Scales of War

Umbraforge Part One

The Palmers were greeted by a gnome as they reached the top of Bordrin’s Watch. He identified himself as being a member of the Freeriders, the group that had been tasked with helping to hold off the orc hordes above the mountain. The gnome led the Palmers to the cathedral of Bordrin’s Watch where they offered their services to the guards. The hordes lasted just a couple of days after their way under the mountains were cut off, and they were pushed back in tho the orc-land. In these two days Megan Swiftblade made it obvious that she was going out of her way to ignore the Palmers, a turn of events that none of them expected after the two groups had gotten along so well just a few evenings ago back in the city. Edgar asked the gnome why she was being so cold, and the gnome confided that Megan had become jealous of the Palmers after their assignment of the Monastery of the Sundered Chain. She was even more sour because that mission had led to the entire monastery being wiped out.

When the battle had ended the Palmers returned to the Overlook where the Shantytown was a smoldering mess, and some holes had been blown in the walls. However, there had been no damage done that was sever enough to compromise the city. When they arrived back at Care Overlook to talk to the Elder Dwarfs, the Palmers found a crowd awaiting them and cheering their names. Paelius caught a glimpse of Megan Swiftblade in the crowd, but she turned her head when their eyes met. For the next week there was much celebrating and drinking done for Overlook’s victory and for the new Heroes of Overlook: the Palmers. Though during this time they tried to voice their concerns to the Elders about the Shadar-Kai weaponry that the orcs had been wielding, the Elders wouldn’t hear it, instead focusing on the rebuilding attempts of the city, and getting things back to regular routine.

One day, as the Palmer’s were traveling the streets of the Nine Bells District, they came across a large crowd in the street. Hoping to avoid the hoopla that was involved with being recognized as heroes, and hoping not to be held up, the Palmers attempted to avoid the crowd by going through a side ally. It was here that the Lost Ones once again attacked. The thugs were led by the same mage whom had vanished at the Hearth & Kettle when the Palmer’s had arrived: Erric. The thugs fought hard, but the Palmer’s had revenge on their minds, and they destroyed all of the thugs except for Erric. They questioned the mage and he revealed that he was hired by someone named Modra to recover a brass key from the heroes. Though the heroes hadn’t thought much of it, they had recovered the brass key from the dark creeper in the vents under Bordrin’s Watch.

With no other information to offer them, Bardryn chopped the head from Erric’s shoulders.

With new information that someone had paid for the brass key, the Palmers set off to find this mysterious Modra. They scoured the city, asking questions in different districts. At one point, while in the Tradestown District, the Palmers encountered their nemesis from Rivenroar: Sinruth! He had with him a band of hob-goblins. The Palmers nearly lost the fight because of their surprise at the resurrected foe, but in the end they killed him again. Upon his death Sinruth’s true form was revealed to be a doppleganger. On the doppleganger was a list of names including the names of the Palmers and the names of the Freeriders.

After some more investigation the Palmers found that Modra was a dark creeper himself and that he had last been seen in the city just before the orc attack. There was a rumor that said he had been just a henchman for the true shadar-kai arms dealer, and that a deal had gone bad and that now Modra was on the run. One old woman named Haelyn, whom was the caretaker of the shrine of Erathis in Tradestown, told the Palmers that she had heard the name Modra at a local rest stop in Tradestown named The Happy Beggar.

The Palmers found the rest stop and met the two owners, husband and wife, name Parshant and Ausma. An old human man sat in the corner of the Happy Beggar and beckoned the Palmers over. He asked them what their business was, telling them that in his day he had been a mercenary, too. The Palmers and this old man conversed and he told them that Modra was dangerous and frequented the Happy Beggar often, though he hadn’t seen him since before the orc attack. The Palmers thanked the old man, but Paelius was distrustful. He followed the old time to a small apartment complex where the old man bedded down for the night. Nothing else could be found with him.

When Paelius returned, The rest of the heroes had found a secret door in one of the closets of the kitchen. The stone at the base of the door looked to be scraped fresh, revealing that the secret had been used often. Beneath the Happy Beggar the heroes found a stow room of provisions. Before their eyes, a group of Shadar-Kai and dark creepers came in through a portal. They had two large cages containing shadow hounds. One of the shadar-kai called out Modra’s name and he proceeded to flee into a room set further back. After the Palmers had defeated the Shadowfell creatures they went through the portal in which the foes had arrived. What they found was a large store house full of Shadar-Kai weaponry. The warehouse was one just a few blocks from the Happy Beggar. They proceeded back through the portal to chase after Modra where they found a pack of wraiths guarding another portal. Modra hid behind them, and, as the Palmers fought the wraiths, Modra proceeded with a ritual that briefly opened the portal, into which he escaped.

