Visions of Glory

The Fog of War
The companions fend off a frost giant assault on Osrik's settlement and seek out Jarl Woden for answers.

Zot, Buferd, Phenwick and Kaan fortified King Osrik’s “fortress” in anticipation of the coming assault. Through the wind and snow they witnessed the approach of the Norse giants, and squad consisting of at least twenty five towering warriors. Beyond them, a massive sled pulled by two polar bears and sporting a deadly ballista was set and readied. As the giants came forward, Phen, in the form of an air elemental, flew above the wall and used his nature magic to enlarge and control the plant life beneath the snow, slowing the momentum of his enemies. Zot, invisible and flying as well, cast a signature spell, conjuring enormous, writhing black tentacles, restraining several giants and further slowing the rest. The giants reached the wall and the onslaught began. Zot rained fire and lightning down upon the intruders, Phen turned the squad’s beasts of burden against them, summoned natural allies to join the fight, and threw serpents of fire at the mass while Buferd called on the power of Torag to heal the wounded and smite the marauders. After a grueling battle, the king was defended, though at a terrible cost.

Following the assault, the companions decided to pay Woden a visit, hoping to come to a diplomatic solution after their show of strength. However, as they set out they came upon a very young frost giant scavenging the battlefield of the previous night. He claimed that the raiding party was a group of refugees and that Woden had gone mad, killing and enslaving his own people. After burying his father, the group sent the young man on his way and took the giants’ magical sled to Woden’s fortress town, encountering a number of frost giants on the way with strange purple worms attached to their necks. As they traveled, the friends also noted something fierce in the sky killing white dragons and searing the surface with magma.

The party made it to the icy walls of the village and, using Winter’s Fury, Kaan created a passage inside. They found the town mostly abandoned and silent, but the slaves in the mines were still going strong. Inside the central longhouse they found a quartet of cultists surrounding a large pearl-like sphere on a dragon claw pedestal, chanting. On a throne behind them sat Jarl Woden, overseeing the ritual. The companions entered and did battle with their enemies, laying waste to the cultists and taking a brutal beating from Woden and his corrupted magic. As they moved to threaten him the Jarl vanished, teleporting from the combat.

Examining the dead cultists, the adventurers found that they too had purple worms attached to their necks, but Zot took an immediate interest in the sphere. As he touched it, the sorcerer was compelled to aid the spirit that occupied the globe and he warned the others to leave as something massive approached from above. Never willing to leave an ally to his death, Kaan restrained Zot and Phen bagged the sphere and replaced it on the pedestal. As he did, an enormous white claw shattered the top of the structure, grasped the globe, and took flight.

Exiting the longhouse, the group noted a commotion outside and watched in horror as Baron Fell (accompanied by the mysterious green mist that Kaan and Zot had seen previously) appeared before Jarl Woden, proclaimed him a failure, and gutted the giant king before leaving.

From there, the party explored the caverns, freeing the slaves they found there. They informed the group that they were hard at work looking for a heart-shaped jewel for the giants and also warned them about a near-by cavern that housed the strange purple worms, including one of immeasurable size that stalked the place. The slaves also informed their rescuers that the mountain itself, as well as the terror that prowled the skies, were brothers of Baron Fell and he, himself, was seeking the jewel. Investigating further, they found the gem encased in ice. Between Winter’s Fury and Zot and Phen’s magic the friend were able to extract it. The mountain shook and the gem warned them that should it be destroyed, his brother would destroy them. The companions exchanged glances, shrugged, and Kaan lifted Winter’s Fury. The artifact shattered the heart. The mountain shook. And it collapsed upon them.

What did the five fingers say to Oksana's face?

Buferd T. Justice followed the path of Zot and Kaan, speaking with Gannis and eventually coming before Marzell himself. Reluctantly, the cleric agreed to honor the contract that Kaan and the others had made with the lich and passed south. Before long the group was together again. Days later, they came upon an abandoned village. As they inspected the site, they found a mass of piked men and women on the other side of town. No children were found. Buferd and Phen moved to begin burying the unfortunate townsfolk and as they did, a mass of shadowy crows merged together, forming a massive crow made of pure negative energy. A fierce combat followed and the companions destroyed the beast and buried the dead.

Later, on their way to see King Osric, the adventurers came upon an elven huntress on a wooded plain. She was stalking a prize stag. However, unknown to her, she was being stalked in kind by a number of large tusked beasts. The companions sprang into action, alerting the woman to the peril and launching deadly attacks at the creatures. During the battle, the elf was severely wounded, but remained alive thanks to the group’s efforts. They approached her to speak and as they did, Phen and Buferd noticed that the name ‘Princess Oksana’ was etched into her exquisite longbow. They alerted Kaan to that fact as they neared. The princess was curt and rude, demeaning them for assisting her. Kaan told her that the lich Marzell was interested in obtaining her and she snorted and started off. The party followed, informing her that she would either speak with them or suffer the consequences. Tempers flared and Oksana turned her bow on Phen (one of the more vocal of the group), shooting him with a bone arrow that sucked the life force from him. The Halfling, all patience gone at this point, retaliated, calling a sheet of fire down upon her, rendering the princess unconscious. Though scorned for his actions, Phen was rather proud of himself.

