Princes of the Apocalypse

Chapter I: Trouble in Red Larch

Cast into shadow by their hoods, the Believers of Red Larch gathered around the faintly glowing stone.
“Harbuck is not one of us,” someone snarled. “He can’t be trusted to understand.”
“And nor will he be,” came the reply. “Dispose of the bodies in the usual way, and I will tell him bandits have troubled my farm and warehouses.”
“Yes – any further deaths can be explained as simple defence of property.”
“We should not have let things go so far,” a Believer decried. “How did it come to murder?”
“We have only done as the Stones demanded,” another snapped.
“Brothers and sisters,” said a silken voice, calming in its authority. “More will come to Believe as we do. But until then, the burden of our holy work must be borne in humble silence.” Absorbed in their discussion, none noticed the speaker’s shadow lurching and shifting of its own volition.

Part I: Trial by Fire

[The Swinging Sword Inn]

"My book. My fucking book."
"Velora please calm down."
"I will skin them. I will boil their blood in their veins. They will wish for death before the end."
Velora on discovering her spellbook is missing

[Bad day at Lance Rock]
The horse buckled from beneath Severa Lilith as she rode down the highway towards Red Larch. Hearing the noise from afar the wandering Elven Witch Velora arrived just in time to see the young noblewoman being set upon by a group of bandits, her coin purse cut and pockets turned out. She tried to stop the bandits, but despite turning one into a sizzling corpse the arrows of his fellow found her flesh and she blacks out. At the All-Faith's Shrine in Red Larch a strange man pulls in two bodies. A half elf, his hair is matted and intertwined with leaves and he carries a large bow strung over his back. Ovorw is a paladin of the Moon Goddess from the nearby High Forest, and had found the two unconscious on the road on his way into town to trade for supplies. The priest is out and so his assistant Azula Dumont is forced to oversee the healing of the men. A town local, her secret magical training had so far been hidden from the cleric's prying eyes, but did her good stead in healing the wounded figures Ovorw had brought in.

Velora and Severa soon regained consciousness, and spend the morning resting and recuperating at the Swinging Sword, the local inn. Azula joins them, worried about their health after her healing attempts and the paladin Ovorw joins as well, as keen for revels as any after a strange morning. Her possessions returned to her by Azula Velora is incensed to discover her spellbook is missing, a collection of research and incantations that she claims took her years to piece together. In a fit of rage she returns to the site of her ambush and tracks the bandits responsible to their hideout north of Red Larch. Followed by a confused group, she sets upon the bandits, slaying them with bursts of magic that freeze their blood in their veins. Forced into the fray Ovorw fires his bow to protect his new friends and Severa wields her rapier with expert skill. Soon the bandits are slain, but Velora does not find her spellbook. Her other items returned and a sizable sum of gold taken from the dead bandits she is still unhappy and insists the group push on. The remain behind however as Ovorw tames a bear captured by the bandits, eventually returning it to its owner in Red Larch. The dwarven armourer Ironhead is grateful for the return of his bear, and promises the group good prices and a long friendship in the future.

Azula helps Velora in asking around Red Larch for more information about the bandits, a group known as the "Gold Claw bandits" after the sigil they wear upon their chests. The innkeeper of the Swinging Sword, Kaylessa, knows more but is reluctant to tell the aggressive Velora. Severa eventually gets her to open up, revealing that she thinks the bandits have something to do with the trouble at Lance Rock to the south of Red Larch. She warns the group against going there, claiming it far too dangerous even for them. She does however agree to pay them a sum of 50 gold pieces if they manage to figure out what is happening at Lance Rock. Severa has no interest in gold however, having come to Red Larch in search of her missing father. Kaylessa knows of her father, having seen him not two years ago on his way through the town. She agrees to give Severa information if she help Red Larch be free from the yoke of the bandits, and Severa eagerly agrees.

Lance Rock lies a days march south of Red Larch, a massive stone pillar in the middle of a grassy plain that has confounded locals for generations. A nailed post nearby bears a sign warning those who approach that a plague is lose, but Ovorw easily sees through this attempted deception. As the group tries to move into the nearby limestone cave they are met by a wave of undead, zombified bandits and townsfolk brought back for some fell purpose. Ovorw and Severa take the lead, their quickswords darting in and out of the zombies and skeletons that assault them. Azula and Velora stand behind them slinging bolts of flames at the undead, combusting their rotting flesh. Moving further into the cave the group are assaulted by more undead and Azula is nearly crushed when a rock trap is unleashed upon her. After slaying one group of undead dressed as court jesters the group realises that something strange is at work here and decide to rest before continuing onwards. Blocking the entrance to the cave they rest, burning the bodies of the undead in the forest outside as they do so.

Moving into the deeper caves the group are set upon by armoured skeletons, clearly guarding a strange lab where half dissected bodies are arrayed on stone operating tables. The experimenter is a handsome young nobleman with black hair who introduces himself as Orleith, necromancer extraordinaire and Lord of Lance Rock. He sets more zombies upon the group while blasting them with deadly black magic. Weakened from their previous fights the group are overcome, slaying the zombies even as they fell one by one to Orleith's magics.

Waking up the group find themselves strapped to the operating tables in the necromancer's workshop. He talks to them, telling them of his deal with the golden claw bandits for fresh bodies. He offers them a similar deal and Velora and Azula gratefully accept. Untied Azula draws two wands, throwing one to Velora even as she casts magic at Orleith. Velora catches the wand, turning to find the full brunt of the necromancer's magic unleashed upon her. Howling from the betrayal Orleith unleashes on Velora and the elven witch is blasted into smoking chunks by a burst of necrotic magic. Azula is blasted back by the shockwave, hitting her head on the walls of the cave and blacking out. Ovorw uses this distraction to free himself, cutting Severa free in the process. Ovorw goes down to a blast of magic as Orleith grows desperate and Severa rushes foward, picking up Azula's wand from Velora's twitching fingers. Orleith blasts her with magic, but she keeps on coming. With her last strength Severa plunges Azula's spare wand into Orleith's eye, the self titled "Lord of Lance Rock" falling to the ground in growing puddle of his own blood.

Velora, Elven Witch, blasted by the Necromancer Orleith in his lair.

Part II: The Greater Good

[The Barrow]

Hugo meandered the long road through Red Larch, his hand thumbing the Constable's letter of warrant. He was charged by the Council with forming a posse to clean up the surrounding wilderness; good, solid roadwarden's work. But eying the muddy streets and huts, he wondered if anyone in this hayseed town would be up for any honest violence. Sitting down heavily in the 'Swinging Sword', he overhead some locals muttering. "The Fools of Lance Rock", one sneered, tilting his head at three bloodstained figures drinking heavily in a nearby booth. "Oughta be dead and outuv' our hair." "Aye, but at least they killed that ol' necromancer," said another. Hugo smiled to himself and threw back his drink. It seemed that Almorus favoured him still.

[Problems in Red Larch]
Spending some days in recovery at the inn, Severa and Ovorwr grow used to the coming and going of merchants, tinkers and mercenaries through the Swinging Sword‘s common room. But one morning, their attention was drawn away from breakfast to a pair of warriors asking around about their exploits at Lance Rock. Drawn out of retirement by the promise of one last score, a wily thief named Doyle had joined the spellsword Hugo, to investigate disturbances around the town. Carrying a warrant from the Constable, they hoped to collect on bounties and bandit loot-caches, and were seeking to recruit warriors with local knowledge. Ready to put aside their grief over Velora’s shock death, Severa and Ovorwr greeted the pair and sealed the agreement with a toast.

Red Larch locals Valivo and Mahandria reported that ghosts and goblins had been sighted nearby, drawing the adventurers to an old burial mound off the northern road. Amid the grassy hills, the door to a barrow had been torn open with great force, and the companions edged warily into it’s cobwebbed tunnels. An apparition swam immediately into view, wearing the strange armour and weapons of the Old Empire. It boomed in an unfamiliar language, growing angry and lashing out at their uncomprehending questions. Infusing his sword with radiant power, Ovorwr blurred forward to parry the spectral blade, dismissing the ghost with a graceful counterstroke. Beyond the ectoplasmic remains, the party dimly saw a stone sarcophagus carved with the image of a knight in repose. But with a snarl and the creak of protesting stone, the barrows heavy door began to grind close behind them, sending the adventurers scampering back up the tunnel. Narrowly skidding through the door, Severa whipped her rapier across the knuckles of a lumbering half-ogre, who bellowed in pain and outrage. A goblin and his slavering mastiff snapped and slashed at her, but both were slain by brutal thrusts of Doyle’s darting shortsword. Jamming the door open with a crowbar, the party close in on the monster and suffering cruel cuts from its axe. But nimbly manoeuvring behind it, Doyle hamstrings the beast, and Severa plunges her blade into it’s neck. Drawn back by the clash of blades, the companions return to see Ovorwr locked in a lightning-fast duel with a floating sword. Just as they arrive, with a resounding boom, he smashes the sword into fragments and collapses to the stone in exhaustion. While Hugo ferrets out the valuables their attackers had stashed within, the party rest and recover from their ordeal.

Celebrating their victory, the adventurers engage in a night of boasting and revelry at the Helm, during which Doyle inherits a small farm and apprentice named Pippa from a dying commoner. He is no less startled by the night’s events than Hugo, who awakens in a ritual circle, covered in geometric tattoos, or Ovorw who is initiated into the worship of the God of Fate. Praying for clarity, some visit the Allfaiths Chapel and learn from its attendant Brother Aendon that the shrine to the God of Nature has been disrupted. This inspires horror in Ovorwr, who gathers the party and asks for their aid in reconsecrating the distant leyline monolith. By the following evening, they have entered the Cryptgarden, and are disturbed to find many woodland creatures poisoned by the corruption bleeding from the trees. The monolith itself is carpeted in dead vines, with the rotting body of an elven scout at it’s base. Recognising the telltale scent of wierpoppy, Hugo has just enough time to shout the warning “Vine Blights!” before nearby shrubs uproot and take the form of humanoid attackers. Hacking and sawing at the gripping vines, the heroes are grappled and gouged by thorny limbs, before Ovorwr unleashes a spell that purges the curse from the area. Cringing away from the holy light, the Blights are slashed apart or scuttle off into the wilderness and the half-elf conducts the necessary rituals to restore the site.

The last of the tips they had received from the townsfolk related to a gruesome warning left not far from the monolith, and with little difficulty, they travelled to where a strange black arrow had impaled a skull to the trunk of a tree. Behind it was a curled note in sharply written Common, “The Last Laugh. You’ll be next – Valklondar”. Unable to decipher the notes’ meaning, the party searched the woods fruitlessly and were forced to return to town. Almost ready to declare the region safe, the party’s evening feast is interrupted by Doyle, who has been drinking with a Halfling wagoneer. The hobbit has seen strange folk abroad in the night, lingering around the alleys behind his workplace. Deep in their cups, the adventurers are convinced that this is conclusive proof of a sinister plot afoot, and set out somewhat unsteadily into the back-streets. Combing over the wagon-yard, they do indeed find a hidden door built into a disused carriage, leading into a roughly dug tunnel under Red Larch. Avoiding a trip-wire with exaggerated caution, the party edge along the passage until it breaks into a fine-cut dwarven underpass. Stern-faced dwarf statues line the walls, concealing a hidden door to charnel house of rat-bitten corpses. Covering his mouth in disgust, Ovorwr steps stealthily through the tangle of body parts stabbing each fattened vermin before they can notice him. Seeing a dimly flickering candle-flame through a crack in the next door, the companions grip their weapons tight and prepare to ambush the denizens of the tunnel.

In the chamber beyond, a whimpering child is pinned prostrate to the ground by large flat stones, clearly struggling to breathe. Rushing to the boy in astonishment, the party remove the weights from his body and carefully give him water. Through gasping breaths he tells them his name, explaining that this is a punishment devised by his father for failing to deliver a message. Many figures of influence in the town are apparently members of ‘the Believers,’ a cult that reads signs from the gods in the movements of mysterious drifting stones. Recently welcoming an earth-cleric to their ranks, the Believers had been increasingly guided by the divinations of ‘Lorrikos’ and his minions ‘the Bringers of Woe’. Under his leadership, the Believers had moved on from discerning agricultural instructions in the Stones, and now saw commands to commit ritual murders. Astounded that this cult could fester under the unassuming Red Larch, the heroes stampede into the next room and hack apart the startled half-orc warrior they find there.

Roused by the ruckus, the march of leather-armoured bandits soon fill the subterranean halls with the clatter of boots. Hurling themselves out of the way as snapping metal cages descend, the heroes duck from passage-to passage in a running battle with the Bringers of Woe. Believing them cornered, the enemy blunder into the counter –attack, carved asunder by furious blows of Hugo’s longsword and put out of their misery by Severa’s darting rapier. But as they venture into the centremost chamber -marked by a petrified adventurer and large floating boulders- a gold-clad figure emerges. Showered by molten debris and clouds of hot dust, the heroes are driven back and knocked from their feet, their futile counterblows ringing off the earth-priest’s mantle. Bearing the brunt of the onslaught, Hugo and Doyle are knocked unconscious but the villain seems to sense his opportunity ebbing. Attempting to wound and flee, his form shifts partially into a cloud of sand and he rockets off down a side-passage. Though the party darts into pursuit, his accelerated movements greatly outpaces them, until a white-feathered arrow arcs gracefully through the tunnel and punctures his back.

Part III: Curiosity's Price

[The Long Road running through Red Larch]

Severa's hair rippled behind her as the hippogriff swooped between rocky pylons down the gully. The knight ahead of her steered the creature with touches of his stirrups and the mount wheeled around to avoid the spattering of trees that lined the gully floor.
It swept along the river, water spraying up as the creature bent its neck to drink, and up again into the sky. Not far ahead the dark shape of the manticore loomed in the mist of the gully and the hippogriff and her riders flew eagerly towards it.

[Beyond Red Larch]
The group loads up the equipment of the slain Bringers of Woe and the Earth Priest, sneaking up the priest's secret tunnel and up into a the Dumont residence on the edge of town. A surprised Azula hears their tale, incensed at the corruption growing under her nose in the town. Heavily wounded from their fights in the tunnels the group settles into the Dumont house to rest, removing their weapons and armour and settling down. Hugo leaves the town at pace to report to his superiors in the Council of Lords in Yatar. The morning passes and the group awakes, shocked to find a sinkhole in the centre of town that leads directly down into the tunnels beneath Red Larch! Constable Harburk had taken charge, but found the tunnels devoid of bodies. The Believers had cleared the area while the heroes slept, and the despite Doyle plees the Constable could do little to prosecute the town elders. Furthermore the town seemed suddenly hostile, with any member a possible Believer. The group decides to leave Red Larch, following on the heels of two known Believers who had left the town in the hurry that very morning.

The wagon headed north along the Long Road, and the party hurry to follow its path. Not far out of Red Larch they find the remnants of the wagon, burned and cast into a ditch along with the remains of two men burned within it. Tracks lead east towards the Sumber hills and with no other leads Ovorw follows the heavy footprints east into the hills. Entering the hills the following day the trees begin to thin as the party are forced to climb the rocky slopes. Navigating the sharp rocks and long drops of the hills they are set upon by massive tunnelling creatures that bear the same sigil as the Earth Priest in Red Larch. The creatures are easily slain, but the party grimace at the thought of their acid maws finding them unprepared. Moving further into the hills the group comes across a large and deep gully. Following the gully along that find a strange sight. A tower is built in the centre of the gully, a small bridge leading to one of the cliff edges. Above the tower massive birds fly with armoured riders atop their backs, circling the tower and swooping down the gully. Approaching the group are welcomed by a heavily armoured woman bearing a spear and invited into Feathergale Spire.

