Strangers on the Shore

From the writings of Doric Silvertongue, travelling bard.


Prologue

The waves still lapped aggressively against the shore, pushing the strange vessel slowly back and forth as they struck its hull. The group approached tentatively, taking in the ships foreign wood, strange shape and bright banners as they move towards it.

Amongst the detritus of the storm the half hull of a ship washed on unto the shore of Neverwinter. A strange ship, seemingly out of proportion and alien to those huddled within Neverwinter's port. Within are found weapons made from carved stone, yet as hard as steel, strange clothes and a map of this region's coast. A short stocky figure in garish blue armour lies unconscious on the shore, a two handed hooked sword on his back.

He was too tall to be a dwarf, but the figure was short and stocky like no human they had ever seen. His armour was plated stone, painted blue and worked into place as hundreds of overlapping pieces. At his back he wore a sword of the same strange stone, a hooked blade worked from stone with a bronze and jade inlaid handle. As they approached he groans.

The Heroes of Fandolin happen upon the man, wounded and exhausted, and carry him back to the keep. While a priest tends to the wounds of the stranger they meet with Duke Langley himself. The Duke says the ship has sailed from the furthest continent, from beyond the Endless Sea. The priest agrees, having delved the mind of the dying man. He is named Sommill, and was part of an honour guard for a "Great One". His memory is filled with images of a strange empire of massive cities and armies beyond counting.

"…and on my honour I swear it my Lord". Albrecht finished his oath and the Duke ushered him to stand and sheath his blade. They had met before, at dinners or political engagements, but never truly spoken. And now the Duke was to put his faith in the young man and his companions. He looked around at them. An old man, leaning heavily against his strange staff. A hulking furred creature who seemed the most out of place in the finery of the keep. A halfling, drinking heavily from the offered wines and apparently inspecting the golden goblet he drinks from. And the paladin, naive and faithful in his pure white tabard. It felt strange to put his trust in such a strange group, but in this matter he had little choice…

The Duke understands the threat this new empire represents to the Kingdom, and realises this information must be relayed at once. He sends the Heroes of Fandolin south to investigate this new kingdom and find any more interlopers, accompanied by a High Priest of the Church of Light.


Part I: The Wyrmsbane Company

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[The town of Thundertree]

The last of the spring snows fell through the shattered roofs of the town of Thundertree, lightly dusting floor long since devoid of footsteps. The small mountain against which the town was set had a white cap, the storm that had assaulted Neverwinter now a pattering of snow as it passed inland. The group moved forward into the town, the burned down house and charred bodies that marked their last visit still visible in the light of a setting sun. Within his hut the local hermit locked and shuttered windows, but their eyes looked only upwards. Towards the tower that dominated the town. The tower where the dragon had made his hoard. Nervous hands grasped drawn weapons as the Heroes stalked towards it…

[To slay a dragon]
The group prepares to head south, packing the Admiral's wagon with supplies for the long march. A priest named Roland Orville was to accompany them, a detail that seems to bring the usually stoic Barrett close to joy. But first the group had sworn to themselves that once the business with the Black Spider and Cragmore Castle was done they would rid the region of the dragonling they had discovered, and so they begin making preparations to slay the beast. Word is sent to Stonehill in the south, and the Dwarves reply by sending one of their own to give aid. Elren Tomebound is a researcher, and an acquaintance of Stevie J's during his time in the Dwarven settlement. She is an adept by trade, and more knowledgable regarding dragons than perhaps anyone else in the region. She informs the group that the dragon in question is coloured green, and thus aligned with the chaotic fey magic. She suggests it may also be poisonous. To aid the adventurers and as payment for the remains of the beast, which she wishes to study, she presents them with a magical longbow and an enchanted arrow. Made of worked glass and bone she calls it a "dragonsbane" arrow, made by the Dwarves in ages past to kill their ancient enemy. As the only one present trained in the use of a longbow Albrecht takes the weapon to the range and practices for many days, knowing full well that the life or death of his friends depends on his accuracy.

Some days later the magical arrowhead explodes as it makes contact with the head of the dragon. The group had trekked through the forest to Thundertree, taking up hiding positions within the crumbling tower that the dragon calls home. As the beast approached, carrying a pair of screaming livestock, they launched their ambush. As the dragonsbane arrow exploded in magical fire against the dragons thick scales the group charges in to attack the enraged beast. Stevie J drops from his hiding spot on the ceiling, landing on the creatures back while Punchcat and Barrett sprint in from the lower levels of the tower. The creature, confused by the blinding arrow and now attacked from all sides lashes out randomly with claws and tail, beating its wings and spitting green acid-flames at the group. Arriving from below Clarence and the dwarf Elren begin to throw magic at the panicking beast, purple flame and shards of blue crystal flying from their hands and impacting across the beasts hide. Dropping the bow Albrecht enters the fray, his massive sword slashing swathes of flesh with every stroke. Eventually the creatures wounds become too great, and with a final holy blow from Barretts' hammer it falls to the ground in a quickly growing pool of its own blood.

