Red Hand of Doom

Captured!
07/21/2013

Insisting on spending the night at the Iron Tower before beginning their investigation of Duke Meitor in the morning, the newly-appointed advisors to the Sarthel Council of Lords was put up in the dining hall, as the manor was too small to accommodate them. When the hours ticked on and they didn’t return to the bell tower, Elkantar joined them at the manor. In the middle of the night, the doors to the dining hall crashed open to admit a flood of House Avrul guards led by Lord Tynaron, who accused the “advisors” of murdering the master of the house, Duke Avrul. Though they protested their innocence, the accused would not submit to shackles, and a battle ensued. The guards attempted to subdue them until the fight began proving lethal, at which point they also began striking to kill. They were cut down like ripe wheat, and Lord Tynaron fled. Searching the manor, the victors discovered correspondence between the Iron Circle and Duke Avrul, though neither the Duke nor his manservant were still at home.

Abandoning the Iron Tower as the city watch arrived, the fugitives started back toward their own tower at the center of town. As they ran through the dark city at night, however, they stumbled into a trap laid by Lord Tynaron, who assumed they might leave the manor. A number of rogues ambushed them, including the shadowy gnome woman they encountered previously, who turned out to be an old acquaintance of Frug’s named Vayentha. The assailants overcame their victims, losing only Vayentha, smashed into her component shadows by Tirah’s wrathful mace. Only Thistle managed to escape by flying away in bat form.

XP (Brandis, Cyress, Elkantar, Frug, Thistle, Tirah): 958
Next session: 08/11/2013

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The Two Towers
07/07/2013

Knowing Mordai is aware that they’re staying at the Crooked House, the hunted heroes visit the encampment of Sertieren and Joyce’s halfling clan, the Shadowbanks, who allow them to stay in their tents just outside Sarthel’s gates. While the companions were away, Sertieren ran into the wayward Frug, who had been off conducting business of his own. The gnome had already taken up residence with the halflings, since all of Sarthel’s inns were full. Joyce, Sertieren said, left to explore the city’s bell tower. Curious child.

Suspecting Joyce may have gone to the bell tower in her search for Kelson, her friends went after her. They discovered an old, balding human man living on the bottom floor of the tower, whose bells rang once every three hours. He was revealed to be a changeling, in league with the Black Knives, who maintained training facilities and barracks in the tower. The intruders made their way to the tower’s belfry, where Kelson was observing the city from a stone throne. Thistle, disguised as a bat, launched a devastating initial assault against the halfling, only to find that he was not alone – his throne metamorphosed into an enormous gargoyle, while two other gargoyles affixed to the tower animated and moved to defend their master. Fortunately Thistle’s allies were soon able to join her in beating back the gargoyles, and Cyress ended up forcing the larger gargoyle to impale Kelson, then teleporting them both into mid-air next to the tower, at which point they crashed in a heap to the ground 120 feet below.

Leaving Elkantar to guard “their” new tower, the adventurers now sought out the Iron Tower for their meeting with Lord Tynaron. The Iron Tower turned out to be neither iron nor a tower, but a well-defended manor house bearing the signage of House Avrul and the Iron Circle. The master of the manor, Duke Aron Avrul, was hosting a meeting of lords concerned about Duke Meitor’s recent behavior. In attendance were Avrul, Lord Tynaron, Lord Bandor Imbran, Lady Hordan Padumor, and Hierarch Yasmina Nagal of the Temple of the Golden Flame, the local temple of Pelor. Initially reluctant to discuss Meitor with the newly-arrived strangers, the lords eventually accepted that they might be able to help as neutral advisors.

XP (Brandis, Cyress, Frug, Thistle, Tirah): 1200
Next session: 07/21/2013

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Black Knives
06/23/2013

The companions made their way through Sarthel’s harvest fair toward the Crooked House. Along the way they ran into Sertieren the Red and Joyce, who turned out to be his niece. Joyce was dancing for the crowd and Sertieren was performing minor prestidigitation, while their clansmates sold their wares. Joyce secretly told Cyress that she hadn’t caught up with Kelson just yet, but she heard he was involved with a local thieves’ guild called the Black Knives.