The tower is occupied by knights who ride a mixture of giant vultures and hippogriffs. The knights wear feather capes and call themselves the Feathergale Society, a group of warriors come from all around the safeguard the Dessarin Valley and uphold goodness. The group are taken to their leader, and older knight by the name of Lord Commander Thurl who invites them to dine with him and his knights that night. A feast is prepared and dozens of knights gather in a central hall to celebrate the tenth year since the society's founding. Thurl talks at length with the party, taking a particular interest in Severa. He reveals that her father, whom she had been searching for for many years, was a member of the society and had been captured by soldiers of the Earth cult. Thurl grimaces when told of the Believers and the Earth Priest's infiltration of Red Larch, informing them that these cultists were all across the valley and his men tried when possible to stop them. Severa's father had been captured in one such engagement, although his sword was recovered. He presents it to Severa, and the young swordswoman renews her oath to find and rescue her father. The feast is many courses of the finest food around, the knights comprising of mostly nobles and desiring only the finer things. It is such that with bellies full of fine wine and decadent foods the party go to bed on feather beds in the strange spire.

The next morning the group are woken by the blowing of a horn high above. The spire is bustling, with knights preparing their armour and weapons as grooms rush below to the stables to prepare the winged mounts. One the knights are assembled in the hall, along with the groggy party members who had shuffled in, Thurl explains that one of the manticores of the gully had been spotted and a party was to be arranged to hunt them. The knights all offer their services in the hunt, and Thurl calls out four hippogriff riders to track and kill the manticore in the mists of the gully. He offers the group a chance to hunt the beast as well, and promises an ornate platinum ring from around his finger for the one who kills the beast. Minutes later the group find themselves lashed into the back of the hippogriffs, their stomachs leaping as the beasts soar from the tower and down into the gully. The hippogriffs swoop and whirl in the misty valley, eventually honing in on the manticore scent and cornering the beast near its lair. The creature is part scorpion and part lion, a foul creation that launches spines from its tail that slay a knight even as he lands. The party wade in to battle the creature, hitting it time and again as it lashes out with tail and claw. Eventually it falls, its eye finally pieced by a single black bolt from Doyle's crossbow.

The head is returned to Thurl, and the reward paid. He reveals to them the location of the Earth Priest fortress in the area, a castle known as the Sacred Stone Monastery that lies some days travel to the east. Taking their leave from the Feathergale Spire the group has a decision to make. Severa is eager to rescue his father from the Sacred Stone Monastery, while during the night Ovorw had received a messenger raven from the north where an orc clan had risen up and started sacking the countryside. The group are torn between their twin duties, discussing scouting out the Monastery before heading north, or attempting to attack the Monastery and rescue Severa's father. Eventually, however, they decide to travel to the north and attempt to stop the orc menace. They leave the Spire, travelling for a few days back through the rocky hills before reaching the Larch Path, a winding stone path that runs through the Sumber hills between the Stone Bridge and Red Larch. Ovorw's message had said the orcs were marauding through the Jundar plains to the north-east, and so the adventurers make their way along the Larch Path with their supply laden mule in tow. They travel for many days along the winding path before they spot a strange structure to the side of the path. A tower seemingly carved out of the rock stands some mile off the track, a sight that Azula assures them was not there the last time she travelled this path. As she moves closer to inspect it two statues at the bottom of the tower animate, the foul gargoyles lurching forward to attack her with stone claws.

The gargoyles swoop on Azula, knocking her to the ground where she lies still. Surging forward one is met by Severa with her father's sword in hand, while the other is locked in combat by Ovorw. Ovorw dodges and weaves away from the gargoyle, but the creatures claws find his flesh again and again. He blasts the creature with holy magic, smiting it with all his might before at last the light fades from around him and he falls beneath the creatures' wrath. Doyle backs away from the beast, his bolts smashing uselessly against the stone gargoyle as it leaps over Ovorw's corpse towards him. The old rogue is felled by a backhand blow of the creature, while his young assistant Pippa is bitten as she tries to flee. Severa defeats her creature, pulling her magical rapier from its crumbling form as she looks in horror as her friends are slaughtered in front of her. Pulling the unconscious Azula to safety she turns and charges back towards the gargoyle, a challenge on her lips even as the remaining creature rips her find form to shreds. Waking some hours later, a traumatised Azula can not even recover her friends remains as she begins to make the long trek back to Red Larch alone.

Ovorw the Moonchild, playful and naive, whose kind heart was ripped from his chest by a stoney claw.

Doyle, just come out of retirement, bleeds out on the rocks of the Sumber hills.

Severa Lilith, having just discovered the whereabouts of her missing father, crushed by a gargoyle as she defends her new allies.

Chapter II: The Humble Heroes

It had been an unseasonably warm and stormy spring, the plains and hills of the Dessarin valley wracked with winter-like storms and days of cloudless scorching heat. The peasants argue amongst themselves about the cause of the foul weather, as they are want to do even when times are good. Rumours of flooding, windstorms, wildfires and tremors in surrounding regions do nothing to calm their nerves, and those farmers who stay outside the relative safety of the towns and villages hold their cloaks close.
The temple in Red Larch is busy all hours of the day with those willing the gods to do something to aid their plight.
The paladins of Summit Hall are forced to turn away refugees fleeing the dangers of the valley.
Caravans are sacked by wild beasts.
The dead are restless in their graves.
Tribes of Orcs and barbarians maraud the lands like never before.
And across the valley, things that had slept for longer than any could remember begin to stir…

Part IV: Siege at Dellmon Ranch

[Serpent's Crypt]

The shambling townsfolk moved down the main road of Beauford, their skin ripped and bloody and their eyes glowing with a strange orange hue. Moving to the front of the 'Fragrant Toad' Bellamy almost drops his pitcher of wine as he sees the undead approaching. Shouting inside the inn he is soon joined by a collection of strange figures. A tattoed man with dark skin raises hands that begin to glow blue with arcane power, a hooded figure pulls out a gnarled staff entwined with runes and vines and a diminutive gnome pulls out a worn shortbow and knocks an arrow.
The zombies meander down the road, townsfolk running screaming as they witness their friends and family returned from the dead. And as one the four figures standing outside of the 'Fragrant Toad' unleash a wave of magic and arrows…

[Adventurers required]
In the tiny wilderness village of Beauford, four robed figures were examining a crime scene. Oblivious to the larger matters he was sticking his nose into, the eccentric Gnome "Hack" led the investigation, peering through his trusty magnifying glass. The strange cattle mutilations had unnerved the local Mayor, who had cobbled together a band with broad magical expertise to look into it. Employing druidcraft, an elf named Willa searched the land and plants for signs of interference by spirits. At her side, a Windfinder, Behruz of the Far Coast, scanned the skies for signs of wild magic. The portly but handsome Warlock Bellamy scried with his wand, and while each sensed a hint of corruption, none could precisely place it. Following the trail out into the grasslands, they encountered the shambling corpses of the last search party the Mayor had cobbled together. Returned to unlife by dark necromacy, the zombies whipped around at the scent of fresh blood. Though as yet inexperienced in combat, each adventurer pulled arcane foci from beneath their robes, unleashing a surprising volley of magic and destroying the creatures at range. The lightshow sent local birds and creatures scattering into the long grass, and the party ventured confidently into a dry, rocky gulch. Approaching the sunken burial ground known as Serpent's Crypt, they recognised Hugo, a local spellsword in the torchlight within. But scarcely had they greeted him when black roots erupted from the earth, vines and moss lurching together to form angry Cave Dryads. Holding their breath as the air filled with cloying spores, the heroes struck out with spells and boot knives as the gnarled creatures attacked. Emerging bruised, coughing and covered in sticky sap, they found corrupted waters welling up from the heart of the tomb. Prising a handful of rings and valuables from the dusty skeletons within, they sloshed back to the surface and re-sealed the Crypt.

Deciding to celebrate their first mission together, the adventurers returned to Beauford. Engaging in rowdy bets and competitions in the town's simple tavern, Willa won a goat and immediately laid plans for a cheese-making business. Pleased with the small reward and their complimentary mix of skills, the group agrees to continue working together as an adventuring band. Hoping to complete the contract taken up by Hugo's old companions, the new band load up a pair of mules with supplies and head south-west. Out on the Jundar Plains, the group are challenged by a group of hide-clad warriors, who encircle their camp and demand that they hand over their pack animals and weapons. Their benign act does not fool Hugo, who spots human-skin leather and bloody-eye sigils among their attire. The adventures launch themselves toward, the tribe thinning drastically as Hack weaves about cutting knees, hamstrings and ankles. Bloodied by club-blows, Willa and Behruz frantically sling spells to hold off the foe, until they are rescued by the knife-wielding Gnome. Binding their wounds and pausing for breath, the party progress into the wilderness until a blunt tower appears on the dusty horizon.

The tower is a squat construction, gutted by fire in the ancient past, and surrounded by dry, cracked earth. As the party ventures closer, it's stone door rolls smoothly open, triggered by the proximity of the barbarian's amulet. Reassuring her companions, Willa reveals her druidic powers, transforming into a Giant Spider and scuttling silently up the tower. Listening and watching from the shadows, she observes four strange figures arguing about "prophets" and "managing the Orc horde." One wears feathers and lightweight armour. Another is blue skinned, gesturing his fishbone sword at a muscled figure in a gargoyle mask. The last wears blackened chainmail, distractedly caressing a conjured flame in his hand. Reporting to her colleagues, Willa notes that their appearances correspond to the four elements. Before they can make ready for an attack, a voice rings out from above; "we know you're there, you might as well come up." In a flash, Hack disappears up the stairs, offering his "competitively priced investigative services" to the gathering. Snarling, the cultists attacks him, and he narrow ducks under a column of flame and sundered stone. Charging after him, they stumble into Behruz' clutches. The party are awed as molten beam of energy smashes the Earth Cultist from his feet, burning his arm from his body and carving a furrow in the wall and stairs. Panicking, the Water Cultist completes a frenzied swing at Hugo, who parries with a grunt and slices him in half in reply. Maimed and sizzling, the Earth Cultist struggles back up the stairs, only to see the Flame Cultist raise a hand to finish him off. Thinking to negotiate, the Fire Cultist turns calmly as the Behruz mounts the steps. But he is reduced to ash in an instant, strange colours and textures blooming on the sorcerer's skin as he weaves a spell.

Though trading a series of parries and counters with Hack, the Air Cultist was soon cornered. She revealed that the Cults were racing to summon their foul patrons, and had struck an uneasy alliance to cultivate mayhem to weaken the region. She laughs, indicating that an Orc horde is plundering Westward. The heroes baulk at the information and sudden sense of responsibility, taking their eyes off her for a moment. She suddenly takes to the air, snatched up by a swooping hippogriff mount and carried in the direction of Feathergale. Communing with local birds, Willa sends warnings to the farmers and druids of the region to take refuge at Dellmon Ranch, and the heroes embark on an urgent march to aid the defence. They arrive a bare few hours ahead of the horde, with smoke and the sound of war-drums already on the wind.

The party are hurried behind a makeshift blockade, constructed by visiting dwarves. Within the simple ring of wood-and-stone houses, the rancher Kerbin Dellmon and a Paladin of the Brilliant Circle named Erned are distributing weapons to the gathering, who are organised into something resembling fighting form by the welcome arrival of the adventurers. In defence of their loved ones huddling within the smithy, the folk of Jandar are frightened but firm at the barricades. Presaged by the distant screams of livestock, the Orcs encroach. The first hunched shapes emerge from the smoke of burning crops. Their howls and whoops draw more of the fellows until a solid line of nearly 50 pacing savages have encircled Dellmon. With a rising roar, they charge the barricades, flooding across the plains into a hailstorm of bow-fire. With startling efficiency, Hack directs the rhythmic release of flight upon flight of arrows, the long shafts punching through crude leather and grey-green flesh alike. Enraged by the thinning of the horde, the Orcs stampede over the barricades; though held at the breach by the guards and visiting warriors, the Orcs make short and brutal work carving through the armed townsfolk. In a costly push, they are driven back out of the ranch, but the dusty earth is churned to mud by the weight of blood and bodies left behind. Hounded back towards the thin treeline by a raging Willa in bear-form, the Orcs return later that night, with greater cunning.

With their dead still unburied, the exhausted defenders are roused from rest by shouts and a thick skein of smoke. Fields upwind had been set ablaze in the night, flooding Dellmon with ash and grit. Wrapping cloths around their mouths, the defenders squint watering eyes into the thick smog, orienting their forces to repel an attack. But to their dismay, screams and war-chats suddenly pierce the night, coming from the lightly defended rear flank. Goring and slashing with glee, the Orcs wade into the ranch courtyard, hurling javelins into the backs of the bunched archers. But it is the terrible Uruk, the hulking chieftain who reaps the greatest toll, his hooked blade accounting for nearly half the remaining defenders. Their greatest advantage undone, the defenders waver on the verge of despair - but with a characteristic recklessness, the Paladin takes a catapulting leap into the Orc forces. His zweihander clanging loudly on the shield of the Orc chieftain serves as a rallying call to the survivors, who muster around his display of bravery. Resuming bear form, Willa's immense bulk brushes through the greenskins, clawing great rivets through their ranks and suffering spears to her flank. Behruz sends jets of flame gushing into the packed melee, while Bellamy whips scalding spells into the eyes of those who seek to stop him. As the wounded Uruk was pressed back to the barricades, he chopped his way free to climb up and give a rallying cry. Wounded and snarling, its shield dipped for a fleeting moment. It was Bellamy whose arcane bolt lashed across the courtyard, toppling the Uruk to the earth with a final, thunderous crash.

Part V: A Road to Nowhere

[Abandoned homestead in the Dessarin Hills]

Scowling, the night constable shone his lantern towards the caterwauling drunks. Willa laughed hysterically as Hack wobbled into the torchlight on her goat. Between verses of a foul sea shanty, Behruz was heaving up gutfuls of goblin wine into the gutter. Hugo was nude and extremely muddy. For three nights, their binging and hijinks had disrupted the tiny hamlet, and the constable had reached the end of his tolerance. "Halt," he shouted. "Who goes there!" "The Humble Heroes," slurred Hack, his eyes flashing. "Perhaps you've heard of us?!"

[The plot thickens]
With so many dead and the crops fired, the companions know that things will be lean awhile in Jundar. Escorting the handful of survivors to pick over their ravaged properties, they were bound westward for Beliard. During the journey Willa spots a downed tree ahead, creeping forward anticipating an ambush. In the dusk, bandits are faintly visible at the roadside, yelling in alarm as Hack's deadly arrow suddenly impales one. Jumping from their hiding places, they charge through the underbrush in search of the bowman, one flinging spells of ice into the gloom. Ducking as the blasts rain down, the heroes are divided and driven back with axe wounds; Hack is maimed when one explosion shears off his hand. Collapsing pale and dizzied, they are saved by the eruption of Willa in spider-form, her poisoned mandibles slashing and chomping among the attackers. Giving over to her form's bloodlust, she takes up the chase when the priest attempts to flee, and echoing screams announce her success. With Hack clutching his bandaged stump, they follow tracks to the bandit's campsite, capturing the sentry, and learning of the villain 'Jolliver Grimjaw' of Riverguard Keep.

Beliard bustles with cattle, with many herds gathered at the leafy settlement for the Rancher's Moot. A former Yartar cavalryman, Sheriff Pondron happily accepts the captive for hanging, with Hack watching on with approval. Enjoying a few nights rest on the rancher's dime, the party mix with the locals, listening for rumours at the Watchful Knight roadhouse. Seeking to impress the elf maiden, a farmer boasts to Willa that he had been swooped by a Hippogriff on the southward road, while Hack is palmed a note about some valuable dwarven tomes gone missing with a wayward delegation. Indeed the delegates of Mirabar are the talk of town, the convoy having vanished along with their Council of Lords escort.