As the heroes revel in the victory Elren sets to measuring and dissecting the dragon. From the wagon she brings vast specimen jars and a massive diamond tipped saw, donning a surgeons garb and beginning to cut up and preserve the dragon piece by piece. As she does so the group moves to loot the dragons modest hoard, finding mostly coins or melted piles of gold and silver. Within the dusty hoard Stevie finds a dark cloak with magical properties, baring a black spider sigil the cloak allows him to climb and walk across walls as he sees fit, as well as having other magical properties. He gleefully wraps the far-too-large cloak around himself. The others are grateful that his level of covering is slowly increasing. A day is spent dissecting the dragon, and the group helps Elren to heft the massive jars and sealed chests back to the wagon. Eventually the group sets out, there spirits high after the victory. Back at Stonehill the group meets back up with the High Priest Orville and are welcomed by the Dwarves as heroes. Dragons are ancient enemies of the Dwarves, and the occupants of Stonehill throw yet another feast in honour of the group they hail as the "Wyrmsbane Company". Doric the Bard begins to compose an epic poem about the slaying of the dragon, and the Dwarves put on a fine feast for the heroes. As the others drink Barrett takes Orville aside and the two engage in a large ritual, calling forth light to fill the dark night. From the light rides a magical warhorse that seems to radiate holy energy, a reward from the Lord of Light for Barrett's service. It is such that the next day as the group rides out of Stonehill, many of the group sporting noxious hangovers, Barrett is mounted on the back of a proud white and gold steed.

Passing around the mountains and down towards the coast the group makes many days of good travel without trouble. What little fuss there is comes in the form of a marauding group of Goblins, but these creatures are unprepared for the cavalry charge of Albrecht and Barrett. As the Goblins scatter Albrecht chases many down, lopping off their heads in vast swings from his two-handed sword. Passing back away from the coast the group enters the vast plains of the Green Heart region, and one day happen upon a herd of wild horses. Punchcat wishes to tame some of the beasts, and despite Albrecht's disparaging comments him and Stevie J chasing after some of the beasts. Eventually catching one Punchcat realises he would not know how to tame the beast, and speaking directly into its mind with his totemic powers apologises to it for the inconvenience. Moving south in the forests the group makes good time along the packed-earth roads. One day they come across a strange magical creature that seems to be wandering aimlessly. With a sense of awe Clarence informs the group that the creature is a Sphynx, a creature of legend that is said to guard treasures for those willing to barter for its services. But this beast has none of the majesty Clarence describes as it walks about, starved and covered in dirt. The group approaches the beast, and speaking to it Punchcat discovers it has the intelligence or a rat, or even a lesser beast. Clarence analyses the creature and comes to the conclusion that it had been cursed by a mind-weakening curse, and had been wandering for some time. Feeding the Sphynx and tying it to the back of the wagon the group decides to take it with them, hoping to heal it of its injuries later.

One night in the forest Clarence's owl spots a camp fire some distance off, and the group moves to investigate. They find a group of Orcs, led by a handful of Bugbears. The Orcs seem to be transporting slaves, three young human girls and an older man, as well as a caged Owlbear. Intending to free the slaves, Barrett rides in on his glowing steed while Stevie sneaks around the outside to free the slaves. The group easily overcomes the Orcs and Bugbears, many of the surprised creatures felled before they even realised what was going on. Eventually in desperation the Orcs release their captured Owlbear, but even this fearsome creature is powerless beneath the combined attacks of Punchcat and Albrecht. The enemies dealt with the slaves are brought back to the party's camp, and Barrett tends to their wounds. The man is Thompson, a travelling bard, and the girls his three daughters. They had been captured by the Orcs some days previously, and had endured a horrible time at their hands. Sharing food with them, Barrett promises to return them to Crydee where they will be safe, and they sleep soundly within the wagon that night.

