Nentir vale

Monsters and Manuals

Travel weary strangers chance upon each other on the road, their dark cloaks billowing in the razor wind, but quickly drenched in the storms downpour. Brought together by the storm, they press on as thunder rolls in the sky, followed by the howling of wolves.
Rain

The cloaked, hooded Dragonborn howled back, a long melancholy howl of a lone wolf.
Sticking close together to keep warm and avoid as much rain, the travellers see a bright lantern hanging off a tower just a few scores of steps away, it’s warm glow flickering, the creaking as it swings on it’s hinge.
Mfp

They quicken their pace, and just as they near the tower, five starving wolfs jump out of the bushes, mad and hungry for flesh, attracted by the Dragonborn’s earlier howl, what they perhaps thought was a weak loner, and easy prey.
Three merchants panic, the hoods flying off as they’ve fled the hungry jaws, but the remaining six weary travellers straightened their storm wrecked backs and took a step forward.
The wolves’ charge, one biting the Paladin’s armoured shins, gnawing on the toughened leather.
He deftly swings his long sword, embedding it deep into the wolves neck, and dislodging the jaw from his plate armour.
Another wolf pounced upon the dwarf angrily, who dug his large dwarven feet into the ground for stability, and cleaved off the wolf’s head with his executioner axe, getting it stuck in the skull, while pale bluish-brown Dragonborn stabbed the paw of a wolf charging at a cloth covered Razorclaw, twirling the short sword in his left hand around to slice the wolf’s empty stomach, his leather armour as shiny as his glinting chainmail links, Roaring Lightning just as sparkly from his mouth and singing the wolf’s fur. The Razorclaw didn’t flinch, while the fellow Razorclaw behind him swiftly shot two arrows in quick succession at another wolf, hitting his mark with eerie accuracy.
Fiddles, a human fitted with sturdy leather armour, charged the last wolf as it growled angrily at the party.
The Dragonborn, hearing the low growl through the heavy patter of the rain, bull charged the wolf, punching the wolf’s head up, nicking it with the edge of the blade, and kicking it down with great force.
Fiddles lithely jumps by him and brings his daggers down on the helpless wolf, slicing through his neck in one fell swoop.
Taking the head and holding it high, blood and rain trickling down his arm.
Lightning struck again, perhaps signalling the end of battle.

Akasha, the Razorclaw that the Dragonborn had saved, politely asked Fiddles to borrow a dagger, his long razor claw ears twitching in the heavy rain while the dwarf planted his foot squarely on his slain wolfs head and drew the axe out, brain juice dripping.

Fiddles throws a dagger to Akasha without question him, but muttering something silently which Akasha thought was a threat, or a request for his dagger back. Probably both.

They run towards the tower, while Crash and Akasha stay back. Crash stays back to retrieve his arrows from the wolf, and seeing his fellow Razorclaw start skinning a wolf, decides to take him out of the rain faster by helping him skin the wolves, using his sharp metal arrow head.

They knock the door to the tower, and an elderly woman walks out to greet them.
She ushers them in, and leaves the door slightly ajar so the two Razorclaws could enter.
She leads them through the short corridor and sits them down to the table, where the paladin, Alexander Anthos, recognises it to be an old inn which became disused.
She introduces herself as Treona, and compliments them on their ability to fend for themselves, and as the party thanks her for her hospitality, she asks for a favour.

“I am an elderly lady and alone, I cannot do even half of what you young’uns do. I want to retrieve an ancient artefact, the slayer stone, a dangerous weapon, and I want to destroy it. It lies in the city hall of a goblin infested town. I have seen you fight and I believe that you can retrieve it for me.
She says.

“What is in it for me?”
Says Fiddles gruffly in his deep voice.

“Hmmm? You aren’t a group of adventurers? Well you should stop being lonely travellers, at least to help me rid the world of this evil stone.”

She replies; feign surprise showing in her voice, as if she knew that they only coincidently met today.
The travellers pick up on this, and feel slightly uneasy.

“Alkirk and I need competent risk-takers to recover this stone”
At mention of his name, a burly man walks in dressed in rich blue clothing, and Treona gestures at him.

“Alkirk is the last heir in the Kiris line, the rulers of the fallen town of Kiris Dahn. We and the other citizens were forced to abandon Kiris Dahn when an overwhelming goblin invasion came from the east”
She sighs wistfully and looks at him

Alkirk speaks up for her
“The Kiris line had a Large supply of powerful relics farmed by their ancestors, powerful items that used magic to kill the town’s greatest enemies. But we exhausted its supply of slaying stones. The town used eight of them during my life there, and all had been spent to destroy various threats, before the goblins even came.”

“The goblins came in great numbers, and there was no stone to frighten them off, but I’ve been reading some of the obscure texts we’ve found and bought off traders crossing this road, and they point to the fact that there were nine slayer stones when Alkirk was born, not eight.
I want you to find and retrieve the remaining stone so that I can destroy it using a ritual I’ve been devising.”
Finished Treona.

“Is there any alcohol?”
Asked the dwarf
“Alkirk, can you be a dear and bring the last barrel of light cider?”

Slowly, she walks over to the table Alkirk was standing beside, sits down and starts to eat quietly while Alkirk walked through a door semi hidden by cobwebs.

The paladin stood up.
“My name is Alexander Anthos my fair friends; I serve the might of pellore, and this here dwarf is my stalwart companion Yump, the dwarf. He’s a dwarf you know.”
said the paladin introducing himself in his calm, yet booming voice.
Alkirk then came in with a barrel hoisted on his shoulders and held steady with his brawny hands, then placed it with a bang, shaking the ancient oak table.
Before the trembling even stopped, Yump poured everyone a mug of cold cider, and promptly downed them all himself. He then turned the tap away from the table and turned it on, lying under it and drinking what was left of the barrel in true dwarven fashion.
Fiddles held up the wolf head he severed, the blood already pumped out of the veins, and then sticking his hand in through the neck, puppeted it.

“This is Fiddles, a dear old friend of mine, we met when a storm came out, and I instantly fell in prey for him, head over heels, since he severed my head”
said the wolf head, the glazed eyes glaring menacingly at the others.

“my name is Akasha, I am a shaman, not a fighter, I’m sorry I did not help you fight the wolves, but I hold all life in high regard. I was going to suggest we throw some food out for them, so they would leave us alone, yet you brandished your weapons too quickly. And sorry it took me a while to come back, I was skinning the bodies. As they say, waste not, want not”
Said the Razorclaw, slowly chewing his food with his sharp teeth as he swirled the sweet smelling cider in his hand.
The other Razorclaw sat quietly, eyeing the rest, while the Dragonborn sat across from him, with the cider in one hand and a quill in the other, scribbling furiously as the party talked.

“I didn’t take you as a mage”
“neither did I, you seem to throw yourself into battle without a thought, rather then throw a ball of fire”
said Fiddle and Alexander.

“I’m not a mage; I merely studied arcana with my mentors in my clan. I am actually a mercenary, I was contracted to fight in the rune wars being held in the Far East, and I was just on my way when this storm struck”

“what’s your name?”
Asked Akasha curiously.

“Rai, Rai Ghkar”

“name sounds familiar”
Said the other Razorclaw.

“You look familiar, what’s your name?”
Replied Rai, staring intently, while the rest conversed with each other.

“Call me Crash, pleased to meet you”

Crash sat quietly and ate his dinner, his dark eyes darting around the room, covered from prying eyes by his dark brown hair.

As the night grew late, the people started setting up their blankets around the floor, as Rai stayed awake, scripting late into the night as he kept watch.

