Scales of War

Introduction
Intro

The world has never been a safe place. Bastions of civilization
populate a dark, menacing world—islands of order and reason exist in a
land otherwise overrun by dark cults, vile monsters, creatures from the
dark edges of the imagination, and worse. As deadly as the world is on
a normal day, something has begun to stir on the fringes of the civilized
Elsir Vale. Formerly the site of an attack by an army known as the Red
Hand, the Vale has known several years of peace since brave adventurers
stormed into the teeth of the approaching Hand and sent them scurrying
back into the darkness.

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Brindol Attacked!

It was looking to be a fine evening in the Antler and Thistle Tavern. As Acorn tuned his lyre, he noticed it was a full crowd tonight. Davik and Galtheri were near the bar. Flint was even here at a corner table. Not to mention the dozen other locals. The salmon were running and Oril MacTarn was making his famous Tarragon, Bacon, Salmon parcels. Acorn was looking forward to the meal as much as the chance to practice his newest song.

The general hubbub of the room quieted as Horros brought out the first parcels and the pungent mix of salmon, tarragon, and bacon filled the room. As Horros brought the first tray of salmon parcels around the bar, the peace of the moment was shattered by the crack of the front door flying off its hinges to land amid the nearest tables, sending a plate of salmon to the floor. Four hobgoblins rushed into the bar, swords outstretched to attack the nearest bar patrons. “For Sinruth, For the Hand!”, they cried.

At first everyone stared in shock as the hobgoblins rushed forward and skewered Horros to a table. Acorn jumped on top of his table and yelled, “Protect the townsfolk”, as he set aside his lyre and pulled out his wand. Davik charged into the hobgoblins, luring their attention. Flint unloaded a flurry of arrows into the hobgoblins as Galtheri unleashed a devastating fire bolt.

As the townsfolk backed away, more hobgoblins poured into the room with two goblins carrying bitumen covered torches. The goblins tossed the flaming brands at the bar and a table near the fire, instantly setting them ablaze. Suddenly, the battle changed from one of protection, to a battle of protection and containment with time against them.

Galtheri and Davik continued to distract and harry the goblinoids while Flint and Acorn rushed to put out the growing flames, all the while firing off a shot on the move when the opportunity presented itself. Davik found himself the focus of the goblin’s rage. Outnumbered 5 to 1, it took all of Davik’s skill to withstand the barrage. Davik would have surely fallen to the goblin blades if it wasn’t for the timely healing of Acorn.

Galtheri managed to clear a path to the back door and ushered the patrons out as smoke filled the tavern Everyone made it except one unlucky soul who was laid out by a flying bitumen torch. The patron slumped to the ground even as his clothing and hair caught fire. There were moments when it seemed the bar would catch and take the whole southern portion of the tavern with it.

As the smoke began to take its toll on their lungs, the group finally defeated the goblins and staggered out the front door to fresh air, followed by Oril himself. Oril was besides himself with grief over the damage done to his tavern and his ruined dish. He does make an amazing salmon dish after all.

As the group gulped in the clean air, they noticed fires were raging throughout the town. They could see townsfolk running around mindlessly and guards trying to organize a bucket brigade and muster the militia to defend against the attackers. The companions barely caught their breath before a new threat came barreling around the corning.

Coming down the northern road, the party saw a 12 foot monstrosity emerge from the smoke chasing Allan Strawhand. An ogre was harnessed to a cart with 2 hobgoblins inside. As everyone stared, the hobgoblins handed the ogre a barrel with a lit fuse. The ogre hurled the cask into the fleeing Allan. The cask smashed against Allan and blasted him through a nearby window. A blast of searing flames poured out of the window as the cask exploded. The ogre roared with laughter and gestured for another cask.

Acorn was quick to suggest setting the cart on fire and taking the ogre out. Flint rolled across the floor and dipped a crossbow bolt in the tarry bitumen torches carried by the goblins. He lit the bolt, aimed down his site and planted the bolt into one of the many casks in the ogre drawn wagon. The fire immediately began to work its way down the bolt and spread across the treated cask. The first hobgoblin dove from the wagon in attempt to distance himself from the imminent blast. The second hobgoblin quickly scooped up the smoldering cask and passed it to the ogre. As he lumbered forward, the ogre caught sight of Flint and hurled the now flaming barrel in his direction. His aim was not as good this time, overthrowing by about 10 feet. Still, the cask exploded in flames and left a pile of flaming debris at the point of impact.