Freed slaves occupying the back of the wagon, Stevie mounted on his dog, Albrecht on his horse and Barrett on his holy steed the party is quite the sight as it marches further south towards Crydee. Passing into the Elven forest the group is accosted by a lone Elven ranger, his hair worked with leaves and skin mottled grey with camouflage paint. Speaking in his strange tongue, the Elf requests the Sphynx be handed over for healing, and the group accepts. The injured beast gone, they make better time through the forest and eventually reach the river that would lead them to Crydee. Some days later the beating of wings announces the return of the Sphynx, clearly now healed and at the full height of its majesty. Many of the group bow as it approaches, and the creature speaks into the minds of all present. It thanks the group for saving it, claiming to have been cursed by a group of wrongdoers who were looting the treasure it was summoned to protect. As gratitude, it present the group with a golden horn, carved with ancient symbols and images of Sphynxes. It claims that should the party ever need its help they should be blow this horn, and it would come to their aid. Horn firmly latched to Albrecht's belt and faces beaming with pride the group moves on. Eventually the ground crests a hill and can see the vast expanse of the Far Coast, and the water that stretches as far as the eye can sea. And perched on the edge of the vast sea is Crydee, the proud keep of Duke con Doin visible even at this vast distance.


Part II: Crydee, City by the Sea

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[The port-city of Crydee]

Oh beautiful Crydee, city by the sea,
The gull call, the foamy squalls,
A city old and proud.
From banners tall, to golden halls.
Truly the place for me.
Tavern song, overheard in Crydee

[Trouble in the city]
The group arrives in Crydee only a few weeks before the festival of summer solstice, and already the white-stone paved streets of the city are awash with bright coloured banners and revellers. The bard Thompson and two of his daughters take their leave, Thompson taking up residence in-house at the Muddy Brew, a lower tavern set next to a bubbling and filthy brook. The final daughter goes with Barrett to the Temple of Light, where she swears herself as a holy initiate. Albrecht is welcomed with open arms by his aunt Leslie, wife of a local Lord Windaw. He spends the night next to the fire, receiving all the comforts of the noble lifestyle after many weeks on the road. Barrett meanwhile takes sparse rooms in the Temple of Light, the vast glass and marble palace devoted to his God in the temple district. At his request the others hire rooms at the Heroes Tankard inn on the outskirts of the temple district and are given a strong warning to "not embarrass" the Paladin. Later that night, heavy with drink, Punchcat attempts to start a duel with an old robed man. The Duke's warlock Kulgan, having none of it, uses magic to transform Punchcat into a sheep.

The following morning the group, minus a still-transformed Punchcat, make their way to the Duke's Keep for breakfast. Passing through the heavy steel gates and past numerous blue tabarded guards they are let in to a dining room already bustling with servants. At the table sits Duke con Doin, his strong jaw adorned with a neatly trimmed golden beard, in deep conversation with his warlock, a purple robed older man with a curved wooden staff. Another figure sits in pure white robes with golden trim is introduced as Bishop Tully, head of the Church of the Light here in Crydee. Barrett immediately rushes over to speak with the Bishop, while the others gingerly take their places at a table laden with every type of food they could imagine. Coming in late a man in a burnished by worn breastplate makes his apologies, Swordmaster Fanin is the head of the city guard of Crydee and had been out dealing with reports of an Orc raid on one of the outer farms. A bard plays a breezy jig as they eat, and the various figures assembled make polite conversation. After the food is done the Duke stands, thanking each of the members assembled for their help in bringing Orville south, and for warning him about these strangers scouting the coastline. He promises them rewards if they continue to serve so faithfully, then with little ceremony he leaves the room, trailed by his dozens of servants, guards and assembled dignitaries. Barrett and Clarence follow the warlock out of the room, eager to meet up with Orville and begin to analyse the scroll found on the strange ship in Neverwinter. Albrecht engages Swordmaster NAME in conversation, offering his services to investigate the possible Orc raid the next day. Stevie is nowhere to be seen, and appears some minutes slightly out of breath. He carries a torn woman's dress, and squeals of fright and the marching of troops can be heard in the halls outside, but with a sly grin denies ever leaving the room.

That night the group takes the gold proffered by the Duke's Seneschal and enjoy a night on the town. Visiting a travelling circus come to Crydee for the festival Albrecht befriends a group of Elven hunters, waking up the next morning with little memory of his night but a passable understanding of the ancient Elven language. Stevie spends his purse of gold on purchasing a dancing bear from a hard-done-by performer. He names it 'Djumbo', and takes great pleasure in riding it around town for the rest of the night, frightening children. Meanwhile Clarence performs a ritual on a confused and terrified Punchcat, returning him to his normal form. Elsewhere at the Temple of Light Barrett's prayer is interrupted by a loud boom from Roland Orville's quarters nearby. Rushing into the room Barrett finds no sign of Orville, but a large blue-white portal dominating the centre of the room. Knowing only the legend of such magic Barrett is hesitant to enter, but eventually throws himself through the floating orb. Beyond he finds a squat brown stone room and an oppressive heat. Through the small round windows of the room he spots a desert outside, and buildings that resemble the one he appeared in. Orville is clearly visible in the room, with a dark cloaked figure bent over him. As Barrett approaches the figure recoils, turning to smoke and vanishing through one of the open windows. Grabbing Orville Barrett barrels back through the portal, smashing his mace upon the opened scroll that anchored it and forcing it closed. Dozens of church officials rush in to see what the commotion was, while a non-responsive Orville is taken to the sisters of healing. Barrett fields their questions, but is left with a sinking feeling: How can you fight an enemy that can step thousands of miles in an instant…