Tower
~~~
The party set out in the morning feeling refreshed, given the directions of the town and a few scrolls with a ritual to detect where the Slayer stone was being held.

“Be careful, there’s Goblins scattered everywhere around the town and surrounding lands”
she warned as they ventured forth

“Is there a forest nearby? We can navigate it and sneak in” said Fiddles, eager for bloodshed as long as it wasn’t his own.

“Yes, it’s on the east side of town, go around and keep south of the farmlands”

after three hours’ worth of walking, they stumbled upon the forest they sought, seeing the farmlands in the distance up north, but it was much much thicker then they had expected. It was going to be one big problem to navigate.

“stay behind me, as a shaman I’ve learned how to find my way around nature, but stay quiet” said Akasha as he broke some of the foliage off and stuck it on the cloaks of his members and himself.

“sneaking around with camouflage? I like your thinking. Are you sure we won’t encounter dire bears though? This place reeks of their droppings” replied Fiddles, slightly impressed.

“how would you know how they smell?” asked Rai

“I once had to sneak around and pick pocket nobles as they went to a dire bear circus. Their eyes are fixed on the trained bear too much to notice when their gold sacks go missing” he replied with a sly grin “the stench was horrible, but it was worth creeping around the shit droppings for three days to earn about four hundred gold pieces. I left town before the circus moved on, when I met you. The smell is fresh in my mind” he cringed.

“I said stick behind me!” yelled the shaman from the forest.

the party got a little lost as they entered, trying to find where Akasha went, but after a few minutes stumbling around for his voice, they found him standing beside a large tree trunk at the edge of a river.

“we need to cross the river to get into the town, but the current is too fast to swim across”
Said Akasha as they neared him.

“Why don’ we just chop down the tree and make a bridge?”
replied the dwarf, hoisting his axe and bringing it down on the trunk.
Rai and Alexander joined in to help, only broducing loud clashes as their swords berely took out chunks of the bark.
from the distance they heard the high pitched screeching of goblins, and ducked down.

“Stand back and let me handle it, you and your measly weapons do nothing but cause a ruckus. We want to sneak in right?” gruffly panted the dwarf.
after an hour of silent chopping, a feat only Dwarfs well accustomed to mining in echo causing mines, can achieve.

As the tree fell down with a dull thud, the party ventured across.
They heard the screechy talk of goblins approaching to check the noise, and ran into a nearby house.
As they hid inside, they heard the goblins walk by, one excitedly yelling at his friends he saw something bushy scurry into the area.

“You’re seeing trees walking again aren’t you” laughed another goblin
“you should stop smoking the library books, they’re doing a number to your mind” said yet another.

The party sighed relief, and thanked Akasha for the camouflage, while the dwarf moved a carpet in the other side of the room.

“There’s a hidden door here, it seems to go off in the direction of the library” said the dwarf.
“You have good tunnel-sense you know dwarf? Why did you ever leave the mines? I always thought you dwarves hated the fresh air and sunlight” huffed the Dragonborn.

With a distasteful grunt, the dwarf jumped inside, the party following, remembering that Treona said that the slayer stone may be hidden in one of three places, the library being one of them.
They wandered through the dark, Fiddles leading in the front to detect any traps, while Rai led from behind, his eyesight accustomed to the dim light.
With a hush, Fiddles stopped everyone.

“There’s a hidden door here, and I can hear them pesky goblins on the other side of the door.”

“Then let’s rush them” said Rai, pushing his way to the front.

Fiddles opened the door slightly, and aimed his poisoned crossbow through the crack.
“1…” he counted, watching as the goblin he aimed at, dressed in robes, ripped a page out of one of the library books, and burned it in his hand with a green flame.
“2…3…”
and shot, his arrow hitting the goblin’s shoulder, the page gone in a puff of smoke.
Rai Charged in, knocking a table full of alchemical devices to the floor, and let loose a chain of lightning from his mouth, goblins falling down unexpectedly from the surge of power.
The paladin came next, tripping as his armoured feet slipped on the noxious gasses and liquids spilled on the floor, and thus missing his blow against the robed goblin spell caster.
The dwarf came in next, a sprinting blur as he jumped over the knocked over table and landing in front of the caster goblin.
his axe missed as the goblin moved to the side, and instead buried itself into another table, smashing it in half.
still in shock, they couldn’t react fast enough, for Crash shot two arrows at two goblins, felling them, as Fiddle followed the dwarf, jumping over the table and using the dwarf to somersault over him, daggers held high, landing in front of the goblin, but missing him with his attack, but eying his leather satchel.
Rai came around and picked up the goblin in his strong arms, but not before the goblin could mutter a few words singed with green fire, summoning a blue ooze.

the ooze attacked alexander, Yump and Fiddle, eating through their armour.
the goblin struggled free, and tried to make a getaway as the others were distracted, but rai quickly stepped after him, and grabbing him by the neck, picking him up and smashing his head against the broken table, dazing him and holding him tight.
the rogue hopped onto the table to get away from the ooze, and quickly taking out rope with his nimble fingers, tried to bind the goblin just in case.
The rest smashed their weapons into the floor, smooshing the ooze to death. If it was ever alive to begin with.

They overpowered the goblin and bound him, gagging him in case he started to cast more green flamed spells.
Fiddles took the sack e eyed earlier, and fetched the green skin bound book inside.
Looking queerly at the goblin, the took off the gag and asked him what the book was for.

“I have a magical talent most other goblins don’t I yearn to learn how to cast spells, but I cannot tap into the power. By ripping spells out of arcane books, and burning them into that book there, I can use them to power bursts of magical potential, thus creating that blob that nearly got you”
said the goblin, his bruised face greedily eying his precious work once more as he slowly bled to death.
Just as he died, the dwarf noticed an alcove half hidden behind a bookself.
The Dragonborn came over to take a look as the rest went to hear the goblin’s dying breaths.
Alexander noticed Rai looking intently at the alcove.

“Let’s move on” Said Rai.

“why did you stare at the alcove? There’s nothing there, did you sense something?” asked the ever perceptive Paladin.
The dragon huffed hot air through his nose, a tiny threating spark fizzling out in front of the paladin’s face as Rai walked to the exit.

Brandishing their weapons, the party again asked Rai if he sensed something.

“it’s nothing too important, not as much as finding the Slayer stone.” He replied, taking his own weapons out.

Fiddle jumped at him, aggressive as ever.
Rai dodged easily, and struck back, hitting him squarely in the face with the flat end of his sword.
the party bore down on him with their weapons, even crash Chucking a single arrow at the dragon.
the arrow hit the side of Rai’s head, stunning him briefly, as the dwarf swung his axe at Rai’s knees.

bringing him down in pain, Alexander Yelled;
“STOP!”
“We’ll never find out what he knows if we kill him” he said, taking out his bandages and taking out the arrow.
earning his trust, Rai told alexander that the alcove contained the slayer stone, and it was only recently moved.
“why didn’t you tell that to us at the start”
“It’s not important. The stone isn’t there now and we have to find it. Although with this injured knee I don’t think I can move” replied Rai.

“We shall rest here, wait till his leg feels better. Fiddle, cover up those window and start a fire” ordered Alexander

After the party shuffled around, moving the bookshelves to make enough room to lie down, Rai picked up the green skinned book and started reading it, while Fiddle started a fire, and the rest lay down to rest.
Crash stayed awake, keeping watch and keeping an eye on Rai. His distrust in others unspoken, yet barely hidden.

Thus the party rested, getting ready to continue their Quest tomorrow…

View
Shrine of the Moon

Rai Spent the night Flicking through a few old books he found amongst the bookshelves, flicking through thick new paper as Crash sat beside him, Carving arrows from the broken tables and shelves, watching him.
Book

As morning drew, Rai felt renewed, as though he slept, and as the sunlight came meekly through the cloth-covered windows, he realized that the pages of the book he was holding was old and very worn.

He closed it, and looked at the cover. The book was bound by new leather, but the pages were extremely old and weathered.
Red leather, he noticed.
He asked Crash to check and see if any of the other books had an old worn cover as the rest of the party started rising from their sleep.
Fiddles walked by, sack in one hand, the goblin’s book in the other.

“Fiddles? May I see that book?” he asked.

“I was going to use it as toilet paper, so unless you want to replace it let me do my business”

“just pass me the cover at least”

he threw the leather goblin-skin cover to the ground, and sneaked off into the tunnel they came from.
Rai replaced the cover, while Akasha looked at Rai’s broken legs.
Crash handed Akasha two shelves from one of the bookshelves to use as a splinter, as Akasha changed the bandages, and added a fresh dressing, tying the splinters extremely tightly together.

“you should be able to walk, but don’t try charging at anyone for a few days at least, and next time don’t withhold information, valuable or not” smiled Akasha.
As he walked back to his bed and bag, Alexander woke up beside him, stood up and kicked the dwarf awake.

“Friends, we should continue our quest together lest it falls into evil’s grubby hands, wait, where is Fiddles?” he says, looking around.
Fiddles walks through the hidden doors, startling the drowsy dwarf who just woke up.
Yump jumps up and brandishes his axe at Fiddles.

“Calm down young companion, he is our brethren in this quest and we must get going. The sun is rising and we only have a small amount of time until the goblins wake up and start running around.”

“Young? I’m old enough to be your grandmother!”

“Sometimes I question your gender dwarf” says Fiddles as he walks past the Axe blade.

“It’s the beards” says Akasha laughing, Crash chuckling alongside him as he placed his unfinished arrows into the quiver.

“This book is the one Treona mentioned” says Rai flicking through the pages
“it says there are nine stones and they were held in the chapel, we should try there next”