The group arrived at King Osric’s fortress soon after. The place was pathetic, battered and beaten by constant attack. They entered the keep and met with Osric, who wanted no part of the dealings with Oksana or her father the Baron. Kaan initiated a truce between Osric and Oksana and she was released, though with only minimal possessions (her spellbook was fed to Norbert, Phen’s raptor companion). As she departed the princess vowed to see the group’s swift destruction. Having heard that kind of threat numerous times before, they laughed it up and returned to the business of repairing Osric’s keep and talking strategy with the King.

Southward Bound
Kaan and Zot journey south and find themselves mixed up in mayhem and intrigue.

After many weeks of many battles, Kaan and Zot found themselves in a modest village, enjoying pint after pint of refreshing ale and sharing their tales with the locals. As the revelry continued, a commotion could be heard outside the tavern and as Zot moved to peek out the window, a fireball came in through the door and exploded, killing all in the establishment but the sorcerer and his barbarian friend. Kaan picked himself up and ran outside, Winter’s Fury at the ready. Zot reluctantly followed. The scene throughout the village was horrendous. Mounted warriors oozing green mist rode about, killing anyone in their wake with sword and spell. Many others set each and every home ablaze as they went. Furious, Kaan flew into battle, charging the nearest band of marauders. Zot worked his magic, loosing bolts of lightning and black tentacles at their enemies. A pair of large, green misty wolves joined the fray against them as they fought. Then the sorcerer was struck suddenly in the back by a thick, forceful arrow that sent him reeling. He visually traced the arrow’s trail to a hilltop just outside of town. There stood a tall, dark sentinel crowned with a pair of antlers and holding a sizable longbow. The stranger drew another arrow and loosed it at Zot, a blow that nearly laid him low. As the pair began to sense that all hope was lost, the warriors withdrew and the wolves rejoined their master on the hill. As they watched, the destroyers slowly faded away into an emerald mist.

In the aftermath, the companions searched the village for survivors and found that not only did no one live but… there were no bodies to be found either. Not a trace of man, woman, child or animal remained in the burning town. Confounded and horrified, Kaan and Zot decided to leave this place and seek vengeance for the fallen, but as they did, they noticed a horse entering town, a rider slumped over it’s back. Upon closer inspection they found that the rider was dead, but he bore the crest of Sir Osric the Just, a King who ruled a southern land. The rider was carrying a sealed scroll as well. Presuming this man to be a messenger, the pair decided to take him, his horse, and the scroll southward to Osric himself and they went southward.

As they camped in a southern forest, Zot and Kaan were suddenly awoken by the sounds of laughter. As they roused, they each noticed that they had been bound and most of their equipment was missing. Kaan looked to see Winter’s Fury being dragged into a nearby shrub. The pair wriggled free of their bindings and began to shout threats and warnings at the unseen thieves. Continued observation revealed several sprites and pixies zipping about and Zot saw what at first appeared to be a large bee hive, but upon closer inspection seemed to be a housing unit for tiny fey creatures. Kaan threatedned to set the woods ablaze and Zot unleashed scorching rays at the hive, destroying the residence and burning one sprite to death. Kaan sighed. As the forest creatures rose up and prepared to respond with deadly force, an enormous, armored unicorn burst forth from the trees. The creature shined like pure daylight as it case its glare over the intruders. “Stop this.” he roared, and the forest settled, as did Kaan and Zot. “I am Gannis, ruler of these lands. Forgive my friends. They enjoy toying with any who enter here.”

Gannis led the companions deeper into the wood, to an ancient elven ruin where the unicorn held court. Kaan and Zot had their possessions returned to them and Gannis revived the sprite that was murdered by the sorcerer. As they rested, the pair heard the fast-paced plodding of some creature’s footsteps and from atop one ruined structure an armored velociraptor leapt, landing in the center of the court. On it’s back sat a feral-looking halfling with wild green hair, covered in wraps of holly vines. Gannis introduced the halfling as Phen (“Phenwick Thistleprick” the halfling declared). After a bit of revelry and sarcastic remarks, it was decided that Phen would accompany the pair south and lead them through the mountains (the only other option was to meet with the Lich Marzell, who was controlling the foul southern weather, and beg passage beyond).

The following morning the trio set out. They made it to the mountains and, to their dismay, a foul storm began, piling snow over the countryside. As they approached the group was set upon by wereboar frost giants, whom they readily dispatched in a brutal conflict. Phen identified markings on the giants’ corpses that indicated they were soldiers of the Jarl Woden. In the skies, many more frost giants could be seen riding huge reptilian beasts, keeping watch over the mountain pass. The storm worsened and the snow thickened, forcing the party to take shelter in a nearby ruined watch tower. By morning the storm had passed, but the companions were faced with another problem: Zot had contracted lycanthropy from the giants they had killed the day before. Unable to nullify the disease, Phen used his magic to transform the sorcerer into a frog, so that he would not become a threat. Kaan and the druid decided that trying to pass through the mountains was likely a fool’s errand, and made their way back to Gannis in hopes that he could cure Zot (which he did) before heading out to visit with Marzell.