Arriving at the Crooked House around sundown, the heroes were afforded the only accommodations left: the pantry floor. Elkantar excused himself to scout out information about the surviving members of his druidic order. In the crowded common room, Cyress gleaned the following information:

  • Traders from the Elsir Vale and other parts north have become a rarity since the Red Hand invasion began there. Refugees fleeing the horde have made this year’s harvest fair more crowded than most. Few fear the Red Hand in Sarthel, which has a sizeable standing army.
  • The Iron Circle, a mercenary confederation to the south, has been itching to gain influence in Sarthel, which is the gateway to the North.
  • Duke Klaran Meitor, the ruler of Sarthel, is rumored to be acting strangely of late and hasn’t been seen much in public. Typically he appears at the opening ceremony for the annual harvest fair, but not this year. Hopefully he’ll give his usual speech at the fair’s climax, a gladiatorial competition called The Champion’s Games.
  • They say somebody finally found Glitterhame!

In the morning, as the liberators of Glitterhame were leaving the Crooked House, they were beset by thugs that had been following them. The thugs were assisted by a strange gnome woman that seemed to be partially made of shadow. She vanished down a sewer grate when the fight seemed to be going against the attackers, whom Cyress later recognized as Black Knives. Their leader carried a note telling him to find and stop the newcomers to the city, who were staying at the Crooked House, and the note was written in the same hand as notes they previously discovered in Jarett Nurth’s possession, from a lover named Mordai.

Finally, the emissaries from Overlook approached Duke Meitor’s keep, called the Alamarid Palace, to deliver the message from the Hammerfist Holds. Guards at the keep’s gates, however, informed them that the Duke was not available for audience, though they could forward the message to him. A well-appointed carriage rolled through the gates, bearing an unrecognizable house sigil. Its lone passenger overheard the conversation with the guards, and stepped out of the carriage to introduce himself as Lord Tynaron, a richly-dressed tiefling. He said he was planning to meet with some other Lords of Sarthel to discuss Duke Meitor in absentia, and invited the messengers from the Hammerfist Holds to join them next evening for dinner at the Iron Tower.

XP (Brandis, Cyress, Thistle, Tirah): 675
Next session: 07/07/2013

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Enemy at the Gates
06/09/2013

Having escorted dwarf scouts to Glitterhame, the companions continued through the Wyvernwatch Mountains to Blackfall Vale and its largest city – Sarthel, the City of Silver. At the gates, they encountered an unusually large number of beggars targeting visitors to what appeared to be an event happening in the city, as evidenced by numerous booths, entertainers, and spectators lining the streets. One of the beggars, a mysterious old crone with surprisingly lustrous silver hair, offered to tell the heroes’ fortunes in exchange for alms. Frug entered the city ahead of them, saying he had business to attend to.

As the rest of them approached the gates, they witnessed a conflict between a group of barbarians entering the city and a pair of watchmen attempting to peace-bond the visitors’ weapons. When Tirah attempted to intervene, the barbarian’s leader insulted him, calling him a blue freak. The results were less than cordial. The surviving watchman, Joster, told the heroes that he would request special dispensation for them to carry non-bonded weapons at the harvest fair, and that they could pick up the document at the Duke’s Keep the next day. In the meantime, as the sun was falling, he suggested they seek accommodations at an inn called the Crooked House and tell them Joster sent them, since Sarthel’s inns were quite full.

XP (Brandis, Cyress, Elkantar, Thistle, Tirah): 580
Next session: 06/23/2013

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Duergar Demolition
06/02/2013

The corridor continued to a T-intersection at what had apparently once been a major Glitterhame thoroughfare. Surprisingly, the duergar demolitionists were hard at work not uncovering, but sealing off the thoroughfare at both ends. They were being supervised by a red-skinned devil, who noticed the heroes approach. He introduced himself as Malthagoras, and explained that the duergar were caving in the corridor to prevent the release of a sea of slime dwarfing (ha ha) the one under the fallen statue. They continued their work unimpeded, while Malthagoras questioned the intruders and duergar guards eyed them suspiciously. The demolition work completed, Malthagoras bid farewell and teleported away, while the duergar insisted on leaving the site simultaneously to prevent treachery.

