The City of New Haven and beyond

Beyond New Haven

As the members of the party spend the weeks in new haven procuring good, healing, training, and just relaxing soon the spark of wanderlust starts to hit them. Lode having heard news of a significant earthquake in the north mountain range to the east of the dwarven stronghold Forge's Deep combined with the legends of a great weapon's mage having his final resting place somewhere in that area has the party thinking a trip north is in order.  Upon learning of the groups desire to travel north The Council desides to take this opportunity to have the party deliver some letters of importance as emissaries of New Haven.   And to charge them to find out and eliminate any banditry that they come across along the road to Forge's Deep.  

The group finds a caravan with six guards that they can join and travel with.  The first four days of the journey go by without any incident, but on the fifth day the quiet is ended.  An ambush set up by a group of kobolds and gnolls shower the caravan with arrows while the gnolls block any escape, although with some quick thinking and spell work from the clerics as well as fine archery the ambush is a complete failure and the goblinoids flee in terror from the caravan after several of their number lie dead.  The group remembering the charge form the council to route out banditry rely on Drecaril's tracking to follow the creatures to the west and the coast. 

Drecaril and Valenthia decide to go on ahead of the group when Guernan and Valenthias sharp elven eyes see smoke rising up in the night sky from somewhere far ahead.  Moving silently through the woods Drecaril and Valenthia come to a thinning and eventually the end of the forest.  a couple hundred yards away they see a large bonfire with several score of the kobolds around it.  They also notice some patrol groups about 70 yards from the main fire. Beyond the fire just illuminated by is some sort of low lying stone structure.  Drecaril and Valenthia decide to stalk the perimeter and realize that the creatures are camped against a cliff face that falls away to a crashing surf that they can not see in the scant light provided by the new moon.  They can smell the salty tang in the air that warns that the sea is close by.   Returning to the rest of the group they decide to wait until morning when the rising sun will be at their backs and hopefully the beasts will be less vigilent.

The morning brings quick action, with Guernan casting successive sleep spells on the patrol groups and Valenthia and Morning, and Drecaril's arrows make quick work of all but two of the creatures from 12 that cry out and alter the rest that an enemy is upon them.  As the small vile creatures from a quick line of defense with several archers behind them the heavy hitters of Lode, Drecaril and Valenthia charge in to break the line and get at those archers.  Two of the Kobolds move back towards the stone structure.  The Hero's crash through the line and Morning calling upon his god for favour is blessed with a great hammer that flies to and fro and with each tremendous strike another of the creatures lies crushed.  It is then that out of shadow it seems a great slavering wolf larger than any of the group has ever seen lunges forward snapping viciously at Drecaril!  Drecaril responds with a mighty swing of his enchanted bastard sword which cuts a vicious cut through the 5 foot tall wolves side.  Then follows a site that chills the party to the bone, the creature transforms in seconds to an eight foot tall monstrous humanoid with a wolves head!  Load moves forward and smashes his axe dead against the beasts chest but it just bounces off doing no harm at all.  The beast then rips open Lode's stomach and sinks it's long dark fangs into his shoulder and rips chunks of dwarf flesh out.  If not for the healing prayers of Rastor and Morning the Dwarf surely would have been close to deaths door.  But Valenthia and Drecaril do not let up and when the beast is bleeding from several smaller wounds the ground itself opens beneath and he falls through vanishing from sight.  Lode in his fury slams his great axe viciously into the newly appeared ground sending sprays of dirt flying.  

The party wary of the beast returning takes a momentary reprieve to catch their breath and take a better stock of the surroundings.  the stone structure behind the fire is a tower that decends down the cliff face and seems to have been built right out of it.  There are to large raised platforms of stone that once could have been lookouts or perhaps beacons for passing ships.  Their investigations lead to Morning find an outline of what appears to be a door and Lode once seeing the door easily discerns the catch mechanism that will release it and allows them access to a spiralling staircase that leads down into darkness.  Morning pulling out a small wooden ball with a light spell cast on it tosses it down the spiralling staircase and after a few turns the light is lost in the depths of the stairs.  Looking over the sides the characters realize that this tower must stand over two hundred feet from the ocean surf crashing against the cliff.  

Not wanting to wait for the beast to appear in their midst they decide to take the fight to it and decend the stairs wary that at any step the creature could appear and attack from any side.  After descending for several minutes they come to a door with the stairs continuing down.  Taking time to check the door for traps and hidden dangers they eventual step through.  Seeing a corridor that leads ahead and opens into a large room, the move forward tentatively.  Once at the entrance to the main room the creature appears through a rip in the very substance of reality!  Attacking viciously at the Large Barbarian Drecaril and taking its own hits as well.  The group cleverly shifts and tumbles around the creature flanking it and slaying it before it has the opportunity to escape through on of its rifts again.  Searching this floor of the tower they find an amazing bag that holds much more than appearances would allow and several bones and chunks of rotting flesh. 