The next morning the group meets up, and Barrett informs them of the trouble the previous night as they ride out to the abandoned farmhouse. Within the house they find the missing villagers, their throats expertly slit and possessions raided. Not noticing the normal looting or burning that would be indicative of Orcs the group gets ready to track some footprints left on the outside of the attacked farm when a rider arrives from the city. Flustered from the gallop the rider informs the group that the Duke's daughter Clarice had been kidnapped. The Duke was calling in all his allies to help him, and needed the party to do their part. The group jumps at the opportunity to assist their employer, and after hearing that Clarice's guards had their throats slit decide to follow the tracks from the farmhouse, just in case they are related. Following Stevie J's dogs the group makes their way deep into the forest towards the coastal hills. One night the group settles down to camp and find themselves becoming drowsier and drowsier. Immune to the magical cloud that now hovered above his sleeping friends Barrett jumps to his feet with a shout, drawing Lightbringer. But even as he does so a pair of black darts find the flesh of his neck, their venom working quickly. As his head hits the ground his slowly closing eyes manage to grab a glimpse of black cloaked Dark Elves picking up his sleeping companions.

Barrett wakes suddenly in a mossy cave. Calling on the Lord of Light he easily turns his manacles into ash and rushes to free his still sleeping comrades. Rubbing sore wrists from hours of harsh bindings the group moves gingerly through the strange ancient cave. They soon come across their captors, a single Dark Elf standing guard over a series of large chests. The guard is laid low by a single blow from Punchcat, and once he hits the ground is pummelled by fists, rocks and bare feet. After a few brutal minutes the guard falls quiet and the group searches the nearby crates, finding their captured weapons and armour. Donning their gear the group moves further into the cave, massacring surprised groups of Dark Elves as they come across them. In an attempt to waylay the group the surviving drow summon forth foul daemons to attack them. The group is buffeted by a wave of tiny insects, all biting and attacking with a single mind. Passing through the foul cloud they are attacked by a lumbering red-skinned monstrosity while daemonic spiders drop from above. Albrecht is laid low by a single punch from the daemon, while Clarence and Stevie have their hands full dealing with the waves of spiders from above. Holding the doorway, Punchcat exchanges a flurry of savage blows with the monstrous ape, leaving both bloodied and reeling. Circling behind the creature, Barrett comes to his comrade's aid, dealing the beast a final blow. In a nearby room at the bottom of what was once a well they find the missing children from town, and most importantly the Duke's daughter. Most of the children were taken from their farms, with one child even showing signs of being an Elf taken from Elvandar. Leaving the cave behind the group finds their horses and the rest of their supplies piled outside the cave, but no sign of the escaped Dark Elves.

They are a strange group as they ride back into town. Most of the stolen children are piled in the back of the wagon, with the Duke's daughter riding sidesaddle on the back of Albrecht's riding horse. The Duke is overjoyed at the return of his daughter and heaps honours upon the group. A number of magical items are brought from his personal stores, and each member of the party receives a purse of gold and silver. For Punchcat, Clarence and Stevie he offers citizenship, the chance to be treated as a member of society and own land. He also pardons Stevie for previous indiscretions. Albrecht is offered a knighthood, which he eagerly accepts. Barrett refuses his offered knighthood, and also the rank of 'Exemplar' that the Duke convinces Bishop Tully to offer him. Upon refusing he simply states: "When I've earned it". The next few days are spent enjoying the festival in Crydee and recovering from their wounds at the hands of the Dark Elves. Stevie takes up with some local monks and learns a new martial art form, while Barrett donates the land the Duke gave him to be used as an almshouse for the poor. Albrecht's aunt Leslie uses her nephew's new placing to petition for a marriage between Albrecht and the Duke's Daughter, politically a massive alliance for House Blackwell. Then, some days after the portal incident, Roland Orville wakes up…


Part III: The Festival of Solstice

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[The streets of Crydee outside the 'Heroes Tankard']

