The Realm of Eärwa

Behind Enemy Lines
and in trouble... as always

With the foes slain and the loot divided, the adventurers needed to deal with the problem of Rut Rutter, formerly known as Todd. The man was once Quinn’s best friend and he was torn between past and present loyalties. Todd had freed Quinn and through that act had most likely saved the lives of the entire party, but he had also promptly turned and knocked E’mryk out. After a small amount of deliberation, Rut was given two options: be released into the world with no armor or weapons, or to join the companions in their quest against the Empire. After assurances of goodwill, Rut agreed to join the party. He then warned them that Malus would be sending a clean up Quad to the area and it would be best that the party left with all due haste. They set the Ruined Fortress ablaze and set out into the cold gray rain. After a few hours of travelling, Quinn found a shelter that overlooked a large portion of the land. The adventurers set up camp and established watch. Quinn took the first, uneventful watch in which the only entertainment was strange noises in the woods and a very, very distant giant patrolling Northport. When the time came he awoke Enoch, who experienced the same uneventful watch. After Enoch came Zay, and lastly E’mryk. Throughout the entire night, the only interesting occurrence was the rapid departure of the giant from Northport.

The next day, the adventurers left in search of Eastport. After deliberating about the best course of action, they decided to avoid the city if possible, and instead to search along the shore for a vessel to take them to the other side of the Sea. Upon arrival at the shore, the adventurers successfully flagged down and old fisherman and requested a ride to another, larger vessel. After a good deal of convincing, mostly with the glint of gold, the man agreed to row them to the ship. As they neared the ship, Quinn and Enoch hailed the captain. As the adventurers bartered for their passage, the old man from the fishing boat realized that he recognized one of the members of the group. “I do believe that you have a quite familiar face sir” He said to Quinn. “What do you mean” the ranger responded. “Why, you’re Quinn…” the old man was cut off by the cold blade pressed against his back. Enoch slipped him some more gold as he warned him to stay quiet.

After the adventurers boarded the ship and a price and destination were agreed upon, several of the party decided to rest on the journey. As they slept , the crew rowed them towards their destination: a fishing village called <insert name="true">. One of the crew noticed that the sleeping Ranger’s cloak had slipped, and that the armor of an Imperial soldier was visible. When Quinn woke up, he realized his error, and decided to solve the problem. He walked to the boy and slipped him a handful of gold, warning him to be quiet. Upon arrival at the Imperial port, the adventurers immediately assumed their pre-decided false identities. Zay was posing as a private contractor used to infiltrate unfriendly cities while the rest were posing as the now destroyed 6th Quad. They stepped onto the dock and were immediately assailed by a worker demanding their papers. E’mryk, pretending (or was he) to be a belligerent officer refused this, while the rest did as they were asked. After a brief standoff, E’mryk consented to have his papers examined, and the party pressed forward. Rut subtly guided them toward the Dockmaster’s booth, at which they were again demanded to show papers, and also questioned. The group all responded with the appropriate lies, and claimed their work to be highly confidential. During this conversation, Quinn noticed that guards were starting to line the balconies up ahead, and he warned his friends, telling them to undo their peace bonded weapons. The Dockmaster dismissed the group by informing them that the Commanding Officer wanted to speak with them. As they moved in to the courtyard, the aforementioned officer met them. “It has been a long time since we had the pleasure of entertaining a Quad! Please, come join me in the command tent!” he said as he reached for the hands of the group. As he shook Quinn’s hand, he scanned his face, a glimmer of recognition visible to the Ranger. He then turned and led the way into the main garrison. As they entered, The entire party simultaneously noticed a large, publicly displayed wanted poster with a caricature of a frighteningly familiar Ranger. Quinn felt his blood turn to ice as he realized his days, and crimes committed, as a highwayman were coming back to haunt him. Wanted.jpg

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The Black Gauntleted Hand

Loot
All of the Quad members have:
Signet ring of Quad of the 6th rank, and papers of his station.

Rut Rutter the Barbarian
+1 Battleaxe
+2 Leather Armor
Equipment: Backpack, bearskin cloak, bedroll, drum, greatsword, handaxes (2), healer’s kit, javelins (3), mess kit, potion of healing (2), pouch, stone of good luck, tinderbox, torches (5), traveler’s clothing, waterskin, money (10 gp, 4 pp)
Stone of Good Luck: Wondrous item, uncommon (attuned) While this bloodstone disk is on your person, you gain a +1 bonus to ability checks and saving throws (not included on your sheet).
Rut considers it to be a token of the god of War.

