The Looming Flames

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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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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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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Exiting the Darkness
"The sun shines brightest in victory."

Having just witnessed their companion Fenrik Levesdun fall down a 70 foot shaft, the party stands momentarily aghast before exploding into a frenzy of activity. Quickly gathering all the rope from their supplies and securing it to the nearby “throne”, one-by-one they begin their descent. There was a brief scare when Brogate Broadstone temporarily slipped from the rope, but he was able to regain his grip and finish his descent safely. However, by the time Baiard Broadstone began his climb down, the knots securing the various lengths of rope had begun to slip. The dwarf was just a few feet from the bottom when the rope gave out, harming only his dignity. The rope had snapped before both Django and Maraxus could descend. The pair was now cut off from the rest of the party. The magic-user and paladin inform the party to venture on without them, while they look for more rope or an alternate route down.

Now at the bottom they can see Fenrik’s broken body and any hope that the young warrior might still live are soon dashed. Both Brogate and Korlund confess that his injuries are far beyond their talents to heal. Taking a solemn moment to say goodbye to their brave traveling companion, they drape his body in a cloak and brace themselves for what the rest of this keep may hold. The seven adventurers started to cautiously make their way down a lengthy corridor. Exploring the various doors and rooms along the way, they eventually entered a room with several bodies laid in state. As Sitdun was searching the room he disturbed one of the bodies. All at once they animated and attacked the party. A brief melee ensued but the group handled the undead with relative ease. Continuing on, the companions come across a tunnel that does not match the rest of the carved surfaces they have seen so far. Following it downward for quite some time, the group is ambushed by a small group of piercers. After suffering minor injuries but successfully navigating past the threat they march on further down the tunnel. Eventually coming to a large, cavernous intersection, the adventurers discover the remains of a goblin encampment. Investigating the injuries the goblins were dealt, Tulindranadel and Broadstone brothers are certain that they were the work of a drow scout party. The party immediately turns around and heads back they way they came.

Entering back into more familiar confines, the party continues to make its way throughout this lower level. Passing through several small chambers they exit the keep enter a large, open area. Passing through a grove of small, harsh-looking saplings they come to an average-sized clearing that is the home to an unusual sight; a large oak tree as white as sun-bleached bones. Its sprawling limbs are devoid of leaves, giving credence to the assumption that the tree is dead, but those same limbs are bearing fruit. The fruit perfectly resemble large red apples in every way save one; their color is also the same stark white as the tree. Curious, Tulindranadel plucks a few of the odd fruit and places them in her backpack.

As the group is enraptured by the sight of the odd tree, they are snapped back to attention by a voice cutting the stillness of the underground grove. The voice is followed by the appearance of a pleasant-looking elf. He bears the grime and grit of living underground but otherwise is attractive and does not appear at all hostile. He addresses the party by espousing the beauty of the tree they are gazing on. When both Tulindranadel and Hothwyn L’Arsinth claim this grove and its trees appear unnatural the elf’s demeanor changes instantly. His eyes focus sharply on the pair of elves as his face contorts in a mask of rage. As he begins to shout that the party cannot appreciate the beauty they are beholding, a new group of previously unseen figures begin to make their way into the grove. An armored human male; a female half-elf bearing the symbols of Ehlonna; a middle-aged human male bearing the robes of a magic-user; and a halfling male in leathers all have taken flanking positions around the grove. As the party notes their appearance it is easy to see that all of these newcomers have a glassed-over look to their eyes. As the elf continues the speak of the majesty of the white tree, Hothwyn looses an arrow at him and chaos erupts.

During the course of the prolonged battle, many of the companions are wounded, some gravely. However the adventurers overcome this threat and their opponents fall to a man. After taking a moment to ensure their relative safety and allow the clerics to heal their companions, the group starts to discuss their next action. It is decided that the trees are an abomination and plans are made to put the entire grove to the torch. It is also decided that the group of four that attacked the party was most likely under some sort of outside influence, perhaps by the elf. Dousing the grove in all of the lamp oil they possess, the grove is set aflame and the slain elf’s body is tossed onto the inferno to serve as a pyre. The four fallen combatants are taken with the party as they exit the grove and make their way back towards the shaft.

