Dragonslayer

Session 13 - Korrog, The Red Death

With Baldin now safely with them, Merle, Lamaia, and Era were left to figure out what to do next. Korrog seemed to be the linchpin in the city. Baldin told them that the other orcs feared Korrog. His might is what conquered several tribes, and fear is how he has kept them under his banner. If he were to be removed, the various orc tribes he banded together would no longer have a unifying force keeping them in line. The answer then became clear. They would have to kill the warchief known as The Red Death.

Simply slaying him would do little though. His lieutenants would take his place and issue out orders as if he were still alive. They would need to challenge the warchief, in front of his own brood. Challenge him and win.

Baldin, whose holy symbol he carved into his own willing flesh, offered his apologies. The orcs were sure to mar the symbol upon his capture, and without it, he had no means of channeling Moradin’s divine power. He did, however, have a plan to aid them during their battle with Korrog.. At once, he ventured off to make preparations.

The three companions once again disguised themselves as the slain witch doctor, and headed back to the dwarven keep in the heart of the city. Once there, they found Korrog standing in the doorway to the keep.

“My soldiers found the shaman’s body this morning.” said the warchief, “So, who are you?”

Their ruse discovered, the three companions threw off their disguise, and Merle issued forth a challenge. The orcs erupted in raucous laughter. Korrog strode down the stairs, sneering.

“I accept your challenge!”

With a massive sword in hand, he walked across the span that bridged the gap between the keep and the city. The companions readied themselves. Era drew her blade, which felt more energized in her hand. Lamaia drew the black longsword she had found on the witch doctor, but somehow it had transformed into a thin rapier, which now thrummed with new found power. Merle raised his fists.

Lamaia tapped into her fiendish power again, and plunged Korrog into a globe of inky darkness. The massive orc laughed and charged forth, the darkness moving with him. In an instant, the three were overcome with the same impenetrable shadow. Slash after furious slash found their marks on the companions, his draconic senses unhindered by the blacknes that surrounded him. Lemaia revoked her dark gift, and light returned, but so too did the imposing figure of Korrog.

Merle unleashed blow after punishing blow into the warchief, but the mighty orc returned the punishment in kind. Lamaia struck forth with her blackened blade, but Korrog nearly ended her with a single blow. Era charged forward, Brightfang in hand, and struck Korrog. The wound bit harder than Era could have realized, and the wound began to burn, forcing the warchief to cry out. Brightfang, a sword forged from a shard of the legendary Dragonslayer, had awakened at the taste of draconic blood. Korrog, wide-eyed, stalked towards his new target.

Merle leaped in the way, only to be dealt a vicious blow. Era raised her shield, but she could not fend off the warchief’s powerful attacks. The orc’s gigantic blade found purchase. The air genasi cried out for her companions to get off the bridge. When they were clear, she retrived her flute and blew a single not that clapped like thunder. A shock wave erupted from her, throwing the warchief off the edge of the bridge, into the bottomless void below.

Korrog, the Red Death, was dead.

Astonished orcs looked on in disbelief, completely unaware that Baldin sat behind them from high up on the shoulder of an earth elemental. Some twenty other elementals then made their presence felt. Ocs were crushed and swept aside like playthings. Those that weren’t fled outside, or into deeper parts of the mountain.

The companions were victorious. The city had been retaken. The fiend that had marched his troops on keen was dead, and the three friends were to become legends in their own time.

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Session 12 - Death's Servant

Merle and Lamaia came to in an abandoned shop. Era sat in a corner, having bound and healed their wounds. Many hours had passed since their battle with the witch doctor’s undead thrall, and the three companions were growing concerned that the dwarves they had liberated from the mines may have met their end. A whole day had elapsed since they had destroyed the war horn. By now they had expected to hear the sounds of battle in the streets as liberated dwarven prisoners fought for their home. Instead was only the deafening quiet of a city whose inhabitants were woefully absent.

After composing themselves, they set off toward the center of the city, were Korrog sat upon his taken stone throne. There seemed to have the largest concentration of orcs. Lamaia, more cautious than ever after brush with the witch doctor the day before, decided to scout ahead. Ever so silently she crept through alleys, ducking her head out every so often to take in the landscape and search for sign of life. Some time later, while scanning for potential foes, she felt the odd sensation that she was not alone. Turning about, she found herself face-to-face with the witch doctor’s ominous bone mask.

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A pale, lifeless orc and a broad-shouldered, tusked skeleton shambled from the shadows behind their master. Lamaia thought that this would surely be the end of her when the orcish shaman did something she did not expect; he bade her to join him. He revealed himself to be a follower of Bhall, the God of Murder, and told the tielfling rogue that she had such marvelous potential in the field of taking lives, making her a perfect devotee to his dark lord. For a moment, she considered the notion.

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As she pondered, Merle and Era had caught up to her position, and were surprised to see her there, not engaged in deadly combat with the foe who only yesterday ordered their destruction at the hand of a small horde of the undead.

The witch doctor told her that indoctrination would be easy. All she had to do was murder her friends. Hearing that, Lamaia had made her decision. She drew her blades and lunged at the witch doctor. A fierce battle ensued, but in the end, the three companions were victorious.

As Lamaia searched his body for anything of use, she found a very curious longsword forged of a black steel. Unlike the hellforged weaponry they had been churning out, this was darker. Small specks of white dotted the blade’s surface, like it was a shard of the night sky. She kept it, wondering if it would be of any use later.

With the aged orc and his minions slain, the three contemplated their next move. Surely the disappearance of such a high ranking member of Korrog’s tribe would be noticed. Whatever their next course of action was, they would need to think fast. Era and Lamaia looked over the orc’s body, and the surprising amount of armor he’d had concealed under his robes. With the mask, they could possibly make a convincing disguise. After an hour of cobbling together materials and determining proportions, they had a very convincing witch doctor disguise. With Era and Lamaia’s slender frames beneath the robes (Era in the armor), and Merle lead by a chain, the three made their way toward the heart of the city.

The sight they witnessed when they finally arrived was macabre. The dwarves that had lead the charge to free their kin from their prisons, and what appeared to be every other dwarven prisoner in the orcs keep, had been strung together with chains and rope, then suspended over the chasm that separated the keep from the rest of the city, like a horrifying living rope bridge. The cacophonous groans of agony of hundreds of dwarves filled the area like a choir of the damned. Their captors sneer and laughed as they passed.
Amid the hellish display, the three noticed a familiar-if not bloody-face. Baldin hung from the edge, his hand and leg bound to another dwarf, who was bound to another, and so on. The companions’ disguise seemed to be working. No orc question them, or made eye contact. They hurried to Baldin’s side. Lamaia conjured some of her fiendish power to make her voice sound as deep, dark, and threatening as the actual witch doctor. She demanded, in his voice, that Baldin be cut down and given to her for… experimentation.