Lander Marsk the Fighter
+1 Longsword
+1 Shield
+1 Pike
+2 half plate armor
Equipment: Longsword, pike, javelin (5), half plate armor, shield, dungeoneer’s pack, potion of healing, money (33 gp, 5 sp)

Raladius Mithrali the Warlock
Equipment: +2 robes of the Imperial Mage, two daggers, herbalism kit, explorer’s pack, potion of healing (5), alchemist’s fire (5), Book of Shadows, club, money (75 gp)

Valas Argith the Drow Rogue
+1 Shortsword
+1 Dagger
+2 Studded Leather
Equipment: Hand Crossbow, quiver 20 bolts, dungeoneer’s pack, thieves’ tools, disguise kit, poisoner’s kit, signet ring of minor drow noble
Helm of Telepathy: Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement) While wearing this helm, you can use an action to cast the detect thoughts spell save DC 13) from it. As long as you maintain concentration on the spell, you can use bonus action to send a telepathic message to a creature you are focused on. It can reply—using a bonus action to do so—while your focus on it continues. While focusing on a creature with detect thoughts, you can use an action to cast the suggestion spell (save DC 13) from the helm on that creature. Once used, the suggestion property can’t be used again until the next dawn.

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Fireside Chats
Dredging up the painful past...

E’mryk sat staring into the fire. His hands sat in his lap and the silence was deafening. Normally he would attempt to engage in conversation or discuss something he’d read recently, but tonight was different. For some reason the last few days had deeply disturbed him, jarring loose memories of his childhood he’d thought lost to time. Yet here they were. Coming back into focus with a clarity that both stunned and overwhelmed. Perhaps the Bleakstorm had more of an effect than he’d realized.
His mother’s face haunted him.
Everyone seemed more subdued, lost in thoughts. Each appeared to be on the verge of speaking…
heroes.jpg

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Marking the Passage of Time
Clockwork Revalations

After resting the night, the elves and the gnome, standing amidst the statues of divinity, both crumbled and whole, began deciphering The Wisdom of Al’yxonn mounted to the wall of the temple. When they had completed the words, the floor opened beneath the party and plunged them into a sub-basement chamber leaving them battered and bruised.
After passing through several rooms with clockwork apparatuses, the team came upon a hallway that looked strangely translucent. Quinn shot an arrow the length of the 90’ hall and it stopped in mid-air, hanging above the floor where it halted its flight. Then it began moving toward them at a slow, but steady pace. The team rained arrows and a fireball at the moving goo and eventually the thing collapsed before reaching the interlopers.
Beyond the blob a portcullis with a dozen locks on its face blocked their path. Zay studied them and realized one of them looked somewhat familiar in design. She managed to pick the lock and the bars slid into the ceiling. clockworks.jpg
The next room had a clockwork mechanism in the floor and levers protruded from various points in the round room. A plaque hung from one wall with an inscription in an old dialect of high elven.
Levers were moved according to the mysterious riddle-like inscription and a hidden set of double doors opened in a wall beside them. skeleton.jpg
A hallway continued away and ended in double doors opening onto another round room at the end. Skeletons in armor moved into a protective positioning within and prevented the team’s advance. A battle ensued and the bony defenders were defeated, but not after causing more damage to the group.
Enoch decided he liked the shields and took one as his own as they moved back to the main round room. More levers were moved and other doors opened. Down into the basement of the basement the team went. A ghostly vision of an elf in deep thought hovered above the floor at the bottom of the spiral staircase. Conversing with the friendly apparition revealed that Mallus and the elven king’s bodyguard were brothers and grandsons of the spectral elf. Two toys were given into the care of Irin d’ orin to give to the grandsons. Ghost_Elf.jpg

It appears that Lucan left a writing on the wall, a long write-up in ancient high Elven: The world has fallen, it has fallen into chaos. Once beautiful, it is now consumed with darkness. Mankind fought, and fought, then they turned to their deities when they could not come to an accord. The Convocation tried, we tried to bring peace, we tried to unite the kingdoms. The generals gather their armies, and the final battle has been fought on the Loyal fields. There was no place for court intrigue and backstabbing, those acts of the play had already been offered. Now, only bodies of fire and ash are left. Death and destruction is what mankind wanted, and the god have given it to them. Fate has chosen for us, for the deities in their divine wisdom played their hands much like mortal wisdom. The fates have taken us in their hands, and like ashes have flung our futures to the wind. The armies have been disemboweled and torn asunder, Earwa and Aynemere alike have been brought to their knees and beyond. Our gods have departed, hope for mankind has fled, insanity reigns… Maybe the fate has decreed that mankind must burn in the fires of the abyss and feel the loss of their deities to understand what they once had. One day, one day, a light in darkness will call to good folk to usher forth a beacon in the darkness, a light so powerful even darkness cannot extinguish it. Allyxann have mercy on us, for we are lost….
Irin’ d’orin a’ halen a’ mor’alhnel…

