The Looming Flames

Making Headway
"Making friends is easy, keeping them is hard"

The magic-user Django had recently departed The Gnarley Forest after kobold attacks on his people had become more frequent. In search of answers, he left towards civilization to find a wizard that often visited his village but had not been heard from in quite some time. While on his way Django encountered two fellow travelers: the cleric Korlund and the paladin Maraxus. The pair were well-matched to each other, despite their ideological differences, and found each other’s company pleasant enough to travel east together as they both had business along the Selintan River. As the three meet along the trail and begin talking, Django notes a shift in the air. He mentions this to his new companions who seem not to notice whatever it is that has agitated the caster. Consulting his bones, Django informs them that something to the south of them is amiss; a foulness of nature. His mind made up to investigate, as this could be the source of his people’s kobold problems, Django leaves the road and enters the woods to the south. Not comfortable letting the man travel alone Korlund and Maraxus follow. Soon the trio find the woods give way to grassland, which in turn becomes a dry, scorched earth. It is in the center of this land where seemingly nothing grows that they see a chasm. Surrounding its edges are a number of pillars with strange runes and markings on them. But one pillar seems particularly out of place, for tied fast to it are a donkey and a rope that leads down into the chasm. The three adventurers waste no time in making their way down and are soon greeted with a very odd sight. Through the slim shafts of light penetrate the darkness they are able to see a ruined keep at the bottom of the chasm. Heading towards it they notice the entrance has seen some recent use, as bloody tracks are quite visible. Quickly setting aside their fears the three press on into the old stone fortress.

Meanwhile the adventurers who have spent the past couple days inside this keep have roused and are preparing to renew their exploration. As they are exiting the chamber they had barred the night before they almost stumble directly on top of the three new entrants. After a few tense moments during which each group is feeling out the other, greetings and salutations are made. Explanations are made as each side tells the tale of how they arrived here. Both groups quickly arrive at the decision to join forces and now the group, stronger in numbers than ever, is once again off into the bowels of the sunken keep.

Picking up where they left off the day before, the party passes through the rooms where they were waylaid by goblins. After carefully making their way through winding passages and corridors that have collapsed walls or parts of their ceiling caved in, the party enters a large room of many pillars. Each pillar bears a lit torch and the room is filled with oily smoke. The smoke may have been set as a trap by kobolds because not long after entering the room the party is attacked. After dealing with the threat, the group heads north into a portion of the keep previously unexplored. Soon they come into a chamber that houses a large, circular shaft that looks to go approximately 60-70 feet down. On the side of this hole opposite the party is a makeshift throne, upon which is seated a nasty-looking bugbear. It is flanked by several goblins but the bugbear is also holding in its hand two leashes to the lead to a couple of the vilest looking dire rats the companions have ever laid eyes on. The bugbear appeared to be expecting someone, or something, to enter its chamber but it seems surprised to see the adventurers but grunts out something indistinguishable in the guttural goblin tongue, and the room explodes into action. A brutal fight ensues but after several minutes of intense fighting, the prowess and sheer numbers of the adventuring group overwhelm the goblinoids and they are annihilated. As they party spends some time tending to their wounded, looting the fallen, and exploring the chamber, it is Fenrik Levesdun that takes to inspecting the shaft. While checking the shaft’s walls for any hand and footholds the young fighter loses his balance and plunges down the vertical drop. Many of his companions see this happen but none are near enough to offer any assistance before the young man has disappeared from sight, his body landing with a sickening crunch as he impacts the hard, stone floor at the bottom. The party stands shocked, unbelieving what has just transpired.

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Down Into The Darkness
"New friends are made...and lost."

There is quite a loud crowd gathering in the early morning streets of Crossford, one that awakens Fevlin Telkin and Marla. The pair of thieves have arrived recently in Crossford hoping to make some coin during the festival and then board a ship to headed towards more opportunity. The duo exit their room at The Aleing Halfling in an attempt to see exactly what is going on. By the time they reach the street however, the source of the commotion, a party of adventurers who left days ago to solve a murdered man that washed up on the river banks, is being whisked away by members of the town watch. Fevlin and Marla follow as their curiosity is piqued and they hope to find opportunity to fatten their depleted purses. As much of the crowd follows the adventurers as well, Fevlin seizes such an opportunity by attempting to lift the purse of a hapless fellow who is milling about. Unfortunately the nimble halfling is not as effective as he hoped and he is unable to purloin any coins. The quick-thinking rogue manages to convince the man it was a simple misunderstanding and quickly departs the area. The two continue towards the town’s meeting hall but are blocked from entering by guards at the door. They decide to wait outside until the adventurers exit.