After a quick pack up, Akasha helping Rai gather his backpack, they head off, Alexander spearheading the group.
As soon as they walk through the door, he feels the press of sharp steel aim for his temples.

“Oh, you’re not a goblin” whispered the stranger in a sultry female voice, point elf ears stemming from the hood.

“Put that down young woman, there are six of us and you seem to be all alone” replied the paladin, outside light reflecting off his armour into her hood.

“Do eet or I’ll break your skinny little legs lass” replied the dwarf, Rai’s chuckling heard clearly from behind.

“Young? I’m old enough to be your mother” she replied, putting the arrow back into her quiver.
Before she even finished that action Fiddles jumps on her, daggers ever ready to slide between ribs.
She steps back, her movements as sultry as her voice, and Alexander steps in front of Narr.

“Stop it fiddle, ever hear the saying ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend?”

“The enemy can be the enemy of any of my enemies, I still won’t trust them” replies the dwarf for Fiddle, voicing most of the parties doubts. They only knew each other for a day but they trusted each other more than this new stranger.

“My name is Traxex, I’m here to kill a goblin for my employer, not some people in handsome armour pretending to be some kinds of heroes.” She said, smile on her lips.

“Well then, go find your goblin, we’ll go find our chapel” said Akasha politely

The Party head into the courtyard, the morning light giving everything a rusty, warm glow. They could see the temple’s spire ahead. But they couldn’t just walk straight towards it.
Running from the cover of house to house, one by one, or two by two, fiddles leading in the front clearing out the houses silently, every few hours the party would walk into the house he just cleared and see him splattered in fresh blood, but no bodies. Either he was considerate enough to clear the bodies or he did what he did with the wolf head.

Sewers

Crash’s ears kept tingling, hearing light footsteps and the creek of stretched leather, catching a glimpse of the elf following. He nodded at Akasha.

“We’re being followed by the elf, what do you think she wants?” announces Akasha.

“I’m not too sure; Yump was right, we shouldn’t drop our guard.” Says alexander as Fiddles comes back from the roof, nothing but a courtyard separating them from the temple.

“We’re nearly there” says Fiddles

“Are you ok Rai? Do you sense any magic?” asks Alexander, his leadership assorted by the fact he takes care and commands the party.

“I can’t feel anything, I’m not a full mage anymore so I’d need to be pretty close to sense it”

Crash’s eyebrow goes up questioningly.

“You were a full mage?” he asks quietly as the rest of the party planned on running to the temple.

“Long story”bhe replied, shutting up.

“Let’s wait here for an hour, till evening, there’s too many goblins to run past here, especially with an injured brethren amidst us” announced Alexander

“why don’t I slit his throat so we can move on? I could sneak into the temple easily.” Boasted Fiddle, who was met with angry glares and Alexander’s hand raised to strike.

~

They sneaked by slowly, the sun as red and rusty as the morning, the air eerily silent, no birds chirping here.
They navigated the rubble at the entrance, seeing inside but not being able to get in through the shut portcullis to the temple.
Crash whistles lightly from the side, he found an open side door in.
they file into the corridor, the fading light only dimly lighting it. It was short though, and they came out onto the other side just as they wanted.
But something didn’t seem right.
Akasha and Crash’s ears could hear a light rasp of material against stone echo inside the open topped temple; Yump sensed two pairs of eyes on him.
With only slight nods at each other, Yump nudged Fiddle’s leg subtly with the hilt of his axe an motioned his eyes in the direction of the statue.
Fiddle, his attention suddenly focused on the small material of black cloak just barely visible from behind the statue.
He slipped out of line of sight, while Alex nodded and proceeded forward towards the fountain in the middle. They were a distraction.

Suddenly he felt an arrow head to his temples, the second time today.
‘By Pelor, I should invest in a Helmet’ he thought as he turned to face the small man in the cloak.
He saw Fiddles emerge from the Shadow and press his own arrowhead to the back of the little man’s neck, who turned ghostly white.

“Who are you?” he asks in a Raspy voice.

“We’re Travellers sent to find a stone for…a friend” answered Alexander cautiously

“Do you know Alkirk?” he asks slyly, eyes narrowing.

“We’ve met, yes” Said Alexander, his hand on his sword, Fiddle’s finger tightening against the trigger.

“Do you’ve met the traitor, he left me to rot here when the goblins invaded, I’ve had live here for years, dodging goblins, unable to leave. Reduced to sneaking, like a rat caught in a trap”

Before anymore could be said, the patter of many small feet interrupt the silence of the serene Temple.
Goblins appear through the other side of the portcullis, the tallest one holding a silvered Dagger.

“Kill the Rat man” yells the Goblin Leader, his Eyes instantly focused on the tiny human.
He notices the rest of the party, and then repeats “Kill ALL rat mans!”
From the corridor they came from Traxex Appears, hidden from view, and shoots her bow through the bars, fellin1g a goblin with an arrow Straight into the eye.
“BLOCK THE DOOR” yells Fiddles, even though the door behind them was barred, and a portcullis was down.

Traxex runs into the party, trying to hide beside the small man and fiddle behind the pillars.

Fiddles tries to get to an vantage point by climbing on top of the statue, But his fingers slip and he falls onto the ground with an extremely loud thud.

“There’s more behind the door!” yells Crash; realizing most of the thud came from large barred doors on the other side of the temple.

Akasha’s Panther suddenly fades, becoming see-through, and charges towards the barred door, swiping blindly through the door, it’s ghostlike hand sliding into it and past the physical wood, a dying scream heard through the door.

“They have some sort of battering ram!” says Akasha sensing what his spirit Panther saw.

Hoyt, the little man, screams.
He falls and Starts convulsing on the floor, Fur suddenly growing over his face.

“So that’s why they called him a rat man” says alexander pulling his sword and charging towards the corridor to stem the scrabbling Goblin group.
Turning into a were-rat, Hoyt tries to charge at the rogue on the floor, only slightly hurting him, the rat’s paw stepping onto Fiddle’s arm. Rai steps in and distracts Hoyt, pressing his attack and backing off, pulling the mindless Giant Rat away from fiddles.

Yump leaps up and brings down his large axe on the were-rat, who reacts to the rattle of chainmail, taking a small step to the side, but the axe still struck true, cutting through the huge shaggy fur and wounding the rat. Adrenaline rushing through his veins, Yump followed up with more swings.
Yelping in pain, Hoyt tries to move out of the range of the blades.

Traxex shoots two arrows, missing both spectacularly, a huge disprovement to his first shot.

Managing to find an opening, The Were-rat runs past both warriors and jumps straight on Crash, who managed to launch one arrow into the rat’s neck, but the momentum of the charge brought him straight to the floor as the tiny claws dug into him.
Rai tries to follow, the pain in his legs searing, but fails to attract the Rat’s attention with his swords.

“Ow! The pain! My arm is crushed! Somebody help!” yells Fiddles, overreacts to his slight wounds as Crash lay bleeding heavily, arms still trying flailing and punching the rat like beast.

Akasha reaches into his bag and takes out a small spear, barely larger than a twig, wrapped in red and white Ribbons and a small purple feather.
His spirit Panther completely disappears behind the door, leaving only dying goblin screams to acknowledge his existence.

Yump throws himself against the rat, knocking it off Crash and embedding the axe against the rat’s sternum, while Akasha hurled the spear into the fountain.
Rai felt the magic emanate from the fountain, his wounds surging with warmth.
Crash’s wounds knit themselves up as an aura of warmth emanated outwards.
Yump, panting, kicked the rat with his metal boot, lurching the axe out with a gush of blood, his own blood boiling with fury and adrenaline.

Alexander struck valiantly against the goblins who just found the door to the corridor, hitting with incredible accuracy in the dim light, felling the one rushing past his leader.

On the other side of the door, the Panther splits itself in half, A ghostly Image of jagged teeth appearing only briefly as it caught two goblins in-between the spilt images, crushing two goblins together till their dying screams mingled. Sensing the fear, it advanced, intimidating the others and bringing Akasha to a smile as he tasted victory on that end.

Hoyt’s sternum stops bleeding profusely, and he stand up again, this time no trace of human qualities remaining.
Taken by Surprise, Yump is bitten by the leaping rat.
Kicking it off himself, but closer towards Crash, he ran towards it as it suddenly tried to scurry away with fear.
Whacking it’s snout against the side of his axe, he stopped it from moving as pain seared through the rat’s body.

The Goblin leader thrusts his silver dagger, it bouncing off the plates of his armour, leaving only a nick, while another goblin falls dead behind him, smite by a giant fist that appeared from just above.
With a quick prayer of thanks to his god, he swung his sword at the unbalanced goblin.
Slashing the goblin’s head right off, falling and rolling in front of his feet, Alexander could also taste the divine taste of victory.
Hearing the clash of battle still raging beyond the corridor, Alexander hurried back.

As Fiddle lay on the floor, rolling in pain and yelling, Rai’s attacks were slamming into the were rat, distracting it long enough for Yump to jump onto its back.
Yump used threw his large axe around and grabbed the other side, choking the rat as it jumped around like a Rodeo.

As Alex rushed through the door, he saw the Rat fall down unconscious, choke out of breath, while Akasha sat leaned over Crash, his hands nimbly working on bandaging Crash’s semi-conscious aching body.
Turning back into a human, Alexander recognises Hoyt’s cloak has his god’s Sigel on it, and feeling it would suite himself then a filthy non-believer rat, took it for himself, replacing his own slightly tattered cloak.
As he put it on, he feels a surge of divine power and a sudden awareness. He sees Fiddles get up with a scowl, holding his arm and approaching Hoyt with Murder in his eyes.

“it’s over” he says, stopping Fiddle from taking Hoyt’s head as another trophy as Traxex came out of the shadows with a rope in hand, tying up the Rat man.

Taking the wolf head out of his ruck sack and slipping it onto his hand, he approached the elf.

“Who are you? And why did you follow us? Did you send those goblins after us?” he interrogates using the wolf head.