Several days later, the party approached Marzell’s forsaken island home, using the magical dust that Gannis had gifted to the halfling to form a bridge across the sea. Kaan bargained with the lich for passage. Marzell agreed to allow the group passage, but only if they would deliver the princess Oksana (daughter to a wicked southern Baron) to him as payment. The terms were agreed to: The trio would deliver the princess to Marzell, but only if the was indeed evil (as Marzell claimed) and King Osric wished her gone. Seemingly pleased with the arrangement, the lich allowed the companions passage south.

Farewells & New Beginnings
Randy takes charge!

After several months and some small adventures the village of Barton’s Cove seemed to feel too small for the group, Bram knew soon it would be time. He could sense it in his friends voices as they discussed previous battles and the new ones just couldn’t replace past glories. Waking before the dawn he headed to the forge, perhaps a sign today. Wild rumors from the south had started making there way around the village, these thoughts troubled him. Bram knew his friends wanted to journey there seek adventure but they held back all because of the friendship they shared. How to tell them to move on, his destiny wasn’t along the same path as theirs anymore.

Cranking the billows of the forge till the coals glowed a nice orange colored glow, Bram selected his favorite hammer from the rack and waited. The wooden handle comforted him and his troubled mind. Lifting his head to stare into the east the first rays of false light were beginning to creep across the sky. The cold morning left his breath floating across the forge still he waited. There, the first golden ray broke across the horizon signaling Torag was busy reforming the world anew yet again. Lifting the hammer high above his head Bram brought the hammer down hard on the anvil to greet the dawn in the tradition of his people. Clanging out six loud rings with the double tap of a blacksmith he turned to place the hammer back on the rack, at least some things were normal in this world.

Then the world shook, at least for Bram. With a loud crack the rack split in two sending tools clattering down the work bench scattering them across the floor. A loud curse that only a dwarf could deliver echoed across the village. Sighing he looked up at the split wood, obviously shoddy workmanship. This time he will build a proper rack out of metal, all that took time which he didn’t have. Governing these villagers was taking so much of it. Grumbling as he bent over to pick up the scraps and tools scattered in the dirt he noticed the morning light almost blinding him. It was being reflected off the parting gifts for his friends. They had tumbled separately and now faced south along with a his new axe which was further back from the rest. Gasping as the omen was surely sent by the maker, it was so clear today was the day. Feeling relieved Bram picked up his gifts and decided to make the rounds to say goodbye to them.

Walking into the keep Bram decided to get the most annoying one out of the way. Climbing up the stairs he tried to find some sort of balance in the emotions he had for Zot. Yes he had helped bring about the destruction of a world but perhaps he was nothing more than a tool. A tool, well even a stern dwarf could permit a small smile thinking Zot as a tool. Still a tool none the less and wielded by some unknown force maybe for a reason. Grunting Bram brought his mailed fist down hard on the door several times. A startled Zot opened the door as Bram pushed his way in.

Walking over he scratched Pinky under the chin as he began to speak to Zot without facing him.

“Zot, we have had our differences in the past year but you have been a faithful although chaotic companion. I think it is time for me to let go my feelings they no longer serve me well. This morning I was given a sign by Torag that you and my friends should leave at once for the south. You once swore an oath to me, I release you and only ask that you temper your chaotic side. Please accept this small gift as a sign of my gratitude. I ask you forgive any harsh words I spoke to you as they were done with a heavy heart filled with grief.”

Turning Bram stormed out of the room without a word, slamming the door behind him. It would not do for Zot to see a dwarf shed a tear for some chaotic sorcerer.

Moving over to the table Pinky was resting on Zot saw the small wooden box decorated with Bram’s god and clan symbols. Pinky nudged the box to his hand. Opening it Zot saw a silver dagger, resting in fine red velvet. The handle was decorated like a coiled silver dragon, wrapped tightly around the fine sharp blade that was covered with inlaid scales. A small card was inside, which Zot read.

“When your wits fail may this dagger help defend you Zot.”

Collecting himself Bram strode for the new temple, well more of a forge really. Still by now Bufords service should be done. Buford was at least a dwarf and he worshipped Torag. Striking a more militant tone Bram greeted Buford. Such an odd name for a dwarf but he was at least a clansmen.

“Greetings Buford, I see the forger is busy renewing the world. This morning I received the sign I have been looking for. He requires you to journey south along with Zot and Kaan. There are strange goings on down there so be on guard. You must try to keep Kaan and Zot from killing each other before they face even one enemy. Oh and to help you on your journey I have finished your hammer, it is as you asked. Torag has blessed it so may it smash your enemies on the anvil of truth.”

Bram shared a few moments with Buford in silent prayer for the safety of his friends before leaving. His next task was the the one he dreaded more than dealing with Zot. As the morning was getting on he guessed that Kaan would be outside the village and sure enough he found his friend in the woods on the edge of town.

“Good morning Kaan of the Elk tribe what news does the breeze carry this morning?”

Without turning Kaan lifted his head crinkling his nose." A foul wind blows from the south, it carries death and ill tidings."