The orcs complied, and Baldin was set free, though his kinfolk were sent screaming into the far wall below the keep, slamming into the stone with a sickening crack. While still alive, it looked quite painful for all of them.

It was then that the massive iron doors of the keep swung open, revealing Korrog. “Shaman. To my throne room. Now.”, was all he said before disappearing inside.

The companions turned to head back into the city, Baldin and Merle in tow, when two orcish guards blocked their path. They wanted to know where the witch doctor was going, and why he was not heeding the warchief’s command. Thinking fast, Lamaia issued a veiled threat, which was enough to part the orcs without any further argument.

They returned to the abandoned shop where they had rested after their battle with the witch doctor’s zombies. Once inside, they revealed themselves to Baldin. The cleric breathed a sigh of releif, and told of how he and the other dwarves had managed to rescue their comm rads with little effor, only to find they had walked into a trap. With the ambush sprung, the dwarves had no choice but to fight their way out. Unfortunately they were overwhelmed by Korrog’s forces, and were placed in the dire situation the companions had found them in,

With Baldin rescued, the three pondered their next move.

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Session 11 - Revenge of the Fallen

Exhausted from their run through the city, Merle, Lamaia, and Era attempt to catch their breath as they bask in the shadow of the massive twenty-foot long horn. Some shuffling from above alerts them they are not alone. Striking as fast and as hard as lightning, an unarmed orc decends down, driving his fists into Merle’s head.

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He and Merle traded blows, each a master in their preferred martial arts. With a sickening roundhouse, the orc leaps back atop the horn and then strikes down at Era. A flurry of fists erupt around her, many hitting her shield, but a few make contact. In a surprising display, he turns to Lamaia and unleashes a gout of flame.

Little did the orc know, Lamaia’s fiendish heritage protected her from the flames of the mortal world.

He would soon know the extent of a devil’s wrath however, as Lamaia instinctively called upon the very fires of Hell to sear her enemy. Consumed by the hellish fire, the orc collapsed upon the horn, which was quickly set ablaze. Unfortunately, the horn, now wreathed in fire, was visible to all in the city. The sounds of distant cries and the echoing clamor of armored feet prompted a great deal of anxiety.

What could they do? Where could they go? A rare instance of good fortune smiled upon them in that moment. Bogchamp, the goblin they had freed at the crossroad between Ambleshire and Karakzhar, suddenly appeared, clamoring over the ledge. He bore healing aughts-though he was suspiciously silent on where he got them-and the location of a safe place to hide.

With a quick drink, and the haling magics surging through their bodies, the three followed Bogchamp to across more rooftops, to the edge of a building. He looked down into a blackened void and bid the companions to jump. They were, of course, reluctant to jump off a building into nothingness, but the sound of orcs climbing up to their location was all the encouragement they needed. They jumped, and fell for a long ways before hitting cold water.

They all swam to a nearby shore and pulled themselves up onto dry land, cold but alive. Bogchamp scurried up an embankment to a five-foot wide hole in a stone wall. He informed them that it was an entrance to the sewer system, and that in the few days he had been down there, no orcs patrolled it. As the others made their way up the embankment, they noticed that it was littler with strange, round stones. With some quick investigation, they made a grizzly discovery. They were not stones at all, they were skills, and judging by the beards that still hung to some ragged flesh, they were dwarven. Hundreds of dwarven skeletons lay strewn about the embankment. Strangely, the skulls all had odd runes carved into them. Era tried to decipher them, but could not make heads nor tails of them.

It wasn’t long before the four heard a strange chanting echoing down the ravine. Suddenly, the bones began to shake and leaped into the air, forming bodies, until half a dozen skeletons stood before the companions. They strode forth with grim purpose, a pinprick of red light shone in their empty sockets. While Bogchamp hid, Merle, Lamaia, and Era fought against the undead dwarves until the last one was smashed to bits.

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After a taxing day, they decided to take an extended break, gather their thoughts, and bind their wounds. After a few hours, they trudged on through the sewers, which, to their surprise were immaculately clean. This then reminded them of the dwarves’ warning of gelatinous cubes roaming the sewers, and they proceeded on cautiously. Bogchamp wished them luck, and assured the, he would keep that small section of the sewer safe for them.

After some time, they found themselves at a ladder leading up to a sewer grate. Lamaia climbed up to get a feel for where they were, and if there were any orcs above. What she found was a lone orc in a cloak, hunched and old, leaning over a circle of bodies. He seemed to be occupied, jamming something into one of their skulls. Lamaia slid out of the sewer, quiet as a mouse. As she slowly approached, she heard the orc muttering something incoherent. When she was nearly in striking distance when the dead orcs began to rise. The elderly orc turned to her, his face hidden behind a wooden mask. It was the witch doctor she had seen in Korrog’s throne room.

He began to walk off, when Lamaia struck him. At this, he bid the orc zombies to kill. They obliged, biting and tearing at the tiefling rogue. Merle sprang from the sewer, bypassing Lamaia and pursuing the witch doctor. He landed a solid strike upon the aged orc, who turned and leveled a curse upon the monk before walking away.

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Lamaia’s screams brought Merle back to reality, and he quickly came to her aid, throwing himself into the mass of zombies. They too ripped and tore at the monk, bringing him low as the thief escaped, She and Era fought off what few zombies remained, but not before Lamaia was grievously wounded. Era pulled he unconscious friends to a nearby shop, where she barricaded the doors, and went to work mending their injuries.

If orcs hadn’t been bad enough, now they were rising from the grave, and the foul witch doctor was still out there… somewhere.

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Session 10 - A City of Orcs

Triumphant in their first push to reclaim their home, the dwarves of Karakzhar and the three companions waste no time in arming and armoring themselves for the dangers ahead. A plan is quickly formed by the group. The dwarves will liberate their imprisoned comrades across the city, while Merle, Lamaia, and Era were to be dispatched to destroy a massive war horn that could alert the whole city to the dwarves’ attempts.

Before venturing off from the armory, a dwarf of black beard approached Merle, stating that he looked hauntingly familiar. When asked what clan he belonged to, Merle simply said that he did not know, as he was found on the doorstep of a monastery as an infant.
It was then that the dwarves realized that one of their most powerful weapons was missing; the “Battering Ram”. As they headed off to the outskirts of the city, they wished the three companions much success in their mission, but warned them to steer clear of the battering ram.

