Tales of the Irongut Brigade

Atonement

As I stared at the bladeling lying unconscious on the bunk in front of me, everything suddenly began to unravel before my eyes. This was not the Monastery of the Sun, these were not servants of Pelor. While the brand I had received was, yes, still very, very real, the excommunication I had faced was likely as false as the demon I had knocked over the head.

Rage boiled within me as I stood over the imposter. “Blasphemer…” I growled between clenched teeth, struggling to contain the scream of anger building within me. This demon would not wake again to witness Pelor’s wrath poured out upon him. Justice was served.

I removed the fiend’s armor and found it to be a decent fit, if not appealing. No matter, I told myself, it would do until I could find out what had transpired and perhaps discover the fate of my comrades. They were not in the prison with me, so perhaps they were being held elsewhere in this dark facsimile of the monastery. I had to get to relative safety in order to recover fully without the use of my divine powers, and would need to act swiftly; the guards would be back soon to banish me and would not be pleased to see their dead brother had taken my place. I also felt that I should free their other prisoner – he was likely as innocent as I had been and may have somehow been responsible for the key that I found.

All thoughts of aiding him were banished from my mind when he rushed the bars with a hiss. Another bladeling. So, I thought. His encouraging words were all part of the illusion as well. False and evil. With grim satisfaction I unlocked the cell and readied my new weapon, welcoming my charging, snarling foe. Unarmored and without a weapon himself, I dispatched him immediately.

With both corpses returned to their bunks, a disguise that would buy me but precious few moments, I slipped quietly out into the corridor. The monastery was still a very close match to the actual home of my order, but now that the illusion had faded somewhat, the place was ugly and twisted with evil. The bright halls had now grown dank and dark, tainted by the foul touch of the demons. I reached the exit to the courtyard, resolving to return and take my vengeance upon these creatures for their unholy impersonation.

Pausing at the thought of what other dangers might lurk beyond the walls of the false monastery, I decided to make a final attempt at using the abilities to heal bestowed upon me by the Shining One. I closed my eyes and prayed for restoration, that I might have a better chance at returning for retribution.

I was healed.

Pelor’s light shone within me and I was renewed. A stark contrast to when I attempted to use his power within the cell. Such must have been the strength of the illusion; powerful enough that I doubted my connection to the divine.

“This changes everything…” I said to the empty corridor, tensing my body in anticipation. With the divine powers at my disposal I would not flee the monastery, oh no. These demons would see just what the true power of Pelor was capable of. I resolved to bring righteous retribution to this evil place – at any cost.

As a sign of his approval of my course of action, Pelor brought to me the first of many who would fall before his wrath that night. Bishop Garious, or the thing that was supposed to be Garious, rounded the corner at that very moment. His twisted, warped form no longer hidden with the illusion stopped abruptly as he recognized me even beneath the helm I wore. “Guards!” he cried as he stepped back. “To me! The apostate has escaped!”

“Enough of your lies, demon!” I bellowed as I charged him. “I know what you are! Here you will meet your end, for Pelor!!”

View
Unlimited Power in the Wrong Hands
Had we but reached the chamber a few moments earlier...

Ah, but there is no time to dwell upon what might have been. The heat from the molten pool of former Iron Circle troops radiates up from the area before the dais where what once was Lord Vhennik bellows a challenging roar to us.

I think back for just a moment to the tales of dragons told to me by the dwarves in Hammerfast; their powerful jaws and terrifying magical abilities. This creature seems much, much worse.

“Any bright ideas, lads?” Gimil has to shout to be heard. “…anything other than runnin’ for the stairs?”

“I would advise against that,” an oddly calm voice comes from Dr. Wizardopolis’ position. “The beast is likely to give chase if we break and run…and I have my doubts that these walls would do much to hold it back.”

“Right,” says Kron. “So we wait for him to come and make this hallway a brick oven. Good plan.”

The thought does not appeal to me as I listen to the stone blocks pop and split from the heat of the melted soldiers. “Very good point, Kron. In here we have no room to maneuver. Should he charge us, we have nowhere to go and would be cooked alive…”

“Then you have a better plan, priest?” Ryltar’s voice is like ice on the back of my neck. “There is nowhere to go but back, unless you desire to join Vhennik’s minions.”