The trumpeters played the 'King's March' expertly, although few were sober enough to acknowledge their craft. It was the third day of the Summer Solstice Tournament, and most of the commoners had been enjoying the festival ale for many days before that. They cluttered around the lower sections of the viewing stands, fighting, shouting and drinking in equal measure. High above the nobility sipped their ice wines beneath brightly coloured palisades. There had been fighting for many days on the tournament field below, and sport enough to entertain even the most bloodthirsty attendee. But this was the fight they had waited for. They called one the 'Shadowblade', so swift were his attacks and elusive his person. And who could forget his opponent, the one who had asked for the Lady Clarice's favour right in front of her father, the Duke. He was bold there was no doubt, and many considered him stupid. The two faced each other across the blood stained sand, dark cloaked Halfling against resplendently armoured knight. Only one would stand as champion…

[A tournament and a ruin]
Rested from the ordeal with the Dark Elves the group visits the wounded Roland Orville on his sickbed. They find Orville looking pale and weak, orating his experience to an eagerly writing Warlock Kulgan. Orville's memories appear to be incomplete, as he remembers being compelled by the strange scroll to open it and speak the words, but does not remember anything during his time within the portal. He recounts that the scroll was a report by the 'Great-One', leader of the ship that washed up at Neverwinter. According to the report the ship got becalmed on a journey and the Great-One tried to transport it by teleporting the entire ship. This failed, leading the half-vessel to wash up on the shores of the Kingdom. Kulgan and Clarence confer for a while and come to a chilling conclusion. The ship, and it's strange inhabitants, came not from a nation across the Endless Sea but from another world entirely. In the scroll the Great-One refers to his people as the Surani, but no mention of that name had been found in the Duke's libraries. The group brings this strange revelation to the Duke, and he is appropriately concerned. He instructs the group to find out what they can about this, and to search for other evidence of Dark Elves in the region. He opens his library to Kulgan and Clarence to investigate these parallel worlds further. His face brightens slightly as he informs the others that in this dark time he would be hosting a tournament. The annual Summer Solstice Tournament would be a competition of jousting, melee and archery, and he invites each present to attend and compete.

While Clarence locks himself in the Duke's library with Kulgan the rest of the party enjoy the Solstice festival, and enter their names in the Summer Tournament. The Duke had promised a 600 crown purse for the winner, and eyes were hungry for the promised gold. Even Barrett the honourable paladin entered, hoping to donate the purse to fund a homeless shelter he was sponsoring in the city. But alas Barrett proves too honourable for the tournament, tripped by a spear wielding opponent after allowing him time to retrieve his weapon. He withdraws to the crowd, pride strained but purity intact. The other entrants quickly become crowd favourites, with the brutal strength of Punchcat in particular drawing the cheers of the peasant crowd. Becoming somewhat overeager with praise, he head-butts one opponent and loudly denigrates the worthiness of other contenders. He is ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct, but quickly occupies himself drinking among the appreciative commoners. The disqualification left Stevie J and Albrecht the sole party members competing, and the two are forced through round after round of brutal combat. Fully plated knights and dextrous rogues are defeated by the pair, each fighting to get closer and closer to the glory (and gold purse) of the champion until eventually the two face each other in the championship round. Albrecht, his greatsword bearing the token of the Lady Clarice, and Stevie J face off across the sands of the tournament arena. The crowd cheers as the pair weave for a while, each laying wounds into the other but unable to lay the finishing blow. Eventually after a deft dagger swipe parries aside Albrecht's greatsword Stevie summons his Ki energy and delivers a blow to his opponents helmet. Standing, Albrecht lifts Stevie atop his shoulders to an applauding crowd, the Halfling the new tournament champion!

The tournament dealt with the group meets up for the feast of the summer solstice. Stevie receives his winners purse, and pays for the food and drink of his fellows to celebrate his win. The feast night coincides with the day the masters of the city choose their apprentices, and a massive feast is held within the walls of the keep. The party dines across the top table with the Duke, Albrecht sitting alongside Lady Clarice to the chagrin of the Duke. Punchcat elects to dine with the guards, laughing and reminiscing about how they had thrown him out of the tournament not one day passed. After the feast Barrett is approached by two Elves, guests of the Duke. They are the parents of the child that the party rescued from the Dark Elves, and thank Barrett for saving their son. They inform him that the Dark Elves have been more active of late, capturing children to sacrifice to their foul gods of chaos. Emboldened by something, the Dark Elves had returned to the surface after years of exile. The Elves of Elvandar are unprepared for the raids of the Dark Elves, requesting to Barrett that he help retrieve their lost magical artefacts so they can better protect their people. With the Duke's instructions vague at best Barrett agrees, promising to return the artefacts to the Elves so that they may better defend their people.