The party stands before the Lord Mayor of Crossford, receiving their just rewards for their slaying of a goblin raiding party that took the lives of one of the outlying farm families. (DM’s Note: see Adventure Log #001 for more details.) The mayor inquires what the party knows of trolls and informs them of his reason for asking: one was spotted wandering the area southwest of town, between the cattle farms and the Ashen Plain. None of the party are familiar with the area so the mayor educates them. He tells them the Ashen Plain is so named due to the actions of the dragon Ashardalon centuries prior. What was once fertile, thriving land is now several square miles of dead, blasted earth on which nothing will grow. The mayor says that Crossford has seen trolls before, sometimes one may attach itself to the hull of ships that travel the Selintan River which connects The Wooly Bay to northern settlements. The mayor assures the party that this has not happened since he was a boy, and further, seeing a troll in an environment such as the Ashen Plain is quite odd. The mayor asks the party if they could investigate but they seem hesitant, as their knowledge of such creatures is admittedly limited. The mayor says that he would be indebted to them for their assistance and hopes they do accept. The mayor dismisses the party as the Growfest festival is imminent and he has much to attend to.

As the adventurers exit the town’s meeting hall, much of the crowd has dispersed to go about their daily tasks, but not Fevlin and Marla. The halfling attempts to get the adventurers attention but before he can do so he is shouldered aside by Baiard Broadstone. During this brief physical encounter the thief again attempts to ply his trade by picking the dwarf’s purse. Much to the same effect however as his attempt is discovered by the warrior who immediately takes offense. As Brogate Broadstone stepped in to curb his brother’s violent tendencies, Fevlin decided that discretion was the better of valor and hastily retreated from the scene. He left behind his partner, but that seemed to suit her fine as during the kerfuffle she had struck up a conversation with Sitdun and none had actually realized that the halfling and the human were together in the first place.

The party, with Marla in tow, makes their way back to The Aleing Halfling to toast their victory over the goblins and to plan their next move. During this time Fevlin is also making his way back to the inn, but as he sees the adventurers entering he again decides on discretion and enters by climbing to the second story and entering his room via the window. After a short time passes he attempts to sneak downstairs into the common room and scout out the situation before deciding on his next course of action. His approach is given away by creaky stairs and his large feet are seen tiptoeing down the stairs before the rest of him comes into view. Baiard leaps from his seat and runs to the stairs, suspecting that Crossford is not playing host to very many halflings, and the two make eye contact. Fevlin turns and flees back up the stairs and ducks into his room with the dwarven battlerager giving pursuit. The rogue decides to exit the inn the same way he entered and makes for the window. As the fighter bursts through the door the stout halfling fumbles at the windowsill and he falls into the muddy street below, having the breath knocked from him and momentarily dazed. The dwarf runs for the window and proceeds to follow after placing his spiked shield in front of him to help break his fall (and do injury to the pick-pocket). The dwarf is quite successful, landing onto the halfling with a crash and doing him grievous harm. Ignoring his own injuries Baiard picks himself up and re-enters the inn to finish his ale. Having both heard the commotion and seen the figures fall from the window a small crowd gathers including the adventurers themselves. Seeing the halfling in dire straits Brogate calls upon the healing magics granted to him by Moradin and the halfling begins to rejuvenate and awakens. As the cleric and rogue begin to converse a concerned townsperson shouts for the watch and someone runs off to retrieve them. In short order three of Crossford’s town guard arrive and question everyone about the events. Being unable to get a straight story out of them the guardsmen decide to take all of the involved parties before the Lord Mayor to sort out the mess.

Once all are gathered and the Lord Mayor summoned a recounting of the events by both Fevlin and Baiard is demanded. The two tales differ: the rogue’s story varies as he attempts to talk his way out of any further confrontation while simultaneously absolving himself from being labeled a ‘thief’; while the fighter sticks steadfastly to his version of the events, including freely admitting to his attempt on the halfling’s life. The others are questioned in turn, with all either unable or unwilling to implicate either the dwarf or the halfling in any wrong-doing. The Lord Mayor admonishes all for bringing this violent squabble to his doorstep so soon after he praised them for earlier deeds. It is in light of this previous service that he does not severely punish Baiard for his actions. With Growfest so fast-approaching he decides it best if this group of relatively-unknown people are no longer in the community: thus he banishes all of them from the town. There are protests, with Tulindranadel’s voice being the loudest, but the ruling is final and the mayor refuses to brook any argument. Guards escort the adventurers back to the inn so they may gather their belongings and they deposit them at the edge of town.