Moving forward and going down the stairs once again they come to another level of the tower.  After entering and looking around appearing out of thin air is a green wizened crone of a woman that grasps the elven wizard around the neck and throttling her drains almost all of her strength in moments.  The warriors are quick to hack at and attack this green woman but before much damage can be done she vanishes as quickly as she appeared.  Thinking quickly the clerics both cast detect magic in hopes of finding her but in the moments the spells take to manifest they are unable to find any trace of her.  Continueing their search of the floor they find a child in what appears to be a kitchen as well as a coded leger and an bed with many furs and silks.  Further exploration of the tower finds a lower room with more children chained as well as what would appear to be stolen caravan goods.   The children are all left with only minimal mental faculties.  Morning suggests they brought to his church in new haven to be cared for and hopefully nursed back to health.  After further exploration the party meets back up with the caravan and has them bring the children back to new haven and notify the council of all that they have found.

Moving forward towards the town of Romraoc it takes a few uneventful days and the passing of deep forest to rolling hills before they see the small farming waypost village up ahead.  Drecaril having passed by here on his way to New Haven warns his friends that the people are less than receptive to outsiders and are often cold if not outright mean to any other than the caravans that pass through, and even those are really only tolerated by the Inn Keeper MacDougal.  As the party enters the town they catch many evil looks and even more instances of people outrightly ignoring them.  Drecaril leads them to the Tavern where MacDougal is quick to provide an oversized tankard of ale to the Barbarian.  Guernan the female elven wizard upon learning that there are no rooms available, no possible hot bath throws a tantrum demanding that the party continue past the town.  Rather than spend the night in such unhospitable environs.  Shrugging their shoulders in acceptance the group leaves the tavern and quickly passes through the town proper and continues on the road north to Forge's Deep the dwaren keep.  

They first go to the top of a nearby hill where there are a set of circular stones that have stood for many generations.  Lode knows the stones well for it is the spot where the Dwarven Captain Cirgarren made his final stand against the evil horde of humans and elves that had swept up from the south.  He and his men died valiently defending this land against the evil elves and humans.  Morning hearing this relates a much different view to the battle, one shared by Valenthia of a human and elven host chasing a murdering and pillaging group of Dwarves known for their slaughter to this spot where they were all slain.  The two sides agree to disagree on this point and leave the stones in a sour mood indeed.  

After leaving the stones they travel for several more hours of daylight.  It is as dusk is falling that they see near the rise of a nearby hill a campfire with figures around.  Not knowing what to expect but curious they approach.  Not bothering to hide themselves they come much closer and see a group of human warriors, as well as two teenagers.  After some talk and introductions the two adventuring groups sit down to share stories and the fire as well as some food.  They learn that Lara and her group found the same reception at Romraoc as did themselves.  Further they learn that the two teenagers are lovers that are hiding from the town as the boy is accused of being behind some recent killings and disappearances.  In fact is only under full darkness that a small group of villagers with torches come up to the campsite demanding they turn over the boy for his punishment and the girl Gwen's father demands she come home but with the proteciton of Drecaril and Morning and Valenthia she stands her ground with her beloved.   The townsmen knowing that they can not win this fight leave and head back to town.

Late in the night while Drecaril and Morning are on watch a strange winged creature descends from the darkness to swoop down upon them.  Drecaril knowing several birds of prey realizes that the creatures target is Gwen and stands over her protectively interposing himself.  Trying to rouse there comrades the beast flies down upon Drecaril raking him with vicious back talons that slice him open from hip to shoulder.  They get a better look at the devil that is a blood red and has wicked talons, long sharp fangs and a long beard that has the sheen of metal to it.  After a long battle where Lara and two of her companions fall decapitated by the devil and several teleportations away from the battle while it regains its strength only re-appear and attack again.  It goes into a berserker rage slashing and biting and slicing wildly until finally it falls under the mighty blows of the group and dissipates in a foul cloud of brimstone.

Morning is beside himself in anger that someone would dare to bring forth an abomination from the lower planes and then set it upon two innocents.  For he sees the gift of his god Sunneirelling (god of the dawn, sun, and dusk, healing, bane of undead and beauty).  in the amazing drawings of the young lad and hopes that if they survive that his church can sponsor the boy and nurture his beauty away form the cruelties that he is surrounding by currently.   They come to the cave where the lovers have been hiding and learn that there is a long forgotten chapel far from the town and decide that is as good a place as any to begin looking for this summoner.  Also the chapel is a good lead considering the involvement of Loki (god of mischeif and lies) and Vali (god of revenge, hate, anger maliciousness, cruelty) in what so far appears to be an attempt at ridiculing or upsetting the goddess who is the caretaker of the dead and overseas all who are worthy of her). 

Finding the chapel easily using a very well detailed drawing from the young lad the group proceeds to investigate it.  Finding that it has been recently used they find an alter which they move aside and underneath find a green silk altar covering, several magical candles and a magical chalice.  Although the magical nature of the items is known the details and exact use is not.  As the group is leaving they see cresting the rise of a hill a group of people that appear to be coming right for the temple.  Hiding inside and listening to some conversation they determine that this is indeed the group that summoned forth the demon and are led by a young woman, and the whole kidnapping of Gwen has to do with the innkeeper wanting her as his plaything.  Enraged at such evil the group storm into the room slaying all and freezing the woman in her tracks for a moment.  Drecaril chases one who dared to hide and attack him from behind through a secret panel where he cuts him down.  It is then that the woman breaks free of the spell holding her and holds aloft a horn of some sort that sends out a wave of magical fear that causes everyone to flee violently.  Drecaril rising from the secret room finds the woman standing among her dead companions and she raises the horn and sends him fleeing in terror as well although the horn itself cracks in half.  As the group overcomes the magical compulsion and returns to the church they find the woman and one other conspirator gone.  