Layout of the Tombs Catacombs_layout.jpg
Here are the names on them:
Once Prime Chaplain Mythicar Ilthayne and founding member of the Synod
Once Justicar Warden Asmundr Kasrin and founding member of the Synod
Once Prime Envoy Arondel Dawnbringer and founding member of the Synod
Once Commandant and Prime Envoy Aidia Talonlaw
Once Commandant, Prime Chaplain, Justicar Keld Verglas
Once Prime Envoy and Justicar Alexandros Korviniat
Once Justicar and Prime Warden Matthias Darkmire
First Master Articifer Karn Mildon and founding member of the Synod
First Prime Steward Torlin Alfheim and founding member of the Synod

The team rigged some ropes to pulley themselves back up and out of the basement of the temple planning to return with the news. As E’mryk was reaching the top, he reached up to make purchase at the lip and a black gauntleted hand reach down grabbing it.

Until next week…

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Ruined Fortress of Vannte
Connecting with the past

Zay laid within the crate, as motionless as possible, steadying her breathing in the cramped space. She felt it rock from side to side as it was carried forward, she felt it being set down. It was almost time! It was then a flash of light so bright accompanied by a crack of electricity was heard right outside of the crate, and she could only imagine the pain involved. ogre.jpg The lightning arced from the walls and you could almost hear mad Dwarven laughter as the dwarves lit up the ogres and barbarians in the courtyard.

hillgiant.jpgStorn Backbreaker’s back arced and his bodied convulsed violently and a second wave of lighting was launched into them. His gaze lockedl on E’mryk as he stalked toward the source of his pain, both fire and lightning, climbing over the buildings to reach him, but E’mryk had other plans. Storn climbed the building, E’mryk took the opportunity splatter the giant with thick green-tinged webbing and spider-climbed down the side wall, landing on the ancient cobbles and slinked around the building while the legendary hill giant thought he fled. Oak and Rowen took the signal to also slip away, making their way to the temple as the Dwarves’ shouted “Get to the temple, we got this!”

Enoch and Quinn broke through the wall. They heard the Dwarves shouting down to them to circle around and make their way to the temple, guiding their spectral mounts out and around to make their way to the front of the temple.

Zay slowly lifted the lid of the crate and peered out to take in the scene. She realized she was not in the temple, but rather in the courtyard out front. In the dusk light she began making her way up the wide stairs leading up into the temple. Hearing voices, she cut to the left and began moving from crate to crate. Within she spotted two barbarians of the Cloven Hoof tribe who sorted barrels and crates. Creeping up and around, she jumped out and took the opportunity to unleash an assault on a lone barbarian as the other had moved around behind the crates. Zay_action.jpg

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Getting there
Showing up is half the battle