“I’m here looking after Grumsick for my employer, I followed you thinking it would be safer.” She replies calmly, wincing at Fiddle’s sickening act.

“What stops us from killing you?”

“calm your Blades, we’re all friends here” commands Alexander.

“Fellas! we were spotted by goblins, some of who ran away, they’ll come back soon with reinforcements, and they know these ruins better than us, so let’s get a move on” Pants out the Dwarf

“I agree, let’s move” said Rai as he helped Crash climb onto his Large cat

The party head to leave through the barred back doors, Yump smashing through the bars with a single swing of his axe.
Traxex follows them to the door.
Rai turns around, scaring Traxex to a standstill.

“Why do you want to follow us” asks Rai, his nostrils sparking with lightning.

“I’ve been stuck in this town for two months all alone; I thought it would be nice to have company that doesn’t smell like goblin.” She replies meekly, looking down.

“Why didn’t you say so from the start?” Replies Alexander, “we can always use an extra hand looking for our stone, and if your own quest is holy enough we might even help you find your grumpyskip”

“Grumsick” she replies, giggling.

“And before you break my knees again, the stone hasn’t been here for a long time, I sense nothing” replied Rai.

“Don’t you sense Saharine’s Divine presence?” asked alexander Anthos.

“Divinity and Arcana don’t mix. I thought they taught you that” Replied Akasha walking alongside his panther and Crash’s.

Finding an abandoned house about an hour later as the sun set, they start a small fire, eating their rations slowly, wincing as the pains of battle stung them.
Wishing they had a pot and some warm stew.

View
The third encounter

The adventurers, battered and bloody, narrowly escaped the temple. No sooner had they taken shelter in one of the nearby houses, dragging their lycan prisoner in as well, that they heard the frenzied growling of a large creature running towards them, followed by a multitude of small feet.
In a cloud of dust, a reptilian beast the size of a bull emerged onto the square from one of the side alleyways. Borne atop this drake, a vicious looking creature, one covered head to toe in thick plate armour, shouts to the goblins running behind him

“Where are they?!! You let them escape, you brain-dead vermin!!! I’ll skin every one of you maggots if they aren’t found!!! NOW!!!” yelled the burly goblin to his minions


Eluding the goblin search parties, Fiddles peeked his head out, and seeing that the streets had emptied, returned to the party’s hideout in the cellar of an abandoned house.
Stung by the betrayal of the rat-man, the party waited for the traitorous Hoyt to reawaken, now weary of the verminous qualities that their new friend had in store. Having returned to his human form, Hoyt slowly blinked his eyes open, feeling the faint taste of copper, iron and… Dwarf?
Realising what had happened, he jolted awake, only to be met with the restraining ropes of an assassin, the firm grip of a dragonborn and the shining blade of a paladin.

“Why should I not gut you right now, lycan?” said the paladin, edging the blade closer to the shapeshifter’s throat.

“Wait! Wait!” cried the rat-man “I truly meant you no harm, I swear! My treacherous brother see, he- he cursed my side of the family with this… Disgusting affliction… I can’t control it sometimes, the hunger, it… It makes me forget… My humanity sometimes. If I could take it back, I swear I would but-”

“Ah don’t give a bloody fuck aboot’cher plights, rat man” interrupted Yump “All Ah wanna know is if yer condition’s contageous”

Eyeing the dwarf wearily, Hoyt remained silent for a moment, a beads of sweat cascading down from his brow.

Shock took hold of Yump’s face “Ah Moradin’s arsecrack, Ah’m nawt gonna have them wee whiskers now am Ah?” asked the dwarf, stroking his beard for reassurance. “How do Ah get rid of it then?”

Still silent, Hoyt began to struggle against his bonds as Rai’s grip on his throat grew tighter and tighter.

“I would answer the dwarf if I were you” warned Rai.

Choking against the hard scales of the giant dragonborn, he choked out a reponse;
“I- Do not… Know” he gasped “Maybe a church, or- or a temple will have the answers you seek… I know nothing!”

“You are quickly losing worth to us, ratling” menaced Alexander, readying his blade “You have desecrated a holy shrine of Sehanine, attacked our fellowship and wounded our brother. If you cannot absolve yourself, then the sentence must be death.”

“No wait, please, no!”

“You have 5 seconds.”

“Stop! Please, its not my fault!”

“5”

“Wait!”

“4”

“I- Please don’t-”

“3”

“Alright! I- I know a path through the sewers that can lead you around the city!” screamed Hoyt, whimpering to himself as he said so.

“You will explain the routes to Yump then” ordered Anthos, sheathing his sword.

As the dwarf was told the ins and outs of the underground sewer system, the group conveined around their bound prisoner.
The party quickly became divided, as some wished to bring the rat man along as a guide, others wanted to leave him there out of pity and others too wished to simply kill him.
This disagreement quickly descended into a raucous argument. Fearing what the noise may attract and too stubborn to see any other option, Alexander broke through the party, unsheathing his sword and ramming it through the prisoner’s stomach.
The lycan, transforming into his rodent form in response, began to screech and thrash about in the strewn about ropes.

“The knife!” Alexander shouted to Narr, who threw his enchanted silver dagger to the paladin.

Catching the knife in his hand, he drove the blade through the beast’s eye, lodging the silvered blade in the creature’s brain. The problem solved, the paladin then ripped out the beast’s teeth, thinking that they may have anti-venomous properties for his dwarf friend.

“… Well that was a bit much” said Fiddles, completely unfazed by the sudden act of brutality, “So sewers then, right?”

Sneaking into the underground sewerage of Gorisbad, the heroes came up against their greatest foe yet, the unbridled stench of an entire city’s worth of seasoned manure.

“Bittuva shitey smell down ‘ere lads, noo doubt.” said Yump, trudging through a pool of the cities waste, "But the close walls, tha’ stone around us, the warmth o’ the underground, Ah almost feel like Ah’m at home"

“That makes one of us” said Alexander, his nose cringing at the dank sewer. “Are you sure you can you navigate these man holes?”

“Ah was BORN able teh navigate caves laddie; this is a walk in the park teh me.” He replied

It didn’t take long, but it seemed like hours that they spent, with no way to keep track of time.
They found a small opening into a larger structure, some kind of nexus to a large water supply, the sounds of rushing water and goblin murmurs mingled indistinguishably.

“This is close teh the bathhouse, Ah swear”

“You don’t say Dwarf” replied Fiddles with a smirk.

Before they could gather their bearings, however, the goblins had spotted them.
Leaping into battle, Alexander and Yump threw themselves at a great bearded orc (with strikingly sizeable breasts if one looked closely) while Traxex and Akasha made short work of its chattel. As they charged in, they saw the orc kick something greyish-red into a pit in the middle of the room.
The dragonborn warrior stayed back, bringing it up the rear with Fiddles to guard Crash and make sure they weren’t pursued from behind, but surrounded by strange sounds, their paranoia peeked.
Slashing through the enemy with ease, it didn’t take long for them to clear the room of adversaries.
As the last goblin died, they heard the painful cries of whatever had been kicked into the pit.
Alexander looked down and saw a wounded female tiefling holding her leg in pain.

“Yump! Pass me your rope” he said, as Akasha prepared his medicines and magic for healing.

“Not another one” said Rai as he entered and saw them trying to help someone out of the well

“Enemy of my enemy, remember?” said Yump and Fiddle with a sigh.

As they helped the tiefling out, faint whispers from memory reminded Rai of the Enemy of ‘his’ Great Arhkosian Empire. It was hard enough to accept members into this growing party of strangers, but a tiefling?
With a quick word of thanks to his God, and a murmur of magic healing from Akasha, they warmed her into their Parties embrace.

“Who are you? Why did you come here? And how in the Gods did you end up in that hole?” questioned the irate Dragonborn.

“I am Melara, and I came here to seek magical artefacts. I heard there were a few in this town, and maybe remnants of my race’s previous achievements” she replied

“Great, another demon following in their ancestor’s destruction” thought Rai

“I sneaked into the sewer from beside a Bathhouse trying to avoid some goblin raiding party, and walked in here from beyond that door at the far side of this pit. I walked right into these goblins, and their master kicked me into the pit just as you rushed in from the other side. The one who kicked me was the one the brave paladin threw into the well. I appreciate the ironic help” she continued.

“See? Told ye tha’ we were near the damn bathhouse.” Said Yump.

After a brief respite and an exchanging of words, they crossed the small bridge to the door Melara came from.
As they opened the door they saw barrels stacked upon barrels in a large chamber.

“So wha’ do ya think this is?” asked Yump

With a deft move, Rai reached over his shoulder and unholstered his weapon, and stabbed the nearest barrel.
Ruby red wine gushed out.
The Dwarf’s eyes widened, and he quickly ran to a barrel, smashing the lid cleanly off with a swing of his axe, and threw himself into it, happy gurgling noises echoing throughout the chamber.
Melara walked over to another barrel, the oak stained a much darker shade than the rest.
Alexander helped her take the lid off, and with an Exclamation, she yelled;

“Wow! This is an old whiskey indeed! It would make a great disinfectant”

She barely had time to take her empty flask out and fill it with the stuff before Yump, hearing her yell whiskey, struggled to jump out of his barrel, and stumbling as he smashed it apart, he tipsily ran over and threw himself into the whiskey barrel.

“A happier dwarf I’ve never seen” The rest chuckled amongst themselves.

After the barrel was drained, which took no time at all thanks to the dwarf’s high tolerance for the stuff, they ventured forward, finding a ladder in the corner of the chamber.
It led to a ruined tavern, which explained the barrels.
They found they were close to the stables and the bathhouse, and though it was dark, they could hear the ominous fury of feet running around.

“Out of the frying pan ‘n’ into the Fire” hiccupped the dwarf happily, smashed more than the goblins he crushed under his axe.

“Trying to escape the goblins? We could always go see if there are horses in that stable, and if it really has been so long since this place has fallen, then we could just set that barn on fire, it’d be a great distraction for us to get away.” Suggested Melara.

“Excellent idea, milady. But its been a while since there was anything living that didn’t smell of goblin in there.” Replied the paladin, “Regardless, we’d still have to find a way to light it up even if we wanted to”.