The trio set forth, resolved to complete their appointed task, but between them and the horn stood a city full of well equipped orcs. Choosing stealth as opposed to a straight forward offense, they skirted through back-alleys, avoiding main roads. They soon found themselves looking at a peculiar sight. Walking away down a road, was an orc, and following closely behind him, like a pet, was a large, metallic ram that seemed entirely forged from steel.

Lamaia, wanting to get a better look, ventured out, deftly maneuvering behind the great metal monstrosity with all the silence of a gentle spring breeze. With a mighty leap, she vaulted onto the back of the Ram. It did not seem to appreciate her company, as it quickly rared back, throwing the tiefling thief off. Lamaia barely had time to recover before she found herself staring face to face with the bizarre construct.

With their cover blown, the others saw no sense in hiding anymore. They emerged from the shadows. With new enemies to face, the Ram quickly went to work. It charged Merle, pining him to a wall. Lamaia, believing the orc was controlling the metal beast, quickly slew him, and began searching his body for some manner of mechanism. Era went to assist the thief while Merle wrestled with the Ram.

Lamaia discovered three items that could possibly be used to as a control; A plate etched with a rune, a stone statuette, and a ring. While they attempted to discern which item was the mechanism, Merle’s battle with the Ram was turning against him quickly. The dwarf monk soon found himself gored through a shop wall.

Era finally discovered that it was the ring that called to the creature. Slipping it on her finger, she willed the beast to stop attacking. In an instant, it sat in the ruined shop, motionless. The three stood around the contraption, fully understanding why the dwarves had dubbed it the “Battering Ram”. Their relief was short, as the sounds of barking alerted them to the arrival of dire wolf riders. Merle, though wounded, leaped into action to defend his friends. Era, on the other hand, willed the Ram to attack the orcish riders. The construct came to life, and rammed one wolf into the wall of a building across the street, pinning the rider beneath it. An instant later, a green smoke poured from the rams nostrils, turning the attackers into stone. Its task complete, the Ram’s glowing eyes dimmed and it suddenly became inert, Era’s connection with it faded.

Battered, the three left the Ram in the street and found a nearby building that was not occupied. There they rested and regrouped. Era played a song on her flute that seemed to revitalize her companions, and after a time, they ventured back out into the city.

The notes of Era’s song, however, had fallen on other ears. As soon as they emerged from the building, they found themselves face to face with a one-eyed orc and his underlings. They attacked at once, and with surprising power. Era was grievously injured in one strike, while the others found their opposition to be daunting. After a hard-fought battle, they were able to slay the Eye of Gruumsh and his minions.

Era was taken back to the abandoned building, where it was known to be safe. After some time, she awoke, stabilized, her wound bound. With time working against them, they set off toward the horn.

They tread lightly, and did their best not to draw any attention, but one clanking mug undid their efforts, and brought a large group of orcs running toward them. The companions fled, ducking into alleys, and taking to rooftops. They eventually lost their pursuers, and found themselves at their destination. Exhausted, they collapsed next to the horn. Their objective would soon be complete. Little did they know, they were not alone.

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Session 9 – Dark Heart of the Mountain

After alerting a pair of well armored and armed orcs on the pass to the gates of Karakzhar, Era and Lemaia found themselves at the mercy of their new captors. With halberds poised, the orcs lead the two up the pass, while Merle, who had managed to remain undetected, followed close behind, seeking cover behind rocks and pillars. He continued his pursuit until they arrived a hundred foot-long span that lead the the towering stone gates of the dwarven city.

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One of the many crossbow-wielding sentries noticed the nimble dwarf from his perch high on the mountain, and began raining down shots. The girls were roughly forced past the gate. Merle, with few other options, fled back the way he came, vowing he would find a way in to rescue his friends.

Inside, the bard and the thief tried to press as much information as they could out of their savage subjugators, but they seemed to have little interest in talking. That is, until they mentioned that there were from Keen. The pair of orcs quickly took their captives before their warchief, for he would greatly desire hearing about anyone from Keen.

Meanwhile, Merle found himself hunted upon the mountain pass by dire wolf riders. The snarling beasts caught onto his sent and relentlessly perused him. Merle only found refuge upon a narrow ledge hanging over a sheer drop onto jagged rocks below. While the beasts could sniff him out, they could not see pas the boulder pressed to Merle’s back. The riders beckoned the wolves to continue their hunt on the trails below, and off they padded, leaving the monk to his own devices.

Era and Lemaia were lead through a sprawling dwarven city, built within the mountain, but they saw not a single dwarf. Orcs occupied the city, hanging banners bearing the familiar red claw over a blackened field. Their worst fear had been realized; the same orcs who had taken Keen had also taken Karakzhar, their best hope for liberating the small lumber town. After what seemed like a long march, they found themselves being marched into a palace and thrown before a throne, but no dwarven Thane sat here. Instead was the fearsome sight of the orcs’ warchief; Korrog, the Red Death.

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A titanic orc, standing nearly eight feet tall, with shoulders half as broad. His skin did not posses the same pallet of greens and grays as his kin, but instead it was blood red. Scales like ruby adorned his neck, face, and head, and two jagged horns swept from his furrowed brow to the back of his skull, giving him a strangely reptilian appearance. He arose from his throne, bedecked in fine dwarven plate mail, and with a low, rumbling voice, demanded the girls explained themselves.

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Outside Karakzhar, a lone dwarf was contemplating his next move. He had returned to the bridge he’d seen Era and Lamaia cross, but it was flat, wide, and with no cover whatsoever. He would be a sitting duck for the sentries. Then he reasoned, if he could not go over the bridge, he would go under it. Balancing himself precariously upon steep, sloping rocks, he managed to find purchase on the underside of the bridge. Summoning every ounce of strength and fortitude he could muster after years if training his body in the mountain monastery, Merle swung from beam to beam until he had navigated across the hundred-foot span. The sound of the returning wolf riders greeted him, as he peeked from his hiding place. A quick as lightning and as quiet as a shadow, the monk stepped into line behind them, and then, having avoided attention, crept into the city in search of his comrades.

Era and Lamaia, shrinking in the presence of Korrog, quickly told their story as survivors of Keen. Displeased, the warchief sent for his witch doctor. A hunched orc, wearing a strange wood mask soon arrived, with two orcs bearing massive a stone water basin. The shaman shook some bones that had hung on a necklace around his neck, croaked a few intelligible words, and suddenly an image appeared in the water’s reflection. It was not Korrog starring back, but rather the orcish commander that had snatched Fella from Merle’s hand back at the Green Dragon Inn, and set the whole place ablaze. He looked rather surprised to be receiving word from the warchief, but gave a full report on the situation in Keen.