The companions of Irin d’ orin departed early the following morning on the summoned steeds gifted them by the elves. Capable of greater speeds and possessing endurance beyond that of normal mounts, the six made good time toward the Loy Valley. They skirted the northern edge of the farming communities to avoid detection by the Legions who now occupied the territory. Unfortunately, this also meant they were also introduced to the maelstroms of the Bleakstorms, known for its chaotic and unpredictable magical storms.
Just as the six made their way around the northernmost tip of the Sea of Cerish, an unusual popping and cracking could be heard in the distance. Not having been here before, no one had any idea what they would soon face. The noises grew rapidly closer and the wind began to stir. Before anyone could react the maelstrom was upon them. Illusory rocks whirled past them. Most just passed through without physically harming the team, but others were solid and pelted with unexpected force. The wind became increasingly fierce and ghostly faces began to appear in the midst of the churning mess. Several of the companions were upended landing under their mounts. Unable to see each other within the chaos, E’mryk yelled as loud as his little lungs would allow, “ride as fast as you can. Get out of the storm!”maelstrom.jpg
Emerging at different points, but luckily all on the eastern side of the storm, five of the six made it free. Oak hadn’t come out. Fearing the worst, Rowan kicked his mount forcing the magical beast against its instincts to re-enter the magical moshpit while the remaining four began yelling. The elven twins followed the sounds of the others’ voices to defeat the disorienting effects of the maelstrom and soon rode out, battered and somewhat slumped in their saddles, to rejoin the other four.
A breathless moment passed with a collective sigh of relief and the six rode off, putting some distance between themselves and the storm.
Deciding that the mountains would provide better cover, the team dismissed the magical horses and walked into the foothills for both cover and a better vantage to watch and plan.
While the six exchanged the spyglass and whispered tactics, a unusual sound came from behind. The noise started low and quickly rose in pitch before fading. These preceded a gruff voice that said, “What’s this? What’re ye about?”
The team turned and beheld a gnarled dwarf with goggles on his head, a long metal rod on his back and a long scar that ran over his right eye. His white beard had metal braided into it that bounced and jiggled as he twitched standing there confidently awaiting an answer.
“We six are here to sack the fort down below.” Enoch stated without missing a beat.
A line of dwarves in leather armor stepped from the rocks to stand beside their leader. Each carried a crossbow-like device with a metal tube mounted where the bolt would have been.
Mirth shook the crazy looking dwarf for a second before he questioned them about the logic of the six of them taking on a barbarian war party, an octet of ogres and a giant of some renown. When the team answered in the affirmative, he replied that the team would need help to pull off such a crazy idea.
Somewhere in the midst of the brief conversation, the companions had mentioned elves returning to the Deadwood. This raised the dwarf’s bushy eyebrows and he stopped the conversation in mid-sentence.
“Now I know ye’re mad. There ain’t been elves in the Deadwood for centuries. I was a’mind to throw in with ye before I thought ye were out o’ yer mind.”
The team could see that he wanted to help them, but he wouldn’t risk his troops without knowing the sanity of the odd collection of people before him..
Enoch continued, “The elves have returned. King Tordynnar has asked us to stop the supplies that fuel the empirical armies rampaging through the region. We intend to make it so.”
About to leave, the crestfallen old dwarf offered one last option, “If ye can show me proof them elves have returned we’ll throw our lot in with yers and goose ol’ Storn Backbreaker like he ain’t never had a’fore.”
Oak lowered his hood, his elven heritage plain in his sharp features, “I am ”/characters/oak-and-rowen-tordynnar" class=“wiki-content-link”>Oak Tordynnar, son of King Athtar Nindrol Tordynnar, King of the Thousand Leaves. He speaks truth."
The shocked dwarf simply said, “So, let’s kill us some giant, eh?” His fellow dwarves grinned in anticipation.

The sun was setting as each group of the strike team moved into place, the Dwarven Rangers moved up to the North and South walls while Zay deftly crept into place and opened the crate to climb in and hide, Quinn and Enoch made their way quietly into position to fire upon the Barbarians and Ogres, finally E’mryk and the two Elves silently (and slowly) moved their way and climbed onto the rooftops in the southern part of the Vannte. They waited, and then realized ‘how in the world am I ever supposed to know when to start…’

That is when the arrow flew, Quinn firing upon the Barbarians and Ogres relaxing around a fire in front of the Temple, quickly followed by Enoch. Then the battle ensued, as E’mryk heard the sound of a Hill Giant turning at the noise. Storn Backbreaker had been relieving himself on the Eastern wall when the ruckus started. Turning, he began making his way to the center of the fortress. Enoch and Quinn were able to get a second volley off before the Barbarians and Ogres were upon them, as a spectral figure of a bear manifested in their midst. Enoch and Quinn took the brunt of several attacks, as the bear materialized, they quickly called their mounts and jumped on riding quickly away as the horde laid into the spectral bear. Upon Storn reaching his largest group of forces, the sounds of Thunder-tubes could be heard powering up before unleashing six lightning blasts onto the group. The searing light and raw electricity was truly awe-inspiring as it reached its targets and proceeded to chain through all the different targets as a bright light flashed in the center of the fortress. This was quickly followed by the blinding light of a green fireball as it exploded on the back of Storn Backbreaker. As Storn shook his head, and gathered his wits, he realized exactly where the fireball originated. He turned, locking eyes with E’mryk and began to climb the buildings stalking toward the diminutive little Gnome.
That is where we stopped for the night…

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Back to the Demeter
Irin D'iorn