Returning to the High Hall at Overlook, the companions were met with great anticipation. Presenting the Glitterhame mug fragment they’d found, they were awarded with Guardian, a magic battleaxe forged at Glitterhame. However, Tirah requested some other reward, since no one in the party was well trained in the use of axes. Elder Cadrick was able to convince a private collector to part with a suit of magic armor, which would be re-sized for Tirah’s frame. In the meantime, he was able to procure the items fashioned out of Ozyrrandion’s dragon hide, which offer some protection against electricity.

The Overlook Council of Elders committed 200 of their best warriors, called the Silver Axes, to the defense of Brindol. In addition, Elder Cadrick suggested that Baron Meitor of the city of Sarthel in nearby Blackfall Vale be approached for assistance, as those lands were a likely next target for the Red Hand horde.

XP (Brandis, Cyress, Elkantar, Frug, Thistle, Tirah): 590
Next session: 06/09/2013

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Sea of Slime
05/19/2013

The human wizard, who in captivity gave his name as Markus, warned the heroes about continuing further, telling them of a large number of oozes ahead. The only remaining members of his party, he said, were a handful of duergar that were continuing to blast their way into Glitterhame. Indeed, some of them appeared at the bottom of the cliff while the companions were resting, intending to resupply themselves with food and explosives. Markus, though severely wounded by Cyress’s blade, fooled the duergar into believing the tieflings and the rest of the duergar and had ascended the lift to get some fresh air and forage for more foodstuffs. For this act of loyalty, he was set free and ascended the lift himself.

Descending the cliff further into the complex, his captors discovered a long stone corridor, the floor of which had fallen away to reveal a gigantic rift filled with slime. The corridor was flanked by enormous statues of dwarven heroes, one of whom had toppled over the rift to create what appeared to be an accidental bridge. Several oozes, including a house-sized gelatinous cube, tried to hamper the party’s passage over the broken statue by dissolving them. It was Frug’s tiny dagger that proved the final prick to burst the cube, which had by that time engulfed the remainder of the party. Wounded, exhausted, and covered with goo, they crossed over the slime rift to continue down the corridor.

XP (Brandis, Cyress, Elkantar, Frug, Thistle, Tirah): 433
Next session: 06/02/2013

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Into the Sinkhole
04/14/2013

Camping outside the sinkhole in the tiefling’s tents, the companions discovered a fragment of a vessel with the seal of Glitterhame among artifacts their enemies had collected. Just before sunbreak they, in turn, were discovered by a traveling eladrin woman named Naivarra, who claimed to possess psychic powers and haughtily offered her services at an outrageous price. It was decided that she should prove herself by entering the sinkhole first and reporting her findings. The honor-bound Teyani volunteered to escort her in case she should need protection, and the two women descended into the abyss via a rickety wooden platform on a pulley, with Thistle slipping in behind them. About halfway down, they ran into a group of mages ascending the hole on a similar platform. Mostly tieflings, the mages launched an assault of fiery beams, while a human wizard accompanying them wielded weird gray mists. They were also assisted by a pack of stirges living in the shaft. Naivarra and Teyani were killed, though Thistle survived by descending further while her foes continued to the top to be finished off by the rest of the party, with the exception of the wizard.

Holding the human over the gaping hole by his arms, Cyress questioned him about the expedition. The wizard professed that he was only working for the tieflings to unearth Glitterhame. Satisfied, Cyress dropped him, presumably to his death. However, the wizard was able to feather fall, landing lightly at the bottom of the shaft, where a troop of duergar awaited Thistle’s arrival with ready weapons.

XP (Cyress, Elkantar, Frug, Thistle, Tirah): 392
Next session: 05/05/2013

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The Search for Glitterhame
03/31/2013

After questioning the Tengs at Belden’s Rest regarding the direction the tiefling expedition took, the companions set off on their trail toward the Stone Tooth, a rock formation in the Wyvernwatch Mountains. A harrowing journey brought them to the tiefling’s encampment on the edge of an enormous sinkhole, blasted further open to allow entrance into the mountainside. They defeated the tieflings, whose number included tar devils controlled by human priest of Asmodeus, and their old nemesis Jarett, whom Cyress finally skewered to the ground with his sword.