As he gestures before us my mind races through our very short list of options, but something about the drow’s voice sticks…his tone…like ice. The scepter of the Winter King? Without an affinity for matters arcane I cannot be sure…

“Likely I do not,” I say to the party. “But I need you mages to tell me if the thought I do have has any merit.”

View
In the likely case of our demise...

Journal entry: 13th of Sevenmonth, 326 A.F.

As I write here, my ink gradually thawing the more time I spend in this evil – but warm- hall, I have to wonder if perhaps this valiant troop may have gotten in over our heads this time? In prayer to Pelor for protection and guidance, I suddenly felt compelled to record our progress since our victory over the Iron Circle.

Victory, yes, but not complete, as we learned. As we gathered in a local public house in Harken proper with our new friend Moose the Minotaur, we were…informed…that Nazin Redthorn was (as we suspected) not the true power behind the Circle’s nefarious doings. A tiefling warrior, calling himself Lividius, strode through the door of the inn, bearing a message from the Circle and the head of our dear friend Dar Greammoth.

Seeing the grim trophy this beast had claimed, I did not bother to listen to the whole of what he had to say. As one, we stood and routed the intruder, and as he attempted to flee he was felled by one of Master Krushemdead’s javelins.

We would show him no more mercy than he showed the leader of the resistance.

After we saw to the return of Master Greammoth’s remains and I had performed the rites required to leave him in repose until we might have him restored to life, we set out in the direction of Fallcrest, having found a letter directing the felled tiefling warrior to return there after dispatching us.

It seemed, to me at least, that this ‘Lord Vhennik’ may have had an idea that his servant had failed him. No surprise, really. There are countless ways that he could have known we had dispatched Lividius. In any case, we were attacked en route to Fallcrest by a pack of wolves and dire wolves. Strange that they would be driven to attack us, I felt. The creatures acted quite out of sorts, in fact, almost as though they were being directed to attack us.

After overcoming these creatures, we reached the gates of Fallcrest. Instantly we realized that something was amiss when we noted the gates wide open and no guard posted. No lamps burned in the windows and no smoke rose from the chimneys of the houses in town, and in the dim light we could see humanoid shapes, and some larger ones, shambling aimlessly through the gloom. I have dealt with my fair share of undead before, and their behavior was unmistakable.

Having left the minotaur outside to guard the caravan, the dwarves and I proceeded as quietly as we were able, hoping to find a living soul who could tell us what was happening.

A snapped twig underfoot dashed the hopes of avoiding the undead. Fortunately, the radiant countenance of Pelor does not smile kindly upon the unholy reanimations of the damned. As we crushed undead left and right, a shadowy figure appeared from nowhere and lent us aid. Fighting for our lives as we were, I simply thanked Pelor for sending this brave soul to us, content to discover their identity after we crushed the shambling zombies.

Imagine my surprise when the sorcerer pulled his hood back to reveal that it was none other than Vorlis Darksteel, our departed companion back from the dead. He spoke to us of being raised and ensouled by an ancient red dragon, who’s reasons for bringing Vorlis back from the edge of the abyss would remain a mystery, and of being sent to Fallcrest by this creature.

Vorlis lead us through the town, where I noted the temperature had dropped sharply. Snow drifted in on an icy breeze – in the middle of summer!! We made our way to the lower section of Fallcrest, where the citizens had set up a camp and perimeter they could defend from the undead. Three feet of snow had fallen on most of Fallcrest by this time, collapsing roofs and burying livestock, and the weather gave no indication of changing. We set about the outskirts, cutting down zombies in groups of two or three, and attempting to spell the citizens who had been guarding their makeshift wall in the cold for so long.

On the chill wind, low at first but growing louder all the while, a rasping chant floated along overhead. Dawn had just begun to light the sky when we discovered the source – a longboat in the sky, sails tattered and crew oddly gaunt. They circled the encampment once, twice, then landed with a crash directly in the center. The crew, now clearly undead and evil, disembarked and began wholesale slaughter of the poor townsfolk, tearing at their clothing and ransacking tents.

The alarm was sounded, and what was available out of the local militia rushed in to protect the fleeing citizens. Lead by a handful of local heroes, they provided a flank to the undead force, allowing us a chance to strike the enemy.