Bram felt even more guilty about what he had to do. Placing a mailed hand on Kaans back as he stared with him to the south he replied. " It is time Kaan, great deeds await you to the south. Your debt has been settled many times over and only friendship remains. I release you from your bond to find whatever destiny awaits you. You like I are the last of our peoples do not fall quietly Kaan but set an example so that others may remember us in great tales yet unsung.Go now. Gather our friends and may Torag keep you safe on your journey."

Bram strode away silently, no further goodbye was needed. He knew Kaan had no stomach for it and neither did he.

Kaan stared silently to the south not looking back, waiting for his friend to leave. The wind still blew in his face but maybe it seemed less foul. Turning he stared down at the fresh deer he had just slain. Resting on top of was a knife. It’s blade was thick and curved almost like a sharp silver thumb. The handle and hilt were carved from a single piece of elk horn.

The friends trudged south through many adventures all seemed more and more unnatural. Foul quick forming weather lashed at them as they defeated many foes till at last they found themselves in a small hamlet. Gathered around a table together spinning tales for the locals by a roaring fire the evening was interrupted suddenly. The watchman burst into the common room yelling about murder and some creeping fog. Rising from their seats the band rushed out into the night to start yet another chapter in their tales.

Winding Down
The party brings about the redemption of Khromax and the defeat of Rathbone and his patron, Morzaad!

Bram and Zot faced down the tremendous foe before them. Khromax crept closer, taunting them as he went. Urged by Korg (the spirit now residing in the paladin’s waraxe), Bram stepped forward to try and reason with the Khromax of days long past. As he did, Zot slinked out of sight, cast incantations of greater invisibility and flight, and soared upward to assist the caged barbarian. Bram spoke plainly to the dragon, petitioning the goodness that he knew was trapped within, beneath the festering evil that was Thetus, the barbed devil. As Zot unlocked Kaan’s cell door and placed an enchantment of flight upon the last member of the Elk Tribe, Bram succeeded in his efforts. Khromax, the shining silver dragon of legend seized control of his wits and tossed Morzaad’s phylactery to the dwarf. In doing so, the wyrm violated his contract with the hellion inhabiting his flesh. The dragon collapsed to the ground. His eyes and mouth blazed with the flames of hell itself ad Thetus was ejected from him.

“Return the phylactery to me at once, paladin!”

“Come and get it.” came the response.

An epic battle ensued. As the final blow sent the devil hurtling back to hell, Buferd (who had magically tracked his companions to the dragon’s lair) entered and praised his allies for their victory. Khromax, cursed to suffer an agonizing death as a result of his violation, apologized for his transgressions and gave thanks to the group for their heroic deeds. As an act of mercy, Bram offered the fallen dragon a quick death and split the wyrm’s skull with a single blow.

Retrieving Grig, the party ventured back to Barton’s Cove to consult with Dickmyer regarding the destruction of the lich’s phylactery. As the approached the village, a fine golden dust enveloped them, causing them to sparkle and blinding Kaan and Grig. Guessing that Cantis Rathbone was about, they began hurling taunts in an attempt to draw the wizard out. A fireball came down upon them from above, giving them a clue to his location. Buferd acted quickly, calling upon the power of Torag of both anchor the mage to this location and outlining him with an emerald sheen, spoiling his invisibility spell. At Kaan’s request, Zot enchanted him with magical flight once again and the barbarian sped skyward to thrash his hated foe. Bram likewise used his newly acquired boots of levitation to bring in swinging distance of Rathbone. Zot launched lightning bolts and magic missiles at their enemy, and Buferd placed magical silence on the barbarian, limiting the wizard’s options. Before long, Cantis was defeated, plummeting to the ground where he died from the impact. In typical fashion, Kaan removed Rathbone’s fingers and tongue to ensure that he would be helpless in the afterlife.

The fellows entered Barton’s Cove as conquering heroes. Ella, healthy again, greeted Zot as they arrived. Speaking with Dickmyer, they discovered that Morzaad’s phylactery was only vulnerable to a blow from a powerful artifact… which Kaan just happened to possess. Summoning forth all the might of the elk, Kaan brought Winter’s Fury down upon the ornate silver box, resulting in a concussive shockwave that left the relic reduced to a pile of ash. Following the phylactery’s destruction, the group made their way to the chamber holding the ancient lich. The barbarian blew the ashes of his phylactery into his face before Bram (following a barrage of insults, of course) and Kaan laid the creature low, ending his centuries of occupation on the realm of Kaeyden.

An enormous feeling of relief fell over them, especially Dickmyer, who had one final request for the companions. The old wizard asked that they free him from his eternal stay on Kaeyden as well, showing them to the magical statue that bound him to this land. In doing so, Barton’s Cove would need leadership until a suitable ruler could be named. Dickmyer asked that Bram take on the role of steward and accept the task of finding another to take on the task permanently. The paladin agreed and offering thanks to the wizard for all he had done, past and present, took up Korg’s own hammer and demolished the statue. Dickmyer’s ghostly form smiled as he dispersed.