When the Palmers had defeated the wraiths, they found that the portal had closed, but a small keyhole was set into the runic stone. By using the small brass key they had taken from the vents under Bordrin’s Watch, the Palmers used the portal and found themselves in the Shadowfell.

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Bordrin's Watch Part Two

The Palmers opened their eyes one by one onto the dimly lit cavern. The fires and molten lava had died down, and in their place were charred rock surrounding the bloody limbs and remains of fallen dwarfs. A scarred dwarf with singed off hair looked hopefully at the heroes. He explained that after Ogg killed them all, he had left without checking to make sure that he, Kalad, was actually dead. Kalad then explained that he had made the arduous journey back to the outskirts of Overlook where small attacks had already been made on the city. Kalad ventured into the Shantytown and asked for the help of Rufus Crumley to come back and revive the heroes. And that was how they had lived again.

Rufus was a quiet man who seemed to enjoy brooding by his lonesome in a dark corner whenever possible. Kalad was badly hurt, but he was passionate about the city and the mountains. He let the heroes regroup and then explained the direness of the situation. He was sure that while the majority of the forces at Bordrin’s Watch fought the orc hoards above ground, a secret army were slipping through the vents beneath. The Palmers told Kalad that another adventuring group called the Farstriders were sent to protect the vents, but Kalad wouldn't hear it. He argued that the if his ponderings were correct then the sheer number of orcs coming through the vents would snap the Farstriders without a second glance and continue on their way. After little discussion the Palmers all agreed that following Kalad through the vents was the right thing.

When they finally got there Kalad found that he was right, already orcs were passing through the vents, and not just a handful. From a few hundred feet away Kalad and the Palmers watched as Ogg and a large group of orcs sat around a fire, seemingly eating the remains of five horses; the Farstriders’ horses! Edgar and Paelius led the sneak attack this time. They surrounded Ogg and, after taking down his group, cut off his head and threw it on his own fire. The revenge was sweet.

Inside the vents were more orcs. And there was something odd that the Palmers and Kalad both noticed; Shadar-Kai weaponry. The orc army was outfitted with weapons way beyond what they should have been able to come by, and in such large numbers. After fighting their way through multiple foes the Palmers came upon a smaller group being led by a dark creeper—scum and servants of the Shadar-Kai! Something about this attack seemed somewhat out of the ordinary, what with the organization and the arms. The heroes took note, as did Kalad.

Finally, they came upon the entrance to the Nexus. A large chamber which Kalad told was a safeguard against this very happening. But he was troubled because he might have been one of the last to remember its true usefulness. Inside the Nexus the heroes found a never ending barrage of orcs as they scrambled out of the vents. The room was large and ladders and stairways led up and around in a circular pattern to the top, where Kalad told them a control to fill the vents and the Nexus with scalding water resided. As the heroes fought their way up the balconies, Tusk, the king of this particular orc army, came marching out of one of the vents, his wife by his side. Together the team managed to block the controls to the Nexus and throw the Palmer’s ranger, Don, down to the rock floor to his death. The group eventually got to the top and activated the controls. Paelius, using his rope and climber’s kit, managed to swing to the bottom of the Nexus and cut off the hand of Don—so as to raise him from the dead if they were able to return to the city. He made it back in just the nick of time, just before the boiling water overtook him, and the heroes and Kalad climbed the long ladder to the top of the Nexus, to the stronghold Bordrin’s Watch.

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Bordrin's Watch Part One

 The next morning the five mercenaries set off from Brindol toward Overlook, an old city in the West. Paeleus was set upon the ranger's pet bear. Paeleus's condition was bad, and he spent most of the trip in a deep coma. The normal length of the trip would have been just under a week. However, with Paelus's condition so severe, it took the group ten days. On the ninth day, the group came upon an elven city at the edge of a forest. The elves healed Paeleus in exchange for some gold.

It was right after this that the group encountered a pack of orcs. Mid fight another adventuring group joined the mercenaries and helped them destroy the orcs. The farstriders didn't stick around to chat, and left the mercenaries to themselves for the remainder of the journey. But the implications of orcs already over the mountains were not lost on the mercenaries.

They reached the outer borders of the large city the following day. A sort of ghetto had sprung up on the outskirts of the city, a place called the Shantytown. In this town stood a large, gray tower. It leaned slightly off to the side. The mercenaries inquired about this tower and were told that a man named Rufus Crummly resided there, and that he practiced necromancy. The group decided to investigate at a later time, when there wasn't the threat of an orc war on the horizon.

At the city gates the guards asked them to identify themselves with an adventuring group name. The mercenaries hadn't yet thought of a name, but quickly came to the decision of “The Palmers”—named after a favorite drink of the group.

