Dungeons, Dragons and Revolutions

Previously, in Fallcrest Part 1: Adventurers Unite
Green Ale, Barfights and Missing Caravans

In The Lucky Gnome Taphouse

Regarded as the cheapest and coarsest of Fallcrest’s drinking establishments, the Lucky Gnome Taphouse largely caters to the porters and labourers who work the nearby docks. Early one cold morning in Fallcrest, in the Nentir Vale, still served its’ motley clientele its’ sickly green ale, some still drinking from the previous night, some in for a pint before work.

A curiosity in a town mostly populated by Humans, Halflings and Dwarves, a large, well armoured Minotaur named Nighthoof draws attention to himself by his mere presence. Being used to this, Nighthoof at once both plays it up by sitting in the middle of the room near the bar and forsaking a rickety looking chair for sitting on a slightly sturdier looking table and plays it down by ignoring everyone else in the room.

Impressed by the Minotaur’s ability to drink the green ale heartily throughout the night and seeming to stave off its’ regular effect of turning the drinker a similar shade as the drink, the bar owner Kelson tries strikes up a conversation, still ‘cleaning’ an empty flagon with a filthy rag. Suggesting ways to replenish the supply of coins that the Minotaur spent over the course of the night, he suggests labouring on the docks or, noting his armour and weapons, seeing if there happened to be any caravans filled with the wares of local traders or merchants leaving town that needed guarding.

Hearing this exchange from a nearby, shadowy corner of the room, Jon calls across the room that he may be able to help in that regard. The two look over, surprised to see him sitting there, having not noticed his presence previously. Shaking off the shock, as Jon slowly and carefully starts to get up, a far more conspicuous gold-haired man named Hans Omar sitting near the door, who by his dress and manner (currently making a show of checking and cleaning his nails) seems even more out of place than the Minotaur. Playing on this, Kelson calls loudly to him so that everyone else could hear, asking whether he wants another Apple-tini. The ranger brushes this off with a smile, a wave of the hand and expresses an interest in the work, starting to get up himself.

At this point, Nighthoof loses his patience with the prissy Hans whose loud and ostentatious displays of overly friendly poncery had been annoying him all night, leaping off the table and preparing to charge at him, despite stumbling a little. Jon reads his intention and quickens his pace to stop the Minotaur, attempting to jump over a table, but not quite clearing it and, while landing safely, not getting to him in time. As the bull starts to charge, Hans picks up his ale and launches it into its’ face. Not expecting this, Nighthoof chose the wrong moment to inhale, the foul, bubbly liquid burns his eyes and sinuses, sending him careering into nearby tables. Three other wiry patrons missing teeth, who’ve had their drinks knocked over jump up at this and full of the courage that only a night of drinking can provide, square up against the Minotaur with loud cries of “OI, THAT’S MY FECKING DRINK!” and “EY, YOU BIG HAIRY BASTARD!” Enraged, though wanting to diffuse the situation, Nighthoof stares directly into the eyes of the closest one, pulling himself up to his full height so that the dim candlelight casts his horned shadow right over the man, breathes heavily and glares menacingly. In a sobering moment, the courage drains from the man, as if it was only the urine in his bladder that held it there, which instead started to gather on the front side of his trousers. Backing away slowly, aghast, he breaks through the other two and dives behind the bar. Thinking quickly, Jon yells to the bar that the round is on him and to forget their fight. Hans echoes this call from the other side of the room. Shaken by Nighthoof’s terrifying display, the other two meekly agree to their drinks being replaced by the stranger.

Seeking to make amends, Hans offers his handkerchief to Nighthoof to wipe off his face, tossing it to him, unintentionally making it land on his horn. Though glaring at Hans, he opts to shrug off what could have been perceived as an insult with a dismissive snort. As Jon hands out the round of ales that Kelson hurriedly pulls, he starts to explain the gold-making opportunity to Hans and Nighthoof. Thinking of their pockets being considerably lighter than the previous night, the others begrudgingly agree to come with Jon to meet his contacts.

Get Me That Caravan

At the door to Teldorthan, the Dwarven armourer’s smithy, Jon, explains under his breath that he had found some ‘lackeys’ for the job. The Dwarf replied under his that he hoped they were ‘big and stupid’. As he opened the door further to reveal a Minotaur standing a few paces off, a big smile crept across his face and proceeded to welcome them in with open arms, ushering them out the back to a smoke filled room with a card table at the centre.