Over the course of the following weeks, the group enjoyed peace and quiet in the Cove. Alvin, the town sage, lent his knowledge to Kaan, calling upon powerful magic to reveal the true strength of Winter’s Fury to the barbarian. Bram and Buferd took to the forge, for the first time since they had arrived here feeling at home. Zot and Ella were seen scuttling about town and fishing off the docks, bickering back in forth in their usual playful manner. At last, tranquility had come to the weary heroes. Peace is a wonerful thing, unappreciated by many, but like anything else, peace does not last forever…

Well done everyone! Thank you for an exciting adventure!

Visions of Tragedy
Kaan is captured by the dragon Khromax; Bram and Zot make haste to rescue their cohort, forging new bonds of friendship along the way.

As Bram, Zot and Kaan digesedt the gnome’s revelation and pondered their next course of action, the murky pool began to churn and took on a slight, whispy yellow glow. Suddenly, an enormous gray-scaled dragon burst forth from the water, roaring menacingly. In an attempt to protect his fellows, Bram threw Zot to the ground and stood over him, shield at the ready. Then the wyrm lurched forward, swatting the paladin and the sorcerer aside and biting down on the barbarian, scooping him up and imprisoning Kaan in its massive maul. It then retreated back into the swirling pool, disappearing from view. Bram and Zot, battered from the dragon’s blitz, recovered and met back at the pool, which continued to bubble and throw off magical energy. The sorcerer, inspecting the water, concluded that it was some form of magical gate way and the pair reluctantly agreed to enter. Their friend was in great peril, after all. In typical dwarven fashion, Bram performed a canon ball leap into the pool and vanished. Zot picked up their gnome captive, tossed him into the gate, and followed through.

On the other side, the group found themselves in rolling hills. They spotted the gargantuan drake flying swiftly northward. As they moved to follow, they also noticed a camp of cyclops just over the hill, and the giants noticed them as well. The cyclops charged and combat ensued. Bram split their skulls with his father’s waraxe while Zot set them aflame with scorching rays of fire. Moments later the giant-kin lay dead on the ground. Heading north, the two came upon a familiar twig hut at the base of a short cliff.

They approached and entered to meet with Cobble Stonebender once again. Apprising him of their situation, the divine being offered to take them on a spiritual journey into the past to give them a better understanding of the threat they were facing. Through the vibrations of his holy anvil, Stonebender showed Bram and Zot a series of visions depicting the lich Morzaad’s defeat at the Battle of Barton’s Cove, the imprisoning of the undead magus, and the fall of Khromax, once a revered silver dragon, who begrudgingly entered into a pact with the devil Thetus to guard Morzaad’s phylactery for all time. When the visions ended the team had new insight into the tragic figure that is Khromax. While Bram, Zot and Cobble agreed that the dragon is clearly beyond their physical abilities, the messenger of Torag had a possible solution to their quandary. A wretched Night Hag who currently resided in the hills is a soul collector, taking the souls of recently deceased mortals, storing them in gems, and trading them to fiends for favors. The prize jewel of her collection contained the soul of Korg Stonehearth, a might cleric of Torag that aided Dickmyer in deafeating and containing Morzaad. Cobble suggested that the heroes destroy the hag and obtain the gem holding the soul of the legendary dwarf.

The pair set out, found the witch’s shanty, and swiftly defeated her. They freed most of the souls she had contained (save two, which Bram deemed to be evil). As the paladin shattered the stone that Stonehearth resided in, the cleric’s ghostly form appeared to them. Bram conveyed their plight to Korg and he agreed to postpone his eternal rest in order to aid them in their quest to rescue their barbarian friend and bring Khromax back to the light. In a surge of divine power, the cleric’s spirit entered Bram’s heirloom waraxe, imbuing it with the power of Torag himself. Later, Bram contemplated the events of the past few days and prayed that Torag would give him strength and guidance, especially considering the fate of Korg Stonehearth, who seemingly gave up his joyous eternity to serve the realm yet again. As he paced about the hag’s hut Bram noticed dwarven script burning into the face of a large stone.

Fear not, Bram Deathstalker. Korg will serve you while you live and you shall feast together at my table when your time on this world is at an end.

Comforted by the message, Bram offered a salute to the stone, which had burned away the words and left only a symbol of Torag on its surface. A compassionate feeling came over the dwarf then, and he released Grig from his bindings. Bram offered the gnome a choice. Grig would be free. He could either go into the world and do as he chooses or he could stay, serving the party as a henchman. If he remained, the paladin would school him in the ways of battle and protect him to the best of his ability. Grig thought over the proposal and decided to stay. He had never cared much for Rathbone, and the wizard would surely torture, if not kill him for the knowledge that he had passed onto his captors. Besides, Grig had always dreamed of becoming a cavalier!

Uncertain of the exact method they would use to face the fallen wyrm, Zot and Bram marched to his mountain lair, laying low a pair of confused ettins as they went. Grig was left at the base of the mountain with much of the group’s valuables and with the instructions that if they should not return he must take the treasure to Barton’s Cove and warm the town of its impending doom. The bones of numerous creatures (mostly giants) littered the mountain side and lay strewn about the corridor within. After passing through several miles of tunnels, the allies entered into a massive cavern littered with treasure. Entering the opening, they could see Kaan hundreds of feet above, locked inside a large cage, seething at the prospect of being a prisoner. Taking a few steps inside, a pair of burning red eyes opened in the darkness toward the back of the cavern and a guttural, unholy voice boomed out.