Scene 1
• The smell of smoke permeates the air, smoke with hints of sweet apple woven in. Have you ever smelled burned apples? Burned apple pie?
• Fresh bodies litter the street, in different states of composure and decomposition.
• You can hear the howling of the wind as it rises and falls.
1st Scene Description: Rent is beheading and removing the weapons from the barbarians, then throwing them in a pile. Dain has provided enough ease to the injured as he can, but the people need rest, good food, and care in order to recover. Jed tears up in seeing the returning heroes, and at the loss of the town folk and others. Refugees from Venton Rock, a town NE at the base of the mountain was known for its coffee and Tin, and Jorg, a town SE at the river Tywanrae known for its freshwater fish (mostly Salmon). Spending the night and starting out first light is the best option, and after getting the fires put out, and bodies gathered up it is almost 11PM. The adventurers have to make a choice to move the refugees to the Tree of Demeter.

Scene 2 – The Tree of Demeter
Scene Description: Before entering the deadwood, they see another light in the NE of the Deadwood light up as another tower (Tree of Aphrodite) is overtaken. The color seems to be returning to the woods as the group slowly, cautiously makes their way into the Deadwood. Along the way, you notice Valandor grab Rianton, and the Elves take a break and step to a big dugout on the side of the road. Looking on, you notice the reverence the Elves are taking and some sort of prayerful motions. Before taking note, they move on and if asked do not wish to speak on it. Moving closer to the tree, you notice a perimeter of heads on pikes (if they inspect them they will see that in this light they look very much like the Goblins, Trolls, and Cyclops heads, but they are man-made).
Scene 2
• As you make your way through the Deadwood, you can actually smell the hint of nature returning. As you get closer to the Demeter, it gets stronger.
• The foliage and trees around you actually are taking on flecks of natural looks once again, the browns and greens that you would expect.
• Every now and again, you think you hear the sing song of a bird on the light wind.
2nd Scene description: As they come upon the Tree, there is a great bonfire. All of the goblins, troll, cyclops have been prepared to be burned. Rianton turns to the companions and asks “please, wait here a moment with the wounded, I must speak with them first”. He and Valandor walk up to the leader and begin explaining something to him, and if you continue watching, you notice another elf, a much older looking Elf step up and seems to emphatically be denying his words. After a couple minutes of discussion/argument, Ural steps away holding his gaze at the group as he moves back and then begins watching the area surrounding the bonfire. Rianton comes back, he is smiling and Valandor approaches the tree “Rowen and Oak, please guide these good gentles into the protection of Demeter. They are to be placed in the outer birth of the wetterleif.” Rowen seems to look haughty as he is given orders, but Oak cheerfully responds and begins encouraging folks to move up to the tree. Rianton then looks to the companions and invites them to join him at the bonfire.
Athtar Nindrol Tordynnar looks old even by Elven standards, on his brow he wears a circlet with what looks to be a majestic bird of prey, the circlet sits on a head full of long, Blondish/Grey hair, and he is wearing a beautifully crafter suit of plate that appears to be gold, with intricate fluting and inlays that look to be lines that end in leaves. (Speaks slowly, enunciating precisely, and drawing out the words as if each word matters.)
The whole time Ural, his bodyguard stares at them with a watchful almost hateful eye. He is wearing Half Plate of exquisite make, but it appears to be blued to a blackened state. He carries a maul, and unusual for an elf, he has a beard. His face appears to have been burned at some point, but it could be age, you’re not sure. If and when he does speak, he speaks in a gravelly voice that makes you think he may have taken a throat wound at some point.
The Elven leader is prepared to give a speech:
On the day the Empire of 1,000 Leaves fell, the sky burned the color of charred blood, and the muddy boots of the Imperator’s Warmakers pounded cadenced thunder across the cobblestoned courtyard of the Aberwyth. It was always a place of beauty and tranquility, a place of solace, and a place of meditation. The grand trees standing majestically above the stone palace, the palace lovingly erected by not just those of Elven hand, but Dwarf, Human, Halfling, Gnome, and even Orcish descent erected it. (as he motions over in the direction of the nation of Romarot) In this hour, it’s an unburied mass grave of innocents. The people littered the streets – some spirits lingering, though many left this Plane, their wounds bled the last of their hope into the gaps between the cobblestones. But today, today it stands as a mausoleum. These creatures, these abominations, their appearance is that of a corruption. Nature gone awry. With this fire, we will return them to their ancestors, for then they may truly choose how their spirit will live on.
At this, the wardens not standing watch over the proceedings move forward and begin reverently putting the bodies into the bonfire. Once they are done, they are introduced to the Elven leader, and his bodyguard. Small talk, and then they invite them into the Demeter. While they move forward they can now see it looks like Elves are laying against the base of the tree, as if holding a loved one. If asked they are Druids, and they are infusing the land with good magic.