Deciding to go to the town and finish this right now they leave the church after finding the summoning room and inundating it in magically created water.   Heading towards the town they are almost there when they see a group of the townsmen all armed with various weapons and torches milling about.  It is then that they hear the male conspirator declare that "there are the ones who slew MacDougal, Heath, Silaryn, and are behind the murders and disappearances."  At that the captive they had revived from the battle with healing magic yells out to his townsmen "they mean to kill me and only kept me alive to find you! (which is very close to the truth in his eyes) and just now threaten me with death if I do not calm you down"  At this the group not wanted to kill innocent villagers let the troublemaker go and race into the night ahead of the mob.  Drecaril and Valenthia break off while Justin and Rastor lead the mob ahead with torches.  Drecaril and Valenthia catch up to the town's treasurer who incited the mob although before they can get to him he mutters under his breath "one day you will know true evil" and plunges a dagger through his own neck and throat and dies in the street.  Drecaril and Valenthia search his home and learn that through a painstakingly well kept leger that he was very fair and generous with the towns money that was earned through the caravan and they even find the town treasury.  To make a point Valenthia writes a note and puts it inside the lockbox saying "this could have been ours and if we are the evil you think us to be we would have taken it, but in the coming weeks and months through harvest and past the first snows when no more people go missing and you no longer fear the night… you will learn the truth that we saved your town from an evil that you did not even know was growing and living in your own midst".  

to escape the mob Justing when around the rise of a hill shoots off his sun rod into the end of a gully for the mob to follow and he and nestor escape back to the cave of Gwen and her artistic lover where they meet up with the rest of the group.  After relating each others stories they decide to rest for the night.  

Early in the morning just after eating and praying the venture outside the cave to see an adorable young girl with the whitest blonde hair and the fairest skin and very slight of build.  Now this is in direct contrast to everyone else they have met in the town who are dark of skin and hair with some with orange hair.  In fact it would not surprise them to realize that much of their gruff nature comes from slight interracial breeding of dwarven blood into them.  It is then that the little girl speaks. 

"oh, but you had to bring such an abrupt end to my little game.  But then with all games one must play by the rules, and although you were not anticipated you did stay within the rules and have been some welcome amusement." Drecaril ever as straightforward and blunt as always asks "what is your name?".  At this the petit child bursts into laughter "if I were to say my name to you I sincerely fear that you my die right were you stand, and for the winners of my game what reward would that be?  But, with winning there is always a price, for (a string of sounds that pains the ear comes from a voice that is far from the little girl) is very cross with you.  He was to spend many years on this world wreaking chaos and causing fear, and now he is home, sent there by such fragile creatures of yourself.  I do admit that he was bound by the game and was not allowed to use his full strength… but I assure you that if he finds away around his century banishment and even then, (the name) will not forget such an insult." after some more pleasant if mysterious chat with the slight girl she sighs deeply, "There are many games to be played, and life at my uncles side doees become so very boring… I am sure I will need a distraction again soon, and perhaps my eye will stray towards past players.  Oh!  but the game is not yet done.  For there is no escape from loosing or from being weak… do enjoy yourselves my winners."  With that she is gone and a haggard looking stooped old woman appears in her spot.  She immediately unleashes a barrage of fire magic that engulfs Drecaril, Lode, and Valenthia and to a much lesser extent Justin and Rastor.  The group makes quick work of the summoner and when she is dead they wander at just whose game they interfered with and if they ever want to see her again or to be full members of one of her games. 

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Storming the Keep

The group consisting of Lode, Drecaril, Guernan, Morning, and Valenthia after the introductions and belief that they all share a common goal in approaching Lord Bluto's Keep pack up camp and start to move out.  After several hours of travelling through the forest they come to a very large clearing in the middle of which stands a keep in the centre of some rolling hills and depressions.  The keep itself is on the most prominant rise and as such anyone on the roof would have a very advantageous view of the surrounding area. 

What grabs the attention of the group is the ten armoured militia men that are leading a group of six hyena headed furred seven foot tall creatures in shackles towards the keep.  Drecaril recognizing the beasts as Gnolls, a hated racial enemy of all his tribe wants to know why these creatures have not been killed on site but are being led around.  He jogs out from the wooded cover and hails the militia men in broken common and ask "why no kill gnolls?", "who you".   After a brief parlay where he explains himself as a wandering clansmen and ignores any reference to Bluto is offered a position working for the lord which he laughs at and assured that the gnolls will be slain returns to the cover of the woods.  

While Drecaril was talking with the militia men, it is Morning who gazing upon the keep and surrounding area realizes that it matches exactly the vivid dream he had that led him on the quest to discover what is going on in the keep… there was a flash of light in the rolling hills to the north of Bluto's Keep and after a brief talk with the group he convinces them that they should investigate that area first. Besides it is quite evident that an outright seige on the keep is not an option… although Drecaril does have an invitation to enter that does not leave many options for the rest of the party.

As the trek through the woods taking a round-about route and by the time they reach an area that looks upon the area that interests Morning so much.  In the fading light of dusk the sharp eyes of Drecaril and Valenthia notice that within the roling hills is what appears to be a cave mouth with a bright light coming out of it.  Unfortunately it is closer to the keep than they would have liked and even in the darkness it will take some skill to approach it  without alerting anyone who might be watching from the top of the keep.  Drecaril leads the way creaping up to a position much closer the cave but still a long bowshot away.  After noting that it is the light of a large fire pit that is shedding the illumination he brings the rest of the party up and they move up as stealthily as possible towards the cave trying to discover what lies within. 