As Hans entered, it was his turn to smile. “What’s you game?” he asked the Dwarf. With the reply that it was Blackjack, Hans smirked and asked if he could deal. Teldorthan replied by pushing the deck towards him, then made a show of packing and lighting his pipe. Whilst shuffling, Hans finds the Ace of Spades and slips it into his sleeve, though a little clumsily, so that Nighthoof snorts in amusement. Jon sees the move also, but stays quiet as Hans shoots them both a look. Teldorthan on the other hand still seems occupied with his pipe. As everyone throws a gold coin onto the table, Hans deals the cards, more deftly swapping one of them for the Ace in his sleeve when Teldorthan puffs on the pipe, sending a plume of smoke in front of him. As the hand resolves, Hans narrowly beats Jon and claims the coins with a laugh and a smile. The whole time, Teldorthan has been quiet and seems to just stare at Hans for a moment, sizing him up. Jon breaks the silence by suggesting that they get down to business and Teldorthan’s stare is broken by a wary glance at the Minotaur who, standing nearby, takes his greataxe out, though gently planting the head on the ground to rest on the hilt and grunt in affirmation of the suggestion.

Feeling a little uneasy, Teldorthan agrees. Jon recounts the plan that he told to Nighthoof and Hans in the bar, about guarding a caravan of arms from Hammerfast to Winterhaven. Given the promise of gold and Dwarven weapons, the two had agreed. Unfortunately, Teldorthan had some bad news for them. The caravan that they were going to use has been held up on the road from Winterhaven and Teldorthan suspects Kobolds as being the cause. Hans and Nighthoof are concerned about payment for their services, with Hans pointing out that Teldorthan’s seeming incompetence at Blackjack doesn’t speak well of his financial situation. Teldorthan reassures them of payment and suggests that the group go and see Nimozoran, the Green Wizard to find out more, sending them on their way with a stern word to Jon to get that damn caravan back.

The Septarch Speaks

Along the road, Hans and Jon seem to be making fast friends, ambling along, joking and laughing with each other. Conversely, Nighthoof strides off, eager to get the meetings over and done with, scowling at the frivolity of his companions. His eagerness dissipates however as he nears the tower, its’ unnatural shimmering stirring painful memories. He stops a few paces away from the entrance, shifting uncomfortably, letting the other two go past. After Jon’s knock at the door, a particularly short halfling invites them in and fetches the Septarch. Soon, the adventurers are standing in front of a tall, thin self-assured looking man with a short grey beard and dazzling green robes.

The Septarch, Nimozoran, shared what knowledge he could with the adventurers in a grandiose tone. He too suspected Kobold intervention, having heard about increased aggressive activity by them along the King’s Road to the East. Usually being too busy fighting amongst themselves to have too much of an impact on trade caravans on the road. The current spate of attacks suggests to the wizard a suspicious amount of organisation amongst them. Nimozoran charges the trio with finding out what has happened in the over-run manor house and to bring him proof of their success in neutralising the threat to Fallcrest and their trade interests. Attempting to appeal to Nimozoran’s obviously prodigious ego, even Hans’ use of flattery falls short of the wizard’s lofty self-image. The Septarch sends the adventurers on their way with a metaphorical pat on the head to Hans, calling him a “lad”. Slightly miffed, the ranger leads the other two out and they make their way out of the city gates and into the wilderness.

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The Iron Circle and the Slaying Stone: Part 4
Keeping Hidden and Krayd the Butcher

The goblins seem to be on the lookout for intruders, with large groups on patrol. The adventurers have to move slowly and silently to be able to stay hidden from them. They successfully pass a large patrol.

In order to get around another group of goblins that is training out in the open, the adventurers decide to go through a building. Unfortunately for them, they bump into Krayd, a powerful member of the Severed Eyes Orcs. Krayd is a fierce combatant but eventually falls. Rivet takes Krayds’ Challenge Seeking Greataxe +1, adding to the stash of magical items that has been found, including Triflik’s blade and an Orb of Mental Constitution on Rort in the Library.