Back to the earth and all that. Dark City has fallen, and it is expect that they will attack the Dwarves soon:
- The ruined Fortress of Vannte (at the base of the mountains near the finger of jutting north on the Sea of Cerish at the base of the Great Kavarsus)
- More Towers in the Deadwood
- Undercover operation in Galeoth
Tryse in the Realm of Shrouds will be under attack within a month probably 2 weeks, the barbarians are migrating to battle, hence the barbarians that waylaid Walden, Venton, and Jorg. Quite possibly many other small towns and villages between here and the mountains. They are not all the same tribe, and as they passed they set upon these villages.

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A Discussion in Elvish
making new friends

The leader of the elves, after having set his guards to tracking the barbarians, discussed in elven, and somewhat privately, the situation with Rianton. After a few moments, Rianton cleared his throat and in a firm voice said, “Canton… you have a firm command of magic, but you never did master your own curiosity.”
Out of habit, E’mryk walked into their midst quietly recounting the alpharcane. When he noticed the amused smiles of the two taller folk, he quickly dropped off, but remained in their presence.
The smiling Rianton, continuing in the elven tongue, told his former student, “you five sure kicked the hornet’s nest when you lit up the trees of the Deadwood. Irin’ d’orin a’ halen a’ mor’alhnel…A light in darkness calls to good folk to spread it and the bad to try and snuff it.”

Later in the evening after some rest, the gnome looked to his friends and offered the thoughts he gathered, “We might consider the name Irin’ d’orin, (pronounced ear-in-de-orin). Which, in elven roughly translates to ‘light in darkness’ or ‘lighting darkness’. I thought it fitting considering what we’ve done and what we will continue to do…”

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Walden, the apple of my eye

The adventurers are running, and it feels like they have been running for a lifetime. Whether it has been a couple minutes or a couple of hours who is to tell. When last we left our heroes, E’mryk was shaking Valandor’s hand and introducing himself while everyone else marveled at the wonder (between gasps of breath). The wonder that was… Elves. Everyone took a moment to introduce themselves, Master Rianton Vahhandrehellyn, Protector Valandor Aranvarin, Rangers Trince and Stance (Twins brother/sister), Rangers Oak and Rowen (brother twins of Tordynnar), before Rianton explained they must hurry, Walden is under attack.

As they crested the hill overlooking Walden, they were able to take in the view of the carnage. In the light of the setting sun, they were able to make out that most of the building were alight, some on the East side in full blaze. Based on what they were seeing, a lone figure was fighting off a large group of 20-30 in front of Jed’s house. Valandor and Rianton looked to the party to determine their emotions, and how they would like to proceed. They decided to move in with two groups, E’mryk, Dain, Rianton, and Zay coming around the right side of Jed’s house, while the other group, Enoch, Quinn, would come in around the left. Valandor looked Enoch up and down before asking “Is that armor a symbol of your station?” with a sneer in his voice and speaking in a heavily accented almost alien voice. Enoch answered without skipping a beat “No, this armor came off the last person I killed” explained with such finality it was certain he was not an Imperial soldier. Valandor nodded and then ordered “Oak, Trince, you will go with this man… Enoch, and follow his orders.” A derisive noise could be heard coming from Rowen before he took a deep breath and turned away. Valandor turned a menacing gaze to Rowen speaking more than he might have said verbally. The party cast looks around between concerned and confused before Valandor spoke still staring at Rowen “Stance, Rowen and I will provide a screen of arrows from the hilltop to cover you.” The defenders then made their way into and amongst the burning structures.

The first salvo of the defenders began with the archers firing into the fray, Stance and Rowen missing their mark while Valandor took one of the attackers right in the eye. As the body fell E’mryk and Zay could hear the chanting of Rianton before the shadows surrounding the barbarians seemed to come alive and set upon several and causing them to shriek in horror in pain as they held their heads or attempted to fight off the black shapes assaulting them. E’mryk, Dain and Zay came around the corner to see the sight of a massive weapon of war, a half orc wielding a great maul as she chanted gutterally to herself “Honorable beyond honor. Without compromise. Courageous beyond circumstance. Without compromise. Unprejudiced and just. Without compromise. Loyal unto death, and beyond. Without compromise. Ours is the unseen kingdom, we are its warrior kings. Sundera Compris; Forever without compromise.” as her maul connected with one barbarian’s head sending him careening into the barbarian next to him both heads exploding like melons. She then turned her maul sideways and with a loud roar, she slammed the haft into four at once and shoved them back from her. E’mryk, Dain and Zay moved to the porch of the building where Jed leaned against the door frame, his life blood oozing from a wound in his left shoulder.