Before the brouhaha between the halfling and the dwarf, Sitdun overheard two farmers discussing strange happenings along The Old Road and inquired about it further. Plying the older men with ale in exchange for their knowledge the half-elf learned that inside the Ashen Plain was a deep chasm that housed a tower. The tower used to be home to a cult of dragon worship before Ashardalon’s wrath razed the land. The men were convinced that something was coming from the area but the conversation was interrupted by the halfling and dwarf dropping from the window into the street. Sitdun shares this information with the rest of the party and they decide the Ashen Plain is their next destination. The guards escort the adventurers to the western edge of town and see them on their way, with Fevlin following a short distance behind. The party begins its trek southwest, along The Old Road. As nightfall approaches and camp is being made, Fevlin (whose presence was already known) attempts to make amends with the party and wants to travel with them. Begrudgingly he is allowed to.

Three days of travel sees the party at the edge of the Ashen Plain and they enter it in search of the ruined tower. Another day and they happen upon the ravine that now houses the former citadel. Seeing a rope has already been secured to one of the several posts (posts covered in crudely-drawn Dwarven runes that warn everyone to turn away) the group checks the immediate area and descends. Fevlin is first to make the climb, arriving on a stone ledge with a winding staircase that has been carved from the rock wall of the ravine. Before the others can join him he ventures down the stairs and is soon set upon by two very large rats. He attempts to destroy them and is quickly joined by Tulindranadel who helps him dispatch the creatures. After the rest of the party descends the rope they climb down the staircase and confronted with the front gate of a tower that still stands despite having had the earth beneath it removed and falling into this deep chasm.

Fevlin checks the first door for traps and finds none. Baiard then takes the initiative and enters the tower. Being in a small antechamber, the warrior crosses it towards the next door and sets off pressure plate which opens a small pit underneath his feet, one which he narrowly avoids falling into. Entering into the next room the party finds a large, circular chamber with a couple of doors at opposite ends and four dead goblins along the walls. The goblins appeared to have dead for a few weeks but determining much about them proved too difficult as rats had been gnawing at them for some time. Along the south wall of this chamber a small alcove is found. In it are three skeletons with long rotted archery equipment. The small alcove juts out from the tower and was apparently designed to allow archers to fire upon attackers. Both Baiard and Tulindranadel examine the small room but discover nothing, Sitdun enters the room and upon disturbing the skeletons they animate and begin to attack. Acting quickly, Brogate calls upon his faith and is able to hold the undead. After a small amount of time Baiard and Sitdun manage to destroy all of the skeletons. During the skirmish, Tulindranadel exited the chamber to explore an adjacent one to the southwest. There she found a large, ornate door with no apparent way to open it. After both Sitdun and Marla fail at discovering a method for opening the door, the party agrees to leave this room and head down the northwest passage that also connected to the large chamber they had entered.

Traveling briefly down a narrow passage, the party is confronted by three doors: one each to the north, south, and west. The thieves quickly go to work examining each in turn, noting that none of the portals appears to be trapped nor locked. The door to the north is opened first and the party discovers a room empty, save for dust and debris. Baiard notes the room could be used to rest and regroup later, as it has only one noticeable entrance. Next the door to the south is opened, where the group finds a small chamber containing a large, barrel-shaped copper tub bolted to the floor. The tub is uncovered and contains clear, clean water. During his investigations Sitdun disturbs the water and a Water Mephit emerges from the tub to attack. Sitdun, Tulindranadel, and Baiard manage to defeat it rather quickly, but agree to seal the room and not re-enter.

