The Salvation of Geoff

Escape from Pregmere

No sooner had the group left Pregmere, they were set upon by a group of warg-riding goblins. They chased the party all the way to the Oytwood, where our intrepid heroes planned to make a stand. But the goblins refused to follow them in – probably worried about elvish retribution. The party camped overnight to rest and heal wounds before heading off to Tauremiruvor, the home of the elves in the Oytwood. Late that evening, a small group of elves stepped quietly into the encampment and explained that they knew the party carried the Tear of Corellon, and that they were sent to retrieve it. Going both on their own instincts and the recommendation from Flerd Trantle that they trust absolutely no one until they arrived at the elven village, the party respectfully declined to part with the artifact. The elves were most displeased to hear this and as much as threatened the party when they told them “thou hast a long way to go.” Just before they made to leave the following morning, another group of elves entered the camp. They explained that there were two factions of elves: one wanted to completely isolate themselves from the rest of the world, and the other who felt duty bound to help their long-time neighbors from Geoff. Several hours into their trek to Tauremiruvor, the party was set upon by arrows and magical spells from a source no known. Then as quickly as the attack started, it ended, with creatures retreating into the forest around them. Then no more than an hour later, a true attack began, with elves firing arrows and casting spells. This must be the group that tried to talk the party out of the Tear. The party returned fire and the fight was on! They battled for several rounds with the elves in the trees when a loud voice cried out “It is carried by the halfling! Get the Halfling!!” Crashing out of the underbrush was a mixed group of mercenaries, many wearing the sigil of a fist clutching wicked arrows: Hextorites! The mercenaries had followed them from Pregmere! Maybe that was why the goblins refused to enter the forest. The mercenary group was comprised of a sorcerer (S6), a Fighter/ Fist of Hextor (F5/FoH3), a cleric of Hextor (C4), a bard (B4), and a Fighter/Cavalier (F6/C2). The elven force was a wizard (W8), two ranger/deepwood snipers (R6/DWS2), and 4 rangers (R4). The fight became a three-way engagement, every group for itself. Badger, carrying the Tear, was ultimately brought down unconscious, but his war-dog mount bolted with him from the battle into the forest, foiling the attempts of the other two parties to relieve him of the artifact. Several rounds later, the Hextorites were vanquished and the elves once again melted into the forest. The tired, wounded party finally arrived at the elven village, and after a few tense moments of discussion, were relieved to find the elves would in fact assist in the reclamation of Geoff, in no small part due to the party’s actions in retrieving the Tear of Corellon for them. The elven leaders apologized for the actions of their kin, and sent a large escort to help them make it out of the Oytwood unharmed. The party left the forest with no desire to return to it quickly…..

Getting Up to the Present

Having dispatched the Death Knight Rezinar, the group passed away the rest of the winter in Hochoch. As Spring broke, Oxyl determined he wanted to attempt a foray to his home, Deepholm. The dwarves there had not been heard from in almost 10 years and he was most anxious to see if they still lived there and what became of his relatives. As Pregmere was on the way, the group thought it best to stop there and check on the progress Flerd Trantle had made in organizing the humans there to revolt. They made quick progress to the town and easily slipped in to visit with the defacto leader. Flerd explained some of the goings on and that now seemed as good a time as any to begin the revolt attempt. Plans were laid out that included releasing a small number of the hill giant slaves. That accomplished the revolt began. Fire giants were dispatched to gather back up the escapees. A third trailed behind and it was he that the party first struck. They then moved to cover the building that housed the giant leader Ulfrun. They ambushed him and a couple of others, while at the same time Trantle’s men began taking down some of the giants within the town: evident by the large elemental that towered over the building to the northwest. Ulfrun and party took some time to dispatch with no little damage taken. Trantle came around the corner of a building along with many followers, dejected by the losses but happy that most of the giants were down. Flerd recommended that now might be a good time to go underground to investigate the possible Temple to Surtur and the priest that might dwell there. The party carefully made their way down the shaft cut into the earth and came upon what was feared: a large temple to Surtur along with an enormous and very angry fire giant, one Talok by name. The fight that ensued was a nasty one, but the party again prevailed. In the middle of the chamber was a huge firepit containing what appeared to be a casket of some sort in the middle. They soon figured out that the giants were keeping something of great importance: The Tear of Corellon, an ancient elven artifact lost during the initial invasion into the Oytwood. Returning to the surface, the party was surprised by a group of human attackers. These men wore the symbol of Hextor. It seemed the giants had now gained evil mercenaries in the quest to permanently control the country of Geoff. They dispatched these as well and under Flerd Trantle’s recommendation, fled toward the Oytwood with all haste to deliver the artifact back to the elves. Flerd knew that they would be needed in the battles to come if the forces of good were to prevail over the long occupation. Flerd would handle the escape of the rest of the humans to safety and bid them good luck.