Once there they find that Django and Maraxus have indeed managed to find more rope in the confines of the sunken keep. The party ties off the bodies of the four they slew in combat as well as their fallen comrade Fevlin and one at a time they are lifted up the shaft. The party members in turn make their way up the shaft as well. Once rejoined, they retrace their steps through the keep back to the entrance and reach the surface. Relieved to find the mage Marvolo Lewsyn unharmed, as well as Marla‘s pack donkey, the party begins to set up camp for the night within earshot of the chasm’s edge. Resolving to travel back to Crossford at first light despite their previous banishment, the adventurers are quite pleased to be spending the night under the stars.

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All Flesh Must Be Eaten
"From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties"

Having spent the night above-ground for the first time in many days, the party awakened refreshed and reinvigorated. But with the bodies of both the three slain adventurers and their fallen companion Fenrik in tow, the mood was melancholy. Thus they traveled back to Crossford mostly in silence. Nearly halfway through the three-day journey they encountered another pair of adventurers: Galascaron Faelandaerl and Theonascence Volancetheon. As the two groups cautiously greeted each other, introductions were made and motives revealed. The duo explained that word of the twig blight sightings had reached The Gnarley Wood and concerned the druidic order that resides there. They dispatched the young druid Galascaron and the ranger Theonascence to investigate. The party was quick to point out that they had discovered the source of the wooden abominations and had dispatched both it and its maker. With gratitude, and wishing to hear further details, the druid and ranger offer to accompany the party back to Crossford.

After another day’s travel across the fertile landscape the adventurers arrive at the gates of their destination. They are greeted by guards who recognize some of their number as those who were banished by the mayor some days ago. The party quickly explains where they have been and what they found. They also point to the bodies they have brought back with them. The guards immediately recognize Gedric Valis and inquire as to the manner of his death. As the party explains the guards send a runner to fetch Lord Mayor Boren Rathgate. After a brief, tense wait, the mayor arrives and is apprised of the situation. He speaks with the party and is grateful for the return of Gedric‘s body. He tells the party that the others were unknown adventurers who came into town over a month ago. They shared tales of riches and glory and easily recruited the young Valis heir. They all left headed west one morning and everyone assumed they had traveled far from Crossford. The mayor was crestfallen to learn what had actually transpired. The runner is dispatched to inform the mother of Gedric, while the mayor explains that he will lift his previous banishment and allow those members of the party to enter the town again. However, they are quickly informed of new laws governing the open carrying of weapons in town, and must pay for a license and also peace-bond their blades while within the town’s walls. The party acquiesces, and as they are in the process of heeding the new law Moren Valis arrives. Upon seeing her slain son she begins to sob uncontrollably, while simultaneously apologizing for her lack of decorum. Maraxus is quick to console the woman, who begins to explain that her son had always wanted a more exciting life. He had grown up listening to stories of his grandfather, who was a paladin of St. Cuthbert. The armor and sword he carried had been his grandfather’s. The Lady Moren begins to weep more as she explains that her bloodline dies with her. Her husband passed away some years ago from illness and Gedric was their only child. She realizes that Maraxus is himself a righteous warrior and insists he take the family blade. She tells him that it is called Silverspike and that it will serve him well. Begrudgingly the paladin accepts the offered sword, swearing to honor it, and her family with its use.

The mayor instructs the party to leave the dead adventurers they brought back and the town will see to there burial. Moved by the scene of the grieving mother the party is quiet as they make their way into town. They return to The Aleing Halfling to procure rooms, some good food, and stout drink. Both Maraxus and Korlund leave to attend the burial of their fallen companion. As the day wears on each party member in turn heads off to attend various personal errands and sundry tasks. As night begins to fall, all but Hothwyn (the ranger prefers sleeping outside) finds their way back to the inn for supper and a good night’s rest in a bed. This does not go as well as planned however as the night’s peace is shattered by the screams of someone in distress.