Unfortunately their movements have not gone unnoticed as bowstrings twang out of the darkness and the group is peppered by arrows, although wether due to the darkness or to luck few of the arrows land and those that do are more glancing blows that do no significant damage.  The keen eyes of Valenthia, Lode and Guernan see the Gnolls in the darkness and Lode, leads Drecaril to them while Valenthia returns with her own deadly volley of arrows.  As soon as they engage the beasts six more came out of the cave mouth weilding wicked looking battle axes and a vicious melee follows.  But with the healings of Morning, the gnolls are outmatched by the sheer ferocity and skill of the adventurers.  

The party enters the cave mouth where a large fire burns and the acrid smoke burns the throats of them and the foul stench of the beasts fills the air.  As they move into a second cave with some water ankle deep flowing through they see several woman and children Gnolls huddling in a corner.  Drecaril knowing what the beasts have and do to his people when they raid his villages draws his sword with murder in eyes, a centuries blood feud fuels his anger… Lode seeing his intent rushes in and puts his back to the knife holding women and children and implores Drecaril to not kill the woman and children.  To the shock of all it is the elven female warrior who strides for with scimitar in hand and simply says "we kill them now, or they try to kill us later, I say we kill them all now"... the rest of the party stays out of this moral discussion but Lode buying time asks to question them while he thinks of a way to save these women and children from slaughter.  Killing monsters, men does not bother the noble dwarf, but killing those huddling in fear is crossing a line.  He starts to ask questions of the woman in broken goblin that angers Drecaril that Lode can speak a vile tongue that these creatures use… Lode not disturbed simply responds "know thy enemy to better defeat him"  and turns back to his interrogation, but the fear and anger at having their clan men killed drives the woman to attack Lode, and in defense kills one and once the blood has been shed Drecaril and Valenthia slaughter the remaining woman and children.  Lode with a heavy heart and mind can only shrug in despair at the killing but also realizes that what needed to be done was, he did all he could to try to save them.

After a search they see a drop off to a larger cave in the back of this one as well a locked chest that surprisingly opens with the magical key they found in below Bluto's house.  In the chest is what appears to be nearly a thousand mixed coins, a smattering of human bones and seven silver tipped arrows.  Wondering why there are human bones mixed in the chest and why the key opened the group decides that these are questions for another day and moves to explore the back of the cave.

There is a comical moment as the group is walking through a higher ceiling several small creature fall from above and one actually lodges in Lodes shoulder.  After quickly slaying them, and some jokes about Dwarven pets and delicacies the party moves forward.   

Drecaril not one to wait simply scrambles down the nearly ten foot drop to the bottom where with his 6'6 frame he easily helps the others down, in his attention to the helping of getting others down into the gloom he does not hear the scrabbling noises behind him and does not realize that he is standing in a cave littered with bones and human and humanoid remains…

As he helps Duernan into the cave he turns to see the others with weapons ready as foul smelling creatures with mottled rotting skin scrabble forward crawling more than walking towards the party with long malicious looking claws and an evil glint in there eyes the group of undead monstrosities swarm upon the party leaping and clawing and biting at any exposed skin.  With weapons raised and unleashing blows that would fell mortal men Drecaril Lode and Valenthia attempt to hack away at the ghoulish creatures… Morning attempting to draw upon his God's power to repel the vile creatures realizes that his normally strong connection to his god is somehow dimmed in this forsaken cave… Valenthia with her Elven heritage withstands the scratches from the creatures but Lode and Drecaril are not so fortunate, nor is Morning.  Each in time feel a deadly cold spread through their veins as seemingly harmless scratch after scratch sucks the ability to move from them, Lode with his Dwarven stubborness and Drecaril with pure rage try to fight off the paralyzing effects as much as possible but there a periods when both are struck completely immobile.. but with luck with them they manage to slay the last of the foul creatures and drawing in much needed breath and taking minutes to unstiffen seemingly frozen limbs the group takes full measure of their surroundings.  Being badly hurt and having exhausted all of the magic available to them they decide that it will be best to leave the cave and return the next night.   

The second night finds the cave the same as it was left.  At the rear of the cavern with the Gnolls and after a search three holy symbols are found, Loki, and one to Hel goddess of the underworld.  Which to morning does not make sense as Loki and Hel do not get along as Hel disdains Loki as a petty trickster not worthy of true godhood. 

At the back of the ghoul cave is a set up bars that are baring entrance into what is a clean cut chamber with three sarcophagi in the centre.    