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The Iron Circle and the Slaying Stone Part 3
The Library and The Temple

The adventurers, alongside their Kobold allies, carefully make their way to what was Kiris Dahn’s Library in search of the Slaying Stone, inside finding a goblin that has been trying to expand his magical power through the destruction of the arcane books housed there. The adventurers make swift work of his minions and incapacitate the goblin, Rort, before he can do too much damage or summon too many oozing oozes.

Though Rort has never heard of the Slaying Stones, under threat of his life he is able to retrieve two of the five books for Treona (pointing them towards the mansion for the rest), along with a ritual book and his possessions. Gaining all they could out of him, the group almost decides to kill him, but the Kobolds suggest taking him to those of their own race that have arcane gifts to see what they can learn from him. As a sign of good will, the adventurers agree and two of the Kobolds take Rort away, leaving only Bawbjanar (or as the adventurers ‘affectionately’ call him, Bob) the Dragon-Shield with them.

After using one of Treona’s rituals and finding no trace of the Slaying Stone, the group then sets out for the temples. Amongst large groups of goblins outside, they spy some with fresh looking burns over an eye. The burns are in the shape of an eye with a line vertically down its middle. Entering the temple, a lone figure scurries away, leaving the adventurers to use the second of Treona’s rituals. They are again disappointed, discerning no sign of the Slaying Stone. They then search for the man, who turns out to be Kiris Hoyt, brother of Alkirk. He is about to tell them something useful about the Stones’ whereabouts when goblins come bursting into the room from both sides. Hoyt jumps into action against them and is alarmed when he finds that one of them carries a silver weapon. Seemingly unable to control himself, Hoyt changes shape into a half-man, half-rat and attacks indiscriminately, taking a chunk out of Iago’s arm (who contracts a debilitating disease from it).

Eventually, the combatants are subdued and the goblin leader and Hoyt are separated and bound for questioning. The goblin (Triflik) tells them that Hoyt is a Were-rat, who has killed many in the town, including his family members. He also says that the symbol that has been burned onto the eyes of some goblins outside belongs to a feared group of mercenaries – the Severed-Eye Orcs. Hoyt tells them that he has seen brass scales and large claw marks on the walls of the mansion. From this, the adventurers surmise that a brass dragon resides in the town and that since they like warmth, it probably resides in the hot springs.

Deciding that both Triflik and Hoyt are too much of a liability, Iago tightens the magical chains that bind them until they suffocate to death. The adventurers then head back to the relative safety of the Kobold slums to make camp for the night. Whilst Iago is not able to shake off the effects of his sickness, the combined efforts of Rivet and Iago stave off its debilitating effects.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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The Iron Circle and the Slaying Stone: Part 2
Entering Kiris Dahn and Allying with the Kobolds

With a map of Kiris Dahn and a stash of rituals to help determine the location of the Slaying Stone, the adventurers leave Treona and Alkirk behind. Much debate was had over the best way to get into the town, but they eventually decided that the best option was to make their way through the forest on the south-eastern edge, cross the river and then the farmland. Hans Omar’s time spent traversing dangerous and disorientating forests helped the team through. Iago however, raised in the luxurious confines of castles and their garden courtyards, had no experience of swimming and soon found that in water he was more akin to a rock than a fish. Luckily, Hans was on the scene to effortlessly swim out to him and pull him to shore, where Iago coughed up the fouled river water that he’d swallowed, feeling a little the worse for wear.

Finding the farmland razed and desolate, they made their way to a burnt out farm house, on the way noticing a large group of rowdy goblins, looking like they’re itching for a fight, coming down the road in their direction. As they went past, the adventurers decided to follow them, eventually seeing them break into the slum district, some getting caught in traps on the way through. Those that made it through proceeded to tear the place apart even more than it was already and chase away the Kobold residents. Debating whether to help the Kobolds, saving them from getting beaten up (Rivet) or to thank their luck for such a distraction so as to continue with the search for the Stone (Iago and to a lesser extent Hans), they see some armoured Kobolds making their way into the fray from an adjacent road. Seeing some resistance from the Kobolds themselves sways Hans, who with a self-assured smile encourages the others to follow his lead through the traps, only to nearly step straight into an open pit. Although the others managed to grab hold of his cloak, they weren’t able to pull him back, so he hell in, battering and bruising himself on the way down.