Their suspicions aroused, the heroes take the Dessarin Road (with some prompting from the local constable). Making for Summit Hall to the south, they see clouds of vultures gathering overhead, flocking to a site of slaughter. Heaped bodies clad in black and red surcoats bear the marks of a sudden ambush, and a rough cairn has been raised over bugbear corpses. All carry the rune of the Earth Cult, including a gargoyle-masked woman pierced by dwarvish bolts. Signs of struggle lead to the river, where Behruz points our evidence of frequent longboat launches. Eyeing his map, Hugo ponders an old road nearby, seemly leading nowhere. The party speculate that this may be the elusive "Riverguard Keep" used as a base by the region's bandits.

As they venture warily down the road, lithe figures descend from the sky. A pair of tattooed monks land lightly, shouting harsh challenges at the group about their previous clash with the Air Cultist. Declaring the eternal enmity of the "Howling Hatred", the Wind Monks vault atop the cart, their impossible leaps boosted by gusts of wind. Blindingly fast, their punches, jabs and palm-strikes are accompanied by explosions of Air, and they fluidly weave around the adventurers attacks. Jolted by her bear-transformation, the cart tips violently under Willa, sending everyone toppling onto the dry earth. Dazed, one monk is pulverised by her claws. The other is cut down as he attempts to flee, his escape intercepted by one brutal stroke of Hugo's sword.

But the party scarcely has time to take stock. Later that evening as they work to right the cart's axles, hoofbeats announce the approach of barbarian tribesmen. As the sun begins to dip below the hills, Uthgardt horsemen thunder up, drawing reign as they spot the adventurers huddled by the road. Declaring them trespassers and infidels, the Chieftain demands their surrender for execution by sacrifice. He seems surprised when they refuse, instead challenging them to a duel to the death to determine the god's will. The party looks to Hugo, who draws his trusty sword with a mutter that he has a 'bad feeling about this'.

Seeking a swift end to the duel the barbarian lunges wildly, his immense stone-maul barely parried by the spellsword. His attacks are frenzied, each swing imbued with full-bodied savagery, leaving Hugo's sword-arm numb and ringing. But the crafty hunter lands a surprising number of cuts in reply, forcing the Chieftain to change his tactics. Allowing himself to be fully impaled, the barbarian headbutts the startled spellsword, cracking his skull with the maul. But before he can deal a death-blow, the savage is splattered with clinging web and stabbed in the back. The heroes are unwilling to let their fallen friend die, and the horsemen bellow their outrage as their leader staggers. Several are flung from the saddle by Behruz's eldritch blasts, his voice raised over the rumble of hooves. But the chieftain tears free of the webs, spurring his mount and trampling Hack. The sorcerer is speared of his perch as the cavalry smash in, but once again Willa saves her comrades' lives. The horses baulk as a giant spider scuttles out of the hills, her serrated limbs ripping riders to the earth. Clutching toxic bite-wounds, the chieftain finally wavers, curses and collapses to the dust.

Part VI: Wet Work

[Riverguard Keep]

The three figures crossed the crumbling bridge to Riverguard keep, the bandit at the front leading two bound robed men by rope. A bearded man called down from the gatehouse as they approached and after a short exchange of words the figures are allowed in. His usual good looks hidden behind layers of makeup Bellamy allowed himself a smile; the plan was working.

On the other side of the keep one of the bandits patrolling the walls falls silently to the ground below. Hack takes his place, dismounting from the back of a massive spider that still clung to the fortress walls. Her spidery legs finding easy purchase on the rocky walls Willa continued along to the next guard, pulling him over the edge and burying her fangs in his exposed neck.

Below Behruz pulls the ropes from his hands, his time pretending to be a prisoner over. Nodding to Bellamy and the druid Aylbrith the three pull magical foci from their robes and take aim at the nearest group of reavers…

[Storming the fort]
By chance, a group of Summit Hall Paladins are met upon the morrow, agreeing to let Hugo accompany them to ask aid of their Order. Taking the disused path west, the companions eventually reach the heights overlooking a bridge-fortress straddling the river. Hung with blue and white banners of an armoured gauntlet, it is patrolled by wary crossbowmen. Approaching alone, Willa soon discovers this to be none other than Riverguard keep, the home of the Reavers that attacked the party on the road some days ago and demesne of the enigmatic Jolliver Grimjaw. That night as the group makes camp on a cliff overlooking the keep they are approached by two figures out of the darkness. Bellamy eagerly greets his friends, introducing his fellow. Aylbrith is a brown robed man with a large beard and introduces himself as a druid of the Scarlet Moon. He says he has brought Bellamy here because his order had sensed it was a location of great power, and agrees to accompany the group in their business below.

After some discussion and scouting of the fortress the group decides to attack, their first goal taking the gatehouse that protects the bridge across to Riverguard keep. The group waits for darkness to fall, Bellamy's draconic familiar flying high above and spotting groups of crossbow armed men patrolling the bridge and fortress beyond. A fire is set on the hilltop overlooking the bridge and within a few minutes a group of armed men bearing torches leave the gatehouse to see what the disturbance is. This is all the distraction Willa needed, transforming into a spider and climbing the walls of the gatehouse. Hack holds on to a rope tied around her middle, leaping from atop the spider as he reaches the top of the gatehouse. As spider and gnome slay those few guards left at the gatehouse the group investigating the fire are ambushed by the rest of the group. Bellamy and Behruz let fly with magic, smashing the men off their feet while the newcomer Aylbrith weaves fire that burns them to ash. Picking through their remains Behruz spots a strange whalebone token carved with a symbol he recognises. The strange sign had been worn by the reavers who had attacked the group to the north, and was the same sign worn by the elemental cultist of water that the group slew at the Tower of Ancients. Realising the true nature of the occupants of Riverguard Keep the group joins back up in the captured gatehouse and prepares to capture the keep proper.

The group makes a plan, agreeing to try and perform as much of the assault as they could under the safety of stealth, despite the eagerness of the druid Aylbrith to simply attack head on. Eventually a plan is agreed upon, with Hack and Willa once again climbing over the walls to kill the guards that patrol the walls. Meanwhile Bellamy draws from his pack a strange box of makeup and disguises, expertly applying the theatrical disguise to make himself appear to be one of the bandits. Applying a fake wart on his face, he puts on the bandits leather armour and even his allies barely recognise him. He walks towards the gate as the moon reaches its highest point in the sky, leading Aylbrith and Behruz tied together by rope. Making their way across the bridge the group are hailed by the gatewarden, who buys Bellamy's tale about having captured the two across the bridge. As the gate opens and the three are admitted Hack and Willa begin their approach. Having tied Hack to Willa's back the pair had climbed across the bottom of the bridge, nervously looking down at the snapping crocodiles that inhabit the flowing river below. Making their way around the walls of the keep the pair clamber up to the top of the walls, splitting apart and moving in opposite directions around the walls. One by one the men on watch are felled by spider jaws or the throat slitting knives of the gnome.

A few guards, clearly ex-bandits clad in damaged leather armour and bearing curved swords, lean against walls in the inside of the keep, accompanied by a shirtless man whose skin is a strange green-blue hue. Their cover still intact Bellamy and his faux-prisoners make their way inward, unsure of their location. Entering a large stone building they are surprised to find themselves in an old chapel, desecrated by a woman sitting at the front of the pew wearing blue robes and with seaweed tangled in her hair. With a snarl Aylbrith flings forth a ball of fire that explodes at the end of the room, burning the water priest to ash and blowing out the far wall of the desecrated chapel with a resounding boom. Cover broken Behruz and Bellamy rush outside and find the keep busting with activity after the explosion. A barracks at the centre of the keep teems with activity, over two dozen bandits in varying degrees of clothing rush out with weapons in hand to protect the keep. They are met by Behruz and Bellamy, magical foci in hand, who unleash a mind numbing wave of magic. Earth smashes from the ground, crushing or bludgeoning bandits as they rush to attack the two men. Those who get closer simply cease to exist in sprays of blood and bone as Bellamy sends forth a wave of unholy energy. Aylbrith returns from the chapel in a rage and lends his fire magic to the battle as bandits and reavers swarm in from towers and buildings all over the keep.

High above Hack and Willa run into trouble when their infiltration finds a group of Bugbears sleeping within. Wearing armour bearing the sigil of the earth cult the massive furry creatures wake as the two enter. Pulling massive clubs from nearby they rush after the spider and gnome as they flee outside, joining their comrades who promptly blow the bugbears apart with magic. The centre of the keep is a mass of broken bodies, Behruz and Bellamy sporting deep painful wounds from their battle with the occupants of the keep. But Riverguard is not yet theres. From within the central building of the keep a dozen figures emerge. Water cult reavers swing their crocodile tooth axes in anticipation as they approach, forming a circle around the figure at the centre. A massive man, Jolliver Grimjaw bears the scars of a man who is a veteran of countless battles. As he approaches he pulls off his robe and begins to change. His skin is pull tight against him before falling off to be replaced by scales from within. His mouth grows longer and massive teeth begin to sprout from his maw. A fearsome mix of crocodile and man Jolliver leads his reavers against the exhausted figures arrayed against him. The reavers are cast aside as Behruz pulls sprouts of rock up from the group, smashing the reavers or gripping them in hands made of solid rock. Meanwhile Willa transforms into a bear and with a roar charges into combat with Jolliver. Although her claws are unable to pierce his thick scales Willa takes hit after hit from the beast, her allies slinging spells over her shoulders. Eventually her bear form is broken and Willa is cast aside, but Jolliver finds the Behruz, Bellamy and Aylbrith standing before him ready. In a burst of magical energy he is blasted off his feet and hinds his throat slit by Hack as he falls.

The group makes camp in the midst of the carnage, drinking deep of wineskins and gaining healing from Willa. Their strength returned the group begins to search the keep, finding a group of prisoners in the kitchen chained to the wall by the Reavers to serve as slaves. The group are from the town of Womford to the south, and freeing them Hack agrees to return them to their home. In the dock the group finds a keel-boat loaded with supplies and within Grimjaw's personal stash of treasure. It seemed that Grimjaw had reavers and bandits all across the region, a ring of thieves that were killing and robbing merchants and travellers alike across the Dessarin Valley. The gold is split between those present, while Aylbrith refuses a share. The druid sets to burning the bodies of those slain within the keep, piling the dozens of corpses and setting them ablaze. Searching alone in the library Hack finds a secret door that leads to a ladder downwards. Some feet below the base of the keep he finds a strange underground river and a small dock where boats are tied up. Unfortunately the dock is not unguarded, and a group of strange grey skinned ghouls pull themselves from the water below. The rest of the group rush to save the gnome and the ghouls are slain, but the group agrees to wait until daytime to search the keep any further.

Part VII: Under New Management

[Bargewright Inn]

The sharply dressed man placed the massive ring of iron keys on the table, alongside a sealed letter and a handful of platinum.
"I suppose what I am trying to say is you are in charge until I return from Yatar. I should be gone no more than a tenday and all of your duties are contained in that letter".
Sitting around the table sipping their wine the heroes look at each other with confusion as a silence drops across the room. Moments of awkward hesitation are broken when the well dressed man speaks again.
"…You will of course be given free room and open access to the bar while you take on these duties".
Hack pulls the keys towards himself across the table.
"You should have led with that…"

Finishing their search of Riverguard the following morning the group decide to take the keel-boat docked at the castle downriver to the town of Womford. There they could sell items, buy supplies and decide what to do next. Rations, cart and freed prisoners aboard the boat the group pushes off and heads downstream, leaving the bloodshed of Riverguard keep behind them. Aylbrith makes his fair wells, returning to his druidic order to report on what he observed at Riverguard. The boat makes its way down river with in good time, Behruz's skill as a sailor coming to the fore as he expertly steers the boat around the rocks that dot the river before eventually they break out of the Sumber hills and into the grasslands of the Dessarin valley. They stop at a small homestead by the riverside, helping the Yar family who lives here repair a containment wall and enjoying a hearty meal of fish and crab stew. Renewed they head out again on their boat.

On their second night on the river, camped in a small clearing on the riverside, the group hears the flapping of wings far above. Bellamy and Hack are slow to rise, their heads foggy from the half cask of wine they had taken from the keep's cellars that morning. From the sky swoops massive vultures, men and women riding saddles atop their backs shooting crossbow bolts down at the party. As the bolts thud into the deck of the ship the group retaliates, Behruz flinging lightning at the flying birds while Bellamy and Hack try to target them despite their blurry vision. Swarms of smaller birds lash out at Willa, her bear form taking dozens of wounds as razor sharp beaks peck her again and again. Eventually one of the massive birds is shot down, crashing into the fast flowing river, and the rest flee. A quiet of sorts drops over the camp and the group settle back in for a restless night of healing wounds and double watches. A day later the boat sails through the ruins of Ironford, a crumbling mass of old stone buildings long abandoned by their previous occupants. Ironford was destroyed by a dragon some half-century ago, the survivors of the attack creating a new town nearby and named in Womford. A few hours after passing through the melted stone and ruins of Ironford the keel-boat and its motly group of passengers arrive at Womford.

Womford is a small town of granaries and dockyards, a half dozen boats docked for trade downriver. Most of the trade coming through Womford goes to the sprawling settlement on a hill overlooking the town. The Bargewright Inn is a large walled settlement that services the many travellers and merchants that make their way through the region. It is a mass of shops, inns and blacksmiths that grew from a single inn to a settlement in its own right. Having spoken to the dockmaster in Womford about selling the keelboat the group makes there way up the hill to the Bargewright, saying goodbye to the thankful prisoners they had liberated from Riverguard. After days on the road the group are glad for the hospitality of the Inn, selling the myriad of weapons, armour and valuables contained within the cart and spending their newfound wealth on equipment and accommodation at the Sly Wizard guesthouse. The night is filled with frivolity as the group cracks out the casks of ale from Riverguard and has a merry time within the safety of the walls of Bargewright. Bellamy puts his good looks and charm to good use, seducing the guard captain of the settlement, a fiery short haired woman named Chalaska. Meanwhile Hack makes an agreement of a different kind. The Innkeeper Jolaksur agrees to let him be in charge of the inn for a tenday while he goes north to Yartar. Jolaksur is worried about those below him seizing power if he left them in charge, and the surprised Hack agrees to watch the inn for a small sum and free drinks at the inn.

The first few days of responsibility go smoothly, the simple tasks easy to perform and the Inn mainly able to run on its own without interference. That is until on the third day when Hack comes to lock up the inn and finds half the iron keys missing. The inn goes into a frenzy, the guard captain Chalaska ordering Hack and the others to find the the keys or be held responsible. Behruz remembers spotting a man leaving the building just before the keys went missing, and the group tracks the man to his room at the upscale Green Dragon inn. The group finds and arrests the man, an exotic animal dealer by the name of Fendrick. Fendrick claims to know nothing about the stolen keys, claiming to have been set up, and returning to the Inn the group finds his story to be correct. The strongroom, home to most of the gold in the inn, had been broken into while Chalaska and the party were away. The room also contains most of the secret documents of the Black Network, the thieves guild that operates out of the Bargewright and runs operations across the region. The guards search the strongroom and find a large sum of gold is missing. The group tries to investigate the missing gold, but find no signs of who took the keys or the gold.