Awaking and attempting to gather their wits, as well as their gear, the party hurries into the poorly-lit street to see what the commotion is. Upon entering the street they are able to see a horrified woman, babbling incoherently between sobs about a dead person she has just seen. After calming her a bit she is able to tell them where she saw this body and the adventurers are off to investigate. Just a little over a block away they come across the body of a middle-aged human male, slain very recently. His vest and shirt torn open to reveal a ghastly carving in his flesh. Korlund and Marvolo agree that it appears to be similar to the symbol for Vecna’s cult, but it is not exact so they cannot be certain. An alarm is raised as there is a murderer or murderers loose in Crossford.

Hothwyn had found a comfy perch in a large oak on the edge of town to make his bed in. This is where he was when he was awakened by the sounds of steel ringing on steel and shouts muffled as they give way to a sickening gurgling. He hastens to the sounds and finds himself standing at the west gate of the town, doors swung wide open, with two dead town guards at his feet, watching five cloaked and hooded figures ride fast and hard away from town. Hearing the alarm raised and calls of “murder!” fill the night, he makes his way towards the location of his companions.

Once rejoined the party begins a frenzy of discussion, relaying what has transpired as the streets fill with curious and concerned citizens, as well as furious guards demanding answers. During this time of explanation there are suddenly more screams emanating from elsewhere in town. As the crowd silences to better determine their location, more terrified screams come from other directions. As the guards began to split into groups and head off into various directions, the party runs towards the latest shout they heard. They are lead only a few blocks away as a constant stream of pleas for help are made. Arriving at a coppersmith’s shop they realize the howls of terror are coming from the upstairs dwelling. Baiard makes quick work of the door and they begin to ascend the stairs. Upon arriving they are greeted with a most gruesome sight: one of the “dead” adventurers they brought back for burial is standing over a woman and preparing to strike her. Acting quickly the party attacks the ghoul and manages to destroy it before it can harm the woman. However they quickly discover that it was too late to save her husband, whose ravaged corpse is also in the room.

The hysterical woman seemed to gravitate towards Tulin for some reason, and would not release her hold on her. The bladesinger instructed her companions to go on without her and thus the adventurers ran back out into the night to confront whatever else was roaming about. In almost no time they encounter more people being attacked by what appear to be more ghouls. After a few more such encounters, a couple involving skeletons as well, the chaos seems relentless when the party happens upon a row of burning homes. From one of the houses screams of terror emanate and Baiard is the first to charge in. Rushing towards the back of the house and dodging flames as he does, the dwarf warrior soon finds himself face-to-face with the ghastly sight: the undead form of Gedric Valis has someone cornered. Still clad in his scorched armor, graying flesh torn from his fingers to reveal needle-like bones, the creature that was once Gedric grasps Baiard and at once the battle-rager is stricken with a supernatural paralysis that he cannot resist. At this moment others from the party enter the house just as “Gedric” is moving to finish the dwarf. In the ensuing fight Marla manages to sneak around to the rear of the house and coax the terrified woman that “Gedric” was preparing to feast on out a window. After destroying the undead thing, the party retrieves Baiard and exits the home that is quickly becoming an inferno.

As minutes pass the dwarf slowly regains control of his body and appears unhurt from his ordeal. The night seems much more calm, as if the horrors that have terrorized Crossford this night have been subdued. Then quite suddenly more screams tear into the night. Rushing to offer aid the party finds that the newly dead are also rising up to inflict bloody harm on the living. The adventurers move immediately to destroy this new menace.

As Tulin is helping her rescued victim leave the bloody carnage of her home, the elf too becomes privy to this new threat as the torn body of the man in the house slowly animates and lunges at the pair of women. Combining her magic and swordcraft the elf dispatches the abomination and hastens to find her companions. Reunited the party moves methodically through the town, instructing citizens and offering assistance, both martial and mundane, when needed. As the night begins to buzz with a different kind of activity, the wails of grieving new widows, the shouted orders of guardsmen and community elders, the party starts to make its way back to The Aleing Halfling for a hard drink and a soft bed…

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The Plot Thickens...
"Of plans made & unmade."