A long time summing up....

It has been a vast amount of time since the last post, mostly due to finally getting the Obsidian Portal upgrade that I Kickstarted back in April.

so here goes…….

The party agreed to help get Calisse Skotti out of Hochoch, but it took some doing. They were accosted by a tiefling assassin and a group of thugs allied with Bedwyn the Fat, the Llwyr of Arweth, who felt he should have been put in charge of Geoff instead of Lady Sierra Blackblade while the Brenin was away gathering more allies for the fight against the giants. They succeeded in getting Calisse out with her infant son Rhys, after a fight with several Bone and Bearded Devils brought up by an as-of-yet unknown female entity known only as The Lady. They escaped to The Isle of Rhun on the other side of Geoff near the mountains – a place well protected by the Druids who wish to preserve Geoff’s way of life without Marcher interference.

The group spent much of a fairly harsh winter in Hochoch, recovering from their adventures of the past year. One evening while relaxing at the White Stag, they were presented with a tattered flag bearing the symbol of an ancient order of knights: The Knight Protectors of The Great Kingdom. Painted over it in what appeared to be blood was the symbol of the Elder Elemental Eye: EEE.jpg
Sent by the local constable, they eventually discovered that the Death Knight, Sir Rezinar of Haxx, was wandering the Sheldomar Valley in his endless quest to gather an army to return in glorious triumph to The Great Kingdom.
They accosted Rezinar in a vale north of Hochoch during a driving winter storm. He first sent his minions at the party: a group of trolls, worgs, winter wolves and a frost giant. They dispatched them with a bit of difficulty, then spoke to Rezinar at some length, mostly of how he come under the sway of the Elder Elemental Eye (they learned nothing). He was impressed by the party’s skill in combat and wished for them to join him in his quest to restore The Great Kingdom. The party dismissed this outright as Krysarth lead the charge to destroy the evil thing outright. The fight did not go particularly well but ultimately they prevailed.
Just after the fight ended, a lone figure appeared through the snow and ice – a knight of some sort given his demeanor and dress: Sir Ogmund Einrik. He explained that he watched the fight from afar, judging the skill of the party, in particular Krysarth. He explained the history of Rezinar and also gave them some idea as to the value of the things Rezinar carried. He recommended the Crown and Ring he wore be returned to the Knights at some point….he would make contact with those interested and send word to Hochoch at some time in the future as to the actual offer. (see Sir Rezinar of Haxx) Rezinar’s sword was ultimately destroyed by the temple of Pelor with great ceremony. Einrik also mentioned before he left that Krysarth would be watched and — if things fell into proper place — at some time in the future he might be asked to join the Knight Protectors.