Their investigations having stonewalled Bellamy remembers seeing some suspicious figures back down at the dock in Womford. The group meets with a ship captain named Shoalar and he second mate, the halfling Pike. Asking a few questions about the missing keys the group soon grows suspicious as a large group of men arrive at the ship from within the town. Bearing crossbows and malicious grins the formerly jovial captain Shoalar demands the group turn over their gold and weapons or he will order his men to attack. Pulling back his hood the captain reveals a tattoo in the centre of his head in the shape of the water cult symbol. Seeing his mark the group springs into action, Willa transforming into a bear and smashes into Shoalar and Pike. Behruz and Bellamy turn their attention to the pirate crewmen, smashing them aside with blasts of magic. Hack fights with the halfling Pike, clashing shortsword against club as the two diminutive figures move in a deadly dance around each other. Bleeding heavily from Willa's claws the captain Shoalar attempts to flee, swimming away from the ship as the last of his men are killed. His escape is short lived, Behruz sending forth a lightning strike that electrocutes the man in the water and leaves his steaming body floating to the surface. Searching the ship the group finds a not small pile of stolen gold and jewels, as well as supplies intended to be delivered to Riverguard keep. A loose end tied up, they find no further evidence of the missing keys and leave the half sunken ship behind.

Back in Bargewright the situation has developed without them, Chalaska having locked herself in her room with her most loyal guards. In shouted words she reports that she found some of the missing gold in her room, and fearful of being accused had locked herself away. Hack uses his connections to find a professional item-finder within the city, and the man's ritual reveals the keys to be somewhere in the south tower of the Inn. Willa and Hack break in, while Bellamy and Behruz stay in the Inn proper and make sure things don't escalate further. In the southern tower Willa and Hack find the remaining missing gold, as well as the ring of iron keys. They also find heavy wide bootprints, and talking to Chalaska they find the only dwarf on the payroll, the handiman Inglor. Inglor is interrogated and eventually admits to having stolen the keys and the gold to try and get back at Chalaska, whom he resents for some unknown slight. Chalaska apologises to the group for her behaviour and rewards them with fine riding horses from the Bargewright's stables. Settling in to their free rooms the group prepares to wait for the Innkeeper to return and their obligation at the Inn to be over.

Part VIII: On the Road Again

[Within the Helm at Highsun tavern in Red Larch]

The axles of the wagons creaked as they were pulled over the rough rocky ground as the convo made its way north beneath a midday sun. The drovers guided the oxen with expert skill, and even the leader of the convoy seemed relaxed as he rode ahead on his grey gelding.
Three wagons back Hack pulled his hat low over his face to ward off what little sun made it through the wooden roof. In his mouth puffed a pipe, stuffed with the finest pipeweed Bargewright had to offer, and in his one good hand a book. The dwarven histories were detailed but ultimately boring and the gnome soon found himself dozing off. Laying on a bed of hay the gnome smiled in his sleep, thinking this was the easiest gold he had ever earned.
Up ahead the bandits arrayed around the small stone bridge waited with baited breathes for the convoy to get closer…

[Journey up the Long Road]
The days and nights in Bargewright passed in a blur, Hack working hard as innkeeper while the others shopped or rested during the day and drank all night. One fine morning Hugo finally caught up to the group, having negotiated the lending of a magical book from the paladins at Summit Hall with the intention of increasing his skills as a spellsword. Finally Nalaskur returns from Yartar, surprised that the party had both remained at Bargewright and dealt with the problems that had arisen. He pays them a small sum and offers them free accommodation for life at the Bargewright. Chalaska thanks the group for exonerating her and the group prepares to make their leave from the inn. Pockets heavy from the payment for the keel-boat, they agree with Nalaskur to help guard a wagon heading north along the Long Road from Bargewright to Yartar in the north. Nalaskur informs them that several wagons had gone missing along the road, and the group agrees with the shopkeepers whose wares are being transported to receive payment upon delivery.

The convoy leaves at sunup the next day, the six wagons each operated by a pair of burly drovers who use their heavy whips to urge the oxen forward. The convoy itself is commanded by a man named Haelor, who rides ahead on his horse and bears the scars and weapons of a man not-unfamiliar with the dangers of the road. The wagons head north-west along the Cairn road that leads from Bargewright inn to Red Larch, where they will make their way onto the Long Road and towards their final goal; the town of Triboar. The wagons make good time along the Cairn road, passing the many farms that feed into the warehouses of Womford and making camp in a rocky outcrop just off the road. That night however the dangers of the road present themselves. The quiet night is interrupted by shouts of surprise as one of the wagons catches fire. A dozen or so flaming arrows stick from its side, and wagon soon engulfs in a rapidly burning fire. Behruz leaps awake, calling forth sorcerous magic that he learnt during his time at sea. The flames are soon contained, while the others draw their weapons and head out to find those responsible. But the bandits had not been sitting idle, and as the group crests a ridge near the camp they are peppered with arrows. It is only through the ferocity of Willa's bear form that the bandits are run off, and the convo counts itself lucky to have survived with all the wagons more or less intact. The next afternoon the scorched wagons trundle into Red Larch, the first stop of their journey. A small town named after the red leaved larch trees that dot the town, the convoy moves into town and is unpacked for the night.

Hugo is weary of the people of Red Larch, not forgetting that the last time he had visited his former allies had uncovered a substantial cult that ran the town. The elders of Red Larch were in alliance with the Earth Cult, but any signs of their former misdeeds had been long since swept under the rug. The then-constable Harburk is nowhere to be seen, and the new moustachioed constable Argos is a quiet and rude man who watches the convoy with suspicion as they enter town. The group get a shared room at the Swinging Sword inn and enjoy a quiet night of food and drink on the convoy's expense account. That is until Willa falls to the ground, blood frothing out of her pale lips. Bellamy falls down next, the fine white lace around his neck spotted with blood as his coughs grow more and more fluid. A scream breaks out in the inn common room as patrons watch the adventurers writhe from the poison. Hack leaps to action as his friends fall, pouring his pack onto the table and grabbing from it a small jar of ointment. Knowing little about what the ointment did he had recognised the dwarven rune for healing on its lid and grabbed it weeks ago from a chest in Riverguard keep. Smearing the ointment on his poisoned friends they begin to recover, the poison wracking their forms nullified by the magic of the dwarven ointment. While Willa and Bellamy recover under Behruz's guard Hugo and Hack take the matter to the new constable, but Argos dismisses their concerns with a derisive snort. The group sleeps waryly within the Swinging Sword and the next morning are glad to leave Red Larch in their wake.

Finally on the Long Road the convoy makes good time through the light woods and hills around Red Larch, the semi-paved road allowing the wagons to travel at a reasonable speed before the group stops to make camp at the foothills of the Sumber Hills. The next day they enter the hills proper, travelling along an ancient name whose name had long since been forgotten. After a day of travelling in the hills the Eagle Claw Bandits struck again. As the wagons cross a stone bridge across a chasm within the hills the bandits spring from their hiding places, levelling crossbows at the wagons and demanding the heroes step forward and present half of their gold before being allowed passage. Hack and Willa slip out the back of the convoy, the elf turning into her spider form and beginning to climb across the bottom of the bridge even as Bellamy steps forward to negotiate for the group. He tries to speak to the bandit leader, but the fat bearded man will not listen to his smooth words. Finally with a sigh Bellamy raises his hands. All across the surrounding mounds bandits explode from the inside out, blood and bone splattering those who survive as their allies are literally shattered by Bellamy's magic. Behruz and Hugo leap into action, slinging spells at the surviving bandits as they try to recover from the onslaught. Hugo batters aside bolts with his sword as he closes the distance, cutting down the leather clad men as they try to run from him. Meanwhile Hack and Willa arrive at the back of the bandit line, having climbed around the side of the gorge to surprise the fleeing bandit leader. The two fight him alone; spider and gnome clashing with his two scimitars as the rest of the bandits are slaughtered back at the bridge. Willa leaps atop the man, biting deeply into his neck with her poisoned fangs. But throwing off the spider the bandit recovered, sweeping both scimitars down upon hack. Raising his one remain arm Hack has both scimitars buried in his flesh, one at the shoulder all but removing the arm from his body. As the bandit falls to the ground dying from Willa's poison she reverts back into Elf form and tries to use her druidic magic to save the increasingly pale and bloody Hack.

Sporting a blood stump as well as his false iron hand Hack rides in the back of the wagons, tended to by Willa. After another half day of travel the Long Road makes its way out of the foothills of Sumber, and back out into the grassy plains of the valley proper. They pass a number of other caravans heading down the road, and Haelor gives curt warnings to the other wagoners about the dangers they had encountered in the hills. Eventually after a quiet few days on the long road the group reaches the town of West Bridge. West Bridge is a village, like many, built around the long road. It is a long settlement, built along the road and providing mainly for travellers along the road or farmers in the nearby region. It is so named for it's proximity to the strange stone bridge that crosses the Dessarin river, and the wagon drovers and adventurers are soon comfortably relaxing within the Harvest Inn. Hack has his wounds seen to by Willa, but even with the increased facilities she is unable to save his arm. After a carefree night in West Bridge the convo loads up once again and starts back out north along the Long Road.

The convoy's last obstacle is Black Maw Bog. A days ride between West Bridge and Triboar the Black Maw is a large sunken area of swamps and mangroves at the foot of the Dessarin hills. The wagons make slow time going through the area as the road becomes soft. The usually solid roads seem to have flooded even in the warm summer weather, and the wagon drovers have a tough time keeping their vehicles going in the muggy swamp. Wagons are bogged time and time again and the constant biting of mosquitoes throws many a drover into a fit of rage. Unable to cross the swamp in a day the group are forced to camp on the small amount of solid ground they can find in Black Maw. That night while on watch Behruz spots a light off in the distance and donning armour and weapons the group leaves the convoy to investigate. There they find a strange sight; a mud tower reaches high into the sky, still wet and apparently pulled up from the ground by some strange magic. Outside the tower sleeps a massive crocodile, easily the size of a house. There is some discussion about whether killing the beast was worth it, but eager for the rare materials harvested from its skin Willa urges the others to attack. Hack, now with no way to hold weapons after his loss of limb, is surprisingly eager to attack, the look in his eyes suggesting he might have entirely lost the will to live. The attack starts poorly, with the first few spells slinging off the thick skin of the crocodile, but as the massive creature raises its body and lets out a roar Behruz unleashes. From his tattooed hands spring bolts of lightning that blast into the creature again and again. It rears its head and bites Willa, her bear form roaring in return, before recoiling from the lightning. Bleeding, Willa flees into the forest while Hack rushes forward. As Behruz puts the last of his energy into the lightning Hack swings his false metal hand, lightly tapping the crocodile on the head. As the creature fall he jumps atop its body with a look of glee: "My kill!".

Part IX: Summer's End

[Autumnal snows over Yartar]

The storm broke over Fellthorn manor, twin lightning strikes illuminating the dilapidated manorhouse and the corrupted grounds that surround it.
Bent and gnarled trees spot the grounds, scattered through the crumbling cemetery and around the midnight black waters of the nearby lake. A massive gardens has long since overgrown and an ill smoke lingers across the entire ruin. The wind hits the central house with force, a fell shriek carried on the air.
Lighting torches and drawing weapons the heroes approach…

The convoys departure from Black Maw Bog is delayed as the next morning the drovers realise one of their number is missing. Searching the nearby area Hack surmises that the man was taken by some sort of wild beast during the night, but despite their best efforts the drovers cannot find their fellow. Willa returns to the group bearing the signs of a night spent in the wild, carrying in a sack on her back skin and scales taken from the body of the giant crocodile. Unable to find the missing drover and unwilling to wait any longer the convoy gets back on the Long Road towards Triboar. After half a day more of travel the convoy arrives at Triboar, a walled town surrounded by horse ranches and wineries. Triboar is mostly occupied by retired adventurers, and the roads around it are patrolled by a militia known as the Twelve Guardians. Riding into town Hugo takes his leave, as a member of the Twelve he had been called upon to serve for the next two tendays. The wagons pull up at a warehouse and unload the cargo, the grateful merchants giving a chest of gold to Haelor who divides it up amongst the drovers and adventurers. Saying farewell the drovers and Haelor go off to their accomodation, and the adventurers get rooms at the Weary Harper inn in the centre of town.

Waking the next morning the group finds their departure delayed by a commotion out the front of the Harper. Missy, the voluptuous singer who had filled the common room with her mediocre singing the night before had gone missing. Her distraught husband was pressuring the militia to investigate, and Hack offers his investigative services. A few leads later they find themselves interviewing a local shopkeep, believing him to be involved. The man is friendly and accomodating, even selling Hack a box of fine Elven port. Suddenly Willa's face turns to rage and drawing her staff she hits the man over the head. The shopkeep falls, his head twisting with an unpleasant crack as he hits the stairs. Hiding the dead man in his own cellar the group quickly return to their horses and cart and leave town, eager to avoid any awkward questions about the fate of the shopkeeper. The horses travel quickly along the paved stone road between Triboar and Yartar, the road a major trading route for the region and heavy with farmers, merchants and travellers. Eventually after two days the group arrives at Yartar. The city is the largest most of them have seen, a sprawling settlement of stone and wooden buildings that range from squat houses to towering five story towers and warehouses. Outside the walls a pavalion is set up around a horse racing track, and passing through the west gate across a bridge the group takes rooms at the Green Blade inn.

While the others roam the town Hack goes to visit the Temple of the Light in the temple district of the city. Although he is allowed entry he finds no-one who has the ability to heal his damaged limbs and returns to the Green Blade unfulfilled. The rest of the group enjoy the revels occurring in the city. The Yartarans are celebrating the end of summer with a Harvest Festival, a collection of banquets and parties that culminate in a horse racing tournament outside the city walls. Most of the festival is already over by the time the group arrives, but the final race is set to take place that very evening. Hundreds of people are arrayed in tents and stands outside the city walls for the festival race, with commoners drinking ale in the muddy areas below and nobles sipping wine far above in cool wind swept tents. The adventurers join in the revels, drinking deeply of the harvest wine and betting on the race with handfuls of platinum. They enjoy the bounties of their newfound wealth, betting heavily on the half dozen horses running. Bellamy comes out on top; his horse the Jester's Friend earning him a 10 times return on his investment. He celebrates his luck by paying for a party at the Green Blade, a night of drinking and frivolity that would rival any the heroes had experienced.

The next morning there is trouble once again, a local blacksmith's son gone missing in the inn the night before. The man claims the boy was apprenticed to Willa to learn to be a druid, but Willa has no memory of the last night. Once again Hack volunteers to put his skills to work, hired with a moderate fee by the Blacksmith. He soon discovers the truth, the boys remains found on the bank of a nearby river almost entirely devoured by some beast. The evidence presented against her Willa admits her secret. After being bitten by Jolliver Grimjaw at Riverguard she began to experience strange dreams and bloodlust, and recently had learned she must have contracted something from the bite. Having researched in the libraries of Bargewright and Yartar she had discovered the truth: She was now a werewolf. Hack agrees to not turn his friend in, and Willa matches the blacksmith's fee as a thankyou. The pair meet back with Behruz and go to meet with the River Baron, who had summoned them to meet with him some two tendays ago. Meanwhile Bellamy goes to meet with the blacksmith to explain his missing son. The man is angered by Bellamy's lie, and soon strikes the warlock with the back of his hand. Dabbing blood from his cheek Bellamy draws magic forth and forms a wind of ice around himself. When the blacksmith goes to strike him again his hand begins to freeze, his whole body turning to ice before he collapses to the ground; dead. As the blacksmith's wife screams Bellamy walks calmly from their house.

Meanwhile at the Water Baron's keep the others meet with the jovial portly Baron. He inquires about the missing delegation from Mirabar, and the group informs him of what little evidence they had found about their fate. He thanks them for their time, and offers them a small reward for the details they can offer about the delegations fate. The Baron says that an associate warned him about Earth and Water cults but he ignored him, and asks for the group to meet with the man when he returns to Yartar in five days time. Before they leave the Baron gives Hack a note to get him admitted to meet with the Bishop of the Temple of the Light, a powerful healer who may be able to assist him with his missing limbs. In the Temple district Hack meets with the Bishop, and elderly lady who was once a member of the clergy of Chauntea before being raised to Bishop. She says she has heard of such a ritual, but has never seen it in her lifetime. She knows of an Elven druid who is said to have been able to perform the miracle, but no-one had heard from this druid for near a century. Giving the group instructions to the last known location of the druid the Bishop says her farewells.