Enoch came around the left side of the building, engaging the closest barbarian, as Oak and Stance parted around him like water in a fluid motion, moving in to a flanking position.

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The Deadwood Burned
Well, our area of it did

Quinn awoke in an unknown place, surrounded by unknown people, in an unknown body. The room was a long, midnight black oval, and the walls seemed as if they were closing in on him, suffocating him. He gazed around, and realized that he was in the presence of the Imperator himself. Without knowing why, Quinn knew that he was in the midst of a council meeting. He also knew that he was no longer Quinn. He was Initiate Oakherder, apprentice to Lord Malus, the Convoker. The officials were arguing about the best course of action to take concerning the Elves of 1000 Leaves. They had recently stopped trading with the Empire and sealed off their borders. After much deliberation, Malus arose and spoke to the Imperator. “Imperator, I know that my people will hold true to their word concerning this self-imposed isolation. They would allow me audience, but no amount of persuasion will cause them to change their minds. However, I want you to know that whatever they do, my allegiance lies with you.”
The Imperator leaned forward in his chair, scrutinizing the Convoker. “Your people, they will allow you in, correct?” At the elf’s nod of affirmation, the Imperator arose. “This meeting is adjourned! Everyone except Malus is to leave my presence immediately.”
As the disgruntled people filed out the door, Prime Envoy Frey Morgan approached Initiate Oakherder. “How go your studies Initiate?”
“Malus tends to be a harsh master, and he assigns much work, but I am learning quickly.” Oakherder responded.
“Good, good. It seems as though an acceleration of your studies will be necessary for upcoming events.” said the Envoy. Before Oakherder was able to voice his confusion, Malus burst out of the chamber with a troubled expression on his face. Mentally came the command, “Initiate, prepare the Griffins. We ride in the quarter hour.”
Malus rushed on as the Initiate hurried to obey his orders. After saddling the Griffins, a task of only a few minutes, Oakherder began to daydream. He was snapped out of it moments later by Malus, already in the air, shouting “We ride!”.

Upon arrival at Hallowhall, Malus quietly informed Oakherder to keep the Griffins saddled and ready to go. The sense of urgency in his tone left no room for questions. Only moments later, shouting ensued from inside Hallowhall. Oakherder quickly began shooing away children who came to fawn over the Griffins. As he did so, Malus burst through the large double doors, a body slung over one shoulder. He rushed past the guards and ran towards Malus. Before Oakherder could ask for orders, Malus’s voice came to him through the Convoker’s ring, a mental communications spell. GET READY TO FLEE He shouted. An arrow went through his calf, and then another hit him in the shoulder as he stumbled. PLANT THE PURGATORY ROD AND FLEE!!! Malus screamed mentally. Oakherder gulped. That was an incredibly aggressive maneuver. He steeled himself and grasped the rod in question. Uttering the words of Convocation, he plunged it into the ground. The spell went off, launching a web over a large area and surrounding that area with a ring of fire. Oakherder knew he only had seconds, but he couldn’t leave his master. As he searched for a way to help, Malus screamed once more FLY YOU FOOL! Several more arrows sunk into his body. Oakherder, knowing there was nothing more he could do, mounted and took flight. He made it out of the area of the Purgatory Rod just in time to see a fireball consume everything below him. As he watched, the other griffin flew out of the licking flames with a battered and burned Malus in one talon, and a corpse in the other.

Quinn awoke in a cold sweat. He looked around and realized he was back in the midst of his companions. His sigh of relief was cut short by E’mryk’s voice saying “there are an inordinate amount of figures out there. I think it would be advisable if we left. Now. With all due haste. And then some.” The companions all sprung to their feet and quickly gathered their supplies. They stepped outside the Tree of Artifex and into a nightmare. Black figures were racing through the trees and to one side, creatures were cannibalizing the dead of their own races. As they started away from the door, a figure clad fully in black stepped out of the door from behind them. As this happened, time froze temporarily. The figure pointed at the companions, and the monsters nearby all turned their heads. Quinn froze in his tracks as he saw the figure and whispered “that’s Malus”. At the same time, the companions all heard Gribulp’s squeaky voice yell “RUN”. They obeyed.