"So, the two of you were indeed foolish enough to follow. Welcome. Welcome to your DEMISE!”

Enter Khromax
After laying waste to Cantis Rathbone's tower in Darkwing Mire, our heroes find clues indicating that another powerful foe is lurking behind the scenes.

All was quiet as the group entered the main chamber in Cantis Rathbone’s tower. However, as they moved across the room to the stair case, several statues animated and sought to destroy them. After laying waste to the automatons, Bram, Kaan and Zot proceeded to the second floor, where a thick fog them. Feeling about, the paladin found that some portions of the wall were not as they appeared. Illusory walls covered every door on the floor. Moving about, nearly blind, the party passed through a library, laboratory, forge, dining hall, and several guest bedrooms before finding stone stair cases leading to the next level. On the stairs a stinking cloud surrounded them, nauseating Zot. Stepping onto the third floor, two fiery serpentine beings with the upper bodies of men appeared in a puff of flame. The creatures warned the companions to leave the tower. Refusing to heed the warning, a battle ensued, to the detriment of the summoned outsiders.

The third floor was clear of the fog that plagued the party on the previous level and offered only one clear course. A red carpet snaked along the hallway, leading them to a large chamber, where an onyx stone golem awaited them. Following the epic combat, Bram took note of an inconsistency in the stonework on the wall behind the defeated guardian. The sliding door opened, revealing a set of large double doors across the hall. Zot used his magic to disable the arcane protections that had been laid upon the entrance and the three entered to find a grand master bedroom. Hiding among the many pillows on the bed, they found a whimpering gnome. The groundskeeper introduced himself as Grig and was immediately bound and questioned. Grig told them that Rathbone kept anything of value in the vault inside his room. Again, Zot wove spells to enter the vault unhindered and uninjured. Inside, the group found various treasures, as well as a contract between Cantis and a being known only as Khromax. The details of the contract stated that Rathbone would deliver the princess of Bloodreign Keep to Khromax if Khromax would disclose information that would lead the wizard to the phylactery of the lich Morzaad. Along with the contract, Zot discovered diagrams outlining a path to Khromax’s lair in the swamp. After a night of rest, the party decided to pay this Khromax a visit.

After setting fire to the wizard’s keep, the group packed up their gear (and the gnome) and followed the diagram to the lair of the mysterious Khromax. The maps led to a large stagnant pool in the mire. A little confused and unprepared to venture under water, the companions decided to camp for the night and think over their next course of action. During the night, Zot (who was on guard duty) and Bram (who was rudely awakened) felt the sizzling sting of acid wash over them. Jumping to the ready, all were taken aback as a large black dragon emerged from the fetid pool. Zot immediately answered back with a breath weapon of his own, electrifying the wyrm with a blast of lightning. All engaged the beast and a furious battle took place. As the tide turned against the dragon, she laid a shroud of magical darkness over the party and leapt back into the pool from whence she came. Still unfamiliar with all of the powers of his legendary blade, Kaan dipped Winter’s Fury into the pool with thoughts of freezing the water. The weapon answered his mental call and the pool iced over, solidifying the surface. After a few moments of silence, two wyrmlings burst through the ice and assaulted the group. While they were distracted, their original opponent burst through the ice as well, spitting another line of acid at Kaan and Bram. The smaller drakes were dispatched with ease and the three continued to press the more powerful foe. Charging with magical flight bestowed upon him by Zot, Bram landed a mighty blow, severing the dragon’s hand and bringing the beast low. Following his comrade (and also enspelled with flight), Kaan stabbed the mother drake through the chest and followed with a whirling strike that took her head clean off.

As the party celebrated their hard-fought victory, Grig offered them some helpful knowledge in exchange for his freedom. Kaan, in no mood for negotiation, counter-offered the gnome: his information for his life. Whimpering yet again, Grig replied.

“The shriek of that wyrm sounded female to me.”

“So?” Kaan replied, “I’m not in the habit of inspecting the genitals of the beasts I’m slaying.”

“Well”, Grig said, “Khromax has only visited Rathbone’s tower once, and in human form. However… Khromax is… male…”

Bad to the Rathbone!
The companions are summoned to speak with the Lord of Barton's Cove an discover a deep, vile plot in the process.

The party broke camp on the shore where they had discovered the remains of a burned boat. While packing up, Bram received a message in his head.

“Good morning Bram Deathstalker. I am Cantis Rathbone, steward of Lord Dickmyer. Your presence is requested back in Barton’s Cove as soon as possible. Since hearing of your investigation, Lord Dickmyer would like to meet with your group.”

Bram and the others agreed to return and made haste back to town. On the way the group was set upon by two earth elementals, which they dispatched with relative ease. Entering town, the group was escourted to Dickmyer’s keep by the town guard. Rathbone greeted them inside and led them to a meeting room, all the while proclaiming that their time need not be wasted here as he had called in an exorcist to eliminate the threat of Helkkar’s ghost. Less than agreeable with the wizard’s suggestions (and exchanging some veiled insults as well), the party met with Lord Dickmyer, the founder of Barton’s Cove. Once a powerful magic user, Dickmyer had developed a ritual to remain on Kaeyden in spirit. He was now a being of pure energy capable of little more than sharing knowledge.