The group finds themselves leaving Yartar the following morning, led by research conducted on the druid in the library of Yartar. Lady Fellthorn was a druid of renown, thought to live in Fellthorn manor some days ride north of Yartar. She lived there with her human husband and four half-elven daughters, all of whom vanished under mysterious circumstances just before Lady Fellthorn disappeared. The group rides to the manor, arriving the following night in the midst of a fearsome winter-like storm. The manor house sits at the centre of a vast grounds and despite their best efforts the group are unable to enter the central building. Moving out into the grounds they find it swarming with unnatural beasts. Skeletons rise from shallow graves as they cross the cemetery, ghouls gnaw with foul teeth as they enter the old servants quarters and a water spirit tips their boat as they attempt to row across the dark lake. Eventually the group find four bound chests containing strange artefacts and the central house opens. Within they find what remains of Lady Fellthorn, a howling revenant driven mad by years of containment within her own house. As they approach the ghosts of Fellthorn's four daughters burst forth from their artefacts, their glowing forms reaping vengeance on the mother that murdered them so many years ago. As the revenant falls the ghosts fade and the manorhouse falls silent.

Chapter III: Secrets of the Sumber Hills

"I can only agree, these 'Humble Heroes' have gotten far too close to be allowed to roam around". Behind a stone gargoyle mask the man's expression was hidden, but the hate in his voice was clear.
The man across from him wears no mask, his face proudly displaying his green-blue skin and the barnacles newly grown upon it. He scratches his chin for a moment before replying.
"They have proven…stubborn…to the normal methods."
"What do you mean by stubborn?"
"My spy reports they all but ignored his poisoning attempt, and they have defeated every patrol we have sent to dispatch them."
"Perhaps it is time to try a more subtle method…"

Part X: The Trial of Bellamy

[Within the Prison of the Brilliant Circle]

"It's a matter of fraternity. We owe him our loyalty."
"It's what Bellamy would do for us"
Hack leant back from the table and produced a map from a scroll case at his belt. He straightened it out over the table in the the 'Green Blade' common room. Before them the layout of the Brilliant Circle jail was laid out in striking detail, the Black Network's fine work paid for that same morning.
"I hope we know what we're doing…"

The Fellthorn manor is looted, a small safe within the fireplace picked open and the central family chest unlocked with a key from around Lady Fellthorn's neck. From it the group pulls an ancient druidic amulet, a suit of fine elven leather armour and a wooden box containing a strange acorn. Packing the items into their saddlebags the heroes begin the short ride back to Yartar. The early snows still fall over Yartar as the group rides into town, emptying their saddlebags and pocketing a small coin purse each for their trouble. Hack takes the elven amulet to the Bishop and is interred in an ancient stone sarcophogus within the Temple of Light, the healing powers of Chauntea worked upon him as he lies in magical earth enchanted by the Bishop.

As Hack sleeps the rest of the group goes to the keep to meet with the River Baron. Once there they meet with Sir Alastair, a heavily armoured man who wears a cape made from white feathers. The group agrees to find the missing delegation for promise of cash from the River Baron and the ruler leaves the group alone with the knight. Sir Alastair explains that he is a member of the Baron's court but also a Knight of Feathergale Spire, an organisation he claims intends to use the power of elemental air to cleanse the region of monsters and wrongdoers. The group agrees to meet Sir Alastair in the town of Three Rivers in two days time. Back at the Green Blade inn the group settles in for a night of drinking and frivolity paid for by the trinkets found at Fellthorn manor. The partying is halted however when a group of armed men bearing the golden sun of the Brilliant Circle Paladins barge into the inn. The front man raises a piece of paper and points at Bellamy: "In the name of the Baron, the Exemplar and the Lord himself you are under arrest!"

A calm Bellamy is dragged from the inn and his allies jump to action trying to figure out what their friend is being charged with. The next morning at the Tower of the Brilliant Circle it is revealed, and Bellamy is formally charged with the murder of the blacksmith 'McFlode'. They speak to Bellamy via his familiar Puff, and the group soon puts together a defense. At the trial, deep within the stone fortress of the Paladins the black robed Inquisitor questions the witnesses and Bellamy himself. One witness, the blacksmith's wife, speaks the truth between sobs, while the other man speaks of Bellamy informing him of his intentions to murder the blacksmith weeks before the event itself. Trapped by the man's lies Bellamy is sentenced to murder and due to be executed by burning the following morning.

Back at the Green Blade the group try to decide what to do to save their friend. They discuss trying an appeal or leveraging the Baron to get him released. Eventually however they decide to simply break Bellamy out of the Brilliant Circle prison. Later that night the group approaches the main gate of the prison via the Baron's keep, fully armed and armoured. The guards fall easily, Hack's arrows and Behruz's magic easily cutting them down before they even raise. Willa turns into her bear form and lumbers forwards, smashing guards out of her way and cutting down anyone who stands before her. Behruz and Hack are forced to retreat as guards arrive from the Baron's fortress, fighting a running battle through the hallways of the prison with crossbow armed guards. Eventually they reach Bellamy's cell, freeing the warlock and reuniting him with his possessions. Slightly thinner after a day of poor eating Bellamy draws back his wand and points it towards the cell wall, shattering the rocks and smashing the wall outwards. Freeing the remaining prisoners the group leaps into the river far below, grabbing onto a log and floating down the river away from the smoking wall of the Brilliant Circle prison.

A few miles downriver the group washes up outside the town of Three Rivers. A trading town that lives by facilitating trade to Yartar, the wooden town is bustling even at these early hours of the morning. At the Golden Pyre inn the group reunites with their wagon, sent ahead the following night by a Black Network runner for a hefty fee. Sir Alastair also waits here for the group, his warhorse stabled but his armour and tabard worn beneath his white feather cloak. A discussion is had over breakfast and the group agrees to ride to the Sacred Stone Monastery. The Monastery is the base of operations for the Earth cult in the Dessarin Valley, and both the group and the Air Cult Alastair represents would profit from this outpost being destroyed. The conversation is cut short when soldiers bearing the sigil of Yartar ride into town and the group makes their way to the town docks.

A river captain agrees to take the group downriver for a small fee, Behruz agreeing to crew for the man all the way for Womford in exchange for passage. The boat sails smoothly through the Dessarin hills, expertly steered around rocks and away from waterfalls that seemingly came from no-where. After a few days the boat leaves the hills and arrives in the plains, sailing by wind or oars downriver at good speed. It goes under the Stone Bridge, a massive carved bridge made of stone that stands near a mile above the river. Seemingly carved by dwarves in an age past the bridge is one of the few ways over the river for traders from miles around. After a few more days of travel the river boat finds another boat moored in a small bay. Bearing the name River Snake the boat is tied up to a tree and her crew appear to be resting and roasting a wild boar over a spit. The boat is crewed by river pirates, common enough in these parts and to be avoided according to the river boat captain. The group were having none of this however, pulling up alongside the boat and pushing their magic up against the hull. The wood exploded outwards, the pirates falling into the water below as the ship capsized. The floundering pirates are consumed by the crocodiles summoned to the area by Willa's druidic powers. Taking what they wanted from the ruined ship the group sail further south into the sumber hills.

Part XI: Montana Two Slice

[Sacred Stone Monastery]

High above the Sacred Stone Monastery the Humble Heroes dwell on the reconnaissance performed by Willa and Faux Puff. The Air-Knight Alastair suggests a full frontal assault, to which the bloodthirsty Willa eagerly agrees. Hack councils stealth, while Bellamy suggests another ploy like the fake prisoner trick.
With a start Hack coughed and raised his weak voice: "I pulled a job like this. Awful tough. I know just the thing. What we need is a 'montana two slice'".
The others leaned forward inquisitively, listening closely as the gnome laid out his plan…

The river captain says his fair wells just inland of the Sacred Stone Monastery and the ship goes down to Womford with Behruz still aboard. The group makes their way inland, passing once again through the jagged hills and gullies of the sumber hills. The wagon makes it slow going and it takes near three days to travel the ten miles from the river to where the Sacred Stone Monastery was said to be. Packs of gnolls shy away from the group as they search high and low for the monastery. Finally Hack spots a symbol carved into the walls of a cave. They follow the cave deeper and deeper into the hills, the walls of the cave strangely smooth as if dug recently. Near a day later and the group finds their next sign of the Black Earth Cult. A massive creature bursts from the earth, ridden by a man wearing armour made of pure stone. The creature closes its jaws around Hack's pony Daisy, crushing the creature as its rider thrusts his spear towards his foes. The group rallies, throwing magic and arrows at the mounted earth cultist until eventually he falls.

After a few more hours travel the group comes upon the Sacred Stone Monastery. A trail leads into an ever-narrowing defile between bluffs of wind-sculpted sandstone. Eventually the walls draw in so closely that you can reach out and touch either side, but then the narrow space opens into a hidden canyon in the heart of the hills. A sprawling monastery with dark, narrow windows and red tile rooftops stands in the middle of this natural amphitheater, ringed by sandstone cliffs all around. Ahead, a weathered flight of stone steps leads up to the closed monastery doors. The plain doors are made of heavy timber with iron studs. A dusty footpath circles the building and one area of the Monastery seems to contain an overgrown garden. Bellamy sends his spirit into his familiar Puff and flies high above the Monastery, while Willa transforms into a lizard and sneaks through the thin windows into the Monastery itself. They both report a fortified structure filled with monks wearing the golden gargoyle masks of the Black Earth cult. There are also guards bearing armour made of stone and a priest who seems to be in charge of the whole operation. Some dwarven mercenaries also dwell within, gathered to the cause with promise of riches.

That night Hack takes the poisoned ale he had taken in Red Larch and using his poisoners kit distills the toxin down to a single concentrated vial. Clothed in a dark cloak he sneaks down towards the Monastery, slipping past the guards and pouring the contents of the vial into the bubbling oatmeal slop that the monks were due to consume the following morning. The next morning, gathered in the dining hall, half a dozen monks, two of the earth guards and the priest in charge all fall to the ground, retching and vomiting as blood pours from their orifices. The Monastery weakened the group prepares to attack. Rushing down the hill towards the building what few monks who remain rush to meet them, earthen fist clashing against sword and magic as Sir Alastair leads the charge with bravery. In bear form Willa summons wolves made of pure fey energy to her side, sending them through the monastery to hunt down any who remain. Any monks who group are quickly smashed aside by Bellamy, while Hack circles the building shooting his bow through windows into the panicking monks within.

The mercenary dwarves flee the area, and Willa's wolves rip apart any monks who remain. Eventually the slaughter of her men draws out the real leader of the monastery. Hellenrae is a monk with few equals, a blind woman who moves with unnatural swiftness and blocks any attack the group can send her way. She easily defeats Willa's wolves and parries Hack's arrows from the air with the palms of her hands. Knocking Sir Alastair unconcious she advances towards the group, only to be smashed to the ground by a burst of eldricht magic from behind. Advancing on her with a grin Bellamy ends her life. On her death the gargoyles guarding the monastery spring to life, but the animated guardians are quickly cut down by the group.

Venturing into the basement on the monastery the group finds a group of Orcs overseeing slaves working the mines. The tunnels stretch far below the monastery, and dozens of captured men and women are forced to dig out the earth to appease the earth cults foul masters. The group free the prisoners, slaying a massive amber skinned insect that had been kept by Hellenrae as a pet. Among the freed men is a dwarf named Bruldenthar, a member of the delegation from Mirabar that had been attacked south of Beliard. Between frantic thanks Bruldenthar explains that the delegation was attacked by the earth and water cults, and that he and many of his fellows were captured. He says that strange men riding vultures ambushed the cultists, taking prisoners of their own and the casket containing the body of Sir Caradoon, a famed knight being returned for burial in Summit Hall. Clearing out the last of the cultists the group finds a tunnel that leads far below and unwilling to risk the venture before they are aware of their destination they return to the surface and search the rest of the monastery.

In an abandoned part of the monastery the group are surprised to find a man wearing pale grey robes, seemingly ignoring them and reading a dusty leather bound book. The man introduces himself as Fenwick Caradoon, turning to face them as they approach. His skin is thin and pulled tight over his flesh and his eyes seem to glow with an inner green fire. Bellamy falls prostrate before the man, knowing he is looking upon a the most unholy creature known as a Liche. The man admits to being an undead, having performed the ritual to extend his own life centuries ago. The group draws forth a holy artefact from their cart as a gift of appeasement, eager to stay on the good side of this powerful wizard. By happenstance the artefact is a scroll made long ago by Samular Caradoon, famed Paladin and the Liche's brother. Renwick accepts the gift with surpise, offering the group items in return for their gift. For Bellamy he gifts the book he studied to learn how to extend his life, to Hack a magical enchantment on his own bow that would allow him to hunt down a single target without fail and to Willa the powers of an alpha werewolf, the ability to control her powers and choose when she passes on her curse to others. Awed by their gifts the group have a discussion and agree to serve the Liche. They promise to serve him in all things and in return he swears to reward them beyond their wildest imaginings. The goal he sets is to return the bodies of his brothers to him. One, a famed knight, is held by the air cultists at Feathergale Spire. The other is held in the crypts beneath Summit Hall, a massive fortress and home to the Brilliant Circle of paladins here in the Dessarin valley. Not fully understanding the impact of the oaths they had just taken the group leaves the Liche's chamber, excited by the promises of their new lord.

Part XII: Howling Hatred

[Feathergale Spire]

At the apex of the tower, the stairs terminate at a round stone gazebo that continues upward in a needle-like
minaret. Beyond this enclosure, a small lawn grows upon the top of the tower. Four paths paved with white stones
point the directions of the compass, each path ending in a pointed stone crenellation. At the pinnacle’s edge is a
spyglass on a tripod, pointed downward. Exiting the stairwell the group has little time to note the supreme view of all that transpires in the nearby canyon and the Sumber Hills beyond afford by the vantage point before their eyes are drawn to the figures arrayed before them. Feathergale Knights stand proudly with feather cloaks and swords drawn. Behind them grey robed men sit in prayer as their master walks forward. The heavy set man wears a shining breastplate bearing the sigil of the Howling Hatred Cult and draws his two-handed sword as he talks.

"And so the prey willingly sets itself before the predator…"

[Smashing the Air Cult]
Unsure of their ability to trust the Air Cultist Sir Alastair the group puts a plan into motion. As the dwarven scribe Bruldenthar and the freed prisoners make their way off into the hills to return to civilisation they go below into the mines with Sir Alastair. Walking down a narrow dimly lit corridor Hack launches the betrayal, sending two arrows into the back of the proud knight. As Alastair lies dying on the ground Bellamy reaches out and touches his cheek, sucking the life force out of him and leaving his a desiccated husk. The group settles in to the Sacred Stone Monastery for a tenday, each going about their own business within the now partially ruined structures. Bellamy uses his magic to shatter the passage below, stopping any Earth Cult reinforcements from coming up from below. Willa practices her new transformative powers, turning into a werewolf at night and testing her new abilities. Hack spends his time reading, both a spy report he stole from the Black Network and some books belonging to the Liche Fenwick. A few days later the reinforcements Sir Alastair had sent for arrive, a Feathergale Knight leading two men in strange grey robes. Bellamy's silver tongue convinces the men to enter the Monastery where they are ambushed by the corpses of the slain monks, animated by the dark magic of the Liche. The group pounce on the newcomers, blasting them apart with magic and burning them to ash.