With a smirk, a small orb of fire appeared in Melara’s hands.

“I came here for magical items. I am a mage after all”.

It took only a few minutes to run over to it, the Dwarf more rolling on his knees then running, and only a moment after they got there for Melara to hurl a large sphere of fire straight into it’s center.
The Dry, creaky, dusty barn exploded, like fireworks on a lovely and warm summer’s eve.
Then, goblins and wolves rained out of the barn, like the sparks and flaming splinters of wood.
Too preoccupied with extinguishing themselves, the party charged forward…

View
The wolves and the fire.

Wading straight into the fight, the wolves and goblins tougher than the ones they fought before, more aware, ducking and dodging the fighter’s swings, probably due to the fact some were still afire.
Akasha quickly cast a spell, healing Crash and waking him from his unconscious rest.
Hurling fire and a hail of arrows, crossbow bolts whizzing through the air, they were the only things that seemed to find their mark.
Though they saw and dodged the shining blades that Alexander, Yump and Rai swung, they didn’t see the black bolts shimmer into their chest, back and heads.
The fierce battle didn’t last long, but the sense of dread lingered. They could hear the thumping of an angry hoard running towards the flaming barn. Crash ran to the edge and looked down the road, seeing the torches and glowing red dust the army raised.

“We can’t cross the road!” yelled Crash over the rumble and roaring fire.

“We have to run through the barn! Hurry!” yelled Alexander.

They rushed into the barn, sprinting straight and trying to avoid the roof that came crashing down in ruins of fire.
Broken Boards fell onto Rai’s head, a crown of fire that didn’t last long.
Some had fallen on Melara too, but her demonic skin resisted the hot ashes completely.
They could hear the goblins approach and screech on the other side of the barn, the way they came through blocked by ruin.
Walking past the bathhouse, seeing the ruins and rubble, Akasha spotted something with his sharp cat eyes.

“Dragons scales. Seems like there is a cave nearby…”

And sure enough, there was the entrance to the cave hidden just behind one of the fallen pillars of the bathhouse.

“Perhaps the dragon has the stone? We will have to return here and check.” Said Alexander.

“Right now, we should return into the treeline, regain our strength. We can’t do much right now after such an eventful day, let alone fight if the dragon is in a flushed mood.” Replied Rai, his arms sore, Akasha’s healing wasn’t enough to heal all the lacerations and stem the ash filled blood that ran alongside his eyebrow.

“I coul’ do with more drink righ’ ‘bout now” said Yump, his face mostly black and white with ash.

Safe, for the time being, they retreated to the forest.
Getting there, exhausted, they set up camp and rested for the night.
During the day, they planned to send Crash and Fiddles to infiltrate the town and cave during the cover of darkness.

“If you wake the dragon, flee.”
“You two alone would not be able to face a being such as a dragon alone.” Warned Rai and Alexander.

“So what? We sneak into the cave and cast the spell?” asked Fiddles as Yump handed him the last scroll.

“Not in the cave ye buffoons, magic tend to be bright and shine, do it outside will ya?” said Yump, the ash cleaned off his face, but his face taut.

“Maybe I should escort you?” offered Melara.

“We don’t want to be weighed down even more then we are” Fiddles threw back.

The day went by slowly; Rai had gone deeper into the forest with Akasha to find some ingredients for a stew, Fiddles and Yump slept, Crash and Alexander kept watch, studying the quirky movements of the Goblin search parties, Melara snuck over and took a curious look at the Dragonborn’s leather-bound book he carried and wrote in, Traxex fashioned a few makeshift arrows for herself and crash, since they had left some embedded in goblins when they were in a rush to escape from the hoard.
Rai came back with a dear slung over his shoulder, Akasha’s sack filled with edible mushrooms and sweet smelling leaves and moss.

“Hey! Can I get some help skinning this potential stew ingredient?” Asked Rai.

“Sure, I’ve already grown bored” said Traxex

dropping the books stealthily, Melara sneaked away from Rai’s makeshift tent and around the tree it was, then walking towards them from behind Rai’s back, said “I’ll help, it’s the least I could do.”

As the light settled, and the smell of boiling stew arose, so did Yump and Fiddles awake.
Sitting around the campfire, they felt their camaraderie grow. So too do mercenaries and misfits have friends, and they were starting to think they found a group of close friends, their own.
Around the campfire they joked and told stories, sharing past experiences. The joy in Yump’s face when Melara offered some of the whiskey she salvaged was worth the flaming burp that erupted from Yump and the joke that he was more Dragonborn then Rai.

After the stew, which there was still plenty more leftover, Crash and Fiddles set their way towards the cave.
Rai went back to his tent, and taking out a small flask of wine, poured over his books.
Yump stayed by the campfire to talk to Melara and Traxex over the leftovers, while Alexander stared out after the pair that left.

As they approached the village, they saw torches and the hooded green hands that held them, they stayed under the cover of the night well enough, Fiddles’ black cloak billowing like the shadows that contained them.
They ran across the road, the small pack of goblins not even noticing over the sound of their own footsteps.
They looked at each other, knowing they were friends only because they were both insane to the same level, but only Fiddles chose to express his quirkiness, Crash on the other hand, biding his time.
‘’Alright?’’ Crash asked, looking away.
‘’just dandy’’ Fiddles smirked,
‘’what were you talking to Alexander about?’’
‘’ that does not matter to the likes of you’’
And so the rift began.

It was felt at camp, the late nights Rai and Crash spent talking or just helping each other, Traxex and Melara not knowing or choosing to not know, Alexander, Yump, Fiddles ,Qin sticking together for unknown reasons. Or at least this is what Crash felt was happening.

They reached the cave without much of a hitch, and Crash whispered to Fiddles that he would keep watch as he cast the scroll.
Climbing onto the pillar, his sharp eyes well accustomed to the dark, he watched the flickering lights that came and went, never exactly coming close.

Fiddles crept into the cave, much against Yump’s suggestion, and putting his cloak around he huddled the scroll and read its words.
Springing into life, the blue glowed and pulsed in time with Fiddle’s whispered words, he smirked as he thought this is how mages feel when they cast a ball of fire at their foe.
Suddenly, the glow streaked out, flaring deeper into the cave. It came to a rest not too far ahead of him. And for what seemed like a lifetime, everything was graveyard silent.

“WHO ARE YOU?” Boomed a voice, the snarl that proceeded it gave it away as the dragon. The flare had awakened it.
“And this is why I don’t like magic” thought Fiddles.

“My name is fiddles”

“why are you in a goblin infested town?”

“I came seeking gold” he bluffed.

“Gold seekers, they’re everywhere”-muttered the dragon.“You are a strange one if you’re looking for riches in Gorizbad. The little savages have plucked it clean unless you’re willing to venture into the Kiris Manor, and by the looks of you, that will spell your doom.”

“I have some friends with me, one of them pays me to kill goblins.”

“Also you’re motivated by greed, slaying of evil is a noble goal, whatever your cause may be. Go in peace now, least you attract the hordes to my lair.”

Walking out of the cave, slightly perturbed, he tapped Crashes shoulder.
A chill ran down Crash’s back, and he nodded.
They went back to camp, sliding amongst the shadows easily.

Everyone was awake when they walked into camp, their faces turning slowly turning taut from a smile.
They reported what happened to Alexander.

“We should go retrieve the stone then, we can’t just leave it there” he replied

“and what will happen to fiddles if he comes back? The dragon will be furious” replied Yump

“It didn’t kill him there, it seems reasonable. We should explain we want to destroy it, he’ll like that, and if we say we want to kill the goblin leader then it might even help us.”

The party followed Crash and Fiddles, staying close to them since they knew the flow of the shadows and stealth. Alexander and Fiddles studied the goblin’s movements, and with a minute window opening, rushed across the roads, stopping for no reason. It didn’t take long at all to get there.

“I shall walk in first, Walk behind me” Said Alexander as Rai came up and put his hand on his shoulder.

“We do it together, or we don’t do it at all.” Said Rai as Melara turned on the mage light to bobble above their heads.
Walking in step with him, Yump, Alexander and Rai all took their first steps into the lair, a bulwark of safety for their companions.

Again… I don’t remember this. Please ADVISE!

As they left the cave feeling euphoric , finally something had gone as they planned, they realized that they had left their mage light bobbling over Alexander’s head.
Realizing how close the Goblins were, and how bright the light was, Melara quickly snuffed it. But not fast enough.

With a blink, it was gone, but they knew that although the goblins wouldn’t dare come near the dragon’s cave, they would surround it and eventually they would be cut off.

“We hav’ ta hurry, this is not good” Said Yump.

“This way! We must get back to camp first and pick up our backpacks. Then to the Witch we should hurry to…”

“I don’ trust the Hag” replied Yump as they started sprinting in the direction of the camp.
As they turned the corner, they ran into a wave of Goblins, their eyes wide with hungry, blood lusty eyes, glazed over with madness and anger.

“Shut your eyes!” yelled Alexander.
Melara quickly whispered a curse, and the torches snuffed out their flames, but raising his sword, Alexander Cried out a prayer to his god, and a blinding light erupted from his blade, the light of a thousand suns burning away at the wide eyed greenskins.
Falling over completely blind, the party started to run away, spots crossing their eyes.
Rai picked up Melara and put her on his back, she was too focused on snuffing lights to close her eyes to Alex’s blinding glare.

They reached camp, and Rushing, they cleaned after themselves and covered their tracks.

They had lighted a ten kilometre area as if it was day, they had alerted everyone to something, though they could not be sure what.
They had also left the blinded Goblins alone, and they had probably already reported their sightings with mad fervour.
Still rushing, they managed to get back onto the main road and slowed down. It wasn’t too far to the tower now, about a few hours walk, and it would be dawn soon.

They made it to the tower without much trouble, Daylight shining through the trees…