Once Cantis was dismissed the meeting took on a pleasant air as the group shared their discoveries and ideas with Dickmyer. Trusting in the paladin and his barbarian companion, the old mage took the two to the lower levels of his keep to share a well-kept secret that only he and the druid Helkkar had been privy to. In a well-hidden and well-guarded chamber below the keep, Dickmyer kept Morzaad, an ancient Lich of great power who had once terrorized the land. Dickmyer explained that he and his former companions had managed to capture and imprison the vile creature, but as they were unable to locate his phylactery they could not destroy him and were forced to keep him here. Helkkar had spent a long period of his life trying to torack down the lich’s phylactery and Dickmyer suspected that agents of Morzaad may have been responsible for the druid’s death. As they prepared to leave, Dickmyer suggested that the party pay a visit to Carver, Helkkar’s most trusted friend (and the reason the group had been sent to the Cove) and see if the carpenter had any missing pieces of the puzzle.

The companions made their way to Carver’s shop, which was closed, but a lantern inside led them to believe that someone was home. They knocked and Carver answered and invited them inside. Bram, who had activated a zone of truth, questioned the carpenter and began to notice falsehoods in his answers. As the questioning became heated, Carver finally caved in and proclaimed that Cantis Rathbone was behind the entire plot. He murdered the druid… and the real Carver. The imposted then revealed himself as Vance, a doppelganger, whom Rathbone had hired to squeeze Helkkar for information on Morzaad’s phylactery. When the druid would not offer up any insight, Cantis faced him directly, shackling him in the cave and torturing him for his knowledge. When Helkkar still would not divulge what he knew, the wizard slit his throat in a fit of rage. Rathbone was also responsible for the attacks on the Cove. There was no ghost, only the mage’s summonings and illusions. Vance told the party (truthfully) that he did not know anyone would be harmed and agreed to cooperate fully in exchange for his freedom.

With this information, the party marched on the keep, determined to bring Cantis Rathbone down. However, the wizard had been scrying on his hired shape-shifter and was prepared for the assault. He activated one of the keep’s defenses, calling gargoyles from the stone walls to fight the adventurers. As the battle raged on Cantis, under the effects of an Improved Invisibility spell, assaulted them with his powerful magic, Killing Ella (Zot’s familiar), nearly killing Vance, and rendering Zot feebleminded. As his wounds became more grievous, Rathbone proclaimed that he shall never be defeated and teleported from the area.

In the aftermath, Alvin the sage dispelled the magic that Cantis had left behind and Father Thomas, cleric of Gozreh, called Ella’s spirit back to her body and restored Zot’s mental faculties. Vance suggested that Rathbone may have retreated to his tower in Darkwing Mire, where he had been recruited by the mage. More determined (and angry) than ever, the group prepared and made their way to the mire. Along the way the party met a frog catcher that pointed them in the right direction and stopped by Moor’s Edge, a village on the outskirts of the swamp, to gather information. With a solid idea of where they might find this tower (a haunted ruin in the middle of the mire), the companions continued through the marsh. A day and some hours later they came upon the ruins and located a tower at its center. A wall of force kept most intruders at bay, but the party climbed (and flew) over the barrier, only to be assaulted by bolts of lightning originating from a large blue gem set above the tower’s main entrance. With minor damage, they managed to destroy the gem and halt the bursts of lightning. However, when Zot used his magic to open the door the group was assaulted by a poisonous green cloud that sapped their endurance. Retreating into the keep, Bram layed hands on his fellows, restoring their constitution. The daunting task of infiltrating a powerful wizard’s tower and felling the magus himself now lies before the brave heroes. Will Torag bless their victory or Kaeyden mourn the loss of their newest champions?

When nature attacks!
The PC's set out to discover who or what is plaguing the village of Barton' Cove.

As they arrived at Barton’s Cove, the group met another companion on the road, Buferd T. Justice, cleric of Moradin and Bram’s former adventuring partner. Buferd had freshly arrived on Kaeyden from the void of time (the distant past). Bram described the situation to his old friend and inducted him into the service of Torag.

With the niceties out of the way, Buferd rejoined the party and they continued on their quest, entering the fishing village. While Bram and Buferd acquainted themselves with Kelvin the blacksmith of Barton’s Anvil and Zot traded words and goods with Roystwick, owner of Arcanum, Kaan had a chance meeting with Alvin Tucker, the town sage, who recognized Winter’s Fury and was able to offer the barbarian some insight into the legendary weapon he carries.

While spending a few days in town the group spoke to several villagers, learning that the druid Helkkar, who was supposedly responsible for the recent attacks, has maintained a friendly relationship with Barton’s Cove and its citizens for years. No one knew of any reason why he would be harming the village without provocation. Finally, after witnessing wolf invasions and unusually harsh weather by night for themselves the four decided that they should seek out the druid and get to the bottom of this.