Realising the Air Cult would only keep sending troops the group decided to pre-emptively destroy the only outpost of theirs they were aware of; Feathergale Spire. Travelling out of the long winding tunnel that leads to the Monastery the group sets out east through the Sumber hills towards Feathergale Spire. At the mouth of the tunnel they reunite with Behruz, who had finished his duties aboard the riverboat and come to rejoin his allies. The paths and ravines through the hills are tough going, made more difficult by the many strange creatures that inhabit them. Early on the first day while crossing a natural rock bridge the group is set upon by a group of giant vultures, the mounts of the Air Cultists killed at Sacred Stone Monastery earlier that day. Further into the hills Hack discovers an Owlbear nest behind a waterfall, barely escaping the clutches of the creatures and making it back to his fellows. Finally the group arrives at the edge of the Sighing Valley, which they follow for many miles until they reach Feathergale Spire. Approaching from the east up alongside the wide gusty canyon the group approaches the pillar of rock, clearly the tallest point for miles. The tower itself is white limestone embellished with marble, a glinting sight in the morning sun that resembles a shining sword piercing the sky. Dark shapes circle above the spire, and the raised draw bridge serves as the only point of access for outsiders.

Ringing the old brass bell across the chasm from the Spire the group are surprised to be let in by a cheerful woman wearing the garb of a Feathergale knight. Bellamy spins a lie about them returning the effects of Sir Alastair and the group are quickly led upwards through the Spire by their guide. Passing barracks, a library and even a greenhouse all decked out with the finery of a noble manor. At the top of the Spire the wind that howls through the valley seems amplified, the grassy surface never still as the gale swings around the tower. Over a dozen figures await them, feather cloaks or grey robes billowing in the wind. Half a dozen Feathergale Knight stand before the group, a dozen grey robed initiates behind them. Above giant vultures and hippogriffs circle, many ridden by knights holding long silver lances. The leader of the men, a knight named Thurl, steps forward and exchanges pleasantries. The group discuss the death of Sir Alastair with him, but from the start it seemed apparent that Thurl was out for blood. The question of whether the Air Cult truly knew who the party was had been answered, and the jaws of the trap were about to slam closed on the Humble Heroes.

As the Knights rush forward the group draws their weapons and attack. A vast wave of flames burns out from Behruz, and although it splashes off the armour of the knights many of the initiates are burned alive. As they scream Bellamy launches himself forward, shattering the armour, flesh and bone of many knights with his dark magic. Hack darts away, shooting arrows at the swooping vultures with his new bow while Willa transforms into a bear with a roar and thunders forwards. The heroes fight for their lives, but the knights are skilled warriors and the top of Feathergale Spire is soon awash with blood. Hack is knocked unconscious by the hilt of Thurl's greatsword and Willa is tackled down by half a dozen knights, who pummel the she-elf until she lies still. Bellamy uses his powers to push men from the pinnacle, their screams echoing through the gully long after their bodies were turned to a bloody paste on the rocks far below. As he is cut down he feels a strange presence in his mind, accepting the offerings of life that he had given it. Blacking out a new energy surges into him. The final one standing, Behruz draws deeply from the elemental energy swirling atop Feathergale, sending beams of flame and earth towards his foes until only Thurl stands before him. Backing away Thurl launches himself off the top of the tower, swooping downwards out of the grip of Behruz.

Behruz is left atop the Spire surrounded by bodies, some breathing but many more ruined husks that were once men. He drags his fellows inside, relieved to realise they had all survived the ordeal. The surviving men have their throats slit. One by one the heroes awake and explore the tower. Taking what valuables they need they decide to take the Spire as their base of operations, healing up and sleeping through the night. The next morning the group heads down to where Hack had surmised Thurl had fled. Flying down with a spell from Bellamy the group trudges through the broken and bloody remains of those cast from the top of the tower. They find hundreds of skeletons, dating back decades. The honourable Feathergale Society had been sacrificing men and women here for a long time. At a dark chasm in the gully wall the group comes upon more air cultists, unnaturally thin men with cloud tattoos who fight with their bare hands.

Beyond the canyon are crudely carved steps that go downwards for many miles. Following the steps downwards the group breaks out into a canyon that leads even further downwards. At a campsite the escaped Thurl sits with two more of the monks and half a dozen strange hunched over figures. Moving up the group attacks, slaying them with magic and arrow as they turn to attack. The hunched figures are revealed to be diminutive beasts with the heads of crows and sharp claws. Moving further downwards the cavern widens into a massive glittering cave. A dwarven city sits in a cave lit by glowing crystals in the roof, a large moat flowing through the area and off a cliff to fall far below. The group stops to rest on a rocky outcrop just away from the city, Hack looking at his dwarven books. After a while informs them that he believes this is part of the lost dwarven city of Karak Besil. Finishing their rations and drawing weapons the group moves below.

Part XIII: Karak Besil

[Karak Besil]

An enormous chasm splits the earth as far as the eye can see in the pervasive subterranean darkness. A crude, narrow stairway hugs the rock alongside the chasm, twisting madly in hairpin turns around sharp outcroppings. Jagged and uneven, the stair threatens to spill travellers into the chasm’s mouth. After several treacherous miles, the stairway terminates on a broad, flat landing that juts out over the immense black chasm. In the gloom, a lost dwarven city lays in ruins beneath the glittering cavern vault. Broken statues stand in the midst of empty plazas, staring sightlessly into the darkness. A huge step pyramid rises at the edge of the precipice, and from the moat that surrounds it a misty waterfall whispers over the chasm’s ledge…

[In the Dwarven city]
From their vantage point the palace district of the lost city of Karak Besil is laid out before them, once the pride of the dwarven kingdom of Besilmer. Lit by the crystals in the cavern roof the group can see most of the buildings within the district and soon pinpoint several groups of Howling Hatred Cult forces. Bellamy infiltrates a group of Air cult bards who play passable music on bone flutes under the direction of a minstrel called 'Windharrow'. A few buildings down the rest of the party slaughter their way through initiates and priests of the Wind cult, Hack's arrows and Behruz's flames accounting for the enemies not slain by the claws of Willa's bear form. Finally becoming aware of the disturbance Windharrow teleports away and Bellamy slaughters the remaining bandmates.

The outlying forces discovered the group sets in to scout the rest of the district. Bellamy's familiar finds groups of cultists and the group destroy them, grateful for the soundproof dwarven doors that fill the area. Eventually the group comes across a strange grey skinned man covered in white tattoos. The man introduces himself as a Djinni, a mythical spirit from the Air Plane who had been bound to this place by the Prophetess of the Air cult the Moon Elf Aerisi Kalinoth. The Djinni was sworn to re-carve the damaged parts of the palace, but resents Aerisi for daring to command him. He informs the group that the Prophetess dwells within the massive pyramid at the centre of the district, and if they break the glass horn she possesses he will be freed. The group agrees to free the Djinni and Hack dons his black cloak and prepares to sneak into the Air Prophetesses quarters.

Carrying only his knives Hack sneaks up to the pyramid, moving past a massive scaled wyvern and dozens of Howling Hatred soldiers, priests and initiates. In the lower level of the pyramid he narrowly avoids the heightened sight of some Hurricane Monks and eventually he makes his way to the top of the pyramid. In what was once the throne room he see Aerisi, draped across her throne with silver wings flapping gently in the breeze. On her arm rests a shining silver spear, the elemental weapon of the air cult. Hack makes his way past the prophetesses guards and through the throne room to where the glass horn sits in a cradle of air. The gnome lays his hands around the horn, turning to find the rest of the room looking in his direction.

Some minutes after he slunk away from the group he returns. Sprinting with the glass horn in both hands above his head he is pursued by a dozen Howling Hatred cultists brandishing knives and scimitars, with almost a dozen more monks, priests and elemental warlocks not far behind. The group falls back to a small alcove across the bridge from the pyramid with only one other entrance and get to the bloody work they do best. Behruz' fireballs blast initiates off the bridge and into the fast flowing waters, while Bellamy's magic shatters the bridge they run across and sends more into the water below. The remaining air cult warriors break off to go the long way around while the enemy mages move forward and unleash a wave of destruction upon the Humble Heroes. Beams of ice and bolts of lightning smash into the alcove, blasting apart the stonework and sending the group ducking for cover. Hack quickly smashes the glass horn and in revenge for the destruction of his work the Djinni rips apart the Howling Hatred mages before dissapating in a small localised whirlwind.

The silence is short lived however, as the Wyvern swoops down at its mistresses command. Aerisi is not far behind, her massive gold wings keeping her aloft as she shoots magic out of her silver spear. With a roar of rage Willa rushes forward to face the Wyvern, summoning to her side a pack of bears summoned out of the Fey realm to assist her. With claws and teeth the Wyvern is eventually brought down, cast into the fast flowing river where its body is taken into the abyss below. The reinforcements arrive but are quickly smashed aside by more magic from Bellamy and a steady stream of arrows from Hack Wobbletossle. Finally one by one the group are overwhelmed. Hack is knocked unconscious by an enemy monk, while Willa and Bellamy are smashed aside by a burst of air from Aerisi. Finally Behruz stands before the enemies and lets out a massive wave of flames that burn all to a crisp where they stand. Collapsing from exhaustion he watches as the air prophetess burns alive, the remaining cultists fleeing at the sight of their queen's demise.

Resting on the bloody marble steps of the pyramid the group recovers from the fight, marvelling at the pure number of enemies they had managed to slay. Bellamy takes for himself Aerisi's magical spear, Windvane, and declares himself the new Prophet of the Air Cult. The group spreads out to search the rest of the palace district of Karak Besil, with Hack and Willa going to the crypts to try and recover the body of Amphail the Just, brother of Renwick the Liche. Behruz goes alone to search some ruined manor houses. Hack and Willa kill a group of ghouls infesting the crypts and recover the body, returning it to Bellamy who had claimed the rest of Aerisi's items in his new role as Air Prophet. Searching the manor houses the group finds Behruz, dead. He lies still in the crypt, a black cloak wrapped around his head the cause of his suffocation.

Behruz of the seas. He came a long way to find his lost love, but found only death and despair in these lands. Slayer of the Prophetess of Air, he died in the dark underground halls of Karak Besil, far from the sea.

Part XIV: Dinner With a Dragon

[Exploring Rundreth Manor]

Hack slid the gems across the table towards the wide eyed dwarves, the jewellery next and finally the gold and silver nuggets.
The dwarf pulled a monocle up to his eye as he inspected the items, whistling through his teeth as he worked.
A few days later the group left the dwarven bank in town, each carrying a small chest filled to the brim with platinum, gold and letters of mark.
The group spread out into Bargewright, spending the not-small fortune they had just acquired…

[New Allies, Old Enemies]
Returning to the surface the group leaves the Howling Hatred Temple with the sarcophagus of Amphail the Just in tow. Carrying Behruz' body they make their way out of the sighing valley, back to the Dessarin river. That night they say their fair wells to Behruz as they burn his body in a sailors funeral. Saying goodbye to their long time ally the group are sombre as they make their way through the Sumber hills back towards the Sacred Stone Monastery. A day later they arrive at the ruined building, the quiet halls patrolled by the living dead controlled by the Liche Renwick. Renwick is glad for the return of his brother Amphail's body, and rewards the group with a crate of potions that he brewed specifically for each member of the party. Unwilling to stay a night in the undead infested hall the group reload the wagon and head away from the Liche's hideout. The wagon is filled with goods intended to sell in the markets of Bargewright Inn to the south.

The cart's old wheels squeaking as they trundle along the rocky road out of the Sumber hills and towards Bargewright. On the road the group meets some young huntsmen who inform them of what had transpired in the valley during the absence. It seems while the Howling Hatred cult was been destroyed the other cults had not been idle. Some days earlier robed figures had walked into the town of Greyhorn, leaving behind a wooden box that had exploded in a wave of ice and water some hours later. Arriving at the town the group surveys the destruction for themselves, noting the damage wrought by the Crushing Wave cult on the poor villagers. Unfortunately Hack is spotted while in town and is forced to kill a Paladin who comes to arrest him for the prison break in Yartar. Hurring on the group makes camp in the lowlands around the river, eventually meeting up with a travelling dwarf named Thorek Ironbeard. Thorek is a shield-dwarf from Mirabar, come south to seek out the source of the attacks on the Mirabese delegation and get revenge against those responsible. The group assist Thorek in the slaying of a group of ogres, and the dwarf agrees to join them on the road south to Bargewright.

The rickety old cart trundles down the Dessarin road and eventually arrives at Womford. Passing the sunken ship that marks their previous visit the group makes their way up the hill to Bargewright, taking rooms at the Bargewright taphouse and contacting the innkeeper Nalaskur to organise vendors. Nalaskur is hesitant to allow the group access, having heard rumours of bounty hunters looking for them, but given the aid they had given in the past does as requested. A jeweller in town, a dwarf by the name of Gromnek, has the surprise of his life when he is presented not only a sizeable bag of expensive gems but the jewellery only days earlier belonging to the Prophetess of the Air cult. Platinum worked with diamonds it is an exquisite work and that sale alone empties Gromnek's supply of currency. With pockets heavy and a sum put aside for Willa the group heads out into the Bargewright marketplace, repairing armour and weapons and purchasing new clothing and supplies. The old cart and mule is sold and an enclosed wagon and two fine horses are procured for transport. The group meets up again to visit Barnaby's Shop of Wonders, an arcane goods stores run by a portly old man with a glass eye. Potions, weapons and amulets are purchased from Barnaby and their shopping completed the group settles in to wait for the remainder of their money from the sale of the gems to arrive.

After a few days in town Hack finds a mysterious note underneath his drink instructing him to meet outside the Bargewright walls the following night. Wary of ambush, Hack scouts ahead and finds a group of bounty hunters led by a white robed priest setting up an ambush at the edge of the forest. The group counter-ambushes the group, killing the assorted mercenaries arrayed against them. Joined by the dwarf Thorek the group easily does away with the bounty hunters, finding their camp a distance away. Within they find bounty letters of warrant for all of those present, their names and images given by the Paladins of the Brilliant Circle. Although they need to wait a tenday for their payment to pass through for the sold gems the group realises they couldn't stay in Bargewright much longer. Packing up the wagon they ride to the south-west, heading to Rundreth manor while Nalaskur handles their affairs in Bargewright.

Rundreth manor is only a day south-west of Bargewright inn, and the walk through the countryside is pleasant and uninterrupted. The intention of the trip is to visit an Elven woman with whom Bellamy had previously had intimate relations, only to later find out the woman was a dragon who had magically taken humanoid form. Upon arriving the group finds no standing manor however, but rather a crumbling ruin of a once final noble house. Outside its decaying gates four bodies lie tied to massive oak trees. A blue skinned pirate, a gargoyle masked monk an armoured figure with a feather cloak and a red robed druid are nailed to the trees, long dead and now forming only a warning to those who would approach. One figure for each of the elemental cults believed to be active in the area. A search of the ruins turns up nothing until when night falls a small staircase becomes visible in the centre of the ruined fountain. In a cavern far below the so called 'Black Lady of Rundreth Manor' awaits, sitting at the head of a dinner table filled with food. She appears as an attractive female drow and greets the party as they approach. They join her for dinner, speaking of the history of the region and the nature of their new patron, the Liche Renwick. It is an odd but not unpleasant experience and while the others return to the surface when the dragoness grows tired of them Bellamy remains behind, sharing by far the most dangerous bed he would ever inhabit.