Even now the madness of fighting these barbaric warriors seems overwhelming. After what seemed an endless battle, with numerous casualties, we and the townsfolk were able to, by the Power of Pelor, send these creatures back to the nine hells where they came from.

I cautiously approached the ship’s prow and as I did the wooden white dragon figure head growled and spoke to me, demanding to know if I possessed the scepter of the Winter King. I did not, so I felt it best not to answer.

Meanwhile, Lucan’s sharp eyes had spotted a small figure making his way out of the refugee camp, clutching something close to him. As I turned to leave the talking ship, Lucan dragged the unfortunate halfling up to the rest of us by the hair in one hand, holding an icy rod wrapped in burlap in the other. “Something about a scepter?” the elf asked. “This one might know something about it.”

The halfling, named Marco Lancet, quickly and nervously related the story to us of his discovery of the scepter. He had been a slave in a mine deep in the Caringorn Peaks of the Stonemarch, where he had escaped and fled in fear for his life into a blizzard. Half frozen, he stumbled upon a cave at the base of a pillar of ice and skulls. He sought shelter in this cairn, finding the fear of the unknown to be less that the bite of the cold. Deeper and deeper he had gone, until finally he discovered a throne room of sorts, where an icy skeletal figure sat. The scepter rested gently in it’s right hand. By his natural curiosity he picked the scepter up. Slowly, Marco felt suffused with warmth, starting with his hands which held the scepter. Holding the scepter seemed to keep the cold at bay. He said that he figured it was no use to the frozen figure on the throne, but it could potentially save his life. Nodding in morbid thanks, he left the cairn.

The scepter had made travel through the Caringorn peaks survivable for Marco, if not pleasant. He listened to the frustrated sound of his pursuers from the mines, who finally gave up after a time. After all, how could a halfling survive out in the blizzard on his own? Chuckling to himself, Marco had headed South East, down the contour of the mountains. He slept on the bare snow without care, warmed as he was by the scepter.

Eventually he made his way to Fallcrest, where he felt he could start anew…that is, until the snow came. Marco related that once he saw the ship he knew the undead warriors were looking for him and the scepter, he could feel it. Which, of course, compelled him to leave hurriedly once they had been dealt with. As Marco related his tale to us, our activity caught the attention of more than one resident of Fallcrest, and they had begun to gather close by.

I and the others again approached the ship, and again the wooden figurehead came alive, asking if we held the scepter and staring with it’s painted eyes. “Yes, we do,” I answered, bracing myself for a possible attack. None came however, and to our surprise the dragon figurehead seemed to sigh as it answered.

“Then you may board.”

After some hesitation, we climbed up the gang plank and onto the deck of the boat, on guard at all times for more of the frozen skeletal warriors who had caused such havoc before. One of the locals we had met in the fight, a towering man who called himself ‘Bonesnapper’ offered his greatsword in aid, which we readily accepted.

“You understand that we…really have no idea what’s going to happen once we get on this boat, don’t you?” I said to him as we began to board.

“Whatever it is,” he replied grimly. “It can’t be that bad compared to some of the things I have seen. I fought for the militia, true, but I am my own man and I would see where this boat will go.”

Lucan was the last to come up, as he still had hold of the halfling. “I…I really think I should be going,” said Marco. “I’m really not going to be of much use to you; I’m no fighter…I’ll just stay behind, you can take it back without me.” As he turned, and Lucan let go of him, he rounded the ship’s bow and stopped in his tracks as the cold gaze of the angry crowd met his eyes, more chill than the snow and ice that clung to their meager belongings. They were all focused on him.

“On second thought,” he muttered as he rushed back up onto the deck. “You gentlemen look like you could use my help.”

On board, the rest of us were busily trying to figure out what command would raise the ship into the air. The figurehead was once again a plain, wooden dragon, and try as we might, we could not get us to speak further or instruct us. “It appears to be a simple, magical automation,” Vorlis said to me. “It’s not intelligent, probably just waiting for a specific pass phrase or action.”

Meanwhile, Gimil Irongut had taken a seat at one of the oars, holding it in his hands and plying it idly. As Lucan had my attention in looking for a receptacle where the scepter could be placed, as a sort of control mechanism, I heard the dwarf call from behind me.