Eventually they got him out, but not without alerting some nearby goblins, who rushed towards them. However, intimidating gestures and cries from Rivet and Iago sent them scurrying away again. The Kobolds, impressed with their efforts, reservedly come towards the adventurers to see if they are there to help them. With kind and impassioned words of solidarity and the humble warmth of a hug, Rivet convinced the Kobolds that the adventurers are disgusted at the goblin’s terrorizing actions and want to help them free themselves from their oppression. The adventurers and Kobolds then act together to effectively rid the Kobold slums of the invading goblins, making it safe again – for now.

Impressed with the battle skill of the adventurers and convinced of their willingness to help them, three of the Kobolds agree to accompany the adventurers in their quest to find the Slaying Stone. The Kobolds promise to let other Kobolds know that the group is not there to harm them and are eager to prove themselves as useful allies in battle and in helping to evading large groups of goblins.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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The Iron Circle and the Slaying Stone: Part 1
A Hooded Stranger, A Plot for Power, Ravenous Wolves and an Obnoxious Ex-Laird

It emerges that Dhoruba had been tracking Iago from Sarthel, having sworn an oath of revenge against him for foiling the uprising against the nobility from inside the ranks of their army, the Iron Circle (IC). Ironically, whilst foiling this plot would have normally boosted Iago’s status and power within the nobility, he was accused of being implicated in the rebellion and was exiled from Sarthel instead. Under Rivet’s watchful eye, however, Dhoruba is discouraged from taking his revenge… for now.

Fresh from defeating the goblin raiders that had taken residence inside the ancient ruins underneath the village of Harken, the adventurers head back to the Cliffside Brewery to claim their reward. After their conversation with a thankful Old Kellar, the group witness an altercation between a large, soldierly-looking man and a leaner, hooded man. When the quarrel is taken outside, they go to investigate, alongside a curious and rather dashing ranger named Hans Omar. Unbeknownst to the group, Hans is a notorious local bandit captain who managed to cobble together rag-tag bands of scoundrels with his debonair demeanour. However, one too many dashing, though poorly planned raids got the latest batch of recruits captured, Hans only just escaping himself. Leaving the tavern, they find violence written on the bloodied face of the soldier, though some quick talking convinces the adventurers to trust the Hood.

He explains that the soldier is a member of the Iron Circle (IC), the crusading army of the nobility of Sarthel, a powerful port city to the south. He explains that he is from the neighbouring Barony of Therund and has been involved defending it against the IC’s attacks for months. He is also currently under orders to relay information to the Lord Warden of Fallcrest Faren Markelhay that the IC is rumoured to have plans of encroaching upon the Nentir Vale.

The use of threats proved effective when interrogating the soldier, as Iago manifested the coiling shadows of his dark, demonic power about his figure to add weight to his words and booming claps of thunder emphasised the Barbarian Rivet’s visible fury. Under such intense pressure, the soldier confirms that he is indeed a member of the Iron Circle and that he was sent to keep an eye on the group of Daggerburg goblins that the organisation had bribed to raid Harken village. Though pleading for his life, Dhoruba mercilessly slits the soldier’s throat.

Having proven themselves to be no friend of the Iron Circle and the threat they pose to the Nentir Vale, the Hood requests of the adventurers that they undertake a perilous, though urgent mission to stop them from retrieving a powerful magical artefact in the ruins of a town on the western edge of the Vale. The adventurers agree to help and are told to talk to a man by the name of Kiris Alkirk to find out more. They are given his location and a book that will help explain the situation. An unsettled truce is struck between Iago and Dhoruba as both are determined to undermine the Iron Circle and requiring the help of the other to be able to do so.