Not too far into the city, the Palmers happened upon a small inn. The Hearth and Kettle was an area favorite, and was run by a femal dwarf whom was popular in the city. When the Palmers entered the Hearth and Kettle they found a group of thugs bullying the owner Hagga into paying for her “protection”. This group identified themselves as the Lost Ones. The Palmers fought off the small band of Lost Ones, killing all of them except for one who they heard referred to as Erric. Erric was a magic user and escaped death by literally vanishing form the inn. But Hagga was so thrilled with the help from the Palmers that she offered them free room and board whenever they needed it.

The following day the bells toled at the city council. A mob of adventurers and mercenaries flooded the council hall. Five elders sit upon a dais in the council. All of them dwarfs, all of them rather old. One of them walked forward and spoke:

“Welcome to High Hall, friends. I am Elder Cadrick. I don't much see the point in bandying words, so I'll lay it out for you. War is upon us. A great host of orcs comes from the west. Their intention is clear. They will come through the mountains bent on slaughter. Those they spare can look forward to a short life of slavery. Overlook, and Bordrin's Watch in the mountains, have long held fast against these raids, but our scouts say never has such an army gathered. Thus, we turn to you brave souls to help defend not only Overlook, but also all the Elsir Vale.

“When the orcs arrive, we're certain they will come up through the pass. We know this because already there have been attacks from the tunnels below.”

The elder asked the question of any other information that anyone else would have had. The Palmers responded with the fact that they had fought orcs that had already crossed the mountains. This seemed to bother the elders.

In the end it was decided that the Farstriders would goto the vents to hold off any orcs that would come through below the mountains. The Freestriders, a small adventuring group that befriended the Palmers, were sent to Bordrin's Watch to defend the mountain pass. The Palmers were tasked with travelingto a dwarven monastery in the mountains, the Monastery of the Sundered Chain, to warn them of the iimpedning threat. The Freeriders seemed to grow perturbed at this, and Megan Swiftblade, the leader of the Freeriders, ignored the Palmers the rest of the night.

The next day the Palmers set off for the monastery. When they arrived they found that the grounds had already been invaded by orcs. Inside the gates, orcs sat around fires with dwarven limbs roasting. The palmers annihilated these orcs and pressed on into the monastery where they found a secret passage beneath the building. The dwarfs sleeping quarters were there, and the group found even more gore there. Every bed seemed to overflow with blood, not a single dwarf left alive. There were more orcs here, and the Palmers dispatched all of them.

They came upon a large staircase leading deep into the mountains. They followed it down and there was a small chamber with molten lava. It was a chamber where the dwarfs made their weapons. In this chamber were a number of scattered orcs and one large orc-beast beating the living hell out of a dwarf priest. When the orc-beast, later found out to be named Ogg, saw the Palmers he ordered all of the orcs to attack. The dwarf was left in the back of the chamber to die. The Palmers dispatched of all of the orcs except for Ogg, he fought each of them with a brute force that was menacing. He killed each of the Palmers one by one, until they all had perished.

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Rivenroar

Five mercenaries were called to the small town of Brindol. The site of a major battle between the citizens of the Elsir Vale and a faction of goblins calling themselves The Red Hand. The battle raged more than ten years ago and the Red Hand was overthrown and beaten. Later, the town of Brindol became a place for people of the Vale to remember their victory against the evil monsters that tried to take their land.

The mercenaries were called by a friend of their priest. When they arrived in town they headed straight for the tavern, The Antler and Thistle. They found the friend, Alys, there, tending bar and serving the many dwarfs that frequented the place. Alys explained to the group that there had been multiple raids on the town as of late. The thing that worried her the most was that the attackers seemed to be imitating the Red Hand of Doom. She told them that the bogus Red Hand had come and stolen treasured relics from the Great Hall of Valor (relics which were from the Red Hand war).

The mercenaries were mid conversation when goblins burst down the tavern’s front door and rushed in. The goblins and hob-goblins were fierce and numerous, but the mercenaries persevered and conquered them, and they saved Alys’s tavern from burning to the ground—which Alys credited mostly to Paeleus. As they were putting out the last of the flames, two town guards arrived at the tavern and asked for any aid that could be provided. The goblins were crossing the bridge at the front of town. The mercenaries volunteered their help again. But by the time they arrived, the goblins had gotten away. The mercenaries helped clean up any immediate mess and then went to bed down for the night.

The next morning a guard arrived at the Antler and Thistle to ask that the mercenaries come at once to the town council building. Without an argument, the mercenaries followed the guard.

Eoffram Troyas, a stubborn half-elf, greeted the mercenaries in the council building and spoke to each of them alone (which he later explained as a way to make sure he could trust them), and then together as a whole. He explained to the group that one hob-goblin had been captured and that he was being held in the courtyard. He also explained that instead of relics, the goblins had kidnapped multiple residents of the town. Eoffram asked if the mercenaries would accept the task of tracking down the goblins and returning the imprisoned residents. He offered them minimal gold and the promise that they could keep whatever treasure they found along the journey. Again, the mercenaries accepted.