Bellamy now sporting a locket given to him by the Black Lady the group makes their way back to Bargewright. After a day on the road they are met outside the walls by their wagon, complete with a chest of gold owed to them and any items ordered in from the markets. A curt note from Nalaskur makes it clear they had best take some time away from the Inn, at least until things cool down. Pockets full once again the group mounts up, the dwarf Thorek guiding the cart back up the Dessarin road through Womford and towards Summit Hall. Barely a day later their troubles catch up to them. Swooping out of the sky are eight strange winged figures. Standing on two feet like a man these creatures are birdlike in appearance, covered in feathers and speaking through sharp beaks. They inform the group that they were watching Feathergale Spire and saw the group's victory over the Cult of Howling Hatred. They offer their aid to the group on the condition that Bellamy turn over Windvane, the magical spear of the Prophetess of Air. Bellamy is unsure but eventually agrees, turning over the spear to the birdmen. The creatures promptly take to flight, promising to aid the group in further endeavours as thanks for the return of the artefact.

Part XV: Battle at Summit Hall

[Summit Hall]

Bellowing a dwarven war-song Thorek went to work. The farmers were armed with pitchforks, scythes and often nothing at all, their improvised weapons bouncing off the dwarven battle ragers spiked armour. Their bravery is remarkable, true devotion to their priests standing behind them and chanting a prayer to the Lord of Light. But Thorek's slaughter would not be halted.
They died screaming beneath his pickaxe, bludgeoned to death by his shield or impaled on his very armour. Some fell to swift punches from his gauntleted fists and others he head-butted or smothered. As spells flew around him and arrows went back and forth between the defenders of Summit Hall and the Humble Heroes Thorek barely faltered in his work. Dozens died and the bellowing dwarven battle song never faltered.

[Slaughter and Greed]
Kill patrols

Attack. Snipe and fly up. Kill Silverspear. Birdmen kill wall guards.

Massive combat with inner troops. Thorek holds the gate.

Thorek goes down. Invisible Hack and Bellamy slaughter remainder, including some young noblemen.

Loot Hall artefacts from graves. Back to Sacred Stone. Return Samular. Offered gifts. At Hack's insistance group decides to take deck of many things.

Liche deals out deck. Bellamy draws two cards, gets coin to be exchanged for one true answer and magic wand once belonging to necromancer Plagis the Bloody. Thorek hesistant but agrees. Draws a card with a true name of a daemon on it (whoops) and a card that grants him a wish. Hack draws, items all destroyed. Gets greedy and draws again. Death omen comes for him. Helpless he is killed.

Hack Wobbletossle, who was never good at cards, drew one too many times on a Deck of the Fates. Naked and alone, the reaper's scythe sealed his fate.

Chapter IV: Elemental Evil

Summit Hall still smoked in the distance as Elder Revolo watched the blizzard sweep across the sumber hills. The bandits had long since left the once mighty keep, picking clean what little remained after the paladin fortress was desecrated not a tenday ago. All the artefacts were gone, and the bodies of the nobles, knights and paladins left to rot in the sun or be picked apart by the hundreds of vultures and other carrion that filled the air above the Hall.
But the death of the Paladins was not Revolo's primary concern as he looked to the north from the porch of his half ruined home in Grey Horn.
He had watched as a flash fire had swept through the valley. A day later an earthquake like none he had seen in his sixty years. And today a blizzard. More than these freak events he knew it in his bones, knew it with all the certainty that only age could bring. He had known ever since his town had been destroyed and perhaps even before that.
There was something evil beneath this land.

Part XVI: Fire and Air

[Scarlet Moon Hall]

The haze hangs heavily over the barren hilltop, fuelled by campfires and dozens of spot fires that pepper the hillside. Visible through the haze that covers the hill is a square tower ringed by ruined walls, built from the now familiar grey stone of the Knights of the Silver Horn. In front of the tower burns a bonfire shaped like a fiery giant looking out across the valley. Scattered on the slope below the tower are several bonfires with tents clustered around them. Within these camps humanoid figures huddle near these closer fires. A trail leads up to these hillside encampments. As the wagon creaks towards the bottom of the hill a figure in red and brown robes stands to greet them.
Aylbrith grins at Bellamy as he speaks: "Welcome friends, to Scarlet Moon Hall!"

[Cults Unite]
Leave Sacred Stone. Arrive Scarlet Moon Hall. Albryth leads to top of hill. Talk to Elizar Dryflagon. Agree that Air and Fire cults will unite against Water and Earth. Will attack in one tenday from now.

Storm whips up around mountains. Horrible blizzard. Terrible going. Kill Ice Elemental guards. Arrive at Riverguard, it is flooded and frozen.

Fight Cryomancer and Yhetis. Thorek wrestles them and kills them in the cold water. Break ritual circle and storm begins to abate.

Down river then overland to Sighing Valley. Moving up through valley find a group of gnolls apparently worshipping a manticore. Kill them all fairly easily.

Bump into mysterious elf. Says he is investigating strange moon patterns. Party isn't sure but he is going into the ruins as well.

Earth Cult group fight on stone bridge. Bellamy pushes them off with force, Thorek literally pushes them off. Then onto Karak Besil palace district. Camp out for three days waiting for attack. Clear out area, including a massive burrowing insect.

Part XVII: Scorched Earth

[The Great Gates of Karak Besil]

The room was filled with a humming at first, a light sound that barely registered amongst the din of battle. It grew louder and louder, eventually audible even over the clash of steel and screams of the dying. The two elves sung as they slew, their swords making perfect strokes as they deftly danced between the rock armoured men. The High Elven flowed from their lips like sweep wine, filling the room with a melody that enchanted and awed those who heard it.
The Black Earth cultists faltered as they heard it approach. They didn't know what they were hearing, but they knew the sound of death approaching. Few heard the blade song of the Moon Elves and lived.

[Breaking the Black Earth Cult]
New Moon Elf arrives. Smash into area. Kill Bullettes.

Rest. Spread out. Kill Ettin and Stone Sorcerer. Hobgoblins.

Further in proper cultists. Elves dance together. Bellamy, Thorek and Bodrick kill with magic and blades.

Massive Black Ooze rusts the shit out of Bodrick's plate. Kill last of cultists. Everyone heavily wounded.

Retreat to Fire Cult area. They kill the rest of the baddies in the Earth Cult area.

Meet with Alyzza and Bastion of the Fire Cult. Bodrick gets paid and leaves the group. Elves leave. Party are put in rooms to rest.

Part XVIII: Sudden, Inevitable Betrayal

[The Forges of Karak Besil]

Thorek's eyes stretched open, clinking as he blinked his bronze eyelids. He looked at his hand, skin now replaced by hardened bronze carved to perfectly match his physical form. Thorek looked around at the dingy cell in which he found himself. Casting his mind back the last thing he could remember was the wall of fire burning towards him and searing agonising pain. He grimaced at the thought.
Three similarly carved bronze figures stand over him, their beards flaming hot in reds and oranges. As one they speak in a gutteral tongue Thorek had never heard before but somehow now understood.
"Welcome Brother".

[New Alliances]
Bellamy meets with Alyzza, makes deal for Tinderstrike (the elemental fire weapon). Alyzza going to be new prophet once Bastion her competitor is dead. Bellamy warns others and party are joined by Bodrick, whose honour wouldn't allow him to slaughter the group.

Bastion's forces attack. Bodrick uses all his energy laying down lightning bolts that mow through hobgoblins and Bellamy and Thorek kill a Chimera. Actual Fire Cultists come led by armoured man with flame spear.

Bodrick and Thorek form a shield wall and fight them off. Bellamy engages in mage duel with fire cult mages. Forces break through when the dead armoured man explodes, ripping Thorek to shreds. Bodrick is knocked unconcious by the blast. Bellamy kills the last of the soldiers and Bastion with a circle of death but is shot by remaining mages and killed.

Bodrick wakes up. Alyzza has seized control over the cult here. Finds out Thorek used his wish from Deck of Many Things to become an Azer, a bronze fire dwarf. Alyzza only needs one more enemy killed, the Efreeti, a flame daemon loyal only to Vannifer.

Bodrick releases Salamanders and captured Azer and they rip the Efreeti to shreds. Thorek gives the Azer the a magical scroll to send them to Mirabar to work in the forges. Lounar rocks up again. Thorek attacks him after finding looted dwarven funerial masks in his bag but the party works out their differences.

Need an elemental weapon to get below the cult temples and Bellamy is the only one who knows where Windvane is. Ride back to Sacred Stone Monastery. Bump into Calico the Swift along the way, he is the brother of Severa Lilith and wants to confirm his sisters death so he gets the inheritance. The Liche is annoyed they are back but agrees to bring Bellamy back in return for all the artefacts from Summit Hall's crypts. Grabs Calico by the face and forceably inserts Bellamy's soul into his body.

Part XIX: Willa's Hunt

[Orc camp at the edge of the High Forest]

The massive Orc hefted his bone axe with glee as the Half-Orc approached, drawing his greatsword. The Orc beat it's chest with the flat of the axe, slinging a series of insults at the Half-Orc as the two moved nearer to each other. The forest went quiet as the two mighty warriors clashed steel and bone, blood and muscle in the mossy cavern.

[Away from the Heroes]
Thirty days before the resurrection of Bellamy Dangelo Willa found herself in the Goldenfields agricultural temple in the southern plains of the Dessarin valley. Her purpose had been to ascertain the locations of more rare and dangerous beasts from the druids and clerics of Chauntea there, but so far had found her advances for information politely rejected. It was here that she met the Bard and the Half-Orc. The Bard was newly rejected from Goldenfields, his alchemical work not producing enough new research for him to maintain his position there. The Half-Orc was tight lipped about his past, but rumour suggested he had run away from the Orc tribe where he had been raised, ashamed of his past and wishing to find a way to curb what he saw as his inner violent nature. It was his old tribe that had brought he group together, the tribe of the Wyvern riding Orc Warchief Grimglock.

The tribe had begun to hunt one of the mythical Great Stags of the High Forest, an ancient and holy animal worshipped by the Elves of the forest. Willa simply wished to get a glimpse of the legendary animal, while the Half-Orc intended to slay his old Warchief and any other Orcs that stood in his way. The Bard was simply interested in finding adventure and perhaps some new alchemical supplies in the forest. The Half-Orc led the group on foot, travelling away from Goldenfields into the foothills of the Forlorn Hills. Here they come across the camp of Grimglock, recently abandoned as the tribe moved north-east towards the High Forest. Bypassing the campsite the three travellers make their way along the Iron Road, passing a caravan on the way to Womford to sell their wares. Passing them by the travellers break off the path and into the High Forest.

The forest is dense and teeming with wildlife, bugs and rodents roaming the undergrowth while birds and other stranger creatures live high above the ground in the hulking trees. The group makes their way through the forest, the Bard easily following the tracks of the Orc warband. The spirits make way for Willa as she passes, acknowledging her wild nature, and eventually the Bard finds the campsite of the Orcs. The Orcs had made their camp near an ancient magical grove which Willa identifies as the home of the Great Stag. The groups sets up in the Orc camp and waits for the beasts to return. When they do they launch into action, the Bard slinging magical spells and the Half-Orc butchering his former allies with a massive chipped greatsword. Willa charges in her bear form, ripping Orcs to shreds with her claws and jaws. The Orcs slain the Bard sets to following their tracks once again, looking for where they had taken the Great Elk captured from the grove.

The Orcs had dragged the Elk miles through the forest back to an ancient ruin in an underground cavern filled with mossy overgrowth. The ruin is beyond a simple stone door carved into the walls of the cavern and a solitary figure stands between the three and the door. The Warchief stands nearly 8 feet tall, heavily muscled and armoured in a bone and leather surcoat. He holds a massive axe made of wood and hardened stone. With a snarl the Half-Orc rushes forward to meet him, drawing his greatsword. The two clash in a mass of blood and steel, not a dance but a brutal and bloody wrestle where blades bite deeply into flesh. The Half-Orc begins to falter but kept alive by subtle druidic magic from Willa he manages to find his second wind and with a sickening crunch rip the jaw of the Orc Chief away from his skull in a burst of blood and brains.

The ruin within is a myriad of traps and arcane wards put in place by the Elves of the forest to keep the human tribes from using their ancient sacrificial chambers. The three make their way through, Willa summoning beasts from the forest to trigger the traps. They find several ancient burial chambers within, the Half-Orc taking an ancient suit of armour and greatsword and the Bard an elk bone flute. Further in they find the Orc Warchief's wyvern mount, a massive scaled dragon with a poisonous tail that nearly claims the life of the Half-Orc. In the very centre of the ruin they find the Great Elk, a massive horned creature that radiates majesty. The elk is contained within an ancient sacrificial chamber used by the barbarian humans of the region centuries ago.

While the Bard forages in some of the ancient herbs growing in the ruins Willa and the Half-Orc watch the still tied up form of the Great Elk, reading the runes on the walls that speak of the great power imbued on those who sacrifice one of the great Elks. With this in mind Willa dons the ancient ceremonial helm found within the chamber and the Half-Orc uses a dull bladed sword to behead the mighty beast. Willa and the Half-Orc feel power flowing into their veins from the ancient magic of the chamber. The two feel themselves growing stronger, filled with an primordial rage while their wits are dulled by the magic. Seeing what his allies had done the Bard leaves, disgusted by the death of such a rare and holy creature. Left alone Willa sees the strength in new companion and decides to turn him, biting the Half-Orc and turning him into a werewolf. Leaving the Half-Orc to roam alone in the High Forest Willa departs to rejoin the Humble Heroes.

Part XX: Castle in the Sky

[The Elven ruin containing the Waygate]

The wind whipped their green dragon scale cloaks back as it smashed against the tiny rock upon which they stood. Floating amidst a blue-grey sea of storm clouds it seemed a tiny island in a raging sea, lit only by the irregular bolts of lightning that split the sky. From time to time among the clouds an air elemental could be seen, frolicking on its native plane or spinning whirlwinds back and forth between the clouds.
Holding his feather cloak tight to ward off the wind chill Bellamy looks towards the horizon, where a massive castle carved from the very stone upon which it stands floats amidst the stormy clouds.
"It's there, I can feel it."

[Retrieving Windvane]
Out of Sacred Stone. Meet with Willa. She barely recognises party. In Red Larch turn in Bellamy bounty to Hugo, who is now working with the Brilliant Circle Paladins to clear his name.

Out towards Elven waygate in Kryptgarden forest. Help farmer by killing bugbears and trolls. Into forest, follow ancient Elven highway. Kill Treants guarding waygate.

Go to and destroy Wood Elven village to get their Moonstone, including their young green dragon patron. Use one of their scouts as a sacrifice, Bodrick is uncomfortable.

Arrive on Air Plane. Describe. Go to massive castle carved from stone.

Series of puzzles etc obviously meant to keep people out. Find Wind Cult captives and free them.

Fight Air Giant who guards Windvane and other artefacts. After he dies castle collapses and Bellamy is forced to use the spear for a last ditch Planar Shift attempt.

Part XXI: The Shadow Realm

[Feathergale Spire in the Shadow Realm]

As far as they could see there was no colour. That was what shocked them the most. The grass underfoot, rotted and dead as it was, was neither green nor brown. It was grey. The stark blank grey of something that not only lacked life but never held any to begin with. Even Thorek's usually bright flames seem dull, simply white where they normally burned red hot. Bodrick summoned flames to his hand and changed their colour. Red, green, blue, yellow. All grey and as cold and dark as everything else in this world.
Willa raises her heckles without thinking, looking around at the tall black stone mountains that stand like jagged teeth against the cloudless and sunless sky.

[Escaping the Shadow Realm]
Teleport into Shadow Realm. Explain what Shadow Realm is. Wander about and Howling Hatred initiate breaks his neck walking down a mountain. Find Feathergale Spire reflection with ghosts.

Meet with necromancer. He agrees to help party if they take him with them. Need to find "Dreadlord". Down into spiked rocky valley overshadowed by mountains on either side.