Winter of Discontent

Almost two months had past since the battle near Hochoch took place. The party returned to the city, tired and dejected. Upon arriving, Gault met them at the White Stag Inn with a message for Eve. An old associate of theirs (Eve and Owen) had discovered a possible way to reverse the Reincarnation making her a half-ogre. Eve and Owen took their leave, promising one day to return and help further the cause of reclamation. Oxyl spent some time with the Owl’s Talons, learning what he could about the Marcher occupation. Also during this time, they met up with their friend Gellak Vauth and Kerig Cresia, the cleric of St. Cuthbert, members of The Keepers of The Red Banner. Gellak was interested to hear what adventures the group had had since he left them to put the Red Banners back together. They also introduced a couple of newly arrived to Hochoch members of the church of St. Cuthbert, Krysarth and Voidvode. The two quickly earned their place at the table and were ultimately asked to join the group officially by Halladorn.

One cold evening, marred by a sleet storm, the party was sitting around the fire at The White Stag when they were approached by an older but very charismatic man who asked if he might speak with them in private. He revealed himself to be Ogwyn the Knowledgeable, an associate of Calisse Skotti. It was she that sent him to find the party, as they were the only people in Hochoch she could trust. He asked them to meet with her at the Zenith of The Sun, the great temple to Pelor in Hochoch, an hour after he leaves them. They cautiously agreed.

The Plane of Faerie

The fight near Hochoch started out well for the group, but turned sour quickly. Attacking a command group of the giant army, the party had great difficulty. A couple of them went down and another 2 or 3 were near to exhaustion and death. At that moment, a strange thing occurred. The party all saw a kind of portal open and sweep over them, drawing them into a parallel dimension. All six of them (Groa and Hirath were not taken) awoke from a dream and were sent on a quest by the Archdruidess Gwenllian to gather together the components to make the seed of the Greenman, the faerie spirit of the land of Geoff. Given further instructions on the plane by a fey named Swift, they gathered the Crown – a wreath of thorn and flower, the Chalice made of gold and an Apple from the Summer Tree – one side ever green and blooming, the other ablaze with a passionately burning fire. They brought the pieces together and returned them to the Archdruidess, whereupon she created the Seed. The party was then passed through another portal, where they were told to lead The Hart to the Table Made of Stone. Along the way they discovered the Hart was actually Owen, the Brenin himself! Their hope turned quickly to dismay as they learned that the Brenin intended to sacrifice himself to the land, so that the Greenman may once again live in Geoff. As the sacrifice began, Owen’s wife Calisse Skotti of Keoland arrived to try to stop her husband from ending his life, leaving her and their newborn son Rhys to deal with the aftermath. The party was barely successful in convincing her to let the druids do their work. Afterword, the Archdruidess and the Breniness asked the party not to tell anyone what had happened. A story has since been concocted that Owen left to travel north in search of allies to help end the giant invasion. Official decrees left Siera Blackblade as the regent until Rhys was old enough to assume the position of Brenin. With heavy hearts, they agreed. As they turned to head back to Hochoch, the same portal opened and swept over them, returning them to the very second they left the battle with the orc command group. Only they returned strong and fully healed. They quickly dispatched the command, which helped spread chaos throughout the humanoid lines. The battle ended sometime soon after that. It was then that they returned to Hochoch, joyful that the battle had been won, but saddened with the knowledge that the one man capable of reuniting the lands of Geoff had died, leaving an uncertain future.

Much, much later

lazy turned into really lazy, turned into a year has gone by since the last update. Much has happened and changed…..

I’ll quickly sum up what has happened since the group entered Pregmere

Having entered the town and scouted it out, the party discovered that the towns human inhabitants were working on organizing a revolt against the fire giants, but just needed some help. They met up with the defacto leader of the slaves, a Cleric of Pholtus named Flerd Trantle. They learned quite a bit about the situation in town and what was really going on. It turns out the hill giants wanted to leave and head back home after originally taking taking the town but the fire giants, lead by Ulfrun, refused to let them go. They ultimately ended up in a worse position than the humans: they are the “muscle” used to grow crops. The group also found out a temple to Surtur is under the town, set up there by the fire giants. As they were preparing to work on starting the revolt, the party found out the humanoid armies outside of town were gathering to head toward Hochoch with the intent of retaking the city. They abandoned the planned uprising, promising to return at a later time. The group got word back to Hochoch and headed out ahead of the giant-lead army. They arrived a couple days ahead of the main body, and were assigned to a Wolf Pack – a small commando-like group that harasses the enemy from the sides and from behind. The leader of their Wolf Pack was Hirath Telobar, a native of The Gran March and mounted combat expert. They left Hochoch quickly thereafter and went to harass the army as it approached the city. They attacked and destroyed a group of orcs, ogres and hill giants cutting down trees to use as rams on the city gates, then intercepted a command group consisting of an orc fighter (F8), a half-orc fighter/cleric (F2/C4), and orc wizard (W6), a frost giant, a troll and 4 orc bodyguards. The fight did not go well…..