and the tower in sight, Fiddles, Yump and Akasha stopped.

“We’re not going to give the stone to that old woman are we?” asked Akasha.

“I don’t think we should, she probably asks everyone who comes by to help her, sending them to their doom, and she probably wants to destroy the stone…” added Fiddles.

“I agree, I don’t have complete confidence in her” said the Dragonborn.

“What do you suggest” Asked Alexander.

“This?” suggested Melara, Holding the slaying stone in her soft fragile hands as if it weighed nothing.

Surprised, Alex quickly rummaged through his clothing, and taking out the slaying stone, quickly looked at it, then back the one in his hands, and back again.

“Magic” snorted Akasha, while Melara smiled deviously.

“Ok, Yump, as my sword brother and closest friend, I’ll entrust the stone to you. Rai, Melara and I will enter the tower and give her the fake, and make sure she doesn’t try to copy it with her ritual.
Crash, Fiddles, sneak in through that window on the second floor, keep an eye on her.”

Wrapping the stone in a cloth and giving it to Yump, Rai and Melara set off towards the tower after Alexander, Crash and Fiddles taking a different path closer to the tower.
Knocking heavily on the door, Fiddles and Crash took that as the signal to climb the side into the window.

Well… Fuck it, Archie, I’m lazy and I don’t remember this conversation, something about npeople dying and that’s all I remember. You or someone else write the Dialog, just remember to put it in italics…

As she walked up the stairs, the stone in hand and the three others behind her, Crash froze. Hearing the footsteps nearing, Fiddles saw what was happening, and grabbing Crash’s collar, threw himself backwards through the window they only seconds before climbed through.
They fled the scene just in time as Treona reached the top of the stairs and looked at the open window.

“Odd, I didn’t leave that window open. I must be forgetting things, my poor mind.” She mused to herself.

“I’ll close it, you two go ahead” said Alexander, and as they left, he waved a thumbs up at Crash and Fiddles, who receded to the treeline.

~

As the night came, the magical runes drawn in ecstasy on the floor, both Rai and Melara recognized some symbols, but not enough to see what their function was.
It was going to do something with wind elementals. That’s all they could figure out.

As the time came, Treona asked “please darling, hand me the stone. It’s time to rid the world of its evil.”

Hesitantly at first, Melara smiled and handed over the stone.
placing it in the middle of the circular tower with old grace and uncanny precision, she started chanting words as she walked beside the Symbols, tapping each one, infusing it with magic and bringing it to life.

As she completed her circle, Lightning arced and raised the stone rose from the floor.
Concentrating hard, Melara kept the stone in focus as hard as she could.
But, with a Flash, the stone was shattered, and Melara stumbled backwards from the backlash, the lightning that held the stone in place now Showering all over the room.

“What have you done! That wasn’t the stone! Was it? The elementals are angry! They used up all their power for something so easy to destroy!”

and with this, Gusts of wind and dust appeared, and obviously angry, fell upon the helpless five…

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Wind and stones

As dusk fell, Melara’s dragonling fluttered over to Fiddles and Crash, explaining in its native tongue that Rai, Alexander and Melara were invited to stay in the bastion to see for themselves the ritual Treona said would destroy the rock.
As Crash Translated to Yump, he clutched the stone ever tighter in his hands.

“I still don’ trust ‘err. Tha could be a ruse, and she’ll witch out ‘nother copy o the stone an’ make enough new stones to wipe out Alex, Mel, an’ tha’ infuriating Dragonborn” – weezed out Yump.

“I have the same feeling” growled Fiddles through gritted teeth, wanting to be in the tower so he could slide his dagger into the witches throat in case she tried anything funny.

“Right now, all we can do is keep watch over the tower and make sure to be ready in case something happens” replied Crash, crouched at the tree line petting his panther’s head.

Traxex paced, awkward, something obvious and uncomfortable on her mind.
Then, out of the blue, they heard thunder and saw flashes of lightning come out of the bastions open roof, a storm brewing overhead.
As another flash bolted over the clear sky, and an arrow whizzed past fiddle’s head, and orks leaped onto them, brandishing rusty iron swords with sharp edges that cut the air in front of them, seeking their flesh.

~

Back at the top of the tower, the angry elementals whooshed around, sharp cold air biting into cheeks and shredding clothes.
At almost the same time, Treona and Alexander were picked up by whirling invisible wind, trying to steal away at Alexander’s breath from his very lungs.
Being one with the element that tried to pluck him up and choke him, Rai flipped onto his feet and growled at the surroundings, noticing how strongly the bastion was built. Melara rolled closer to him trying to avoid the wind that ripped at her clothes.
Alexander choked out a few words in Primordial, the language of the elementals.
Upon hearing this, another elemental, slightly larger than the others, arose from the centre of the ritual ring and boomed out, his voice reverberating like thunder.

“WHERE IS THE STONE?”

Dropped from the grasp of air, Alexander gasped for sweet if bitter-cold air.

“Stone? What stone? We don’t have the stone.” he said, as he heard the clash of steel shatter through the air below, and with a quick glance down, quickly continued; “The Orks down there? They have it.”

As they heard the winds whistle around them, a flash and a clap of thunder came from below.

~

Hit by lightning, Fiddles stumbled backwards into the tree, Yump leaping into his place and charging towards the orc shaman, Crash’s arrows whizzing in front of Yump’s face as they found their target in the orc Yump hadn’t noticed behind the tree.

Traxex loosed arrow after arrow, which found their marks quickly, but she didn’t notice the orc come up from the side. Knocking another arrow, she turned to face the hammerhead that threw her to the ground, staggering her.

Fiddles aimed his crossbow straight at that foe’s head, who was too engaged in the battle to notice the bolt aimed at him. He turned to face Fiddles, and the bolt landed between his eyes.
Turning and loading his crossbow smoothly, he saw Traxex roll into the river.

The leader, obvious from his naturally imposing stance and eye patch over his right eye, stepped out in-between Yump and the shaman, his sword swinging through the air with momentum.
Blocking with his axe head, Yump brought his hilt up and bashed it right into his knee.
Two arrows and a bolt flew by, one arrow missing while the other consumed the leader’s last eye, the bolt embedding into his thigh, straight through the kinks in the armour.
Feeling a gust of wind rushing through, the dwarf knew he had to get rid of the stone.

Grabbing the arrow’s shaft, he pulled it out, the eye’s tail still writhing in pain, and with his other hand shoved the rock into its place.
Screaming inhuman cries, the orc backed off, blinded and, unknown to him, hunted by the elementals that surrounded him.

Still surrounded by other orcs, their bloodlust unsated, the party drew in their next gasp, the cold air filled with the buzz of the storm and adrenaline rushing through their veins.

~

The elementals threw Treona off the edge of the parapet, the sound of a crushing crunch clear through the wailing storm. Finished with her, the elementals flew down, and Alexander ran straight for the stairs.
Rai, feeling the urgency, ran to the parapet and lassoed his rope to it, throwing himself off in a fluid motion and running down the side of the tower.
Then, his feet didn’t meet rock, but glass.

Crashing through the window and hearing Alkirk wake with a nightmarish scream, he swung out and caught his feet on the rock below the window.
Scraped and bleeding from shallow cuts, Rai ran down the rest of the way, his feet hitting the ground just as Melara approached the parapet and rained down fire, lightning bursting in the background and rain starting to pour as the sky cried more flames and her dragonling fluttering in what seemed like a dance of insane glee around her.
A giant sphere of fire came down behind the orcs below, cutting off their escape and setting them ablaze.
Rai charged forward as Alexander burst through the doors, his look of confusion replaced with righteous anger.

Stepping out of the woods, Akasha confronted two orcs. They had no chance. The shadow of a large panther rose out of the ground and engulfed them.
Keeping his head down and walking calmly, cries of the dying emanating as the shadows slashed through the orcs trying to stay hidden.
Nodding slightly to Alexander, he continued his light pace onwards and faded into the treeline.

~

Fiddles sneaked away towards the site of the fall, finding Treona lying in a heap, breathing sharp painful gasps of air, choking on blood and rain.
Quickly tapping her for loot, he found nothing but a small pouch with a measly three gold pieces.
He never once tried healing a person, and didn’t have a clue to what to do. He turned her head to the side to clear her airway, bloody rain pouring out of her mouth; she choked in another gasp of air.
He glanced at her legs, and knew she would never walk again, the bones and sinew bared raw against the elements as the blood squirted weakly into the soil.
He ripped part of Treona’s robe, and used it as a makeshift bandage, at least until Alexander came.

~

Rai roared at the blazing orcs running towards him, the lightning that arced doing little to singe the already blackened skin that no doubt stung unimaginably.
Yump leaped up from behind and in one fell swoop cleaved his axe through the torso, slicing right through and embedding it in the ground below.

With a smile, Rai joined the fray as Yump swung his axe in the next direction, oddly finding its mark in the dark and storm.

Like the storm that brought them together, this was the storm they fought together in, covering each other’s backs.

Alexander embedded his blade through the gut of yet another one, whispering a prayer to the heretic as he slid off and fell. Glancing at another that managed to somehow slide unnoticed into the middle of their party, he muttered another prayer.
The orc, blinded by a burst of light, yelled in pain.

Rai, hearing the roar of more bloodied calling, rammed his blade into the shoulder and spun the green-skin around, sliding out his blade with a vicious twist as he twirled toward the blinded orc, eagerly sliding his long sword from the abdomen up into the heart, he brought his short sword around and lopped off the head. Blood squirted out and mixed with the rain.

Looking around the hazed battle field, everyone with grim smiles on their bloodied faces, looking back at the tower, he saw Melara pose majestically as she breathed fire from her hands.

~

Traxex tried desperately to keep her head above the water, her cuts stung afresh in the river.