The morning after the feast Albrecht takes Lady Clarice on a morning walk and shop, before joining the party to ride out of town towards the "tomb of Oberron", where according to the Elves the artefacts reside. The story says that an Elven warrior named Oberron went looking for his son with the artefacts, eventually reaching this place form whence he never returned. On the road the group is set upon by a Cambion, a trolls sized half-devil that flies on the wings of a bat. The creature screeches at the group from high above, throwing fire down upon them. A raging Punchcat sees to this in short order, climbing a nearby tree and leaping upon the beast. Slamming the beast into the ground Punchcat plunges his fists deep into the creature, pulling forth it's spine with a roar of fury. Having barely drawn their weapons the group looks on with surprise, grateful not for the first time that the strange hulking Punchcat was on their side. They rode with increased speed towards the Grey Mountains, wary of what further challenges the countryside might contain before arriving at the hills that evening. Reaching the cave at dusk the group finds their entrance blocked. As the sun sets the rocks rumble open, the rare Summer Solstice opening the magically sealed tomb. Tying up their wagon outside torches are lit and the party hesitantly makes their way inwards.

Moving inwards through the ancient cave Clarence dispels numerous wards, unravelling them with advice from his small black journal. At one stage a room is filled by illusions of the party that perfectly mimic their behaviour and appearance. The group are stumped for some time, but eventually manage to shatter the illusions. Further in two enchanted suits of armour guard the entrance to a chamber. A deep voice warns the group to leave, and when they move closer the armour animates and moves to attack. With each hit the armour shatters and reforms, and the group worries that their foes were truly immortal. But eventually the armour is damaged enough for the magic holding them to dissolve, and the group can move into the final room of the tomb. Within they find a room overgrown with moss and lichen. In the centre of the room stands a makeshift stone chair bearing an Elven skeleton. Just below the Elf sits a strange magical rune. As the group moves in a voice reaches out into their minds…

The voices echoes in the minds of all present, a hoarse voice that seems to drip like tar. The voice introduces itself as Kor, a fiend who was once a man. Kor claims to have been human long ago before becoming cursed. In his current form he is cursed to live off the emotions of those around it, sucking away the feelings of its targets. It took the youthful fury of the son of Oberron, and was hunted here by Oberron himself. He had been trapped by the Elf, sitting on his throne in a dutiful watch that would claim his life. The Elf set up the defences of the tomb to contain the daemon, but it had been breached once before. Another had come and reached the chamber, taking from it the artefacts from the fallen Elf. Kor promises the location of the items to the group if they release him. An argument emerges amongst the group. Barrett argues for keeping the fiend chained, while Stevie wishes to let it free. Punchcat and Albrecht argue for freeing the beast and killing it, claiming it would be inhumane to leave it trapped here for eternity. Eventually Barrett's words take hold on the group, and they agree to leave it contained. As they move to leave Kor reaches out once again in desperation. He promises the locations of the artefacts if the group only feed him one powerful emotion to keep him alive. Albrecht steps forward, promising the creature his 'fear' if it will help fulfil the quest. Stepping over Kor's cell Albrecht gets a glimpse of a monstrous daemonic centipede with hundreds of silently screaming faces, before with a feeling of relief he finds his fear sapped away from him. Resealing the hole Kor gratefully tells the group the thief of the artefacts took the items to a town south of Crydee called Karse.


Part IV: Lizzfizzle and Karse

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[Within the town of Karse]

"Will you watch over them Albrecht?"
"I will.
"Will you keep them in the Lord's Light? You know how they sometimes stray"
"You know I will keep the King's Law. Have some faith."

The young knight chuckled at his own joke as he walked away, and Barrett watched the door long after he had departed. He really did hope they wouldn't do anything too foolish without his guidance…

[Recovering Elven artefacts]
The group rides back to Crydee in silence, shaken by their encounter with the Fiendish Kor. The group resupplies at Crydee, and spends a night in comfortable beds before their journey south. Albrecht dines with the Duke for lunch, discussing with him the matter of courting his daughter and getting his blessing, of sorts. Barrett, having progressed past his current position within the Church takes part in a week long induction session, preparing himself spiritually and physically for his new Paladin responsibilities. Prepared for the trip south but without Barrett the group mounts up once more and begins their journey. The seaside road is pleasant, lightly wooded and with a cool breeze, and the group makes good time down towards Karse.