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Korrog asked about survivors, to which the commander assured him that anyone who fought against them were slain, and all others were captured. Displeased, Korrog had Era and Lamaia marched before the basin. The commander’s face became pale as he attempted to explain that their survival was impossible. The warchief had heard enough. He demanded the commander pay tribute in penance for failure, A moment later, the commander produced a dagger, which he plunged into his own eye, cutting it free. The commander held his dangling eye for his warchief to see, followed by the vow, “I will not fail you again, father.”

With that, Korrog dismissed his son, and returned his attention not to Era and Lamaia, but to the two guards that had brought them before him, and chastised them for not stripping enemies of their weapons and belongings before bringing them before their warchief. The two orcs nervously glanced at one another and apologized. Lamaia, seeing an opportunity, hoped her silver tongue would save her. She stated that they had come here in hopes of forming an alliance with the Red Claw orcs and their fearsome leader. Amused, Korrog sat upon the throne, and bid his guards to show their new allies to their quarters. Outside the throne room, Lamaia was beaten into unconsciousness and the two companions were stripped of all belongings, save for the clothes on their back.

They were taken to a dark, dank dungeon and thrown into a cold cell. They soon discovered they were not alone. A host of around a dozen dwarves stepped from the darkness. One gizzled, silver bearded dwarf with a hammer and anvil scarred into his chest introduced himself as Bouldin Shieldforge. He approached, laying a hand upon the unconscious tiefling while touching the symbol upon his chest. After saying a prayer, Lamaia awoke, the swelling in her cheek faded, and the pain of her beating almost entirely gone. They revealed to the girls that they called this city home two months ago, but one night the orcs crept in through the tunnels, from a secret passage, and caught the city guard by surprise. Before they could even take up arms, the orcs had taken the city, and subjugated the population to toil away in the mines below.

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They then revealed that they had a plan to turn the tides on their captors. They managed to send messages to other groups, and coordinated an effort to tunnel their way up, through the mines, into the sewer system. Once there, they planned to retake their armory, then the city. The final stage of the plan, they told Era and Lamaia, would be taking place the next morning. Hopeful, the girls and their new dwarven companions slept and uneasy sleep.

The next day they were startled from their sleep by shouting orcs. Each of the prisoners were shackled around the ankle and lead to an elevator. Once everyone was uncomfortably crammed in, the lift descended into the darkness of the mine. After a short time, they found themselves looking at another group of about a dozen dwarves, also shackled, but they were kneeling. Five burly orcs and a taskmaster eyed the newcomers. They informed Bouldin and the rest that their escape plan had been exposed, and demanded to know who the ringleader was. When no one stepped forward, one of the kneeling dwarves was beheaded, and the taskmaster posed the question again.

Merle had spent the better part of the night avoiding patrols, sticking to back allies, and slinking his way through the maze-like city of Karakzhar. Finally, it seemed, he had happened upon what he was looking for. Two guards stood outside of what looked to be a locked door of iron bars. Throwing caution to the wind, the dwarf sprang into action, taking the fight directly to the orcs. They attempted to hold their own against the monk, but his ki was stronger than the will orcs, and they soon fell to huis stone-like fists. Snatching the keys from one of the slain guards, he unlocked the door, and slipped inside.

Meanwhile, back in the mines, Bouldin stepped forward and stated that he was the mastermind. As the taskmaster approached, Bouldin commanded him to be still, and so he was. Quickly, the dwarf snatched the keys from the taskmaster’s belt, unlocked his shackle, and gave the key to Lamaia. The other orcs attempted to land heavy blows upon the silver-bearded dwarf, but they stopped in mid swing, as if they did not posses the will to follow through.

The thief quickly unlocked herself, and drew one of the orcs’ daggers, slashing violently at him. Era too freed herself, and whistled a note that placed one orc into a deep slumber. Now in disarray, the remaining orcs did the best they could, but between Era and Lamaia’s battle prowess, Bouldin’s healing magic, and the arrival of Merle to the fray, the orcs quickly fell, one after another.

With the captors slain, Merle, Era, Lamaia and the dwarves stripped the bodies of weapons, armor, and anything else that would aid them in their escape. They reentered the lift, returned to the levels above. Any sign of orcss was quickly dealt with by the nearly 20 dwarves and the three companions. They silently stalked their way to the forge-the fastest way to access the city armory-and made a sickening discovery. Orcs were working the bellows and the forges, and burning bright were not the brilliant flames of clean fire, but the wretched green glow of hellfire.

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Bouldin explained that the orcs had been brandishing weapons forged of a black steel, much like the ones the companions witnessed in Keen, and like the one hanging off of Merle’s belt. The process of creating these infernal weapons was called hellforging. The blades were corrupt and carried with them a corrupting touch that tainted any soul it severed and sent it directly to the nine hells. Now it seemed as if the orcs were mass producing these horrifying weapons.

Era moved up ahead, and with a wild gesture, crated a thunderous blast that sent two orcs sailing into the flames, and startled the rest. A moment later though, the orcs ceased to be a major concern. The flames of the furnaces roared and funneled outward, onto the floor, coalescing into a humanoid shape.This Hellfire Elemental swung its blistering fist at Era, who quickly dove out of the way. Merle and Lamaia soon joined the fight, as the towering, living inferno swung its putrid, fiery fists. The dwarves managed to chip away the stone walls of the many cooling vats around the shop, flooding the floor and dousing the creature forever.

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The companions and their dwarven comrades ventured on, easily overcoming the few guards that were stationed at the armory. With the weapons and armor of the city now back in dwarven hands, they could now plan their next move.

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Session 8: Unfamiliar Paths

With Keen in the hands of orcs. The three companions were left to ponder their next step. Would they return to the besieged town and liberate it from the small orc army? Would they seek the help of a nearby town or city, and if so, where?

They decided to consult Era’s map of The Vale. After much deliberation, they decided to venture to the town of Ambleshire to plea for aid. They were cautious about taking the roads, as they may still be heavy with orcs, and instead decided to trek through the foothills of the Blue Shale mountains. Merle led the way, though admitted that he had lost his bearing before regaining it during the second half of the day.

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The three and Lady Niavara, who seemed to be in a silent stupor, made camp for the night. While on watch, Lemaia found herself the victim of an ambush. She awoke Era, who jerked from her slumber with a jolt and a dagger bathed in magical light. It was then that they say their attackers. Five goblins had managed to get the drop on them.