Drecaril and Lode bend aside the bars in the great, actually cracking two from bending them past the breaking point.  as the party crawls into the obvious crypt weapons are ready and the sarcophagi are eyed quite warily wondering what sort of evil might lurk within.  Two doors lead from out of the crypt.  After determining that the crypts most likely only hold the remains of a long gone family the group turns to the doors.  Drecaril easily tells that one has recently been opened and opens it with Lode and Valenthia at his side… what they see is a dark sight indeed.  Another room has a sickly green glowing statue of the goddess Hel at the far end a larger sarcophagi rests in front of it.  As the door swings open four long dead humans and two long dead half-ogres rise from crumpled heaps on the floor, upon seeing these six abominations each weilding a wicked looking scyth, and the eerie glow coming from the statue Drecaril slams the door closed and the party backs away expecting the abominations to come through, although nothing happens.   The group decides on a quick battle plan with Guernan in a far corner behind Lode with Morning and Valenthia behind a sarcophagi and Drecaril opening the door then taking up defensive positions… as the creature rise up and with the door open move with alarming speed for the dead advance into the room, even clambering up onto the sarcophagi to get at Valeria and Morning… and they take blows that even the ghouls crumbled under, but without any paralyzing touch the group is able to give them a final peaceful resting, at least they hope so.   But it does not come without a price as Drecarils whole side and shoulder is opened from the wicked wounds inflicted from the scythes. 

It is at this point that S'oryl climbs through the hole leading to the ghoul cave… and mutters "just follow the dead bodies, and look what i find, more dead bodies".  Morning and Guernan examining the room with the vile statue come to realize that this is not a true statue of the goddess Hel but rather a careful mockery of her image… in fact the whole room has a wrongness that is beyond Hel.  For the goddess is the caretaker of the properly dead, she does not often suffer the undead to live unless sent back for a reason, or through the will of other gods or mortals… it just isn't right.  Lode understanding that the statue is a mocker decides to clamber up to the head of it and bracing against the near wall pushes with all his might toppling the statue onto the large sarcophagi and tumbling to the ground landing roughly and bruising more than just his ego.  S'oryl is amused but since someone else has taken the time to get into the sarcophagi he looks in seeing a withered body long dead in a very clean and intact black robe… thinking that the only cloth that could survive must have enchantments on it reaches in regardless of the potential risks and lifts it out, the dessicated body crumbling to dust with it.   But nothing else happens.

As the party goes through the other door they see along hallway with three doors and at the end iron rungs that seem to lead straight up through a vertical tunnel.  they enter into the first room and see a stone dais with a skeleton at rest with a great shield on top of him, a longsword, and an open scroll.  Also in the room a four one foot long over sized centipede like creatures that secrete a foul smelling ooze.  Upon stepping in the room the creatures start moving about on the floor in what the party realizes is spelling out words… "we human"  change "no kill"  after some questions the party ascertains that the scroll has a curse that turns those that read it into these sad creatures.  Drecaril understanding that the scroll is bad puts his torch to it in an attempt to burn it but this has no effect.  Morning and Guernan advise that attempting to burn a magical scroll could unleash a magical backlash (at this S'oryl and Valenthia back out of the room).  Lode as he is leaving the room behind Guernan and Morning suggests that the barbarian just leave the torch on the scroll because eventually it has to burn. Drecaril places his blazing torch on the scroll and walks out of the room, just as he is in the doorway there is a rocking crack as magical energy is unleashed and a wave of black energy slams Drecaril into the opposite wall.  As the party gets to its feet and looks in the room they see the scroll is gone, the sheild and sword are sundered in two, and the creatures that were once human are all obliterated.  

At the next door S'oryl says "hey, you guys can check this one, I don't think that there are any traps and it doesn't appear to be locked as he steps back".  Lode the Dwarf grunts and opens the door revealing a room with a large stone alter like structure across from the door and covering the walls is a continuous mural of black tentacles rising from the floor and grasping and violating all manner of humanoids as devilish looking creatures fly above the scene and spaced around are robed figures who watch the scene impassively.  Lode not impressed by the pictures strides straight toward the centre of the room and only goes about 8 feet when the floor beneath his feet falls away from him twisting mightily as he falls he is able to just grab the ledge before plummeting to whatever lies at the bottom of the pit, "come and get me you damned people" he yells.  Drecaril and Valenthia rush forward and lean over to try to grab the dwarf and haul him to safety, but what they see makes the blood in their veins run ice cold and roots them to the spot in sheer terror… for below the dwarf rising from darkness is a mass of writhing black tentacles.  The tentacles are so numerous that no shape or form can be discerned beneath them… just an overwhelming mass of writhing chaos.  One reaches up and grabs the dwarf and tears him from the ledge.  it is the sight of Lode struggling to draw his axe that breaks through the terror that grabs the barbarian and elven warrior as they attempt to grab the now unconscious dwarf and sever the tentacle while avoiding being grabbed and dragged over the edge themselves… S'oryl and Guernan stand in the doorway with Morning trying to hit the tentacles with arrows… as Drecaril grabs the unconscious Lode and he and Valenthia exit the room slamming the door behind them they hear S'oryl, "damn, I bet you that door across from that pit is just filled with treasure…"  Fool dwarf… how are we going to get to it now?  After arguing over the possibilities of tunneling to the room or braving the tentacles to get to the room the party decides to just leave it alone.  The last room before the ladder holds only two skeletons long dead although s'oryl does take a golden ring off of one and Valeria takes a fine woven gold chain from the other.

The party decides to climb the iron runs and to see where they lead.   After climbing for what seems a long time, perhaps 100 feet, maybe even 150 feet they come to a trapdoor that is easily opened and with Drecarils broad shoulders pushing it up and open they  enter into a large 30 by 30 room that is some kind of store room.  It is filled with various gear, weapons, hide armour, leather armour, goods… as they are looting around the three doors to the room simultaneously crash open and an armed garrison charges into the room!  Which in hindsight comes as no surprise as the group was not trying to be quiet while in the room.