Having returned to Hochoch, the group rested a bit, met a few more of the town’s inhabitants, (including a couple of attractive “ladies of the evening”, Heleth and Merleri), and spent some time trading the spoils of their latest adventure for gold and silver (see Treasure from the Bloody Ridge) . After that, Gault recommended they talk to one of the local scops: the most respected Morwenna the Fair. She gave them a history lesson (see Meeting with Morwenna the Fair) and gave them some background on the Marchers currently running the town. During part of their time exploring, Oxyl and Gault wandered off together, where Oxyl found his way into the local Thieve’s Guild: The Owl’s Talons.

Oxyl brought back a lead that the local Marchers were looking for a group to head into the middle of Geoff on a scouting mission. They ended up in the Town Hall and met with Constable Kamen Freck. Freck had heard of the group, but had not met them in person. He was most impressed by what they had accomplished to this point and felt they would be well-suited to find out the things needed based on some current reports. Freck told them that it has been heard from a couple of solitary Rangers that there were humanoids and giants gathering near Pregmere in larger than normal numbers. Freck asked them to go to Pregmere, find out what was going on, and try to make contact with any of the humans who might have survived the invasion. As an aside, he also wanted one of his scouts to accompany the group to stop at Midwood and deliver some messages to Talvan of Midwood and the giant Ghanadar. The scout’s name is Groa Suttor, trained in diplomacy and a master longbowman.

The group resupplied themselves, buying food and additional mounts for the several day journey. Over the course of the next few days, they learned Groa was a rather congenial person, very interested in helping the Gyri reclaim their homeland. He mentioned that he didn’t particularly agree with the political games going on between the two countries, wishing things could go back to the way it was before the invasion began. The trip to Midwood was uneventful. They met with Talvan and Ghandar, explaining that Hochoch understood the situation and would do nothing to upset the status quo at this time.

Somewhere between Midwood and the crossroads toward Pregmere that they sought, the party encountered a wandering group of ogres. Arrows fired by most of the group, with a Fireball from Badger and a Scorching Ray from Eve, dropped the three regular ogres, leaving two Skullcrushers. These two closed quickly on the group, forcing a bit of hand to hand fighting. The first of the Skullcrushers were brought down by Groa’s arrows. After a horse-charge by Halladorn, the warhorse – of all things — bit and killed the second. Roughly a day later, they ran into a pair of Frost Giants, heading in the general direction of Midwood, possibly to assist in the collection of tribute for the month. Again ambushing the foul creatures with arrows, the fight turned out to be more difficult that the one with the ogres. The giants returned fire with rocks, aiming for the largest targets they could see: Eve and Halladorn’s warhorse. The groups traded long range fire as the giants closed on the party’s position. Accompanying Fireballs and Scorching Rays helped further weaken the giants. Oxyl opened his Bottle of Obscuring Mist tp help reduce visibility of the targets. Halladorn and the horse moved into the cover and waited for the giants to get close enough for him to challenge and charge. More arrows brought down one giant. Then Halladorn charged, striking the giant straight through the chest doing terrible damage. The giant returned the favor, hitting Halladorn twice with his great axe, dropping him unconscious and bleeding profusely. Groa’s arrows finally brought the second giant down. Halladorn was returned from death’s door with healing magic, and the party continued on toward Pregmere