The party awakens in The Aleing Halfling in the aftermath of the undead attack. The small community of Crossford has been shaken by the gruesome horrors they witnessed. The group gathers in the inn’s common room to break their evening fast and to discuss future plans.

As the discussion continues the dwarven brothers Baiard and Brogate make it known they intend to head towards Greyhawk City. This divides the party along two lines: those who also wish to leave Crossford and those who wish to remain and help out. Maraxus, feeling indebted to the widow Valis for gifting him her family’s blade, wishes to stay and help as does his traveling companion Korlund. Django, still having yet to answer the question of his family’s attack also is hesitant to leave the area; as is the wizard Marvolo, who journeyed to Crossford for his own, undisclosed, reasons. Both the druid Galascaron and the ranger Hothwyn wish to investigate the mysterious twig blights and the dark druid’s grove they destroyed earlier. This leaves the Broadstone brothers, Sitdun, Marla, and Tulindranadel as the faction wishing to travel north. The two groups share a last drink and part on good terms, wishing that their paths should cross again.

As the first group goes about discussing how they can help out the citizens of Crossford, the second leaves to go provision themselves for the trip to Greyhawk City. While walking through the town to the various shops they need to visit Brogate is struck by the viciousness of the previous night’s attacks and despite his brother’s protests, the cleric goes to visit with Lord Mayor Rathgate. When he arrives he is told that the mayor is himself indisposed as he is visiting with the families of those who lost loved ones during the previous night. Brogate remembers the first victim he saw slain the night before and inquires about his name. He is told the man was Auroc Hemsted, a merchant who owned a shipping business and a warehouse near the docks, with his family’s home adjacent to it. The cleric decides visit the Hemsted widow and pay his respects. He arrives and speaks with the lady, mentioning the fact that his murder seemed to be premeditated due to the symbol of Vecna carved into his flesh. The dwarf asks if he may be permitted to peruse the warehouse for anything suspicious but the widow balks at the idea. After some gentle persuasion she relents, saying that Brogate may return after noon when she will have one of the workers accompany him. He thanks the lady and hastily returns to The Aleing Halfling to acquire his companions. However when he arrives he finds that Baiard has engaged Marla and Sitdun in a drinking contest. Agitated, he takes Marla aside and attempts to sober her up while explaining the gravity of the situation. After a short time the dwarven priest departs with the lady thief in tow back to the Hemsted warehouse. They are greeted and allowed entry while their escort looks on. The warehouse’s main chamber holds nothing out of the ordinary, but it is when the pair enters the office that a discovery is made: some papers that Auroc Hemsted has about mentions a “they” that has contacted him regarding the white apples that appear in Crossford every Growfest. The tone of these notes grows ever fearful until they simply stop. Remembering that Tulindranadel took a few of the white apples from the dark druid’s tree, Brogate rushes back to find his companion. Finding the elf buying provisions they discuss these revelations and agree to ask the mayor about them. Finding the mayor available after supper, he is quite forthcoming regarding the mysterious white apples. He explains that every year, just before Growfest, a few bushels of the fruit simply show up in town and have done so for the past seven years. The first year this happened, everyone thought it was some prank or perhaps an ill omen, but once the fruit was carefully tested it was found to be delicious and quite harmless. In fact the opposite, as those who consumed the fruit were reported to experience a boost in their vitality. Thus when the apples arrived the following year a frenzy arose among everyone wishing to claim them as their own. The town leaders decided that from then on the white apples would auctioned off in lots, with the money going to the town’s coffers. This proved wildly successful as people jockeyed to win as many as they could afford, as possessing them became a status symbol among the citizenry, and they could be resold at an exorbitant markup. The mayor goes on to explain that this year no apples showed up, and he feared that someone had managed to find them and hoard them before they could be auctioned. However the recent troubles with the goblins and undead have led many to temporarily forget the odd fruit this season. The party shows the mayor their four apples and explains where they came from. Mayor Rathgate is taken aback and horrified by the news. He is concerned that the fruit is actually cursed, and shares his worries that similar trees could have taken root, as many who bought the fruit over the years attempted to plant it in hopes of growing their own supply. The group expresses their concerns over this as well and promises to investigate further. Mayor Rathgate thanks them for their help and promises his aid.