As nearly 20 militia men, an armed captain, three wizards and a cleric charge in a chaotic melee ensues.  Each party member cut off from the rest it is Drecaril who slams one door shut on two dire wolves that appear to have been let loose from somewhere in the keep and then turns his attention to the captain after dropping three militia men in short order… Valenthia deals death all around her slaying five of the militia man before coming to Drecaril's aid just as he falls to the Captains sword thrust bleading heavily on the ground.  It is only Mornings quick healing prayer that saves him from Hel's icy cold embrace as he could feel the tug of the afterlife upon him.  Guernan is struck down by repeated magic missiles from the magic users as Lode after slaying six of the militia men and the cleric falls to the repeated blows of a seemingly endless enemy.  Despite the constant back and forth bickering between Lode and S'oryl it is S'oryl who comes and stands over the Dwarves unconscious form and slays those militia men attempting to end his life.  Morning salys the last of the militia men and the cleric as Valenthia finally slays guard captain.  The party pours the last healing potions down the throats of Lode and Guernan bringing them back to life.  Morning also stabilizes the captain from dying as well as some militia men remembering the promise the party made to Evengreenintide.  After a moment the party rouses one of the unconscious militia men and get the layout of the keep and find out that the dire wolves are Bluto's personal pets and are only released to kill.  The party runs to a room leading to Bluto's office and slam the door behind them before the wolves can get at them. 

Knowing that Bluto is behind the next door they open the door and Drecaril follows Lode in only to fall into a carefully constructed pit trap just inside the door and slide down a greased shute to a small room.

Up above a trio of magic missiles comes from behind the desk as S'oryl and then Valenthia jump across the pit and advance on what is a cowering Bluto hiding behind an overturned desk.  In short order he throws down the wand and begs for his life offering all his posessions if the party just spares him.

meanwhile in the room below Drecaril and Lode see two once human creatures leap upon their prone forms from the darkness of this room, the torch on the floor reveals several items, armour, swords, bones, arrows, and odd bits of gear.  They are not the first to be sent down the chute it appears.  As one of the creatures claws dig furrows in Lode's arm he suddenly feels his very strength begin to ebb away from him.  Drained by the foul creatures touch, also both warriors realize that the weapons they weild deal no damage to the foul undead.  Drecaril having a silver arrow grabs it from his pack and stabs wildly at one of the creatures.  Lode searches for something on the ground that might harm the wights… seeing a faintly glowing falchion he yells out to drecaril to use it!  Having taken several hits that do little damage but sap more and more of his failing strength Lode knows that it will be up to Drecaril to save them if their friends do not come down soon.

Up above S'oryl and Valenthia decide it is time to go down and check on the two warriors who are not responding to their calls.  S'oryl at first thinks to use a rope to traverse the chute but in his pride tries a controlled slide instead but the grease and slope is too much for him and he ends up tumbling to the bottom into the middle of the fray.  Valenthia seeing S'oryl's misfortune uses the rope to slowly make her way down.  S'oryl sees Drecaril grabbing a glowing falchion from the ground and striking at one of the creatures which has several sizzling wounds from the slashes from the silvered arrow, S'oryl draws his own silver arrow and attempts to hack at the one in front of him but can not do any damage with the awkward weapon.  It is Valenthia who comes down and draws the magical longsword she took from the dead captain and ends the second creatures life.  

The group then returns to the tied up Bluto and have him control his wolves and rechain them as well as showing them all the treasure of the keep… also finding 27 slaves in holding pens which the group frees.  

With the treasure, bluto, and four henchmen and the captain in chains the group decides to make their way to Evengreenintide to finish this business.  And waiting for them in the clearing is the green haired beautiful woman who calls herself evengreenintide.  "I knew you could do it little mice, now, are these men all for me?  Oh, and half of those coins you carry are owed to me as well as Bluto's ring… "  "my thanks little mice".  You are free to leave".  

The party makes its way back to new haven with the freed slaves with quite the tale for the council indeed.  

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The night after meeting Evengreenintide

During the night Rob Samson, the renowned bard decides that not only has ventured far from the trail of learning more of the slavers who sold him to his "uncle", and feeling like the past days of wandering through a forest have had little to do with finding missing children than being a knight errant for a council that wishes others to do the hard work for them…  oh and not to mention the becoming the lackey to green dragon… kidnapping for another, even to save his own skin just doesn't sit right with the young bard.  So during the night Rob slips away from the party and begins to stealthily make his way back to New Haven.  There is a warm fire, free food and drink for a teller of tales, and a ring of slavers to be found and questioned… he is sure that the paths of the group of adventurers and himself will cross again… just not today.   