Frantically trying to grab onto one of the stones of the bridge, her bloody wet hands couldn’t grasp anything, the river rising with rainwater pushing her head below the surface.
She felt her hands wrap around a root near the riverbed, only for the sting of a fresh cut to shock her. Letting go, she drifted down further along the current.

~

An elemental appeared to Alexander.

“The stone was ours, it empowers us. You had no right to treachery. We will now take what belongs to us, and do not dare follow us mortal.” That said, it vanished, a gust of wind sifting the dust and leaves to cover the tracks.
And with that, a dreadful cry rang through the forest. The elementals had found the blind orc.

Hearing Fiddles cry out for help, they rushed that way. Alexander, brooding in the place he stood, was the last to follow and join his party. As he walked, he noticed the spiral symbol on every orc’s armour, the symbol of mercenaries. He noted it and reminded to mention it to the others later.

~

Alexander softly brought the pleading Treona into the tower, the frightfully awakened Alkirk pacing beside him.
Pulling him back, Crash and Akasha talked calmly to him, distracting him as the rest went up to the second level with Treona.

Alexander had healed her enough to make her conscious outside, but didn’t heal her completely.
Laying her down on a soft piece of floor, he questioned her.

“Was that your plan after all this time? Consorting with elementals to destroy the stone? Feeding them more power? Do you know what they are! Akin to Demons and the unholy! Had I known from the start I would never have joined…” he raged.

“But it was for the greater good! To destroy the stone!”

“Feeding” interrupted Alexander “the primordials more power is the opposite of greater good”.

Standing up, Alexander put his hands together.

“Do you repent helping the elementals?” he asked.

“Of course! I just wanted that stone rid from this world” cried Treona with a shaky voice.

“May your gods give you rest as they will forgive me” he prayed, and before anyone else had time to react, the smashed her face with his fist, crushing her head under a shield till there was nothing recognisable left.

Shaken, Rai approached him.

“You shouldn’t force your faith on others…I’m shocked you did that!” stuttered Rai.

“I didn’t force my faith on her, simply stated she was helping the elementals, and then gave her the chance to redeem herself for when she met her maker.” grimly stated Alexander.

Silent, they all went about their tasks, Melara burnt the body to ashes, and Akasha swept the ashes away, Rai went down and prepared a stew with what he could find, Fiddles and Alexander approached Alkirk and informed him of his rat like cousin.
Crash and Yump went out into the rain to look for Traxex in case she got beached…
Everything had a surreal feel to it.

As Crash and Yump came back, their efforts in vain, they were welcomed with a warm bowl of thick delicious stew. Sitting at the table quietly, only Alkirk chatting away to Alexander, interrogating him to the details of their amazing story.

Melara and Rai went to the fireplace and tried to light a fire, lightning arching towards the kindle as Melara set the logs a smoulder. They sat there and talked about magic late into the night, Rai writing more notes into his mysterious book.

Yump went into the basement and lay his bedroll there, then searching amongst the barrels for more ale or alcoholic beverage, found a small casket of cider. Drinking his fill, he fell asleep soundly. The rest had gone to bed.

Morning came, and the sun shone brightly. The grass had never looked greener, the sky was a clear brilliant blue, they stood at the doorway, the stairs dry and rough under their feet, and looking at each other, growling a joke in draconic, Melara, Crash and Fiddles laughed.
They didn’t want to go their separate ways.

“You know, after all we’ve been through… we could use people like you to find the people who hired the orc mercenaries.” said Alexander, not looking at anyone in particular.

“I’ve nothing more important to do.” said Rai, solitude taking its toll.

“As long as there’ll be more magical artefacts” smiled Melara.

“I’m always by your side” huffed the dwarf.

“Robbing millionaires or the dead? If you promise excitement I guess” said fiddles with a crooked smile.

“This group is insane…I like it” smiled Crash.

They all looked at Akasha.

“Sure, why not. Someone needs to heal your sorry faces.” He joked.

“So, which way?” asked Melara.

“I suggest Winterhaven. Word in the wind is that there’s something a stirring there.” Said Rai.

“Then lead the way. Were one goes, we follow”

The sun shone brightly through the dew on the grass. The surreal feel of last night faded. They had an entire day ahead of them, and who knew what was in store before the next dusk fell.

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Ilyana's Plight

After the fateful events at Treona’s tower, the adventurers traveled to Winterhaven, only to find that no one has heard about a band of orcs wearing a device of a circle of barbed wire. The townsfolk told them that if they wanted news they better go to Fallcrest and so they did.

Upon arriving to the city and asking a few questions, they found out that the orcs belonged to the bang of mercenaries and cutthroats called the Iron Circle, who showed up about six weeks ago in Harkenwold, a small barony in the southeast reach of the vale.

When the news of the party defeating the band of orcs from the Iron Circle spread in Fallcrest, they were praised as heroes and invited into the Blue Moon alehouse for celebration. As the night wore on, the gathering moved to the Lucky Gnome taphouse, the dwarf had quite a few and was demonstrating great feats of strength and prowess, contested by the dragonborn. The paladin was preaching the pelorian faith, rogue juggled daggers and played dice, while druid and the ranger were drawn into into a drinking game by the crowd. The ale flowed freely and cups were raised frequently in the name of the heroes who defeated the orc menace.

This is the morning after. You wake to loud braying. What jolted you awake was the stopping of the cart drawn by a pair of donkeys, upon which you are piled, stirring from deep drunken slumber.

The cart is standing in the middle of the road. About a mile to the back of the cart, you can see the forest which continues to your left. To your right is the gently rolling hills, covered in grass. Up ahead, the road carries on, going west, running parallel to the forest line in the north.

As you groan and try to remember through fierce hungover, you notice a note, stuck to the front of the cart with two of Nar’s daggers.

Harkenwold2

Still all slightly groggy except for the dwarf (who used to larger alcohol consumption), the party wondered aloud what had really happened during their celebrations in Fallcrest.

Deciding that their best course of action was to find a lead on the Iron Circle, Crash lithely leaps off the cart, wondering where he should go in order to find information on them, or even where they were!

Rai jumps off the cart with a leathery thump, shaking the cart as much as he tries to balance himself, and says that he remembers where they are.
Taking out his red leather bound book, he flips through the pages until he gets to his small collection of maps, and pointing at the letter, explains that judging from the hills, they were probably in Harkenwold, at that particular crossroads just north of the Druid’s Circle, and there should be a farm nearby, just over those hills.

Alexander holds his head and wonders where his money had vanished, saying “We should head towards the Circle, AND WHERE did all my money go?”, whereas Crash and Yump agree that talking to someone, even if it’s just a simple farmer, would help find where they are and perhaps if they know anything about bandits or mercenaries.

Opting to go alone, Crash heads off, while the rest of the party stays at the crossroads nursing their head in their rickety cart, Fiddles and Akasha still soundly asleep, recovering from their alcohol poisoning from the drinking competition they held in Fallcrest.

Clearing the hill, Crash sees a small column of smoke rising from the farm, and agilely sneaking closer while staying out of sight, finds a patrol of Iron Circle, yelling that they will set the house on fire if the farmer does not come out.

Overhearing this, Crash sprints to the top of the hill and waves his hands.
Yump, seeing through his crystal clear eyes, signals to the others.
Jumping into the driver’s seat, Rai takes the reins and whips the donkeys.

The donkeys, unfazed by the command, stand in place braying stubbornly.
Alexander impatiently looks at them with fiery glance, and terrified of the evil glint in his eyes, they start to run at a brisk pace.

Crash, seeing this, starts to run towards the farm, and as the Cart clears the hill, starts picking up momentum, and quickly overtakes Crash, who then fluidly leaps into the cart with ease.

As they came crashing down towards the farm, the Iron Circle turned their attention to the fast swerving cart, unholstering their crossbows and loading their bolts as their wolves dash towards the gates.

Yump jumps off the cart as Alexander wields Rai’s Crossbow, shooting a bolt at the bandits, Crash sending shot after shot that misses as their Cart shakes and speeds along the dirt track in a ditch. Landing and rolling forward throwing his handaxe, Yump lodges it into a wolf that leaps up and bites him, forcing him to step backwards.

The Iron Circle unleashes a hail of bolts in the direction of the hurtling cart, trading bolts for arrows with Crash. Two wolves jump into the cart, one leaping over the side with ease from the top of the ditch, level wit the cart, the large Alpha wolf landing onto the side of the speeding donkey-trap.

Slashing the wolf on the side, Alexander accidentally lets go of the crossbow, which falls into the ditch, and holding his shield high deflects the attack by the smaller wolf in the cart, Rai unhooks his battle axe and one-handedly throws it at the Alpha, lodging it into his eye.
Crash, bashes the Alpha wolf with his bow, then causes a fog to appear amidst the bandits, obscuring their aim with the crossbows.

Rai tries to stop the alarmed donkeys to no avail, and swerves the cart around a tree as Alexander and Crash jump out.

Swinging his axe with playful ease, Yump slays one wolf after another as a blinded bandit stumbles out of the fog in front of him.

Alexander rolls and falls onto the ground as he jumps from the cart, hurriedly grabbing Crash’s leg and whispering words of blessings and light, healing him who landed on his feet skilfully.

Another soldier stumbles out of the fog in front of them, and Rai tugs on the reins hard, dragging the donkeys to a sudden stop, and as Alexander expertly blocks the coup de grace with his shield, Rai Jumps from the cart, savagely slashing the enemy standing over his friend, forcing him to take a step back, as Crash notches an arrow and lets it fly straight and true through his foe.