The companions rushed down the road, With the Ranger blazing a trail ahead and the rest following behind. The two humans paused occasionally now and then to take wild shots at their pursuit and to allow the shorter members of the party to catch up. Goblins, troll runts, and cyclops poured out of the forest behind them and ran to the sides as well. Arrows zipped all around the company, sometimes injuring the companions and missing vitals by mere inches. Unseen cyclops threw small trees at the companions. One such tree struck another tree, and dropped across the road, separating the smaller humanoids from the humans. Zay and E’mryk both stumbled as they attempted to scale it, but they succeeded more or less with ease. Dain, who was running as fast as his dwarvish legs could take him, had built up momentum similar to that of a charging rhino stumbled and slid headfirst into the log. He also struggled up and tumbled over it, pursuit hot on his heels.

By now, rain was pouring down in buckets. Visibility was low, however, Quinn was still able to make out a roadblock being assembled up ahead a way. Grumbling to himself, he drew his bow and launched an arrow, rapidly followed by another. The goblins and trolls being thrown put their heads down in order to keep them attached. One goblin was too slow and took an arrow through the eye. Quinn took this split second to launch himself over the 6 foot tall dirt burm to his left. Enoch quickly followed. The dwarf, gnome and halfling quickly reached that point and attempted to scale the side while Enoch and Quinn quickly disemboweled the nearby goblins. They turned back to help their much shorter companions, and then took off into the undergrowth. The two humans led the group and quickly realized that everyone else was sliding down the hill they were going down. They attempted to put Zay and E’mryk back onto their feet, but were soon plowed over by the dwarven tank rocketing toward them. At the bottom of the hill, they were all launched into a deep, fast river. Dain, who had been knocked unconscious in the fall, immediately sank like a rock. The rest of the companions were plunged deep underwater, just in time to see an incredible burst of fire on the surface of the water. As the conscious companions resurfaced, they quickly realized they were missing one. Quinn and Zay both pulled out ropes, Quinn diving back in with his and Zay seeking an anchor for hers. E’mryk also dove back in, and cast a spell of light on the Rangers left arm. After several failed attempts at diving, Quinn resurfaced and got out of the river. He handed the rope to Enoch, giving him instructions to pull as hard as he could when he felt three tugs. The ranger then ran upstream and dove again. E’mryk and Zay exited the water as well to offer what assistance they could. Quinn reached the bottom of the river and tied the rope around Dain. After tugging the rope three times, he went to gather Dain’s hammer and shield. Zay attempted to pull, but E’mryk was struck by a different, better idea. He waved his hands, muttered an incantation… and turned into a potted plant. As he did so, Enoch doubled in size. With the strength of a small giant, Enoch ripped Dain out of the water in no time at all. Quinn surfaced quickly after and pulled himself to the shore just in time to see a daisy in a flower pot turn into E’mryk. Not even wanting to ask, he pulled himself out of the water and took stock of the situation. Dain was conscious again, and everyone was alive, so he focused on more immediate concerns, like the dozen or so goblins and trolls moving in to engage them.

Zay and E’mryk both jumped into the water and began swimming while Dain fled and Enoch and Quinn attacked the enemy. E’mryk threw a firebolt as he jumped, and a surge of wild magic doubled him in size as well. After dropping a few of the goblins, the humans began sprinting away. They quickly encountered a group of roughly three times as many goblins as companions. Quinn ran through them, pausing to slice into a few goblins. Enoch tripped over one of the goblins and fell, rolling over several of them and crushing a good number. Quinn turned around and engaged, giving Enoch a chance to stand and they ran on. Zay and E’mryk, still in the water, were forced to duck underneath a branch, and they were thrown over a waterfall. Enoch and Quinn ran full on into Dain’s back and fell over the side of a 15 foot cliff, landing in a heap at the bottom.

A few feet in they crested a rise which brought them into the awe inspiring presence of three massive golden dragons. The dragons growled out a single word as they inhaled, “DOOOOOWWWWWWNN!”
The companions, sensing what was to come, dropped flat on their faces just as the dragons put everything behind them to the torch. The weary company arose to see a group of elves standing before them, with master Rianton Vahhandrehellyn.
“What are you doing here?!” the wizened old wizard asked incredulously. E’mryk, realizing he was in the presence of possibly the last elves on Earwa, walked straight up to the most authoritative one and held his hand out, introducing himself. The Elven leader chuckled as E’mryk shrank back down to size, but grasped the hand in a firm handshake. “We have much to discuss,” he told the companions.

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