 
S'oryl, being a very light sleeper notices Rob leaving the party and thinking that there might be something foul in his motives for leaving even more stealthily rises to follow him.  S'oryl not known for his trust of anyone is ready to end the man's life at the first sign of treachery or betrayal… but as the daylight creeps through the trees S'oryl notices that Rob is simply retracing his steps and seems very cautious and is trying to avoid anything, having skirted any unknown noise.  Thinking the game of cat and mouse has gone on long enough he hails him… startling rob and causing him to wheel around with sword in hand.  It takes only a moment for the two to explain themselves to each other.  S'oryl thinks long and hard before turning around to trek back to rejoin the group…  He can not leave Zoltan behind… they have stood by each other for too long… although just as he is turning he sees Zoltan leaning against a tree watching him with a smile on his face… "the great S'oryl Shadowstep being followed by the humble Zoltan, reader extraordinaire… how will you ever live this down good friend?  So I take it we are rejoining the rest?"  S'oryl chuckles at his friends words and they head back towards the group…
 
In the morning while breaking their fasts, studying spell books and praying to their gods see two companions walking towards them through the woods, one a human man of commanding presence and stature… not like Drecaril who is more of a mountain of a man, but… something else…  and striding easily beside him  is an female elven warrior who though in a suit of chain moves as easily and quietly as if in nothing more than leathers…
 
Introductions soon follow… 

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Into the sewers and then the forest

S'oryl and Rob Having just found the disturbed grate into the sewers near the kidnapping soon realize that there strength alone will not allow them to bend the bars any further.  After returning to the Long Sword Tavern and finding there companions it takes only a moment to convince Decaril that his strength is needed.  "Children found? then why we here?  You show, I bend!"  But it in fact takes the combined strength of Decaril, the dwarven warrior Lode and some help from S'oryl to part the bars enough to allow eveyone easy access. 

 

The tunnel stretches ahead in darkness for as far as even Lode can see who is used to being far underground and away from the light of the sun.  So they begin the trek into the dank waters of New Havens waste.  It takes no more than ten minutes before Guernan stops and quite simply says "enough, it smells, it's wet, this is not what I expected when I agreed to come along!"  although it really takes little convincing to get her to change her boots with some help from Zoltan and the group continues along carefully examining each wall, looking for some hint that they are not on a wild goose chase.  It is decaril, who has hunted everything that can be eaten who sees up ahead a glimpse of color that is completely out of place.  A strip of clean leather sticks out about a fingers length from the side of the muck that swirls around everyones feet.  As he pulls it up he finds himself holding a child size jerkin, and soon sees a small handprint in the dirt and grim near to the simple jerkin.  Ah but now there is excitement.  Steps are surer, confidence has grown as each and everyone knows that something must be ahead.  

Although after another hour passes and then nearly another the doubt starts to sink in, have they missed something, could it be that there was a secret door so cleverly hidden that none noticed it?  But that is when Zoltans Bat's mental confusion hits zoltan hard… as he deciphers his familiars thoughts he realizes that the bat is confused that all the rats it has been chasing and teasing have vanished… they are simply all gone…

It is then that Decaril and Lode walk round a bend only to see a large room hollowed out from the tunnel, but what really grabs there attention is the barrage of crude spears that are launched at them, although surprised they both get by with nothing more than a few scratches.  A long battle with blue skinned creatures that stand 4 feet tall and are completely hairless and communicate in a gutteral tongue that sounds like gravel being sifted through a sieve.  And alongside these creatures are scores of rats, it would seem that all the rats from the tunnels have come forth and bit and latch on to anyone unfortunate to come near them.  With a roar that rocks and resounds through the tunnels Load launches himself headlong into the creatures midst followed by Decaril.  A long battle follows and when several more creatures including two in robes and one in plate as well as more rats emerge after the dwarven war cry things look grim… with blood dripping from several wounds and Hewitt having used all of Tymora's gifts to keep his friends from falling the battle ends.  With nearly two score dead bodies littering the chamber and one terified creature left alive decaril and load are none to gentle in asking about the children.  but three of the missing children are found.  and everyone notes that a strange symbol is found on each of the creatures, as well as a curious gem with a silver flaming hand reaching out of it.  A most curious object.  having found the children and in rough shape the group decides to grab three of the bodies and alert the cities watch and hopefully find some Eravium nights.  This must be brought to the council's attention.

In short order they are given an audience with the council and learn much after some magical scrutiny discerns that they are truthful and who they say they are.  They learn that the creatures are servants of LOKI god of mischief and lies. As well they learn that the children they rescued all ran away and can not be found.  Further the unexplored chamber leads to a merchant lord Bluto's mansion which has been searched but there is no sign of any blue beings, bluto, or anyone else.

The group is charged to go and to his keep in the forest a few days ride and to discern what devilry is afoot one way or another.  

The party decides to travel out and find the keep and see what Bluto is really up to.  

The journey is not an easy one as there is no road to follow, and only a vague idea of where the keep lies.  And each day brings some sort of challenge to the party.  On one day a group of half ogre-orc marauders try there luck against them but are slain in short order.  Another day a group of nearly 20 orc raiders ambush the group and after being peppered with arrows a sleep spell and decarils blade with loads axe and s'oryls bow make short work of them, although Zoltan has a moment that haunts him for the whole night, for as the battle ends a brown bear stalks into the clearing and rears up to its massive 9 foot height right in front of him and bellows at him!  Rather than argue with the bear the party decides it is time to leave and let the bear feast on the corpses of the orcs.  

But it on the fifth day that something happens.