“Lads, I think ye better come an’ take a look at this,” he called as he rowed. “I’m gettin’ some resistance here that don’t make much sense.” Indeed, as he pulled, he seemed to be straining, though the oar’s paddle was simply suspended in the air. Quickly the rest of us took seats and grasped the oars, sending Marco Lancet to the tiller. As we tested
the oars out, the ship lurched forward.

“That’s more like it,” the figurehead boomed. “Now set the oars and put your backs into it, curs! We set sail for the cairn of the Winter King!!” And with that, the ship launched into the air as if shot from a bow.

The trip was a horrible experience by all accounts. We soon discovered, quite by accident and nearly causing the death of us all, that the boat required four people to row at a time. At times when all but one of us were thrown from our benches, the boat careened groundward and we barely managed to avoid being smashed to bits on the rocky foothills of
the peaks. “Row, fools!” the boat berated us. “The Winter King can always send another ship!!”

“Perhaps the next one will be able to steer better than you do!” Lucan retorted, but the figurehead paid him no mind and sped onward through the gale.

Somehow, in spite of the crashing storm, we came to rest with a snowy crunch in the shadow of a tower of ice. Skulls peered out through the frozen pillar, their jaws agape and sightless eyes staring out – directly at us it seemed.

“I…c-c-can’t believe I’m back here,” said Marco. “I thought I would never see this place again in my life…maybe I’m dead!”

Determined to end the curse that had come down on Fallcrest, we pushed forward to the mouth of a small cave at the base of the cairn under the pillar of skulls, dragging the halfling with us. Out of the wind, the tunnel was not nearly as cold as the mountainside had been. We traveled down a corridor to a set of double-doors at the end. I turned to Marco and jerked a thumb at the door, raising an eyebrow in question. He looked confused and had not yet stopped muttering to himself under his breath. “…No, this can’t be the same place. There were no doors here…no…this is all wrong…”

I turned to Gimil and shrugged. He shrugged in return and strode boldly up to the double iron doors and gave the handle a good, hard tug. The door hardly moved, making a crunching, creaking noise up in it’s hinges. He turned back to us, stunned at the apparent bulk of the door.

Kron grumbled to himself and handed Gimil his weapon for a moment. “Hold my maul and watch this,” he grunted, taking the door handle in his hands.

“Famous last words, lad,” said Gimil, taking a step back.

Kron took a couple deep breaths and heaved forward. As he did, the entire door fell inward, it’s hinges pulled from the wall, and landed with a mighty boom in the room beyond. Surprisingly this room was lit and warm…and far from empty. As we began to push our way into the room, a direwolf snarled and stalked forward. A gnome (I’m not sure if it was male or female and I don’t feel inclined to check now) let out a cry of alarm and a large man stood on the fully laden banquet table and bellowed.

“I am Bortek!” said he, leveling his greataxe at us. “And you are about to die!”

Master Krushemdead eagerly pulled the maul from his comrade’s hand and charged to meet the foe head on. As I followed Lucan in and attempted to protect the dwarf’s flank from the huge canine, I noticed another dire wolf closing in from the other side of the room. I called out sharply to my companions to warn them of the other creature as I caught the jaws of the first one on my shield. “Get the other door open!” I shouted.

Vorlis must have heard me, because one moment I heard his footfalls running down the corridor and the next I saw the door crash open, directly into the face of the second dire wolf, which staggered back, shaking off the blow. I struck out at the first dire wolf, calling upon Pelor and praying for healing for Kron, who had been driven back by the ferocity of Bortek the barbarian. My lord Pelor readily obliged, and Master Krushemdead’s wounds were mended as he struck back at Bortek.

Meanwhile the gnome had gone unchallenged, and had been granted the opportunity to prepare a spell, which hit us all full force. As I began to shake off the dancing lights in my head after the impact, I shouted to Bonesnapper. “Hurry, my friend. Get the caster!”

Boris Bonesnapper needed no further persuasion. With a roar, he charged past Bortek and vaulted the table, slashing the gnome so severely that I thought it was dead at first. Lucan attempted to skirt the table and stab the caster in the back, but the gnome dodged the shortsword by some miracle of fortune and attempted to flee. Boris had no intention of letting the creature leave and took it’s head before it was beyond reach of his sword.