After the ranger among them tracked the horde, and the others questioned the imprisoned hob-goblin, they set out on their journey. A full day later they arrived outside of the old Castle Rivenroar.

The underground castle provided many threats, including goblins, rats, and gnomes. The mercenaries also found a few of the prisoners. Most notably Mirtala. She had been bitten numerous times by infected rats and was nearly unresponsive. With one half of the first level cleared out, the mercenaries needed to continue on. It was clear that they wouldn't be able to bring Mirtala with them, so they laid her down in a bunk, the room had been cleared of all threats.

In the other half of the first level the mercenaries found two other survivors: Zerriksa, an old hag whom the goblins believed was a witch, and Sertanian, the keeper of the Hall of Great Valor. With the two citizen with them, the mercenaries returned to the room where Mirtala was sleeping. They arrived just in time to find a hob-goblin standing over her with a large blade dripping with blood. The Mirtala had been lost. The group decided that they should camp for the night to rest. On their way out they came upon a room which they hadn't entered before. The room was covered with cob webs and soon they found why; large spiders were creeping in the corners of the room. With one last effort the mercenaries were able to overcome the spiders, and in the process they found the body of Kartenix—the captain of the Brindol town guard. He had been drained of his blood by the spiders and wrapped in web. With this final loss the group fled Rivenroar to camp for the night. The talk around the fire that night consisted much of the spiders and what other aberrant creatures would be awaiting them in the second level.

The next morning they started out on the second level. The first level still seemed quiet and without threat. The mercenaries kept the two citizens with them in case further danger came upon them.

Right at the top of the stairs they met more trouble with gnomes and goblins. This time magic was involved, further confirming that there were other horrors than goblins. Donn, the ranger, went into the first room after the fight. There he found Jalissa. She was an acolyte of Ioun. She said that a young boy had been crying close by somewhere. With that, the group continued on.

It was then that they came upon Thurran and Adronsius. Thurran was the eight-year-old son of the dead guard captain. He was hysterical and became unresponsive to any questions from the group once he was told that his father had been killed. Adronsius was a dwarf weapons maker in town. He was very thankful for the mercenaries help and told them that he'd been through most of the tunnels of the place, and that he'd help them navigate.

It was then that they came upon Sinruth. The leader of this Red Hand band was alone in his chamber. The citizens stayed a room behind as the mercenaries fought Sinruth to the death. The fight was long and hard, but the mercenaries persevered. They kept Sinruth alive to question him, but all he would give up was the knowledge that a wight was someplace on the second level. With that Bardryn, the dwarf fighter, decapitated the hob-goblin leader. Paeleus searched the body and found a note in one of Sinruth's pockets.

Brave Sinruth,

The Red Hand will rise again! The other remnants take great cheer in your recent attacks on commerce into The Blight That is Brindol.

We're particularly pleased with your ability to inspire a fighting spirit in others, whether they have true goblin blood or merely wish they did. To be blunt, we think you should have many more soldiers under your command. Many, many more.

And recent events have rendered some remnants leaderless. With a bold stroke on your part, the remnants would rally to the Red Hand you so proudly display.

As your bold stroke, do this: Attack The Blight That is Brindol by night. Focus your efforts on their Hall of Great Valor, for it mocks the many hard-won victories by the first Red Hand of Doom. Take from them the spoils of war they shamelessly hang on their walls and bring those antiques back to Rivenroar.

Do this before the moon is next full. And with regard to your previous question, turning over captives to your unliving allies at Rivenroar is perfectly acceptable. War sometimes makes strange bedfellows, and we appreciate how you've united such disparate forces under your banner. Whatever prisoners you take from Rivenroar you can give to the wight.

Fight with the valor of your ancestors, Sinruth. And keep your hands stained red with the blood of the weak!

I will visit you again next month, at a time of my choosing.

The Emissary

They realized that they had found all of the citizens of Brindol, all that remained were the relics. They continued on through increasing risks of zombies and demons. They finally came upon the wight and its skeleton guards. The mercenaries were nearly killed in the battle, but the cleric and rogue were able to defeat the wight. Sertanian ran into the altar room and found a pile of all the missing relics. As the group was leaving with the treasure they came upon a pack of rats. Paeleus was bitten and contracted filth fever.

The group needed to carry Paeleus most of the journey back, which took two full days with the added burden.

When they arrived back the town was in their debt and very grateful. Eoffram Troyas paid them their gold and a large party was held that same night. The relics were ceremoniously put back into place in the Hall of Great Valor.

The next morning Eoffram came to the party again to tell them that the city of Overlook (a week's journey from Brindol) was calling on all sellswords and heroes. The rumor was that there were orcs that had crossed the mountain, a lot of orcs. The mercenaries reluctantly agreed to travel to Overlook—they were concerned with Paeleus, who was fading fast with disease.

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