As the day begins to give way to night the party who wished to travel to Greyhawk City secures their rooms in The Aleing Halfling for a few more nights and prepares to renew their investigations the next day.

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Like a Thief in the Night
"The case for sleeping with one eye open"

Awaking in their rooms in The Aleing Halfling the party arises to break their fast and then continue their search for the mysterious riders that attacked Crossford just two nights ago.

Brogate, Sitdun, and Tulindranadel enter the inn’s common room to find Baiard and Marla engaged in drinking games, something their compatriots have been doing for quite some time given their inebriated state. Visibly upset, Brogate decides to leave the pair behind as the rest renew their investigation. On their way out of the inn they encounter Hothwyn and Theonascence; the pair having taken to spending time together as their common interests have helped them bond easily. The elven rangers accompany the trio on their search for the murderers.

Resuming their westward search, the group exits Crossford and heads for the outlying farmsteads. Tracking is very difficult for the young rangers, as the North Route is a highly traveled road. The group instead opts to ask the various farmers if they saw or heard the riders passing through during their escape from Crossford a couple of nights ago. As each family in turn says that they have not heard anything the party grows disheartened. As they very nearly convinced that they have chosen the wrong path of inquiry they receive a glimmer of hope: one family did hear some riders pass through that night, moving very fast and heading southwest. Emboldened, the party continues onward until darkness begins to settle. One farmer is willing to allow the party to sleep in his common room for the night. The group agrees that their quarry has too great a head-start and resolves to return to Crossford in the morning to procure horses.

The adventurers arise, break their fast, thank their hosts for their hospitality (leaving them a few gold pieces for their trouble), and head back to town. Once they arrive, they head to the nearest stable and begin haggling. Realizing that the prices may be more than they can readily afford the group returns to The Aleing Halfling to seek a loan from some of their companions. In their continued drunkenness, Baiard and Marla put up little resistance as their are persuaded to part with their coin. Returning to the livery stable with new coin in hand they have enough to purchase four horses with saddles and tack for each.

By this time the hour is late and the party decides to retire early and start their search early the next morning. Upon returning to the inn they see that Baiard has a new drinking companion, a comely dwarf lass who introduces herself as Deree Earthfoot. They all commence to drinking and swapping tales into the late hours of the evening, finally retiring when they must. All is well and quiet until Tulindranadel is awoken in her room by a noise. Groggy from drink and lack of sleep, she nevertheless spots a small figure in her room riffling through her backpack. Tulin reaches for her blade while shouting an alarm and the intruder dashes for the door. The others are awakened by the commotion and a chase quickly ensues.

The unknown figure quickly exits the common room of the inn and flees into the street, party in tow. Tulin manages to cast a magic missile that strikes the thief, forcing a masculine voice to cry out in pain. He darts into an alley and begins scrambling up a building. The elven warrior in frustration throws her longsword at her quarry and manages to nick him as he clamors over the ledge onto the rooftop. Sitdun and Theonascence give pursuit up the wall while Hothwyn attempts to follow the pursuit along the street. Sitdun takes a dangerous fall into a courtyard and Theonascence stops to aid him. Hothwyn hears the thief exit the rooftops and enter the street but is unable to see him. The elf’s keen senses do manage to make out something amiss in the darkness down the street and surmises their target has employed magical darkness to cover himself. Hothwyn gives pursuit but the lead the thief had was too great, and the young ranger’s tracking abilities are not as refined in more urban environs. Returning to his companions they all return to the inn to discuss the events and formulate a plan of action. Tulin finds her discarded backpack on the street and retrieves it. As the party makes it way into the inn she discovers that the only items that appear to be missing are the bone white apples taken from the dark druid’s grove.

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