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Lemaia threw herself forward slashing at the most heavily armored goblin with her twin daggers. Era kicked Merle awake who groggily took the scene in. As Era turned back to see how Lemaia was fairing, she saw that the four goblins who had been wielding bows had now drawn wicked looking curved blades. Thinking fast, the bard played a note on her flute that put all five to sleep. Merle gave the air genasi a sidelong glance and asked, “Why’d you even wake me up?”.

The three decided to bind the more armored goblin, as he was no doubt their leader, and dispatched with the left. Finding nothing of value on the others, they decided to question their leader. When he awoke, he realized he was outmatched and in a situation that could easily mean his death, so he complied to the best of his abilities.

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He introduced himself as Bogchamp, a goblin who preyed on the weak to kill and take as many shinies as he could. Thus far he had collected five shinies (Silver pieces), meaning he was probably not a very good bandit.

Era questioned him about the strange winged woman from Keen. Bogchamp recalled seeing someone that fit the description flying through the sky the night before, though due to being woefully ignorant about directions, he could not say for sure where they were heading.

The three talked it over and decided to keep the goblin on retainer until they found the black-winged woman. They even offered to pay him the princely sum of two gold pieces and a copper candy. He asked for the candy up front.

The next morning the companions, Lady Niavara, and Bogchamp the goblin set off into the hills. Again, Merle’s sense of direction was questionable during the first half of the day, but he kept that fact to himself and pressed on. With his bearings regained, they headed due east.

As they day wore on into afternoon, they found themselves overlooking an ancient, fog-shrouded battlefield. Era, ever the inquisitive one, wondered aloud how the fog could be there, as there were no meteorological effects at play that could cause such a fog. The group decided to camp atop a nearby hill.

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The chilly wind whipped over them for most of the night, causing them to shake at winter’s approach. During Lamaia and Merle’s watches, they noticed humanoid shapes moving around in the fog. At first they feared they had been followed, or perhaps they were about to be attacked once again, but it seemed the shapes had no desire to venture past the edge of the fog. Where these ghosts of a war long past?

The next morning, Lemaia and Era decided to investigate the fog more closely. Era took above, while the thief crouched to the ground to get a good look. The ground was littered with the skeletons of dwarves and elves. Anything of real value had either been plundered long ago, or had succumbed to nature, save for one dark green cloak. Lamaia drew it from around the skeleton of a fallen elf, and claimed it as her’s. Era deduced that given the decomposition of other, sturdier gear in the area, the cloak no doubt had some manner of enchantment upon it, though what it could be remained a mystery.

They pressed on through the hills, eventually finding a road around midday. The rest of the day wore on uneventfully. As the sun began to set over the mountains, the group happened upon a wayside in nestled between two hills, charmingly called “The Way Inn”. Relieved to see such a welcomed sight, the group entered the establishment, ate, drank, and enjoyed the comfort of a warm bed for the night.

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The next morning they came down to breakfast. The kindly halfling innkeeper served their food and made some small talk about the emptiness of the inn, and how he expects the crowds returning from Many-Partings to fill it up once again by the end of the night. It was then that the group broke the news of what had befallen Keen.

At first the innkeep thought it was a cruel joke, but when he say the truth in their eyes, he rushed out the front door. Confused, the others followed. They found him outside talking to a few men who were saddling their horses. The innkeep told them of what happened to Keen, and-like the hallfling-they did not believe it at first, but when the others produced a tribal patch and one of the orcs’ sinister black axes, the men were more than convinced. They promised to ride to Ambleshire to warn them and muster as much aid as they could.

With Ambleshire soon to be alerted to the atrocity that befell Keeen, the others were free to travel to the nearby dwarven city of Karakzhar. After resupplying as best they could at the inn, they headed north-east down the road. After a ways, they found themselves standing at a fork, with Karakzhar only a day away to the north. It was there that they offered to release Bogchamp from service, allowing him to travel with them if he chose. The goblin thought about it, and bolted east, far ad away from his former captors.

The companions continued on, finally coming to a small trading village at the base of the mountain of Karakzhar. Despite it being dusk, not a single light shone from any of the windows. They soon discovered that the town was devoid of life and supplies, showing signs of a struggle. They slept in one of the abandoned buildings, keeping a vigil in case whatever caused what happened here decided to return.

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The next morning the companions headed off towards the mountains, traveling up the winding mountain road with as much caution as they could muster, but such rocky paths can be treacherous, and so it was that Era and Lemaia found themselves on the ground, making a great deal of noise. It was then that they heard a sound that made their hearts sink; the sound of two low, rumbling voices speaking orcish.

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Two burly orcs in dwarven armor, wielding black halberds arrived, weapons drawn down upon the bard and the thief, grinning with sadistic glee.

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Session 7: The Fall of Keen

The Many-Partings festival, once a bittersweet farewell to old friends until the spring, had become a nightmare as a trio of orcs, under the guise of Karakzhar dwarves, had unleashed a ferocious owlbear upon the unsuspecting people of Keen. Festival goers ran for their lives as the monstrosity tore through them with its powerful claws. The orcs, likewise, leaped into the crowd, felling people left and right with their cruel, black axes.

Era and Lemaia distracted the owlbear, making it focus on them, while Merle dealt with the orcs. The owlbear was a vicious opponent, raking its dagger like claws across Lemaia and Era both. Lemeaia’s new hound, too, tried to gain the beast’s attention, but instead only invoked its ire. With one swift swipe it ended the poor dog’s life, and moved on to larger prey.

Merle dismantled one orc, and was working on a second, when Era’s spell of sleep caused the brute to fall into unconsciousness. She had intended to knock out the owlbear, but the beast proved too resilient. She then decided on Plan B; swinging her scimitar at it. With a few well placed blows, she slew the monster. Merle was meanwhile trading blows with the remaining orc. The orc was stronger, by Merle was faster. In the end, the dwarf monk was the better warrior, breaking his enemy’s neck with a powerful blow.

The taste of victory was short lived. Screams pierced the night. Smoke billowed in the distance, with the flicker of firelight dancing upon the blackened plume. Fires had been set. It seemed more orcs had found their way in.

Era and Merle rushed to aid the town militia on the eastern gate while Lemaia, with the aid of Rolo Stonehelm, transported a captured orc to the jail to be questioned later. On the gate, several men and women were firing arrows into the distance as a shielded mass of orcs slammed a battering ram into the gates proper. Era raced to the top of the wall and began firing arrows as Merle pressed his back to the door to keep it from swinging open.