Handing Alexander a hand up, Rai and Alexander rush into the fog to fight the remaining soldiers as Crash slid down the slope into the ditch and slowly paced forward, landing arrow after arrow into the side of the soldier menacingly approaching the backing Yump.

Seeing the soldier grimace in pain, Yump jumped forwards and cleaved his battle axe into his side, shattering the arrows and forcing them to lodge deeper into the now very much dead mercenary.

The fog started to clear, and Rai feinted his attacks, drawing attention from the bandits as Alexander slashed their exposed backs with proficiency.

Wiping their brows, wondered why the other heroes had not stirred from their alcohol induced coma, and hearing the door creek open, they all walked up towards the farm’s door, and seeing a peeping head quickly withdraw, exclaimed that our brave heroes were in the vicinity and heard she required saving.

The middle aged woman walked out, her light crossbow slung lowly on her hunched shoulders, her two kids of about fifteen following her, wide eyed in fear.

Explaining they had come to help, not loot, she lowered her weapon, and explained that her husband had died last year to those bandits.

She explained that if they wanted to help clear the area of bandits, that they should head towards Albridge, and feeling grateful, said she would let them take a bag of oats to feed their donkey as payment for saving her and her little ones.

Alexander, seeing the opportunity, explained that they had ridden far and long, and asked kindly if his party could sleep over in the farm for the night, and leave in the morning, case the bandit’s sent another patrol to check on their now fallen brethren.

Seeing the safety of their proposition, the old woman smiled, and asked if they liked porridge.

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Mallard Inn

They headed out at the break of dawn, packing their cart and noticing the two heroes had not woken up, and after checking their pulse found it strong and steady, which confused the well rested heroes.

Upon reaching the Albridge, they come to the stables to rest their donkeys as they scout the village for information.
After handing over the reins, they explain the holes in the cart was due to the Iron circle shooting at them, to which the stable keeper explains that many people in the town are very restless with the coming of the mercenary bandits, and decide that they will do something about it.

“If you wish to help, come to my stable house, after midnight”

Rai picks the cart up, and pulls it towards the smithy as the rest follow on foot, where they find a dwarf hard at work.
Flirting, and exchanging their knowledge of blacksmithing, and boasting of his bravery fighting the Iron Circle for the weapons and armour they were exchanging, Yump secured the party a reasonable price for the equipment.
After business is settled, she explains in muted tones that the stable-keep was organising something after dusk in his house beside the stables.

Walking out with a fair share of gold, they each headed their own directions.
Alexander goes to talk to the sage of the village, where he discussed secrets, and spoke of religion.
Rai dragged the cart along to talk to carpenter, looking for an upgrade and to haggle, While Yump decided to stay and work at the Smithy, where he nurtured the flames of the forge and pounded the metal.
Afterwards, Alexander goes to the Carpenter to meet up with Rai, while Rai walks towards the Tavern, and meeting, Alexander explains that tunnels run under the town, and Rai complains about Carriage prices. They walk towards the tavern to meet up with Crash who went to see if he could pick up any secrets or rumours.

“I’ll head towards the Smithy, check on yump, see if he got into any trouble” said Alexander, heading down a side path, while Rai continued on.

Up ahead, Crash had just walked into the Mallard Tavern, accidentally walking straight into a group of Iron Circle troubling the barman, numbering just over half a dozen.
One near the door turns around, seeing Crash and his weapons.

“Please hand over your weapons, noone is allowed Weapons in Tor’s Hold apart from the Iron Circle” Said the Bandit.

Seeing himself easily outnumbered, and not sure if he would even get reinforcements, Crash says:
“Nope.” before suddenly turning around, closing the tavern door and throwing a fog just outside the door, and running around the corner before the Soldiers even realized what had happened.

They opened the door and the magical Fog started to seep into the Tavern, as they tried to run out into it. Scattered, they desperately looked for a way out, while Crash started to put on his cloak around the corner.
Rai had seen The Magical Fog, and decided to go around the building avoiding the fog, knowing only his friend could’ve summoned this.

He accidentally walked into him changing, and with a smile Took out his own Spare Iron Circle Cloak, and Wrapped it around him, and not a moment sooner when he heard a voice come stumbling out the fog asking IRONCLOAK! Where did he run to?”

Pointing the opposite direction, Rai yelled “HE RAN THAT WAY, hearing a chorus of “AFTER HIM” yelled repeatedly from within the fog, unable to smile as Crash slipped into the tavern’s back door and the enemy Ran circles confused.

Before he could follow, a few soldiers had cornered him, and believing him to be one of them, asked him if he was the one who say where he ran, replied that he did, and would lead them towards them.

Knowing this would be the path Alexander took from the smithy, Rai went in the direction of the smithy hoping to cut him off, and kill the guards following him if complications arose.

Alexander heard the thumping of multiple feet coming in semi-march, and seeing his Comrade’s shape come around the corner dressed as one of the Iron Circle, hid behind a building and donned his own spare cloak, then briskly caught up and asked what was going on, and being informed that a hairy person with a bow and daggers had entered the tavern and fled in a lucky flash of fog.

Rai said we should perhaps visit the smithy, see if the enemy fled there, and with a half-smile at Alexander, headed in that direction.

Crash however, noticed some of the Iron circles who had not found Rai in time, and they had decided to reenter the inn.
Finding himself trapped in the back with the ale, stuck between the outside and the barman serving the lost confused Iron Circle angrily interrogating him about who that was.

Trying to sneak back outside, he ran straight into another lost Iron Circle, and managing to flip his hood low over his eyes, said he didn’t find him, but that he saw the rest inside talking to the barman.

The two of them headed inside, while…

Alexander and Rai Arrive at the Smithy, and with two heavy fisted knocks, ask them to open up.
{Dwarvina} opens up and in low tones asks “what is the matter?”

“We are looking for an escaped convict carrying two short swords and a bow”

Being pushed aside by the Small groups cocky leader, Rai took a step back and looked at Alexander.

“We’re coming inside” barked their commander, and pushing aside {Dwarvina} he made his way in, Alexander pushed in too, trying to stand in the way and seeing all the weapons the party sold salvaged from the mercenaries at the farm,The commander turned angrily at Dwarvina.

“Who sold you these? How did you get them?” he screamed.

Stepping forwards, Rai says that it was his groups weapons, that some of them broke and the smithy had offered to mend it.

Alexander agrees, saying he know Rai’s group well.

Looking smugly at {Dwarvina}, smiles and says
“Is that so? well it’s good enough work, for a dwarf”

Yump gets up, and looks at the commander with stink-eye.
Walking up to him, he says in low tones

“keep your mouth shut unless you it’s to ask for our favour or compliment this respectable lady”

“Watch your mouth Dwarf” Said the Commander, his voice breaking resolve, frightened of that gleam in his eye.

They stood there for half a minute, Staring Coldly at each other.
Respecting Yump’s Tenacity, Backs off sure of a stalemate.

“Alright, lets leave this rut of a hole and go back to the tavern, our culprit is most likely long gone, if he knows what’s good for him”

Whispering to Dwarvina that he needs to be excused, she understood and with a half smile and nod Said to go with them.

“Mind if I join you?” Yump says coldly.

“Sure, you can buy the first round”Replies the commander with austerity.

The party, under various different pretenses, all meet up in the tavern unexpectedly, and though they see each other, they stay seperate, as so if one cover is blown, that the rest aren’t discovered.
Though the bandits don’t have time to question it, they were filling themselves to the brink with ale, and slowly the party bled various trickles of information from their loose lips.

After buying the second or third round, The commander pats Yump on the back, and says

“You’re alright, for a dwarf. but hear hear, i’ve never seen you before, where do you hail from?”

“I’m coming down from Falcrest”

“oh really? Fallcresht? Our lord would very much like to hear new about Fallcresht, says he has much money for information, do you know anyone from fallcresht?”

“yes, myself. I’ve come up from there to work”

“Well, you should join our cara-hicup-caravan leaving tommorrow, you get paid for information” said the commander, drunkenly taking out his dagger “no really, I insist”

Smiling his vicious smile, Yump replied _" oh don’t worry, I graciously accept, in fact, I look forward to it."

Seeing that the hour was drawing near to midnight, each member of the party pulled a reason, and slowly, after ten minute intervals, they excused themselves one after the other.

Rai, being the last to leave, pulled the stupidiest excuse, sure that it wouldn’t matter to the drunkards at the tavern.

“Excuse me, I-I…I need to go sharpen my swords” he said, pushing his way out.

Arriving late, Rai did not hear how or why the voices were raised, and walking up beside Crash with his hand on his hilt, asked what was happening.

“We managed to hide and blend ourselves in with the merenaries, and have a chance to sneak in and kill Their lord Nazin without much difficulty, these rebels are asking our help to free other towns, steal looted taxes and unite all the villages of Harken for a war seige against Nazin’s castle. we’re trying to convince Larry Snartfart that We have better chances sneaking in then we do at all out war, which isn’t smart to begin with seeing as the Iron Circle are proffesionally trained soldiers, and these rebels want to fight with Rabble and Militia”

“These people are looking for the Glory of War that they hear sung about by bards in tutus” replied Yump.

“All they’ll find is a battlefield strewn across with the bodies of their comrades, if not their own as well, I suggest we leave this place and ignore their cries for a bloody civil war” agreed Rai, while Alexander argued Furiously with larry against the idea of war, agreeing that Lord Nazin should die for consulting with deamons.

With a sigh, The party retired to sleep in the barn, leaving Alexander to hammer out the fine points with Larry Snartfart.

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