The rest of the trip there was quiet, until they got around the area where the grassy plains turned to fields of crops and grazing areas for animals. The group then began to send Groa and Oxyl ahead by themselves to scout out what lay ahead. They came across a field being worked that very afternoon by the human slave labor. The odd thing about it was that instead of the plow being pulled by work-horses, it was pulled by hill giants! The creature argued and grumbled for a long while, then finally had enough and turned to take out it’s frustrations on the tiny human behind it. Almost immediately, a rock flew from a tree, where a fire giant now stood, striking the hill giant on the side of the head. The fire giant yelled obscenities and threats at the hill giant, who quickly backed down and returned to work. Absorbing this strange twist of events, the party drew closer to Pregmere. They then came across a military-style camp of hobgoblins. They didn’t look to be going anywhere soon, so the party decided to move around the town counter-clockwise to see if they could find further evidence of troop build-up. Before completing their circle around the town, the found a larger group of orcs to the west and another large group of hobgoblins to the south. The total number of troops easily surpassed 500 total, with several ogres, trolls, and frost giants in tow.

After these observations, they decided to try to enter the town proper and see what was going on there. Groa and Oxyl waited until well after midnight to make their trek. Moving about quietly, they noticed most of the buildings in town were abandoned. The only inhabited buildings contained locked up hill giants, locked up humans, and fire giants relaxing after a hard day keeping the hill giants and humans in line. They moved quickly back out to where the rest of the party waited, to plan their next move…………

Raid on the Bloody Ridge (part 4)

Having dispatched the undead guardians of the catacombs as well as a Caryatid Column, the party advanced into another room with three statues. Again nothing different except that one — named Llywel the Silver — appeared to missing something out of one of it’s hands. The hand was crafted to appear to be holding a rod of some sort, but it had been removed. Beyond that room was a stairway leading down into a octagonal shaped room. Seated at the back was a figure in a throne-like chair. Oxyl was the first to get a good look at it: leathery shreds of skin clinging to a skeletal body, it’s eyes glowing red and staring straight ahead. Badger crept in to look and identified it as a Crypt Thing. Held in it’s bony hand was what appeared to be a stone rod about 24 inches long. The party huddled and quickly decided the rod the creature held was the one that was missing from the statue they stood next to. Gellak volunteered to go and take the rod, hoping that it was not the trigger to set the monster off in defense of it’s lair. Hoping, but knowing the consequences, the party prepared for a fight, and and soon as Gellak touched the rod, a fight was what they got. As the monster rose, a wave of fear rushed over the group, sending Gellak and Halladorn running for their lives. The rest of the party battled with the creature, enduring an Unholy Blight and several attacks with it’s claws, which also sent Oxyl and Stanislau running in fear. The creature finally unleashed it’s Teleporting Burst, which only succeeded in sending Oxyl – recovered from his fear – out of the catacombs and next to the giant/troll cave entrance one level above. After several tense moments, the creature was finally brought down, though much damage was suffered.

After healing what wounds they could, Oxyl took the rod and slid it into the hole in the statue’s fist. A grating sound was heard followed by the opening of a door behind the statue. It led directly into what can only be described as a treasure room. Having a bit more time to examine the treasure, they found 1270cp, 947sp, and 856gp in three separate chests. A scroll rack contained several very old copies of maps of the surrounding area (antiques?) and another held 5 masterwork weapons of exceedingly high quality (a great axe, longsword, heavy flail, shortspear and a heavy mace). Coffers on a finely carved desk contained 8 garnets and 7 alexandrites, a set of pearl-handled writing instruments with gold nibs and a leaded glass ink-pot, and three rings of a magical nature. The desk and chair were of very high quality as well, but proved too difficult to remove without destroying their value. These sat upon a rug woven possibly 200 years or more ago from one of the north eastern countries – maybe Zeif or Ket. Lastly was a bookcase that contained much information valuable to sages and historians, plus a set of books detailing the lives and deaths of the inhabitants of the now-ruined keep.