A few days into their journey they come across a strange figure on the road. A vine-tangled and dirty female Gnome that shows the wear and tear of years of living in the forest sits by the side of the road. She introduces herself as Lizzfizzle Tinkwizzle, and after a few minutes of strained conversation agrees to ride with the group on the way to Karse. Lizzfizzle, soon nicknamed 'Fizz' by the group for simplicities sake, proves her worth later when the convoy is set upon by a troll, wandering from the nearby hills. Albrecht charges into the beast, but finds himself flung to the ground as the troll bites into his horses' exposed neck with its sharp brown teeth. The creature closes on the prone Albrecht before Fizz acts, drawing a bag of snake skins from her bag and casting them upon the ground. The party sees nothing, but the troll begins to panic as if fighting off some large monster. It is driven away from Albrecht and eventually falls to the ground dead, it's brain burnt out by Fizz's magic. They group feasts that night to celebrate their survival, and are joined by another traveller. The gladiator named Bigus De'Cusqus is a flamboyent man with a large and memorable moustache. He travels north to slay a beast, and shares food and ale with the group next to their roaring fire.

The group bids farewell to De'Cusqus and with Fizz in tow continues their journey south, arriving at Karse the following evening. Karse is a fortified town with a large stone wall and a stone tower set into a swamp. A river runs from inland to the sea and forms the swampland around Karse, and a port dominates the sea-side town. The wooden buildings are split into six districts, and mud stained armoured guards bearing the crocodile and star sigil of the local ruler, Lord Hampton. The group enters town and checks with mounts in at the Ruby Candle, a middling inn, before moving out into town looking for Wyatt Clarke, the man who stole the Elven Artefacts. Finding nothing on the dead tree notice board in the centre of town the group asks the local guards and discover Wyatt Clarke lives in town in an old mansion. He only recently moved here, having come into a vast sum of money and bought the house outright. He is renowned amongst the local populace as a duellist, and makes money duelling the local knights and lords for coin. The next morning the group visits Wyatt's townhouse, but his butler informs them he is out on the town drinking. Later, at the Shrew and Hound tavern, the group finds him. Although Punchcat and Fizz are not allowed entry due to their dishevelled appearances, the others move in and begin to mingle with the locals. Fizz seems to take exception to this, and harasses a nearby bouncer with her magics. While Clarence and Albrecht find Wyatt and start a conversation with him, noticing he wears an Elven sword on his belt, Stevie disguises himself as a human woman and begins to flirt with the locals. A few free drinks later and he is discovered, fleeing the scene ahead of an angry mob of red-faced locals. Meanwhile Albrecht and Wyatt had arranged a duel for the following day, with Wyatt betting his Elven sword against Albrecht's substantial gold.

Returning to the party the group realises the primary problem with their plan; they do not have substantial gold. Pooling what funds they do have Albrecht and Clarence go out to gather more. Some local nobles whom Wyatt humiliated are happy to chip in, and combining their own funds they have enough to face Wyatt the following day. The group watches with anxiety, realising their collective wealth depends on Albrecht's prowess. But their faith is rewarded, as moments after the duel is declared to begin Albrecht stands over a bloodied and beaten Wyatt. With a series of heavy slashes from his great-sword, followed by a teeth shattering pommel blow Albrecht lays Wyatt low. The adjudicator returns the gold deposit to Albrecht and gives him the Elven sword. One artefact recovered the group starts setting plans to recover the second artefact, a suit of Elven plate armour owned by the towns resident collector of antiquities "Raphael". Raphael's mansion is heavily guarded on the outskirts of town, and while the group discusses the details of acquiring the armour Stevie J slips off into the night. Passing the guards and wards he gets into the treasure chamber, only to be detected as he attempts to grab a necklace sitting nearby the armour. He holds off the guards for some minutes with bursts of web, but eventually Raphael enters the room and knocks him out with a burst of electrical magic.

While Albrecht goes to the Lord's keep to pay for Stevie to be released from prison, the rest of the party are met by a shady looking man in a dark brown hooded cloak. They talked in hushed voices at the Rusty Knocker inn, and soon a deal is struck. He says to them that he can grant them access to the vaults of Raphael, and so they find themselves wandering through a dark passageway beneath Karse some hours later. They move through the ancient waterways past transfixed guards, beginning to wonder the nature of their new ally. But Raphael is not a fool, and even this hidden approach to his vault is protected. A strange door stands at the end of the final hallway, set within its stone a face that moves as it speaks to the group. It promises them passage, if they can but solve its riddles. And death if they fail. With no other choice the group accepts, and the door begins to recite its riddles. Punchcat sits idly by while Fizz and Clarence solve the riddles, with the gnome surprisingly intelligent for her lack of training. The door is angered at the ease at which Fizz solves its riddles, and summons forth a hive of stinging insects to attack the party. Clarence is quickly poisoned and overcome, and Punchcat grabs insects from the air and crushes them within his fists. It seems as if the group may be overrun, forgotten beneath the muddy surface of Karse, but for Fizz. She pulls from her coat a vial of green liquid, smashing it on the ground and emitting a strange green smoke that seems to drive off the insects. Grabbing the Elven armour the group quickly flees, followed by the laughter of the strange daemonic door.