Moments later, Era noticed a lone orc sprinting from the treeline carrying only a lit torch. She fired two arrows, hoping to fell the mad orc, but still he ran, leaping towards the wall with the torch held out. As soon as Era realized what was happening she leaped from the wall, but Merle was unaware until the area exploded into bright light, fire, and splintering wood. Then everything went dark.

When Merle came to, he was laying under an overturned cart with a splitting headache. He crawled from beneath, and was soon met by Era and Lemaia. Era explained that after the explosion, a horde of orcs spilled in, killing everyone in sight. From within the heart of town they could hear the sound of people screaming, and the roar of orcish warriors.

Wounded and shaken, the three companions, reunited, cautiously crept deep into town, avoiding rampaging raiders and fighting only when absolutely necessary. After a time, they came upon Lady Niavara, who was cowering at the feet of scarred and brutal orc, even by orc standards. The companions sped into action, dismantling the seemingly unbreakable opponent.

Now with Lady Niavara in tow, they ventured on, coming to the town square. Large cages had been erected, and townsfolk and visitors alike were being herded into them. Overseeing the scene was a tall orc, clad in dwarven armor, a beautiful pale skinned woman with a black, feathered cloak, and a hooded man with a golden mask, riding atop a black horse with flaming hooves and eyes that glowed like the fires of hell. The man in the golden mask surveyed the crowd, pointed at on person, and they were brought forward. To the shock of the companions, it was Ozzy. The man in the golden mask nodded to the woman in the black feathered cloak. The cloak unfolded into magnificent wings. She wrapped a rope around the defenseless gnome and shot off into the sky, flying somewhere north-east.

The three companions were soon discovered by Fella, who ushered them back to the Green Dragon Inn. Once inside she encouraged them to use the tunnels in the cellar, since the orcs knew nothing of them. Fella was prepared to join them when the orc commander from the town square appeared behind them in the entrance to the inn, demanding they surrender. Fella complied for a moment, but then reached behind the bar and threw a vial of Alchemists’ Fire into the orc’s face. Merle grabbed Fella’s hand and made towards the cellar, but she did not budge. The commander, still aflame, held Fella tightly. With a tug he wrenched her from the monk’s grasp and kicked the dwarf down the cellar stairs, sending a lit lantern behind him as a final parting gift.

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With the stairway engulfed in flames, and the inn following too, the three and Lady Niavara reluctantly left Fella behind, and fled down the tunnel. After a time they arrived in the familiar shafts of Dhol Kuldihr. With most of their belongings scorched, and the town of Keen now in the hands of a small army of rampaging orcs, the three were left to ponder…

What happens now?

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Session 6: Werewolves of Loggers' Hollow

Charged by the Mayor of Keen with saving his son, the three companions immediately ventured into the forest of loggers’ hollow in search of wolfsbane. However, with winter fast approaching, it seemed unlikely that any would be found. Still, they had to try.

With limited daylight left, the three split up to cover more ground. After hours of searching, they happened upon a small patch. Merle harvested the plant, but the frigid autumn air had made it delicate, allowing only a small amount to be plucked. They hopped it was going to be enough. With wolfsbane in hand they turned back to down, the sun setting behind them, and storm clouds moving in from the mountains. Rain began to fall as they made their way through the dark forest with only their lanterns and the occasional flash of lightning to light their way.

It was one such flash that revealed the snarling, slathering muzzle of a well-muscled half-man, half-wolf. It bit and slashed at the companions, fighting with all the ferocity of a wild animal. While the three landed blow after punishing blow on the lycanthrope, the wounds they left healed over at a supernatural rate.

As Merle struck the beast with staff and fist, he remembered a book he’d read as a boy in the monastery, a book about the many types of werewolves. A sinking feeling fell over him as he realized that the only thing that could bring harm to the creature was silver. He announced his findings to the others, and Era reacted quickly, casting a spell that forced the wolf-man to double over in a fit of furious laughter.

Quickly the three bound the beast in all the rope they had. The werewolf thrashed and struggled, but could not break its bonds. The trio carried the great creature back to town, leading it through the Many-Partings revelers, who gawked and cheered.

It wasn’t long before they were met by Sheriff Stoke, who inquired why they had captured what appeared to be a live werewolf, and why they decided to parade it through town. They told the sheriff that their intention was to lock it in one of the jail’s holding cells and wait until sunrise, when the beast would return to its human form. Sheriff Stoke reluctantly agreed and soon they were racing towards the jail.

As soon as the three deposited the wolf into his cage, Merle and Era hurried to the Mayor’s home to begin brewing the potion that would (hopefully) cure young Ben Bran, while Lemaia ventured off to locate the final ingredient from the blacksmith; silver powder. Fortunately the smithy had a good handful on hand. The tiefling rushed to the manor, and with the silver powder added, the cure was set to be administered.

The three crept into Ben’s room. Inside his wolfish form struggled against his manacles. Lemaia ordered Merle to close the beast’s jaws once the potion was administered, and that he did, wrestling with the lycanthrope as it bucked wildly. Soon it began to shake and convulse, foam pouring from his mouth. Moments later, the form of a confused and terrified young boy had taken the place of the violent werewolf. The cure had been a success.

The next morning, at sunrise, the three gathered outside the jail, along side a very grateful mayor. They stepped in only to discover that the werewolf that had attacked them was none other than Grym, the woodsman who taught Lemaia how to care for a kobold egg. He revealed that he had gone into the woods in search of wolfsbane to end his miserable existence. He said that he was loosing control of the monster inside, and with each passing day he desired to give into the bloodlust. He plead with the party to finish the job he’d set out to do, and reluctantly they agreed. Merle was sent to the blacksmith in search of a silver weapon. He returned with a single silver-tipped crossbow bolt. When asked if he had any last words, he simply said, “Last words are for people with too much to say.”

With that, Lemaia ended his life. They took Grym’s body to the outskirts of town, and had him burned on a pyre, so that his ashes would return to the forests he loved. The mayor, who had wondered what manner of heartless beast could have attacked his son, could only mourn the woodsman’s passing.

That evening marked the beginning of the Many-Partings festival. The three companions ate, drank, and feasted for days, leading to the much anticipated “Best In Brew” competition. Rolo Stonehelm was beside himself with joy as the honor of the golden tankard was awarded to him and his Stonehelm Stout.

He had begun his acceptance speech when a wagon pulled into view, with a cloaked driver at the helm. The wagon bore the crest of the Amberstien clam. The crowd cheered and parted as the wagon came to a stop in front of the stage.