After days of otherwise peaceful travel westwards, upon sight of what appears to be Alkirk’s residence, the adventurers are assaulted by a pack of particularly ferocious wolves. In the driving wind and rain, the group suffered many wounds from the starved and desperate wolves, but managed to turn the tide of battle with a blast of spiralling flame conjured by Iago that finished off two of the wolves and severely injured another. Rivet’s attacks were largely ineffective as she flailed wildly, her aim put off by a ravenous wolf grabbing and pulling at one of her arms. When finally free of its bite, she unleashed her fury and the full extent of her martial and primal power, decapitating her prey with a mighty cleave of her great-axe. Newcomer Hans Omar proved his usefulness to the group with the skilful and deadly use of his bow, making short work of one of the wolves and helping his allies out with the others. Once inside, an elderly woman named Treona offered them bowls of hot soup as they tended to their wounds and settled down for the night. Having ‘spilled some soup’ on himself the night before, Dhoruba didn’t enjoy a very restful sleep, tossing and turning from constant nightmares.

The next morning, the group are introduced to Kiris Alkirk, who at first rebuffs all their attempts at explaining the mission on which they were sent. An unwise decision on the part of Rivet to try and win the ex-Laird over by expounding her revolutionary credentials only exacerbated the mistrust between the two sides. Eventually remembering the book stowed in her backpack, she handed it over to the man and the situation became clearer. Alkirk explains that 8 years ago, his town (Kiris Dahn) was ransacked by a massive invasion by goblins, driving him and his subjects out. Before this, the city was kept safe by the threat and use of Slaying Stones – powerful artifacts made from dark magic that could kill a single person within the walls of, or close to, the town – but all 8 were believed to all have been used. The book (about the Tiefling weapon-smiths known as The Architects of Victory), however, claims that there were originally 9 stones. Treona wills the group to find the stone, if it exists, and bring it back to her to destroy it. She reasoned that if it falls into the Iron Circle’s hands, its secrets may be unlocked and stones could be created that could be used outside of the town, greatly increasing the IC’s power and bolstering their campaign of the domination of the lands north of Sarthel. Alkirk, on the other hand sees hope in the news that there could be another stone. Greatly embittered at the indignity of being kicked out of the town he ruled to live in a small shack with his arcane aid Treona and being deserted by the people he ruled, he craves to have his position, power and name restored. He thus asks the adventurers to instead see if they can use the stone to drive out the goblins and kobalds and to help him restore Kiris Dahn to its former glory and promises great rewards for doing so. Treona warns against this course of action as nothing more than hopeful dreaming, citing the massive number of goblins that now reside in the town, concluding that is too far gone to save. She emphasises the need for stealth to retrieve the stone.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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First Steps: Subduing the Raiders of Harken
The Party Assembles

Three travelers find themselves in the local Inn of the small viliage of Harken. Rivet Thunderforge, a Dwarven Barbarian, was exiled from her homeland of Hammerfast after a failed uprising against the nobles. Disillusioned with her ability to influence events in Hammerfast and with civilisation in general, she decided to leave that life behind and instead eke out an existence in the wilds of the Dawnforge Mountains. This experience only intensified Rivet’s fierce inner rage, which has impressed the primal spirits of thunder so much that they grant her some of their power. However, an unusually harsh winter has pushed her south of her usual hunting grounds and finding herself in Harken. Whilst unhappy at finding herself back in civilisation, she uses the opportunity to trade the leather pelts she has skinned from her prey and sink a good ale or three. Iago, a Tiefling Wizard, travelling north from the grand city of Sarthal on a quest to reclaim his former aristocratic position, is also present alongside his hired bodyguard Luthien, a Gnome Rogue.

Eager to see these travelling adventurers, Old Kellar, one of the viliage’s elders, greets them and asks them for their help in clearing out the ruins of an ancient city underneath the town of raiders who had been causing the viliage trouble. The adventurers accept, on condition of reward, and delve into the dungeon to find goblins. Making short work of the sentries in the first room, a Goblin Hexer gives them more trouble in the second, once its bodyguards had been killed, slipping away into the next room to warn those residing there of the intruding adventurers.

At this point, a sizeable Half-Orc Dhoruba enters the room and instantly recognises Iago from his past life in Sarthel, charging at him sword in hand. Some quick casting allowed Iago to unleash a spell that knocked Dhoruba backwards, giving Rivet enough time to intervene, holding Dhoruba back despite their size difference. Rivet reasoned with the two to stop, only convincing them when they realised that in the chaos, Luthien had chased the Hexer into the next room, now hearing her cry of surprise at finding a room full of menacing goblins rising to greet the intruders.

TO BE CONTINUED

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