The party gathered the spoils, headed over to where their comrades waited with the horses and the prisoner, and set off back toward Hochoch…….

Raid on the Bloody Ridge (part 3)

Having released the prisoners from their cell and gone through the small pile of stuff left over, the group continued onward. Opening the other door in the main lodge area, there was a hallway leading off and to the right. Peering around the corner revealed two more ogres, waiting patiently by an partially open double door behind them. The group quickly burst around the corner to attack, catching the ogres by surprise. blows were exchanged, when into the room burst two more creatures: an orc bodyguard and a half-orc, armed with a khopesh and wearing a bright metal breastplate and steel shield. The group moved into positions to receive the new foes, when a gout of flame burst from the half-orc. Fire Breath!! The battle consumed several rounds, with Gellak taking down the ogres in quick fashion. The half-orc continued to press the attack, not giving ground or quarter. Another couple of breaths of flame and a couple strikes with his khopesh was all he could muster before the party brought him and the bodyguard down. A quick search revealed the khopesh, breastplate and shield to be magical. The party picked up exploration again after a round of healing…..

Behind the dead opponents was a door that led down into darkness. A 5’ wide hall full of stairs dropped some 60 to 80 feet underground and ended at a door blocked by two large boulders. The door itself was nailed over with boards. The party quickly surmised this was to keep whatever was in the chamber behind from getting out. Naturally, they moved the boulders, pried off the boards and opened the door. Behind them was a very large chamber, some 50’ long, with two semi-circular alcoves on both sides. At the rear were half a dozen steps leading up to another semi-circular alcove that had a pulpit of some sort in it. Cautiously moving across the room, Oxyl checked for traps and finding none, proceeded toward the pulpit. At exactly the halfway point, grinding stone was heard and springing from openings in the side alcoves were droves of animated skeletons, wielding a variety of rusty, sharp weapons. As Badger had decided long ago to follow the paths of negative energy, no turning of the monsters was possible. Again, the battle was joined. After much hacking and bashing, a total of 24 skeletons lay in pieces about the chamber. While pausing once again to rest and use up the last of the healing magic, those least hurt examined the room they were in. Badger’s religious teaching revealed that this was some sort of cathedral. Oxyl discovered a hidden door in one of the alcoves and opened it while the rest searched for more clues in the temple. Finding no other information, the proceeded to enter the hallway, which was filled with dust and heavy cobwebs. It was apparent that this passage had no been traversed by anyone living or dead in several decades. The hall turned to the left and quickly entered a room containing 5 statues – three on the left, two on the right. Each statue was different, with a nameplate at the feet telling who this was, when they were born and died and their title. A quick glance ahead revealed corridors of this nature going in all three directions. It was decided that they regroup back outside, leaving the two released prisoners a safe distance from the complex to guard the imprisoned orc leader. They went out, gathered the horses and mules and made their way a bit south of the keep. As they moved to leave the property, a person cried out from back near the keep. There, rushing toward them, was the cleric Kerig of the Red Banners. He hugged Coanor and Gellak and, as they moved toward the resting spot, told his tale. While fighting up on on section of the wall, he pasued to catch his breath and leaned against what seemed to be a secret door in the corridor. As there were several orcs headed in his direction, he ducked inside, and there he stayed, feeding himself with Create Food and Water spells and looking for a way to escape his predicament. Several days passed without a chance, when he looked out and noticed the orcs had left the area. As he crept back down the stairs and over toward the keep, he spotted the party….Kerig helped to watch the prisoner as the rest of the group broke bread and then slept. The following day, after regaining full complements of spells and healing as much as was prudent, the six comrades left to go back into the depths below the ruined keep.