They struck out in search of Helkkar’s grove in the northern wood. As they approached the forest’s edge the party was set upon by a pack of dire wolves. The animals were dispatched in short order and the companions continued. Camping in the wood was uneasy. Cold winds blow fiercely, shaking the autumn leaves and unseen wolves howl throughout the night. The following day the group would skirmish with a number of animated trees before coming to the druid’s glen where they met Strongroot, a local treant who was also seeking Helkkar. The anciant oak would stay planted at the grove in hopes that his friend would return while Kaan discovered a number of tracks leading north and west. Investigating the northern prints first, the party found a shallow cave three miles from the grove. Inside, a month-old corpse hung from the wall by shackles. The body was half-elf, same as Helkkar, and its throat had been cut. Bram and the others took the corpse down and headed back to the grove to present it to Strongroot for identification.

As they went, Zot noticed a larger-than-normal pair of butterfly wings dart behind a nearby tree. Kaan, assuming it to be a fey creature of some kind, called it out, assuring that no harm would come to it. The pixie, Flutter by name, did come forward and spoke with the adventurers. She told them that the body did appear to be Helkkar. However, in recent weeks she has seen the druid’s ghostly form moving about the forest by night. “He is angry.” She warned and recounted occasions when she witnessed him inciting creatures of the wood to violence, something the Helkkar she knew would never have done.

The party thanked Flutter for the information, left the corpse with Strongroot in Helkkar’s grove, and followed the other set of tracks west out of the forest. In the plains beyond, Kaan lost the trail, but several miles later they came to the shoreline of the ocean where a small vessel had been broken up and burned.

With the unsavory sea dog refuge of Driftwood only a short distance to the north, things were getting interesting…

Champaign Chronicle
Campaign Overview Thus Far

Following Zot’s untimely prank, and a brief journey through time, the group has landed in a foreign realm known as Kaeyden. Bram Deathstalker and Kaan of the Elk Tribe landed first, arriving outside of the village Eastbrook. There, the pair uncovered an unholy plot masterminded by an evil outsider (Jameson) to destroy the townsfolk and absorb their souls in an effort to strike down his benevolent counterpart, the oracle Sadie. With the oracle’s help, Bram and Kaan thwarted Jameson’s vile scheme and saved Eastbrook from certain doom. During the celebration that followed, Zot the Sorcerer materialized on the plane and rejoined his fellows.

During his time on Kaeyden Bram had come to notice that his divine powers were waning and sought advice from the village priest, Father Douglas, and the oracle. Douglas shared that his own powers were all but gone and Sadie suggested that the faithful journey to the Pinnacle of Creation to forge a bond with a diety of this realm. With the aid of former Constable Richards (wishing to atone for his cowardice during the tragic events of the past week), the group set out to reach the Pinnacle. During their trek Reaper Thorn and a group of bone elves intercepted the party, warning them to halt their advance and be gone from their plane as they have disrupted the flow of fate (specifically their intervention at Eastbrook). Discounting the warning, the group continued northward, skirmishing with the bone elves along the way.

At the edge of the mountains they encountered Cobble Stonebender, a servant of Moradin that has offered the party a helping hand several times in the past. During their stay in his dimension-defying hut/ forge, the crew learned that the world they once knew is i dire peril. The gods of their former realm were losing their power and Moradin guided them here, where they might be of some use other than martyrdom. The following morning, Cobble bid them farewell and the adventurers continued into the Gozreh’s Brow mountains.

After a day of travel they came upon a vast frozen lake sporting an intensely blue-glowing greatsword thrust into its center. Zot moved to inspect the item and an echoing voice called out to them.

“Finally, a hero has come forth to claim this legendary blade. Let us see if you can earn the right to wield Winter’s Fury.”

Fog engulfed the Zot and the sword as a hulking white dragon burst up from the ice to challenge the party. In an epic battle, Bram, Kaan and Zot overcame the beast and claimed Winter’s Fury for their own.

A day later the group climbed the Pinnacle and Bram and Douglas were able to connect with new gods (Torag and Sarenrae respectively). Their relief was short-lived, however, as Reaper Thorn attempted to destroy them there and then. However, the divine power of the Pinnacle protects all upon it from harm and neither party was able to harm the other. Thorn grinned as he offered his adversaries the knowledge that Eastbrook burned as they spoke before transforming to mist and flying off. With his renewed power, Father Douglas was able to instantly transport the group to his temple where most of the town was assembled. Bram, Kaan and Zot rushed outside to face the invading bone elves that Sadie had been keeping at bay with a wall of thorns. In short order they were able to slay the bone elf commanders and send those left alive fleeing from their surrogate home.

Bent on justice and vengeance, the three set upon the Ruins of Deathwatch and faced Reaper Thorn and his minions down, laying the bone elf leader low and burning his keep. The following weeks were spent rebuilding Eastbrook. During the reconstruction a visitor came calling for the heroes. Tassara, a representative of the elven city of Estyvaar, offered an agreement: Estryvaar would provide patrols for the village if Bram, Kaan and Zot would look into a matter that the elves could not. A druid had apparently gone mad, wrecking havoc on the peaceful fishing village of Barton’s Cove where the elder of Estryvaar’s nephew (Carver) lived and worked. Conceding the agreement, the three traveled to the Cove to investigate.


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