an extended rest, regaining their strength, health, and vigor. Feeling refreshed, the party ventures up to the next level of Castle Rivenroar. At this point, both Thurann and Jalissa are still missing, and Erik seems to be particularly eager to save Jalissa.

Emerging in a large, well-lit room, the party encounters four well-armed, well-armored, and well-trained hobgoblin troops, two acid-spitting drakes, and a goblin spellcaster. Rushing forward into the room, the party is quickly caught in the hobgoblin’s collapsing phalanx-box.

These troopers are extremely effective and manage to survive longer than nearly all of the other enemies the party has faced. The skill of the hobgoblins, combined with the deadliness of the drakes and the Hexer make this an extremely vicious and intense battle. Curses are thrown from both sides, allies make last-second shield blocks, and several party members fall. When the dust settles, however, the Heroes of Brindol are victorious. Investigating an adjoining room, Erik quickly discovers Jalissa chained up, gagged, and helpless.

With only one prisoner still missing, Jalissa informs the party that Thurann is somewhere nearby (she heard him screaming only a few hours ago before his voice was muffled). Moving forward, the party discovers a crossroads. Choosing to go down one of the hallways, the group quickly discovers Thurann bound and gagged next to a fountain. He immediately warns them of someone coming. Just as his warning is given, however, cries of fear come from behind the heroes, where the rescued captives are standing.

Two ghouls and two zombies patrolling the area have found the group and enthusiastically attack. The Undead seem particularly interested in Erik’s death, yelling “You have no power here, Lightbringer! Your death will be swift, and painful!” Evidently they don’t like Clerics.

After crushing the undead, and seeing to the group’s wounds, the party investigates nearby rooms, finding a black sunburst, a magical scrying pool, and several other rooms.

The heroes move down an unstable hallway, encountering a carnage demon fenced in by magical energy. The demon is quickly released by two wererats, and all three are quickly dealt with. Moving quickly forward, the group enters a room centered around an obelisk serving as an idol to Vecna, the god of secrets. Two wererats and a gnome arcanist occupy the room, but are unable to survive the severe justice of the heroes’ blades.

There are only two more rooms left to explore. Revealed by the scrying pool, one appears to hold Sinruth himself, and the other is some sort of audience chamber with two dangerous creatures occupying the thrones. Tune in next week to find out if the heroes will crush the Red Hand once and for all, bringing peace and security to Brindol and the Elsir Vale! NOTES: Theren’s hands are now magically enhanced, Vimak continues his massive damage output, Erik is hunted mercilessly by some undead, and Modyom earns some magic bracers. In addition, Modyom finds a secret room (See the [[Session Four Interlude: The Mysterious Room | Session Four Interlude: The Mysterious Room]]).

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Session Four Interlude: The Mysterious Room

Modyom walked cautiously into the room; he had carefully managed to slip away from his compatriots as they searched the recently cleared areas. If he had not been looking for it, he would have missed the entrance to the chamber entirely. Either someone didn’t want this room found, or never bothered to look inside before they bricked it up, Modyom thought. Indeed, the stone had practically opened up to him when he had walked by it, and he had felt a tug inside him. Something in this room was important, he could feel it.

Closing the door behind him plunged the room into blackness, though the eyes of the dwarf were still sharp. Whatever happened in this room, Modyom wanted it to be private until he could discern what it was exactly this was all about. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust his friends, this just felt very personal to Modyom; and dwarves are not known for being personal. Though the door was closed, the symbol on the wall began to glow. Modyom’s axe, shield, and armor hummed with an energy he had never felt.

It was a small, rather nondescript chamber. Were it not for the double-crescent symbol on the wall and on the sarcophagus, it would be completely devoid of any decorations. Nevertheless, Modyom was not reckless. The symbol had great meaning for the dwarf. It was the same symbol that was chiseled into his armor. It was the same symbol his axe carried. It was the symbol of his family. Though he knew the symbol well enough, Modyom had no idea what his family’s mark was doing in a chamber in the crypt of Castle Rivenroar. His mind raced to come up with answers, but it wasn’t his memory that provided the answers. It was in that instant that his sharp eyes detected the difference in stonework, masonry, and style between this chamber and the outside. Though they were subtle, dwarves have keen eyes at spotting little discrepancies like that, but this was something much more than a few small differences. If he had to guess, Modyom would say this chamber predated Castle Rivenroar by at least 1,000 years, probably longer. Trying as hard as he could to comb through the history of his clan, it took him several moments to come up with a possible explanation.

This was possibly the site of an ancient dwarven burial mound. Buried deep beneath an earthen hill, these were common over 3,000 years ago. Finding one nowadays was very rare; most were forgotten, covered up, destroyed, or raided. This chamber, though, was pristine. No one had been here in thousands of years. The symbol’s glowing intensified and Modyom stepped forward. The double-crescent began to pulse, bathing the chamber in brighter and brighter light. In the light of the crescents, words appeared on the tomb’s side. The words were an ancient dwarvish text that took Modyom a few moments to actually decipher.

“Gothrom, Master Smith and Warrior. Blessed of Moradin, Defender of Bael’dun and Champion of Khaz’goroth. 66 – 355 AY”

It was then that Modyom understood. This was a place of power. After speaking the words aloud, and touching the stone sarcophagus with his hand, the lid began to slide open on its own volition. Inside lay the skeleton of a dwarf. Adorned in ornate armor, elaborate dressing, and ceremonial weaponry, the corpse was perfect and undisturbed. Rising from the skeleton was a near-translucent essence. It formed what must have been Gothrom’s original body. The eyes of the spirit penetrated deep into the dwarf’s soul, and he heard a voice in his head. “Welcome, child of the Crescents. You may be confused, but much of this has been foretold. Rest easy knowing that more will be revealed in time. Your journey has begun; you will carry the mark. There are those that bear the light of the sun, you shall bear the light of the two moons. The path before you will be difficult. Let your heart of iron be wrapped in flames and your courage destroy your enemies. Go, child of the Crescents, fulfill all that has been foretold.” The spirit glided forward, and serenely reached out and grasped the dwarf’s forearms.