Back in the statue room, they decided to move forward, taking notes on all the information given by the statues. The males stood in position with a longsword out in front of them, point resting on the floor. The females were dressed in robes. There were a few statues that stood out as different: one male was much larger than the others (called Petran Mynyth, or Petran the Mountain), while one of the females held a small child. After discovering no less than 23 separate statues, the group proceeded into a room that was much different. Roughly 20′×30′, this room had four stone slabs. They were arranged with three toward the front and toward the back. Most disconcerting was that upon the front three were skeletons, armed with obviously useful weapons and armor, the swords held in hand on the chest. The forth being was covered by a thick purple cloth. In front of the three skeletons were small wooden boxes. The covered being had a chest at it’s head, that appeared to be covered with gems and jewels. Throwing caution to the wind, Oxyl moved up and picked up one of the small boxes. Immediately, the four creatures moved to stand, drawing their weapons as they did. The skeletons had an unnatural bluish light emanating from their eyes….these were obviously not your garden-variety skeleton like those they had fought earlier. The one in the center rose and held two twin longswords, while the others held but one. The creature in the back was most horrid: the rotting and putrid flesh…the red, glowing eyes….Badger screamed out “Wight” as the fighters moved forward to engage the skeletal warriors. This turned out to be no easy fight. Gellak took on the dual sword wielding skeleton, and took several nasty blows, dropping him almost to the point of death. Badger worked on healing as the rest of the group engaged the four creatures. Randal – seeing the way into the room blocked, took a different path toward the fight. He cut through a room that was dimly lit and contained a single large female statue. As he moved to the corridor, the statue reached out and stuck him with its stone sword…a Caraytid Column – damn the luck! The fight went on for almost a minute and a half, with Gellak and Oxyl taking the worst of it. After dispatching the entire group – the last to go down being the two sword skeleton – they paused to heal and search the room over. The small boxes contained a single, ancient-looking copper coin. Badger deduced they were “payment for the Ferryman.” The chest that once had looked so rich revealed itself to simply be a normal wooden box, covered with an elaborate illusion to suck thieves in to their doom. It contained exactly 100 coins each of copper, silver and gold, all neatly stacked inside. The monsters also carried a bit of magic: the two twin swords were magical. They gathered up their spoils, secured them and moved further on into the darkness…..
TO BE CONTINUED (once again)

Raid on The Bloody Ridge (cont.)

The trek to the ruin was fairly uneventful. The group dodged a distant orc patrol or two and arrived about 36 hours after having left Argel-ys-Aberva. They approached the ruin from the northeast, seeing a part of the wall that surrounded the keep upon the highest rise in the area. Moving around to the northwest past a small section of wall, they spotted two orc guards, standing on top the small section of crumbling wall. Stanislau sent his owl familiar out to scout the rest of the area via the air. It returned several minutes later, Stanislau sensed the animal’s fear at what he deduced was a large number of orc guards. The group quickly decided to make for the ruin – a three story keep of gothic design. It was clear the inside was hollow, as a tree could be seen growing in the center of the first floor. They quickly charged up, hoping to avoid being seen by the two nearest guards. Alas, luck was not with them…one of the guards jumped down to investigate the noise from his left, while the other drew an arrow and aimed directly at where the group had stopped. The guard on the wall was dropped by a single arrow, while Gellak popped out from behind his cover and cut the orc on the ground in half. Oxyl then crept quietly forward, looking into the keep. There were 6 orcs milling about inside, along with a rather stupid-looking ogre. They decided that Stanislau and Oxyl should climb the outer wall and attack from above, while the rest of the group charged in through the large opening in the western wall. They did exactly so, surprising the occupants inside, resulting in 2 dead orcs from arrows and swords. The fight broke out in earnest, but lasted only a few short rounds. Gellak took the ogre out quickly with his magic great axe, while the other 5 handled the orcs rather easily. Oxyl noted after the fight concluded that the sounds of battle did not ring as loudly as they normally would – could there be some sort of magic at work here? None was detected, so they returned to the task at hand.