Through toxic forest, fly over cursed river and avoid Mindflayer attack. Arrive at sea of bones.

Destroy 200ish skeletons. Bodrick balls of fire, Willa claws and teeth, Bellamy shatters, Thorek wades in with bare hands.

Fight attracts Dread Knight. Kill his Wight bodyguards and unholy mounts. He is cut down by Bellamy as he tries to flee.

Steal his ring and start to Planar Shift. Shift is hijacked and end up in place made of purple marble and smoke. Aspect of Dendar materialises and attacks Callum. Manage to kill it as it breaths negative energy on them. Planar shift is completed and they find themselves in a shattered and burning Swinging Sword Inn in Red Larch.

Chapter V: Four Prophets


Part XXII: While You Were Away

[The Earth Prophet Marlos raises 'Ironfang']


Inn is destroyed, Bodrick admits he was thinking about this place. Town seems occupied by Earth Cultists. Willa frenzies in massive ape form, throwing villagers at walls etc and killing a lot. Tense stand off with Bodrick that eases off. Party drinks in the inn.

Make way to Scarlet Moon Hall. Whole place is destroyed, bottom level flooded in Lava. Go to Sighing Valley and find some Air Cult remnants there. They tell the group it had been 6 months since they teleported away.

Water and Fire cults have recruited and lost in equal numbers, waging a brutal war across the region that destroyed both Scarlet Moon Hall and Riverguard Keep. Both have gone underground. Earth Cult seized Red Larch and West Bridge villages. Some false prophet is gathering Water and Air cultists to a camp in the north, believed to be the minstrel Windharrow.

Down to Eternal Flame temple. Alyzza surprised they are alive. Pretty much relays same information. Says all three Prophets have gone below to the "Fane of the Eye" to try and summon their respective Elemental Princes.

Down into Fane. Find Drow ruins and evidence of a "Great Elemental Eye" that was worshipped here centuries ago. Realise the Dwarves built Karak Besil to guard from below.

Corner Marlos the Earth Prophet. He is begging the Elemental Eye for help but has had no luck for months. Kill his gargoyles and monks but he manages to turn Willa to stone with a petrifying gaze.

Part XXIII: Gathering Storm

[Crossing Stonebridge]


[Gathering Allies]
Thorek takes up Ironfang, the Elemental Earth weapon and group agrees to find the minstrel Windharrow and force him to restore Willa to flesh.

Willa Feral, who finally gave in to the viciousness within her heart, burned alive by the Priests of Eternal Flame.

Part XXIV: The Elemental Nodes

[The Weeping Colossus]


[Within the Elemental Nodes]

Campaign Appendixes

[1] Note found in a skull, impaled to a tree trunk, by a black-shafted arrow north of Red Larch

The Last Laugh.
You’ll be next
– Valklondar

[2] Rune found on the 'Black Earth' Priest in Red Larch


[3] Symbol found on 'Crushing Wave' Reavers north of the Dessarin hills


[4] Tattooed symbol of the Cult of 'Howling Hatred'


[5] Letter found in Feathergale Spire

We are pleased to hear about the outcome of your altercation with the Black Earth cult, and we praise you for the capture of one of their prisoners. This noblewoman from Leor has an interesting tale to tell, and we shall enjoy interrogating her further. I also applaud the return of Sir Caradoon's remains, I will keep them close to honour him. Keep a close watch on the Sacred Stone Monastery. I want to know what our enemy is planning next.
Your beloved queen,
Aerisi Kalinoth

[6] Bounty letter found on Elias Tremone

The following criminals are wanted, their return dead or alive will be rewarded. Crimes as listed.

-Hack Wobbletossle: Theft, breaking and entering, murder, attempted murder, assault, trespass.

-Willa the Elf: Theft, breaking and entering, murder, attempted murder, assault, trespass, lycanthropy, witchcraft.

-Bellamy Dangello: Theft, breaking and entering, murder, attempted murder, trespass, assault, resisting arrest, damage to church property, prison break, lying under oath, witchcraft.

-Behruz: Theft, breaking and entering, murder, attempted murder, assault, trespass, witchcraft, illegal immigration.

-Hugo: Dealings with improper persons, suspected compliance with other crimes.
Rewards: 500gp each alive, 200gp each dead. 1000gp bonus for the whole group.

Be careful approaching the group, they have shown themselves to be ruthless and prone to acts of violence.

[7] Symbol burned into missing Summit Hall patrol


Dramatis Persona


  • Severa Lilith: Noblewoman from Crydee, come to the Dessarin valley searching for her father. A renowned duellist, she is always clean cut and wearing the latest fashions.
  • Velora: Elven Witch from the High Forest, cast out due to her abyssal necromancy. Wanders the land, troubled by a vision of the doom of the region.
  • Azula Dumont: Local of Red Larch who has learnt magic from a Suranni book her father brought back from the Rift Wars. Scrapes by trying to life in the town while studying magic.
  • Ovorw Moonchild: Half-Elven paladin of the Elven Moon Goddess. Arrived at Red Larch as part of his travels outside of the High Forest.
  • Hugo the Spellsword: A charming mercenary recently imbued with magical powers. A frequent sight on the region's roads, he is fondly regarded by most locals.
  • Doyle: Retired thief recently returned to the adventuring game. Out to re-establish his reputation as the finest burglar in the realm.
  • Willa Feral: Elven Druid from the High Forest. A shapechanger, she travels the lands seeking out great meaning.
  • Bellamy Dangelo: Jester from the city of Leor. Left the court of the duke for an unknown reason, and now searches the Dessarin Valley looking for a way to get vengeance.
  • Behruz: A sorcerer from across the endless sea, he searches for a long lost love.
  • Hack Wobbletossle: A private detective from the Kryptgarden forest. Takes odd jobs where he can.
  • Thorek Ironbeard: A dwarven warrior from Mirabar who came to the valley as part of the team recovering the delegation. Stayed on to destroy the cults. Serious but with an adventurous spirit.
  • Bodrick Shaw: An ex-mercenary whose study of magic led to him uncovering great power.
  • Shinan: A wood elven monk who came to the Dessarin valley to amplify his elemental powers. Was subsequently rejected and tortured by the Cult of Eternal Flame.

Notable figures & NPCs:

  • Kaylessa: Owner and operator of the Swinging Sword Inn. A kind lady who hears everything that goes on in Red Larch.
  • Constable Harburk: Captain of the small guard contingent in Red Larch, an ex-soldier of the Rift Wars who took over after the previous Constable Dumont died in the war.
  • Ironhead: Dwarven proprietor of Ironhead Arms, the town armourer of Red Larch. So named for the iron plate attached to his head, reportedly to replace a missing piece of skull.
  • Kerbin Dellmon: The owner of Dellmon Ranch, a community leader for the homesteads and farms of the Jundar plains.
  • Erned: Travelling paladin of the Lord of Light. Member of the Brilliant Circle, he roams the valley protecting the weak and upholding justice.
  • Delegation from Mirabar: Delegation sent from the dwarven city of Mirabar to Crydee in the south. Made up of many dwarven and human representatives.
  • Aylbrith: Druid of Scarlet Moon Hall. A pyromancer who helped the party storm Riverguard keep.
  • Nalaskur: Innkeeper of the Bargewright inn. Shadow Network contact.
  • Chalaska: First Sword of the Bargewright inn. A proud and attractive ex-mercenary who governs the soldiers that protect the inn.
  • River Baron Iago: Ruler of Yartar and defacto Lord of all the Dessarin valley. A known member of the Council of Lords, he rules Yartar with the shrewdness of a man with many years of experience.
  • Bishop Liara: An ex-cleric of Chauntea who became the Bishop of the Dessarin Valley region after the Surani Wars. Has more interest in healing and research than politics, and is often bullied into decisions by the Brilliant Circle.
  • Sir Alastair: An knight of the River Baron who joined the Feathergale Society. Is deeply concerned about the activities of the Water and Earth cults.
  • Renwick Caradoon: A crusader who helped fight off an Orc invasion centuries ago before turning to necromancy to prolong his life. Now a Liche, he dwells within the Sacred Stone Monastery.
  • Aerisi Kalinoth: A moon-elf who is now the Prophet of Elemental Air and the leader of the Cult of Howling Hatred. Wields the spear Windvane.
  • The Black Lady of Rundreth Manor: An ancient black dragon that can transform into the form of an attractive female and often does so to roam the lands.
  • Exemplar Silverspear: Once a travelling companion of the Bright One himself, Silverspear rules Summit Hall and holds the lands around in a moral vice-grip.
  • Elizar Dryflagon: A druid who leads the Eternal Flame forces at Scarlet Moon Hall. Bearded and robed, he is rarely seen without his ivory pipe.
  • Luonoar: An enigmatic Moon Elven blade-dancer from the High Forest. Claims to be investigating the state of the moon from points of magical focus, but his true intentions are unknown.
  • Kael Moonfire: Elven blade-singer cleric from the High Forest, called in to support Luonoar after his discovery of the dwarven ruins beneath the Sumber Hills.
  • Alyzza Calderos: A human mage who travelled with the Eternal Flame Prophetess Vannifer and is resentful for not being chosen as Prophetess. A pyromancer of noteworthy skill, she leads a faction of the Cult of Eternal Flame.
  • Calico the Swift: A pirate from the Scimitar Coast who had come inland looking for his sister Severa Lilith, interested in using her inheritance to purchase a ship.
  • Bastion Thermander: A fire gensi and favoured lieutenant of Vannifer.
  • Marlos Urnrayle: Prophet of Elemental Earth and afflicted with the rare curse of the Mudusa. Marlos wields the warpick Ironfang.
  • Vannifer: A child of daemonic lineage, Vannifer was an outsider who learnt flame magic to survive on the streets of Karse. Was drawn to the Dessarin valley and became the Prophet of the Cult of Eternal Flame. Wields the elemental dagger Tinderstrike.
  • Gar Shatterkeel: An ex-pirate who was saved from drowning by Olhydra and now worships elemental water. The prophet of the Cult of the Crushing Wave he wields the trident Drown.

Known Organisations:

  • Council of Lords: A group of lords and Dukes operating in the area between Neverwinter and Leor. Goals are mainly based on keeping the land safe and consolidating the leadership of the various towns, cities and villages in the region. Symbol is a crown in a golden circle.
  • Emerald Enclave: A collection of Elven and Human druids and rangers whose priority is protecting nature in the High Forest and beyond. Known bases include Shadowtop Cathedral and Goldenfields.
  • Eagle Claw Bandits: A bandit clan operating in the Red Larch Area. Known to attack caravans and travellers. Wear a yellow eagle claw patch sewed to their armour.
  • Believers of Red Larch: Group of elders who run the town from behind the scenes. Thought to be in league with the Earth Cult.
  • Black Earth Cult: Enigmatic group of warriors and priests thought to be part of some sort of cult that worships the ground itself. Largely hidden from view and operate behind the scenes across the valley. Some influence in Red Larch, thought to be centred around the Sacred Stone Monastery.
  • Feathergale Knights: A group of nobles and warriors from across the region who gather at Feathergale Spire to train as knights. Interested in protecting the region from monsters, they are known for riding winged creatures into battle. They are the cover for the Cult of Howling Hatred.
  • Cult of the Crushing Wave: Reavers and ruffians who gather under the leadership of Jolliver Grimjaw. Some seem to be worshippers of some sort of water spirit. Favour obvious tactics and are known for using water-based creatures as mounts. Main known base of operations Riverguard Keep.
  • The Black Network: Loose collaboration of spies, thieves and assassins that operates across the Dessarin Valley and beyond. Base of operations within the valley is Bargewright Inn.
  • The Kraken Society: A thieves network that operates across the region, it struggles with the Black Network for control of the Dessarin Valley's criminal networks. Base of operations is in Yartar.
  • The Brilliant Circle: Little more than a tiny sect ten years ago the Brilliant Circle has grown in the past decade to be one of the most influential organisations without the Church of Light. They are zealots, primarily interested in warfare and punishing wrongdoers.
  • Cult of the Eternal Flame: Fire cultists, brash and violent. They are believed to inhabit the ruins of Scarlet Moon Hall.
  • The Harpers: Little more than a rumour to most, some speak of a giant organisation that runs throughout the kingdom working to maintain the status quo.
  • The Moon Elves: From within their dwellings in the High Forest the Moon Elves rarely interact with the humans of the Dessarin valley, sending out agents to report on or influence events only when their clerics devine it to be of upmost importance.


  • Dessarin Valley: A long and bountiful valley filled with farms and villages. Many dangers lie between the safety of the fortified townships across the region.
  • Red Larch: A town in the centre of the Dessarin Valley. Surrounded by farmland, it makes a good trade of the many travellers along the 'Long Road'.
  • Sumber Hills: Ancient hills dotted with abandoned forts and ruined. Filled with dangerous creatures and much worse.
  • Feathergale Spire: Tower in the Sighing Valley, home to the Feathergale Knights. The knights roam the region on the backs of their flying mounts.
  • Beauford: Village to the south of the Dessarin hills. A small settlement that provides for the few farms in that region.
  • Jundar Plains: A green area of valleys and light forested hills. Dotted with ranches and homesteads.
  • Beliard: Town near the Stone Bridge, mainly made up of ranches and nearby farms.
  • Riverguard Keep: Castle on the edge of the Dessarin river. Ancient castle now occupied by the soldiers of Jolliver Grimjaw.
  • Womford: Built near the ruins of Ironford, a town destroyed by a dragon a century ago, Womford mainly services the many grain barges that go up and down the Dessarin River. It lives literally and figuratively in the shadow of the Bargewright Inn.
  • Bargewright Inn: A mass of shops and wooden buildings that covers a large hill, this is the favoured stopping point for travellers plying the Dessarin Valley. It has shops of every kind, and some rumours persist that it is run by the Shadow Network.
  • West Bridge: Small town placed on the Long Road. Most of the townsfolk are farmers or shopkeepers who facilitate for those travelling the Long Road.
  • Triboar: Large walled town in the north of the valley. Famed for its horse stables, it is the home of many retired mercenaries and soldiers. The mayor and protector runs a sturdy militia from which 12 cavalry are picked every two tendays to be the standing force for the town. Primary mercantile rival of Yartar.
  • Yartar: A sprawling city set onto three converging rivers. A large stone walled city that is the seat of trade and governing within the Dessarin valley. Ruled by the River Baron from his keep, the city is an economic hub and its wagon convoys can be seen all across the sword mountains and beyond.
  • Sacred Stone Monastery: Officially a private retreat for a group of monks, this ancient stone fortress is actually the hold of the Cult of Black Earth as well as the reclusive Liche Renwick Caradoon.
  • Summit Hall: An ancient castle atop a rocky bluff, this is the seat of power for the Church of Light in the Dessarin valley. In recent years it has come under control of the Brilliant Circle sect.
  • Karak Besil: An ancient dwarven city that lies beneath the sumber hills from when the dwarven kingdoms occupied the region. It stands in ruins, but is now occupied by the forces of Elemental Evil.
  • Rundreth Manor: Once a fine human manorhouse, Rundreth has long since been overgrown and overrun by the forces of time. It is now the home of the Black Lady.
  • Scarlet Moon Hall: An ancient Silver Horn outpost that was since used as a druidic gathering point before becoming abandoned. It is currently occupied by the Druidic Circle of the Scarlet Moon, a front for the Cult of Eternal Flame.
  • The Air Plane: Believed to be one of the four elemental planes of existence, this area is the home of air elementals and the birdmen known as Aarakocra.
  • The Shadow Realm: Merely a myth to some the Shadow Realm is a plane of existence directly in touch with the material plane that reflects its shadow. With no light or magic it is a dark and desolate place best avoided by sane folks.

[1] Map of the Dessarin Valley


[2] Map of the town of Red Larch

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