In that instant, the wall behind the spirit glowed brighter and brighter and Modyom felt a searing pain, like fire had consumed his entire body. Indeed, fire, lightning or some other kind of energy (Modyom was in too great of pain to care or comprehend) had lashed out from the wall, knocking him backwards and sending him sliding down the back wall. His weapon and shield clattered to the floor as the agony coursed through his body. The pain worsened. He could feel something etching itself into his skin. The scrawl caused excruciating pain for what felt like a lifetime. When it was done, the symbol had faded, and the dwarf seemed to glow. Looking down at his body, Modyom felt acute pain near his wrists and on his arms. Pulling off his glove and bracer and pulling up his sleeve, Modyom was utterly astonished by what he saw. Tattooed into his skin was the symbol of the double crescent; the symbol of master craftsmanship; the symbol of his family. The dwarf passed out from the pain and shock almost instantly. As Vimak rushed into the chamber to investigate the commotion, Modyom was barely conscious, looked terribly confused, and was glowing with an almost ethereal energy. In the last few moments of consciousness, the last words of the vanished spirit echoed in his mind. “There is much to be done.”

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Session Five: Beginnings and Endings
We beat them back with broken blades, till crimsom ran the tide

In this episode, one adventure ends, and another begins! The Heroes of Brindol, still in the depths of Castle Rivenroar, fight the final two enemies: the leader of the Red Hand, Sinruth, and a group of undead menaces. With all of the prisoners in tow, the group moved quickly to the chambers of Sinruth. Finding him wearing some of the relics from the Hall of Great Valor, the heroes move quickly, but find his spiked chain to be a harsh dispenser of pain. Fortunately for the group, their superior numbers, tactics, and skills eventually overcome the Hobgoblin leader. On his person, they discover a note linking Sinruth with a mysterious entity called “The Emissary.”

Finally, the group moves towards the last chamber in the crypts of Rivenroar. Inside the dark cold room, they discover it to be some sort of audience chamber. Sitting on the two thrones are a dark wight and a skeleton. After exchanging some insults and the wight threatens to eat various pieces of Erik’s skeletal structure, the battle begins. Skeletons rise up from piles of bones on the floor; Vimak rushes in and crushes his opponents (two critical hits in a row! BOO YA!). The Battle is hard fought by both sides, but after several group members fall, stand back up, and fall again, the skirmish is won by the side of good. Castle Rivenroar is purged of its evil infestation.

In short order, the group travels back to Brindol, to cheers of praise, cries of happiness, and smiles of relief. Alek Tercival is promoted to Captain of the Guard after being informed of Kartenix’s death. Eoffram Troyas, normally a very quiet and serious man, personally thanks the heroes and holds a feast in their honor. Fargrim is pleased with the work of his two adopted sons, and Erik is pulled aside by Chorlyndyr the Wise, and given two scrolls, both of which were found with him when he was discovered as a baby. Their contents are known only to Erik, at this time.

After a week or so, things have settled down, and the group has resolved itself to rebuilding the parts of Brindol that were burned. Adventure, however, is never very far from the Heroes of Brindol. Theren begins having some strange dreams; every night he seems to wake up in cold sweats with bad feelings on his mind. Each night they seem to worsen. He seems sure that something bad is happening at his former home, the Monastery of the Sundered Chain. Summoned to the chambers of Eoffram Troyas, the party is asked to travel to Overlook. Threats of an orc invasion loom, and the call for soldiers has gone out all across the Elsir Vale. The heroes, feeling the tug of destiny, answered the call without question.

On the way to Overlook, the heroes encounter a small band of Orcs. Strange that they would find Orcs, since Bordrin’s Watch supposedly keeps these foul creatures west of the Vale. Unsure of the meaning of their presence, the heroes hasten their pace to Overlook. The city, upon their arrival, is teeming with life. The large and expansive city is bursting with other adventurers, soldiers, mercenaries, merchants, and everyone else that benefits from the presence of people with coin.

Traveling to the High Hall, the group hears Elder Cadrick, the youngest dwarf on the governing council in Overlook, explain the situation: an Orc army approaches, and threatens to bypass the protection of Bordrin’s Watch by going beneath the Stonehome Mountains. There are, however, several settlements in the mountains that need evacuating, one of them being the Monastery of the Sundered Chain. Theren immediately volunteers the group to investigate and warn the dwarves of the coming army. Thanked by Elder Cadrick, the Heroes then prepare for their journey.

Moving through the mountains, the party arrives without major incident at the Monastery. Unfortunately, they spy smoke rising from the inside the gates. Moving closer, the group notices a small band of Orcs sitting around fires, roasting and feasting on body parts that strongly resemble those of dwarves. The Heroes, it seems, were too late. Were there any survivors? How many orcs have broken through? Can the Heroes still save Overlook? Only time will tell. Tune in next week for the next chapter in the Siege of Bordrin’s Watch Notes: Eric got two scrolls, Vimak asked a sage, named Immerstal the Red in Overlook about his Axe and the voices in his head, Theren runs into an old friend, Megan Swiftblade, who has also answered the call to defend Overlook and Bordrin’s Watch, and on their way out of the city, Vimak stops a group of thugs from roughing up a merchant. As they flee the scene of the battle, they call themselves The Lost Ones, and threaten retaliation. Also, Modyom currently has the chessboard that Sinruth was poring over.

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