By this time Master Krushemdead had knocked Bortek to his knees, and I had weakened the first dire wolf to the point that it had barely the strength to stand, let alone fight. With Gimil’s assistance, Vorlis had turned the second wolf into an unrecognizable burning mass.

After dealing the final blow to the barbarian, Master Krushemdead turned to the dire wolf. To our surprise, rather than killing the animal, the dwarf hoisted himself onto the back of the beast, gripping it by the scruff of the neck. At first, the dire wolf weakly protested with a choking snarl. Kron hefted his maul within view of the wolf.

STAY”, he bellowed. Cowed, the creature did as it was told.

With the battle ended, we took in our surroundings. The room was decked out for a feast, the table laden with all manor of delicious food and drink, still warm from wherever it had been prepared. What’s more, a row of comfortable looking beds lined the East wall.

“This isn’t right,” I muttered to the others. “I’m not touching the food”.

“Bah, yer paranoid, lad,” Gimil chided. “I’ve never let good food go to waste and I don’t intend to start now”. He stood at the table and hoisted a ham hock to his mouth, biting in with relish.

“Suit yourself,” I said to him. I felt something was very wrong with the room, and went to one of the doors and listened. “Lucan, can you bring the halfling inside? Tell him the danger has passed…somewhat.”

The elf obliged. Try as I might, I couldn’t make out any sound or light coming from the other side of the door. Though we seemed in no immediate danger, there was still that dark foreboding in the back of my mind. It was only then that I noticed the smell of the room had changed. What had once been an inviting smell of warm food had become…

“Gimil STOP!” I called out. Too late. Gimil pulled a face at the sudden change of flavor and pulled back what had once been ham from his mouth, swallowing in the process. Instead of the rich cut of meat he had been holding before, he held the fetid, decomposing haunch of a human. He stared at his teeth marks in the flesh for a moment before dropping the limb back on the table.

“It’s cursed!” Kron shouted, pointing in disbelief at the table, now strewn with humanoid remains and cups and decanters filled with blood. “Look…something’s written in the blood”. As sure as the sunrise, there were unmistakeable words in blood down the center of the table.

SO YOU THINK YOU ARE GUESTS IN MY HOUSE? – it spelled out.

“Then the beds…” Vorlis began.

“Likely cursed as well,” I finished his thoughts. “Come, let us move the remains into the antechamber where the dire wolves were being kept. I don’t know what else these parts might change into and I don’t wish to find out. Gimil, how are you feeling?”

Gimil looked gaunt and had turned a pale shade of grayish-green. “Well…I mean…” he shuffled, sitting down on the bench. “It was human…so technically it’s not cannibalism…”

“None the less,” Kron admonished. “Yer still a sick man.”

At this point Lucan re-entered the room, bringing Marco with him. The poor halfling looked at the bodies on the floor and the carnage on the table and let out a wail. “Aaaauuuggghh!!! You said it was safe in here!! I should have known! It’s not safe! Aaaahhh! That was a halfling!! So was that!! Aaaaahhh!!!” Lucan clamped a hand over Marco’s mouth, who continued to shriek and point at the table.

So, here we are now. We have barricaded the doors and cleansed the room some. The beds were used as a blockade and none of us have dared to touch the blankets, pillows and mattresses that initially looked so inviting, opting instead to camp on the stone floor in the center of the room.

Gimil has recovered some with some rest, and Master Krushemdead’s new steed was healed of it’s wounds (nearly taking my hand in the process). Though we seem safe from attack for the time being, Pelor be praised, I cannot help but feel that we are going on to our slaughter. While I have had some rest, I have slept little, as every tiny sound jars me awake. I feel these could be our final hours. While we aim to return the scepter to it’s rightful owner, that same owner may not feel much gratitude.

Thus, I record our progress. Should someone find this journal, know that the Irongut Brigade was preparing to take the scepter of ice back to the entity known as the Winter King. Know also that, if this journal be found without owner, he has bested us.

Blessed Be The Light,

-Zandahar, Shining Servant of Pelor and Defender of Harkenwold

View
The Story Thus Far, or as close as I can come to it.