In the center of the floor was a large set of stairs dropping down into the hill. Oxyl again crept down to investigate. Turning to whisper back up the steps, he found that his voice did not carry at all. He returned to the top to report that an ogre slept in an alcove at the bottom. Plan of action: rush down the steps, surprise the ogre and kill him as quickly as possible. Oxyl later noted they always seem to have trouble getting a plan to come together. It took more than one round to kill the ogre….fortunately he didn’t get a chance to cry out, but might have had Gellak not dropped him as he stood to fight. They caught their breath for a moment, standing in a corridor that went off in both directions (north and south) and turned west again. They decided to go to the right, hearing some banging around from that direction. Oxyl once again padded forward to check out the source of the commotion. Three orcs were in a room throwing daggers at a box and taking bets on whether the knives would stick. As luck once again would have it, one of them turned and saw a somewhat surprised – but definitely not shocked – dwarf standing about half way up the hallway. Once again, a fight broke out, with arrows coming from down the hall over the dwarf’s head, and two or three non-orcs rushing down to kill the occupants. The fight lasted almost a minute. These orcs were definitely not the garden-variety kind that had dropped so easily upstairs in the courtyard. They were better equipped and armed, carrying masterwork falchions and well cared for chain shirts. They obviously had some skill at fighting in close quarters, as well. A check around the room resulted in the discovery of a locked strongbox that contained a handful of platinum pieces and somewhat larger amounts of gold, silver and copper, 3 small diamonds, 2 rubies, 20 tiny pearls and a bottle quickly identified as a potion of Cure Serious Wounds. (19pp, 126gp, 227sp, 346cp)

After healing a few wounds, the group set off to explore the corridor in the opposite direction. Again – and as always – Oxyl moved as quietly as he could around the corner and down the hall. It didn’t take long for him to come scrambling back, a bit disconcerted. The room at the end contained both a troll and a hill giant. They were being dressed down by a rather loud and oddly dressed orc. Badger noted from the description that he appeared to be a shaman of some sort, most likely Gruumsh One-Eye. Once again, they paused to put their thoughts together about how to vanquish the current opposition (with Oxyl rolling his eyes at some of the suggestions…). They drove forward, with Oxyl and Gellak in the front, followed by Halladorn and Stanislau. Gellak turned left immediately to take the troll who had just started up a tunnel dug into the wall for quick entrance for he and the giant, while the others concentrated on the hill giant and shaman. The troll put up a brave fight and struck Gellak several times before dying. Meanswhile, the giant was doing his best to strike the dwarf, who deftly dodged a couple of strikes while returning the swings by doing a bit of damage. There also appeared several duplicates of the shaman, having drunk a potion of Mirror Image. Gellak arrived to help crush the giant, along with Halladorn from behind, and a nicely placed Flaming Sphere. The battle lasted a while, with the orc shaman being slashed and grappled into submission. They tied him up and gagged him, then quickly checked the two sets of double doors in the room. One led to another corridor, while the other went directly into what appeared to be a gaol of some sort. There were a total of 6 cells. Three were empty. One contained a jumbled pile of equipment. The last two were inhabited. The first held a human who identified himself as Owen, a ranger that got caught snooping around the Bloody Ridge just two days previous. The other held the wizard Coanor Ethilfin, who was much worse for the wear. He was chained up on the wall and was muttering to himself. Seeing Gellak he broke from his daze and cried out for help. They got him down and hit him with a Cure Light Wounds, which brought him around a bit further. In tears he described what he knew of the outcome of the battle where he was captured and the Red Banners fell. The dwarf Yurrim was caught and beheaded by the hill giant, who put his head on a pike in front of the cave entrance that tunneled into the complex. He also had seen Glim, the gnome alchemist quickly dropped and left near the east entrance to the keep. He knew nothing of Gellak and Kerig. That left Merogo….. At that, tears again streamed down his face as he told of being forced to watch the unfortunate halfling be killed and eaten by the troll right in front of his eyes. As he told this part of the tale, his gaze was fixed upon a pile of bones in the corner: the grisly remnants of the troll’s meal…..



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