Entering the door to the west the party discovers quite a sight: a large rectangular chamber with a broken cage large enough to hold an owlbear; a brazier burning low; a workbench littered with tools; and a sleeping kobold! The adventurers surround the sleeping figure and wake it. Terrified, the creature rushes for a corner and begins to whimper. Quite surprising his companions, Baiard is the one to coax it from hiding with soothing words and an offering of food. Stepping into the light the party sees that the kobold is a pathetic specimen: small of stature, underfed, frail, and scarred. As it begins to warm to the intruders it reveals that it speaks a small amount of Common and states its name is Meepo. Meepo is able and willing to give the party what little information regarding the keep that he can, he is slightly hysterical over the loss of what he claims to be his pet dragon. He informs the party that the keep is inhabited by warring factions of kobolds and newly-arrived goblins. The party agrees to leave Meepo here and continue onward into the citadel. Meepo’s chamber presented three new doors and the party chooses the door to the southwest. Travelling a short distance the party is ambushed by a small group of kobolds. Quickly overcoming them, they travel on in the same direction. As they round a corner they are ambushed again by a group that had been alerted to the noise of the previous skirmish. During this melee, Fevlin takes the opportunity to slip away and backtrack to the chamber where the party had met Meepo. Upon entering the thief is able to easily sneak up on the kobold, as he is sobbing while leaning against the destroyed cage. The halfling stabs Meepo and the small kobold falls. Shortly thereafter the rest of the adventuring party returns to this room, both in search of their missing companion and for a room to rest and lick their wounds. Upon seeing the grisly scene of the kobold’s murder, the Broadstone brothers flank Fevlin and demand that he explain his actions. The diminutive rogue feebly attempts to convince all around that Meepo was a threat that needed to be eliminated. Unable to contain his rage, Baiard unleashes a devastating shield bash to the side of the halfling’s head, felling him with one blow. As he lay bleeding out, the party stands shocked into inaction. Torn between his own moral code, his duty to his fellow party members, and his loyalty to his brother coupled with his own disgust at the halfling’s deed, Brogate stands frozen as Fevlin dies. After a brief discussion the party covers both of the bodies and moves into the room they had previously identified as being safe to rest in. They bar the door from the inside and settle in for a fitful sleep.

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Of Meetings & Adventures
"An elf, a human, a half-elf, & a pair of dwarves walk into a tavern..."

A spring day in Crossford as the adventurers have all arrived separately (with the exception of the Broadstone brothers) and for differing purposes: Fenrik Levesdun has traveled from far-away Perrenland to seek his fame and fortune; the bladesinger Tulindranadel, having grown up with a merchant family in The Gnarley Forest, is somewhat familiar with Crossford and chose it as the starting point for her new adventuring career; the brothers Baiard Broadstone and Brogate Broadstone have left their homeland of Dumadan in the Abbor-Alz Mountains, the former in disgrace and the latter by loyalty; Sitdun the Thief, simply looking for his next gold coin.

By fate they all arrive at The Aleing Halfling Inn in time for an early lunch. Introductions are made (and a scuffle with locals averted) when a young lady’s scream is heard in the street. Springing to action, the adventurers dash out to see what has happened. They are led to the docks where a body has floated underneath one of the small piers. Bringing the body ashore it is soon discovered that a middle-aged human male has been killed as he sports several jagged slashes on his body. A more thorough inspection seems to reveal that the man was killed by goblin weapons. As the people of the sleepy village begin to grow concerned the mayor asks the adventurers to investigate, promising a reward of 2 gold pieces for every pair of goblin ears brought back to him. The adventurers agree to the these terms and head up river in search of the vile humanoids.

A day’s trek later the party finds clues that lead them west into the edge of The Gnarley Forest. After camping for the night (during which one of the party thinks he heard goblin cries during his watch) the party continues onward at first light. They shortly come across a small cart path that leads them to a small farm. Upon reaching the farm they find a young man (perhaps 17-19 years old) slain in the barn and a middle-aged woman clutching her newborn both murdered in the house. Further investigation leads to a recently beaten-down path that indicates the perpetrators absconded with the farm’s livestock and the adventurers give pursuit. In short order they come across a small goblin encampment, comprised of a small hut, several tents, and a ramshackle pen containing the livestock taken from the murdered farmers. As a discussion of tactics begins, the battlerager bellows a warsong and charges into the camp. The rest of the adventurers quickly follow and a bloody battle ensues. A dozen goblins are slain while the adventurers sustain mild injuries. The bodies and encampment are looted and the adventurers decide to sleep in the former goblin camp for the night. The next morning the party departs, making the two-day trek back to Crossford with their goblin ears and livestock in tow.

Upon arriving back in the village, the townsfolk are abuzz with questions. As the mayor arrives he hastens the adventurers to the town’s meeting hall where they regale him with their exploits. The mayor is concerned by the appearance of goblins so near the village (a rare occurrence) and pays the adventurers their bounty. The mayor balks at Fenrik’s offer to sell him the deceased farmers’ livestock, instead offering to honor Fenrik as his guest for the upcoming Growfest celebration if he donates the animals to the village. Fenrick accepts this proposal, quickly surmising it would be in bad form to attempt such a transaction so quickly after informing the people of Crossford of the grisly demise of the farming family and that many would have considered the animals to bring ill fortune. The mayor informs the party they will be honored during the upcoming festival and asks what their adventuring party is called. This stirs some confusion amongst the adventurers as this was not something that they had considered. As a small argument breaks out the mayor calms the situation by suggesting they discuss it later over a mug of ale. He then sets the party aback by inquiring what they know about trolls…

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