XP (Cyress, Elkantar, Frug, Thistle, Tirah): 527
Next session: 04/14/2013

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Overlook
03/10/2013

Joyce, the halfling girlfriend of Kelson the highwayman, confessed that she was only helping him out of love, showing Cyress an engagement ring Kelson had given her. Cyress immediately recognized that the ring was merely painted gold, which convinced Joyce that Kelson didn’t really love her and was only using her. She vowed revenge on the halfling bandit, agreeing to guide Cyress to where Kelson had been staying in Overlook, seat of the Hammerfist Holds.

Arriving at sundown, the companions escorted the Lions and their cargo to the Overlook’s High Hall, which took the wagon and Brindol’s representatives in for the night, recommending an inn for the companions to stay in until sunup, when they and the Lions would meet Overlook’s Council of Elders. Joyce guided them to Belden’s Rest, a decent place to spend the night, run by Rory and Ruth Teng, a kindly old human/half-elf couple. There they met Meriele, an eladrin bard out of Blackfall Vale, investigating tales of the neighboring Elsir Vale’s goblinoid incursions. Before settling in for the night, however, they accompanied Meriele to the ironically-named flophouse called Clean Sheets, where she and Kelson had been staying, to see if they could find any leads to his whereabouts. The proprietor, a one-eyed halfling named Yerrin, admitted when bribed that Kelson left earlier that day for the city of Sarthel.

Not wanting to let Joyce stay another night in the dismal Clean Sheets, Cyress took pity on her and offered her a room at Belden’s Rest, which she gratefully accepted. She snuck out during the night, however, leaving a note thanking the companions for their understanding, forgiveness, and generosity. They returned to High Hall to reunite with the Lions and meet the Overlook Council of Elders, a group of five dwarves representing each of the Hammerfist Holds. The overloaded chest the Lions were transporting was opened to reveal an enormous sum of gold, as well as a shining, jewel-encrusted battle axe, payment from Lord Jarmaath of Brindol for the service of the Hammerfist Holds’ elite Shining Axes company in the defense of Brindol against the encroaching Red Hand horde. The Council was loath to spill dwarven blood, but had reason to believe that the agents of Brindol might be able to provide some clue to the location of Glitterhame, the ancient capital of the dwarf empire of Khundrukar, fallen a millennium hence. The tiefling Jarett Nurth had passed through town inquiring about them, alleging they had stolen from her a recovered teleportation tile she was using to search for Glitterhame. She was rumored to have nonetheless left the previous morning with other tieflings on an expedition into the Wyvernwatch Mountains to seek the lost city. The Council of Elders proposed that if the representatives of Brindol could find definite proof that Glitterhame had indeed been found, the Shining Axes would be Lord Jarmaath’s to command.

XP (Cyress, Elkantar, Frug, Meriele, Thistle, Tirah): 370
Next session: 03/24/2013

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On the Road
02/24/2013

Gathering supplies from Jarrett’s Sundries, the Heroes of Drellin’s Ferry set out on the road to the Hammerfist Holds to meet up with Teyani Sura and the other Lions of Brindol. On the way they were discovered by their old nemesis, the blue dragon Ozyrrandion, but they managed to defeat him while learning from him that his mistress, Tiamat, bade him to assist the Red Hand horde, which was now bypassing Skull Gorge by flying troops across on dragonback.

The heroes walked further until they caught up with the Lions, protecting a very heavily loaded wagon. The rendezvous came none too soon, as the wagon was soon accosted by a group of bandits led by a halfling named Kelson, who had secured the help of a brutish ettin. Losing only a couple of Lions, the companions slew the ettin and forced the bandits to scatter into the woods from when they came. Kelson fled, abandoning his halfling girlfriend Joyce.

XP (Cyress, Elkantar, Frug, Thistle, Tirah): 740
Next session: 03/10/2013

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