Albrecht and Stevie are setting in to relax at the Ruby Candle when the others come barrelling in. Barely explaining the presence of the Elven armour and the unconscious Clarence they rush out of the door, packing up the Admiral and his cart and setting out through the towns gates just after midnight. They ride fast out of the Karse area, travelling through the night before reaching the borders of Crydee. Fizz leaves the group, riding off on a sled pulled by a pair of wild dogs as much an enigma as when she arrived, and the rest of the party makes their way along the worn dirt path back to Crydee. Back in the city the group rests and relax within the relative safety, while Barrett hears a much-edited recounting of the events in Karse. The Elves are overjoyed to see the return of their artefacts, and offer to act as guides on their travels to Elvandar. Knowing how jealously the woodland folk guarded their borders, the heroes accept, enjoying meals of wild game, berries and spices each night as the Elves show their appreciation. After many days sleeping below the stars, they enter the enchanted woodlands of the elven kingdom.


Epilogue

The Elves had offered him passage too, but Kulgan knew better than to enter Elvandar in these dark times.
He had set the Heroes on the path to find the magical artefacts for the Elves, and would continue his research while they were in the Green Heart. He knew the knowledge of the Elves stretched back even further than his Patron, and far beyond the measly library he had managed to put together in con Doin's palace.
What he needed now was patience. A skill he had never quite mastered. Summoning his familiar he walked back down the steps away from Crydee's salty air.
Trusting the fate of the realm to a bunch of adventurers was a gamble that would irk him for some time…


Campaign Appendixes


Dramatis Persona:
Adventurers:

  • Punchcat: Unique barbarian warrior from the forests, who fights with armoured fists. Despite his playful demeanour his hulking furred and armoured form brings death to any who stand in his way. Often acts rashly and known to announce his own name as he enters buildings.
  • Barrett Bray: Golden haired and fair skinned half-elf Paladin. Worships the Father with utter devotion, and is disdainful of any who breaks his convents. Wanders the land bringing justice to those who have fallen into darkness. Believes himself chosen by the Lord of Light, after an encounter with a Unicorn.
  • Doric: Named the effusive, silvertongue or "the handsome", Doric is a bard and storyteller. He is an enigma, dropping in and out of lives just long enough to compose a tale or inspire others to greatness. Has been tailing the party for some time, and now follows them south.
  • Clarence the Wizened: Clarence stands with years of experience swindling and manipulating his betters. A simple forger and con artist Clarence found his true calling through a magical oath to one of the Old Gods. From this Old God he gains powers to defend himself and destroy those who oppose him. As time passes he seems to become more physically able, his youth returned by his dark patron.
  • Stevie Jayleaf: A halfling thief who follows a strict code to keep his body and mind in perfect shape. His training allows him to perform acts beyond others, even those twice his height and bulk. A good hearted trickster by nature, he sometimes gets himself into trouble with pranks and hi-jinx.
  • Albrecht Blackwell: A human noble from nearby Neverwinter, sent into the wilds to prove himself as a warrior. After the events in Cragmore he stayed on with the group, having gained a taste for the adventuring lifestyle. Wields a two-handed dueling blade.

NPCs & Associates:

  • The Admiral: Strong oxen, loyal friend. Originating in Fandolin, this fine beast of burden has pulled his wagon all across the Kingdom.
  • Roland Orville: High Priest of the Lord of Light, accompanying the party to the south. Ex-Soldier who became a Paladin after facing the horrors of the Great War.
  • Duke con Doin: Ruler of Crydee and cousin to the king. Has a blonde bearded and pleasant face, and is beloved by his subjects, who he gives a fine life in his port city.
  • Fizz: Enigmatic Gnome Sorceress who lives in the forests between Crydee and Karse.

Locations:

  • Neverwinter: Northern city of the Kingdom, a stone walled city beset by the forest.
  • Thundertree: Village near Neverwinter, destroyed years ago and now occupied by a dragon.
  • Stonehill: Dwarven mining town on the edge of the Great Northern Mountains. The Dwarves of Stonehill are stalwart but private folk.
  • Crydee: Trading hub of the Green Heart, set upon the river that runs to the sea. A large city ruled by the King's cousin Duke con Doin.
  • Karse: Large marsh town to the south of Crydee. Considered to live in the shadows of that greater city, and rife with crime.

Maps

[The Journey south]

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