Stalking through the woods with an escarpment to there left the see through the woods a group of four men in green cloaks and green chain armour in front of a cave relaxing.  Lode Decaril and Rob decide to approach them straightforward.  while Zoltan and guernan stay well back and hidden, rob is also off t the side, and S'oryl silently moves to within a breath of the four without them ever knowing he is there.  As the three approach the men rise and stare hard at the group.  "ah, so you come to give tribute, it is good for it has been long and overdue".  At this load confused or stubborn, or arrogant… states "tribute? we are dragon slayers wandering the woods, what tribute do you speak of?".  At this statement two handed broadswords that glow with a greenish light are drawn and each face grows hard immediately… Rob Trying to salvage the situation offers fifty gold as tribute which lessons the tension but at that moment S'oryl seemingly materializes right behind one of the four with his sword in the small of his back and demands that this end here and now… in a flash two of the four in green are upon decaril and load there magical blades eviscerating and causing near fatal wounds, if not for decarils incredible stamina and hewitts preparation of healing magic through sanctuary they would have fallen in those first moments.  As it is S'oryl attempts to skewer the man in front but he twists and though the sword thrust goes deep it is not fatal and both turn to hack at s'oryl, only his incredible agility saves him from falling then and there.  Zolan and Guernan from seeming safety fire magical attacks at the group and rob takes a sword thrust that cleaves him from shoulder to hip and turns and retreats trying to hold his body together and knowing that any thing could push him unconscious in a moment.  It is then that ankhegs rise out of the ground around the seemingly safe wizards and start spitting acid at them… a dark dark moment… but tymora was smiling over them it would seem as they managed to evade the fours blades time and again and Hewitt was there with healing magics to continuously keep his companions from deaths door… but even his magic ran out… but the four fell…  thanks in no small part to the axe of lode, and realizing the precarious situation the group is in they grab what they can and flee the scene.  They move fast and hard going far not wanting to know what else there is in the forest nearby. 

That night they carefully prepare a watch, hiding in trees, and some completely concealing themselves…

It is when the moon is at its highest that it happens… 

one moment the clearing is empty the next the single most beautiful elven woman is standing there, her hair a deep and dark green like moss… her eyes though are a green that glints like metal.  "little mice, come out, come out… I know you are there, and you really don't want me to come and find you."  "Who YOU" bellows decaril from his perch in his tree bow string taught and her supple back dead in his line.  "ah, but little mice, when you walk through a forest you should know who it belongs to… besides you knew enough to kill those that were mine and then to take what is mine."  no anger no emotion, you would think this elven maiden was talking with a friend about the latest gossip.  At this lode realizing just how precarious the parties situation is having remembered talk of a green dragon of the forest named evengreenintide comes forward with an apology for the great lady and lays the magical sword before.  The lady inclines her head at the respectful treatment and the metalic glint in her eyes softens just a fraction.   In fact it is lode's quick thinking that most likely halted a much more violent reaction from such a volatile beast.  .  S'oryl thinking to run starts to come down the tree and is just about to turn when she says "ah, don't run, or maybe do…. sport is sport after all…"  Decaril blunt as every asks "how we know this your forest?"  It lasts only a moment, but everyone breath catches in their throats and terror fills  the hearts of all as a for just an instant a tremendous green dragon stands in their midst dwarfing the trees… and then there is only the lady who is laughing softly… Hewitt begins to talk but she looks at him and with words imbued with magic demands "your goddess is not here, sit and be silent" and hewitt falls to his buttocks and finds that he can not open his mouth.  "now little mice you owe me four men, she looks appreciatively at decaril who just stands his ground, but wisely says nothing.  "ah, you know of bluto?  stunned nods from everyone…  "I want him alive and three of his retainers alive brought to me for the men you took from me.  Do you understand little mice?  You have a week…. after which you are mine…  good bye little mice" and just as she appeared she is gone with all of the gear and the bodies of the four men the party had slain. 

 

They all find it very hard to sleep that night wondering just what sort of bargain they had put themselves in, and would it be honored…. 

 

 

 

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The Group
Rob, Decaril, Load, Hewitt, S'oryll, Guernan, and Zoltan come together

Rob having recently arrived to new haven in search of slavers finds himself talking with Zoltan and S'oryll who have been frequenting the Inn of the Long Sword since their arrival from the Eravium city of Seriandum.  They talk little of the journey or of any past exploits but do share an interest in the incidents of missing children from the working side of New Haven.  Between the three, although Rob's natural story telling ability and ease of making feel comfortable offers him much information about the last three children to go missing and the locations of where it happens.  Although it is S'oryll who is able to find a sewer grate that has been bent oddly near the kidnappings and is the only real lead to be found.  In the meantime a priest of Hermes ( god of flight, adventurers, luck) named Hewitt who has recently come to town to talk with an estranged uncle and is also greatly concerned for the missing of young ones who have not had the opportunity to dare the unknown and to test luck and the ladies three.  To add to the mix is Guernan, a strikingly beautiful elf who is quiet and withdrawn but seems to have her own reasons for investigating the situations finds herself drawn into the circle of adventurers. Rounding out the group is Load, a cousin to Blackforge Gardengarrrden who is on the council and finds himself traveling far from the citadel in search of proving himself worthy of the name blackforge being a young and restless Dwarf but never short of courage, although sometimes short of foresight, and just arriving is Drecaril, a great man with striking black hair.  One of the North People, as hard and strong as the mountains that he lived.  What has brought him to New Haven is a mystery but upon hearing that those that could not defend themselves where being taken, a dark light filled his eyes and he vowed that this wrong should be righted.  Although with his limited grasp of the common tongue he often appears slow of wits and quick to anger.  Although those who have seen him tending to his kitten that he is inseperable from see a kindness and tenderness that would shock many. 

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