“Alright, alright. There’s no need for the theatrics, Amberstien! I already won!” Rolo declared, “Iffin’ ye wanted the tankard this year, ye should’ve put that nag on the road early!”

The rider did not move.

“Oh, I haven’t offended ye. Have I?” Rolo mocked.

An instant later, the walls of the wagon fell to the wayside, revealing a pair of burly orcs and a massive cage containing what looked to be the cruel amalgamation of a bear and an owl. The rider then stood, casting aside his cloak. It was a third orc, brandishing a wicked-looking black axe.

The cage door flew open. The owl bear leaped into the screaming crowd. The attack on Keen had begun.

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Session 5: A Town Called Keen

After defeating the dragon, Verolax, and rescuing Gimnar Bronzehammer’s ale, the heroic trio of companions had earned themselves a rest. When they awoke the next morning the town was preparing for the Many-Partings festival, and so they decided to familiarize themselves with this place, and its people.
They resupplied at the local general store, where Merle came into possession of a rare ironwood staff. They visited upon the blacksmith, who gawked at the fine craftsmanship of Era’s new sword. They met Lady Niavara, whose overly-dramatic mannerisms made her very memorable among the three. She offered to read their fortunes that very night, of they were willing.

Era met with her contact in Keen, a bookish little gnome named Ozrifathimous Zorastigallion,-or Ozzy for short-and by proxy his curmudgeon of a brother, Krolminite. Ozzy did the best he could to answer as many of Era’s questions as he could. He detailed a means of sending her earth elemental friend back to the Elemental Plane of Earth. He identified her sword as Brightfang, one of the rare Dragon’s Bane swords forged from the shards of the ultimate weapon against dragon-kind; Dragonslayer. He mentioned that it was serendipity that she should happen upon the blade, as it seems her father had ties to The Sundered Scale; a secretive group of dragon slaying knights thought to be extinct.

They met Father Amberstone, at the Church of St. Erio, who gifted Era with some consecrated grave soil (A material needed in the ritual Ozzy detailed for her), and offered to destroy the unholy symbol of Tiamat that Lamaia had claimed from Ssassra in Dhol Kuldhir.

Merle, in his travels around Keen, was approached by Rolo Stonehelm, a local brewer who desired to use Merle’s recent fame to push his ale before the big Best In Brew competition at Many-Partings. It took 21 solid ales, but he managed to get the dwarf monk completely soused, and in a drunken haze, Merle ventured to The Rusty Saw, a dive of a tavern meant for the local sawmill workers, and gambled his night away. By evening’s end, Merle walked away 60 gold pieces richer.

Lamaia was approached by a halfling named Hobbs, who revealed himself to be the head of the local thieves guild. He offered the tiefling a position high in the guild, and offered to allow her to join him on a big score that night. Later in the evening, after sunset, she met the Hobbs by the well in the town square and followed him to a two-story home. Inside, a girl was combing her hair. That was when Hobbs told Lamaia that the comb was rare, of elven make, and comprised of solid silver. The two waited for the family to fall asleep, and scaled the wall up to the second story window. Hobbs “let” Lemaia gain them entry with a quick flock of her pry bar, and soon the two had slinked into the room. Lemaia grabbed the comb, but when she turned around, she saw that Hobbs was approaching the sleeping girl with a dagger in hand. She quickly grabbed his wrist, whispering, “I didn’t sign on for murder.”

“Murder?” Hobbs said, completely taken aback, “Who said anything about murder? I am just collecting a momento.”

With a flick of his wrist, Hobbs freed a lock of hair that he quickly stuffed into his pocket. Once the two returned to the “Guild Hall” (A little room located in back of the local cobbler’s), Lemaia discovered that the “Thieves Guild” consisted of only two members; Hobbs, and herself. What was worse was that Hobbs had never managed to steal anything before. With that new Information, Lemaia negotiated a new cut, one that saw her walking away with 60% of the comb’s worth.

The three rejoined at Lady Niavara’s for their fortune reading. Each sat while she flipped cards from a tarot deck. All seemed rather benign, until after the reading, when Niavara’s eyes rolled in back of her head, and she spoke in a voice not her own.

“The skied will grow black with smoke as the lands burn to ash. The earth will lurch and quake under the coming of the bringer of dread. So it is written, so shall it come to pass.”

And suddenly, she snapped out of it, as if nothing had come to pass. When the ohers tried to explain what had happened, the alchemist simply waved it off and bid them a good night.

The next day, Era set out to climb the Blue Shale mountain in hopes of retrieving the last material needed for her ritual; peek stone. Lamaia was approached by the town sheriff, Conrad Stoke, who insinuated pretty heavily that she may have been involved with a burglary that happened the nigh previous. She of course denied any involvement and went on her way. She then returned to silver comb to its rightful home and decided that today was a good day to be away from town. She ran to join Era on her journey.

Merle, who was recovering from a mighty powerful hangover, decided to get some air, and began a series of transitional stances and controlled breathing he learned at the monastery. Fella, the Innkeeper’s daughter asked him a few questions about it. In an attempt to impress her, he vowed to split a large rock near the stables that had been an annoying obstruction for years.

On his first attempt to sunder the stone, Merle practically broke his hand. After wounding his fist, and his pride, Merle decided to give it another shot. With all he might, he brought his mighty fist down, and split the stone in two. He looked to see if anyone had seen, but his audience had already departed.

The next day, Merle met Lemaia and Era on their way back to town from collecting the peek stone. Era had been pondering something she had overheard a few days prior. Several people had mentioned that the mayor had been conspicuously absent these past few days. With Many-Partings about to begin, the expected him to at least take part in some of the planning, but he has simply hidden himself away in his manor, turning anyone at the door away.

It was decided that Era, Merle and Lamaia would pay the mayor a visit. Once back to town, they made haste to his home. They were met at the door by a short, tired, haggard-looking man. With some quick wit they managed to talk their way in, saying they were sent by Ozzy. Lamaia excused herself to the washroom and took a look around. She soon discovered a small bedroom with a sleeping child manacled to a four-post bed that had been gouged and cut. She immediately returned to the sitting room and confronted the mayor.

Outraged by the invasion of privacy, the mayor demanded the three leave immediately, which lead to the thief drawing steel on the town’s leader. Era quickly diffused the situation, and offered the help of her and her friends.

The mayor revealed that his son, Ben, had been out playing in the woods after sunset a month prior. That was when a massive, wild dog chased the boy up a tree, nipping him in the processes. Three nights ago, the first night of the full moon, the boy transformed into a voracious half-man, half-wolf. If it had not been for a lucky strike with a silver tea platter, the mayor and his wife would surely have been dead.