Alright, friend, since the dwarves are raucously celebrating our victory over Nazin Redthorn, I will fill in the gaps in our tale…those you did not see for yourself. I am no bard, so I shall be brief; it is, after all, quite a long tale already.

I met the two stout ones, the rogue Lucan, the Tiefling hexblade (Pelor rest his soul) and the good doctor at an Inn in Fallcrest; the name escapes me now…in any case, I had completed my visit to the local temple of Erathis and having completed my training in Hammerfast, I was free to spread the goodwill of Pelor. This seemed an answer to my prayers.

My being fluent in Dwarven seemed to go over well with Sir Irongut and Master Krushemdead, and they expressed an interest in having me along with them to investigate the troubles in Harkenwold for a share in any spoils along the way. I accepted, and we set out the next day.

Taking the King’s Road, we stopped and visited with Ilyana, the elder druid who lives to the north of here. She told us of the Iron Circle, whom we’d had the pleasure of meeting along the way, of Baron Stockmer’s disappearance, and directed us to Tor’s Hold, where we met with the local patriarch, Orsik Tolnoth, and his niece, Bardryn.

Master Tolnoth told us of the trouble the people of Tor’s hold had been having with a new tribe of bullywugs that had moved into a cave known as Toadswallow. They said local militias had been kept too busy fighting with the bullywugs to stand up to the Iron Circle’s henchmen. The ’wugs had recently taken to kidnapping local children as well, namely halflings of the Reedfoot clan.

After holding a brief council we proposed a mission to parlay with the tribe if we could, and to drive them out by force if we had to. The dwarves of Tor’s Hold agreed, and the party, accompanied by Bardryn as an interpreter, set off to the cave, where we met the chieftain of the tribe – a mage of some kind.

The chieftain seemed nervous and dismissed us almost as soon as we arrived. We remained and demanded an audience with him from his guards, who’s interest in the cask of ale we had brought as a gift lead to an altercation between the guards. We used this confusion as an opportunity to rush the cave.

After a long fight with the bullywugs, the chieftain and the returning bullywug champion, and nearly at the cost of Bardryn’s life, we managed to expel the menace and sent the rest of the tribe scattering in a panic and dropping young Heron Reedfoot at our feet, never to return to Toadswallow again.

Ah, save one. There is a lone ’wug, Lop-Dop, who has sworn a path of peace. You will find him happily fishing the shores of the White River. Lop-Dop has promised, on pain of death, not to harm the good people of the valley, and I intend to remind him of that promise from time to time. Pelor bless the simple creature, it seemed his brain-over-brawn mentality was not welcome in bullywug society. Perhaps in time he will start his own tribe, but only time will tell…

Forgive me, I digress. We headed to the shores of the White River, where the young halfling was reunited with his friends who had escaped capture. They lead us to one of their family’s barges, where we shared wine with the family patriarch, who first spoke to us of Dar Greamoth and the resistance on our way back to Tor’s Hold.

Imagine our dismay when, on the road on our way back to the town, we could see flame against the cloudy sky and smell smoke on the air! We broke into a run and discovered the Tolnoth home engulfed in flame and a cursed Iron Circle banner on a pike outside.

It was here that I first noted Vorlis, our departed companion, begin to betray his lineage. Without thought for himself he rushed into the burning house to search for Master Tolnoth. Not finding the old dwarf, he leaped from the second story to escape, just as the building came crashing down.

After questioning the townsfolk, we attempted to track the raiders, who appeared to have taken Master Tolnoth captive, but we lost their tracks in the rain that followed. At the crossroads, we took a guess and set off for Albridge – after all, we did need to contact the resistance. Along the way we passed a homestead where lights flickered in the windows. We thought to stop and ask for shelter until the storm passed – but we were ambushed.

A mage, several foot soldiers and a fighter mounted on a drake had been lying in wait it seemed, after killing the family who lived in the farmstead. Cowardly bastards…by Pelor, we sent them to face judgement! Once every man and beast had been felled, I performed last rites for the family and we buried them on their farm.

We set off again for Albridge and arrived early the next morning. I offered up a prayer to Pelor that he might open my eyes and shed his light to aid me in locating Dar Greamoth, and find him we did. By His will, I walked directly to their headquarters without pause, as if invited! Blessed Be The Light! It was a great blessing to have found them so soon, without having to draw attention to the resistance.