The three companions put their heads together and realized it was possible to spare the boy the lifelong curse of lycanthropy. They surmised if they brewed a potion of wolfsbane and silver powder, they could stop the boy from transforming again, but they needed to apply this elixir by the end of the full moon cycle… which was that very evening. The three resolved to help the boy, and off they went to the woods, seeking what wolfsbane remained on the cusp of winter’s approach.

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Session 4: God King of the Kobolds

Having defeated Ssassra, the priestess of Tiamat, the companions settled down for a much deserved rest. After they had prepared themselves, they ventured on, seeking the location of Gimnar’s ale. They continued the way they has explored the day prior, and found themselves standing before a large, iron lift, held aloft with steel chains. Investigation of the strange object would have to wait, as a quartet of kobold guards had discovered them.
Merle launched himself at a pair guardian a large door, while another pair charged at Lemaia and Era. The thief held them at bay, holding aloft Ssassra’s holy symbol. She told them that her intention was to kill the God-King, Verolax, and save them from a life of servitude. Seeing the symbol Ssassra so treasured in the hands of an intruder, and the deceleration that she was here to destroy their leader was more than the guards could stand. They attacked with every fiber of their being,
Merle tested himself against what appeared to be two battle-hardened kobolds, but in the end they were not match for him. He finished them quickly, breaking them beneath his stone-like fists. Meanwhile Era and Lemaia beat back their small attackers, finding what openings they could in their impressive defense. In the end though, the ladies were victorious.

With their assailants dealt with, the trio wondered what was so important behind the door that they needed guards to protect it. With two sets of double doors to choose from, the three went left. What they found was not what they were expecting. A brazer stood in the middle of a hexagonal chamber. Straw was strewn about the area, with eggs nestled together. Tending the eggs were a pair of female kobolds, who, after seeing interlopers, lunged in a frenzy. They wedged one door closed, bottlenecking Era, Merle, and Lemaia. The two kobolds fought like they were possessed, picking apart the companions, but finally, the last of them fell, a tear in her eye.

Era and Lemaia collected an egg each, and torched the rest, closing the door behind them. From there they scooted down narrow hallway, coming to the dust remnants of an old forge, and an old gem cutters, but still the mystery remained; what was behind the other set of double doors?

Curiosity pulled at them, until they found themselves standing outside the tall oak doors. Lemaia cracked the door open ever so slightly. What she saw beyond the door was like another world. The walls were covered with vine of brambles and wicked thorns, which jutted off making walls of their own.. Roots twisted across the floor. A voice rang out from the bizarre chamber.

“Hello” it said, almost growling, ?What sort of thing are you?”

He bid her, and the two in the hallway to come inside. It wasn’t until Lemaia accepted the offer that she saw a pile of gold, copper, and silver coins, with other treasures. Among the items were 10 casks of dwarven ale. What they were searching for, what they had risked their lives for, now stood feet from them.

The voice introduced himself as Verolax. This was the God-King of the kobolds. Still, they could not make him out. He kept moving behind the walls of thorns. Lemaia tried to bargain with him, for the sought-after casks, but this seemed to only enrage Verolax. Realizing he would not easily part with his “treasure” lunged with her rapier, thrusting it into an adjacent wall, but nothing was there. Merle rushed in, following her lead, thrusting his quarterstaff through a break in another thorn wall, likewise meeting with disappointment.

It was then that Verolax made his presence known. A dark claw fell hard upon the stone, and walking from behind a wall stood a dark green dragon, taller than a man. He smiled, and sank his teeth into Merle’s shoulder. The dwarf cried out as the beast’s acidic bite pierced deeply.

To make matters worse, four creatures-the size of halfling and bearing a humanoid shape-emerged from the thorn walls. They were made of twisted brambles, and brought fierce, needle like claws to bare. The strange twig-men attacked Lemaia and Merle with reckless abandon. The thief managed to cut a few down with some artful strokes of her rapier.
Merle fought off the new enemies as best he could, though a few landed piecing blows upon hos legs. Injured, and facing overwhelming odds, he focused his ki, and in a feat of surprising strength, landed a blow upon the dragon that knocked it to the ground. Verolax would not be undone, however. The wyrmling drew a deep breath, and spewed forth a cloud of poison gas. Lemaia was overcome, and fell to the ground. Merle, already near death himself, was only saved by his natural dwarven resistance to poisons, but still succumbed to the dragon’s breath, and fell as well.

The sole remaining twig-man shambled towards the last companion standing; Era. The bard ignored the thing, hurrying to the dragon to strike a final blow. She thrust her rapier towards the chest of the prone wyrmling, but his hide was too thick. He rose up to its full intimidating glory, snapping at Era with his terrible jaws. She shifted away and struck a musical note she had never played before. A deafening clap of thunder erupted through the chamber, reducing the twig-man to splinters, and thrusting the dragon back against the wicked thorn wall.

When the dust settled, Verolax was held tight to the wall, wrapped in his own brambles. He looked at Era, demanding, “What are you?”

She thought about it for a moment, “Pissed that you hurt my friends.” was he only reply. With a quick swipe with her blade, she freed the ‘God-king’s’ head from his body. She quickly went to work, healing her friends, saving them from death’s door.

After a brief rest, the three split up the dragon’s horde between them. Era found herself in possession of a bag that did no grow heavier, no matter what she put in it. After gathering up their newly acquired goods, including the dragon’s head, the trio rolled the casks of ale to the lift, and took it down to the lower levels. From there they rolled it through the mines, to the crack in the wall from which they had emerged.

After several arduous hours in the dark, the three emerged from the wall in the cellar of The Black Stack Inn, all in hand, to find a sleeping Fella waiting for them. She awoke with a start, and looked upon the companions with disbelief.

“We thought ye were dead!” she said, before calling upstairs, “Dad, they’re back!”

“Do the have the ale?” he answered from upstairs.

“Aye!”

There was much celebrating after that. A tale was told to them about the adventurers with the map they had taken such an interest in. They had managed to actually discover the lost dwarven mine of Dhol Kuldhir, but when they entered, they found the place completely plundered, with the body of a dead, headless dragon in one chamber. It slowly dawned on Merle’s face that the mines they had been skulking through for three days was long-lost Dhol Kuldhir.

Gimnar gladly paid the trio 99 gold pieces, and offered them room and board, free of charge whenever they were in town. Furthermore, after receiving Verolax’s head, Ginmar declared that he would be changing the name of the inn from The Black Stag to The Green Dragon.
The three had survived their first adventured, and came out of it not only richer, but as friends.

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