Master Greamoth welcomed us hesitantly, and told us the best way to help would be to break up the supply caravans, and to go to the Woodsinger elves for assistance, introducing the Drow Ryltar to us in the process. We carried out his orders with pleasure, wiping out multiple companies of the Iron Circle. During these fights, Ryltar proved more than capable of looking after himself, eliminating his enemies with rapid-fire blasts of magical force. Eventually, we made our way into the Harken forest.

Not long after entering the forest we lost the path, and after wandering for a time, we were stopped by the Woodsingers. They expressed a desire to help, but told us they were occupied with their own conflicts. Goblins had taken over an ancient Eladrin site called Dal Nastir, and were working with, or for, an unspeakable undead wizard. A vial of green dragon’s blood had been acquired to activate the portal at Dal Nastir, but the elves hadn’t the numbers for a direct assault.

We agreed to deal with the abomination within Dal Nastir if they would join in the fight against the Iron Circle, and help return Baron Stockmer to his rightful status. They accepted, and we set off at once.

Immediately when we arrived we were beset by goblins and giant spiders, which we dispatched with ease. After the skirmish, I poured some of the contents of the vial on an altar in the center of the stone circle. We spoke the elven word for “Enter” and were teleported into a chamber where we met with more goblins and two caged drakes, which the vile creatures had been using as beasts of burden. After finishing them off, we chose one of two doors which appeared to lead to an antechamber and broke it down.

Directly inside were three things: A group of skeletons, including the mage which was our target. A massive spider, far larger and more deadly than those we had previously met, and lastly, a pit trap. The last of these was, regrettably, discovered by accident.

Several of our party attempted to jump the gap created when the trap opened. Knowing I hadn’t the propensity successfully make it across, I rushed to pull the table from the first room to make a bridge. Meanwhile, our tiefling friend fell in, grievously wounding himself.

The fight raged on, and the mage released a massive blast of magic, so potent that there was naught I could do to save Vorlis. He was too far gone. Those of us who survived did avenge him properly, though.

We recovered the fragmented skull of the mage as proof, and our companion’s body, and headed back to the Woodsinger’s camp. The elven tribe agreed to join the battle for Harkenwold, and our small party set out for Albridge once more.

About halfway there we were approached by a halfling rider, who explained frantically that the Iron Circle was preparing for a final assault against the resistance, and that Nazin Redthorn would ride against Albridge himself! We rushed back to a camp just South of Albridge and took our marching orders from Master Greamoth, who told us to break out and engage the separate companies of Iron Circle fighters before they could amass on the battlefront.

We set out and did just that, clearing several groups out of the countryside that never made it to see the end of their lord. …Unfortunately, neither did I. During one of these skirmishes I was knocked on the head by a spear-butt. When I awoke, Praise Pelor, we had won! Nazin Redthorn’s horse had been burned from beneath him by Doctor Wizardopolis, and the foul mage had been killed while attempting to flee the battle by our own Kron Krushemdead!

What a glorious day! However, the Iron Circle’s reserve troops still held the keep at Harken. We learned of a secret entrance through the sewer, and while our mages Ryltar and the good Doctor attempted to gain access by trickery, the dwarves and I waited in the gutter to be let in.

The battle raged on for what seemed hours, and after securing the front half of the keep and rescuing Baron Stockmer, the lord of the keep urged us to keep fighting and to drive the Iron Circle from Harkenwold once and for all.

To our dismay, as we charged along the walltops, we caught sight of a mighty ballista taking aim at our position. Were it not for the quick thinking of Doctor Wizardopolis, the siege engine would have spelled our end. …Why yes, as a matter of fact it is parked right over there… With a little magic and a well-aimed shot, the good Doctor assumed command of the ballista and obliterated Nazin Redthorn’s second-in-command, removing the shadow of the Iron Circle from Harkenwold forever.

So here we are, my friend, celebrating our victory as well as lamenting those who did not survive. May their sacrifices never be forgotten, and may Pelor guide their souls to peace. Now, you must excuse me while I rescue the Inn from another round of the dwarves and their victory songs.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.