Sticking to the plan, Acorn unleashed a thundering note that sent the remaining hobgoblin flying from the cart. Galtheri stepped forward to summon a burst of flames on the cart, setting it and the casks afire. As the first casks began to burn through, Galtheri taunted the ogre with words and spells to draw his attention away from fleeing townsfolk. Taking the bait, the ogre charged Galtheri and smashed him against the wall of the Elk and thistle, cracking the wall and Galtheri’s ribs at the same time.

As Galtheri and Flint focused on the ogre, Davik was in a desperate struggle to contain the two hobgoblin archers. Davik managed to keep their attention, but the hobgoblin’s continued to rain barbed arrows at Davik. Acorn’s timely healing songs and thundering magical attacks combined with Davik’s reflexes and martial skill won the day. They managed to down one hobgoblin and send the other fleeing into the confusion of the burning city.

Meanwhile, Flint bounced a leaden bolt into the ogre’s thick skull, dazing him momentarily. This gave Galtheri time to retreat further into the inn and unload a torrent of magical fire on the ogre causing the casks to begin exploding in succession, bathing the ogre in blast after blast of searing flames. As the final cask exploded, the ogre sank to the ground with a final roar of defiance. The sound of sizzling fat and burning flesh overpowering.

After the battle, the party tended to their wounds and managed to stabilize the dying hobgoblin who they turned over to the city guards for questioning later. As the group rallied the town guards to oust the attackers, they noticed the goblinoids were retreating into the smoke and night. It was an ordered exit and not a retreat of failure. There was no time to ponder the implications as the party was drawn into a number of bucket brigades to salvage as many buildings as possible in addition to work teams to clear debris and look for survivors. Through the night, the heroes of the tavern found themselves working alongside Turok, a paladin of Bahamut, and Brambles, a quick shot with a crossbow. The group worked through the night and found themselves back at the Antler and Thistle late in the morning, completely exhausted.

At least Oril was ready for the returning warriors. He laid out a spread of walnut date bread, crumpets with black forest jam, potato scones, sliced apples with marmalade, kippers, and his famous fried eggs. Oril’s fried eggs are boiled eggs wrapped in sausage, flour, and breading; and then fried to perfection. As Oril laid out the meal, he let the group know that if they were going to spend the evening risking their lives protecting his town and tavern then he would make sure they at least had a good meal. Unfortunately, the meal was served on charred tables and the group had to stand or sit on broken and rickety chairs

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Council and Catacombs

While the group was enjoying the hearty breakfast laid out by Oril, a messenger came to the tavern looking for them. The youngster introduced himself as Davon and informed the group that Councilmember Eoffram Troyas has asked them to attend him at the City council chambers.

After finishing their meal, the party decided to wander around the city and get a better feel for the attack in the daylight. The group discovered that this was not a random attack. The damage was focused in a few key areas, most notably leading to the Hall of Great Valor. The locals cleaning up the charred remnants of the hall were lamenting the loss of the artifacts from the war with the Red Hand. As the group continued their journey through the city, the townspeople’s fear was palpable. Concern over the return of the Red Hand was on many tongues.

The group worked their way to the city council chambers. Somewhat surprising was the fact that there was no damage to council chambers even though it was on the same square as the Hall of Great Valor. As the party entered, the found Davon sitting at a desk in the entryway. He asked everyone to follow him into a sitting room and informed them that councilmember Troyas would be along to meet with them promptly. While they waited, Davon brought a small plate of local cheeses and crackers with wine.

It was not long before councilmember Troyas entered the room in the robes of his office. The silver emblem of a councilmember hung around his neck. A somber man, Troyas spoke carefully and methodically to the party outlining what he had discovered of the attack. Troyas made sure to make eye contact with each member of the group as they discussed the attack and what should be done. He divulged that seven of the town’s people had been abducted and the artifacts from the Hall of Great Valor had been stolen. Troyas was gravely concerned for the welfare of the kidnapped individuals and was also afraid of the implications of the raiders stealing the artifacts. The adventurers were successful in convincing Troyas of their willingness to help. Reassured by their honorable intentions, Troyas asked the group if they could save the captured townspeople and seek the lost artifacts. He expressed confidence in their ability, after hearing how they stopped the ogre the night before. Troyas let the part know that Davon could provide them details and descriptions on each of the missing townsfolk as well as the artifacts that were confirmed lost. He also suggested the party interrogate the captured hobgoblin to see if they could learn anything helpful from him.

…Start of List from Davon…
Missing Townsfolk
Jalissa – tall, blonde, eladrin acolyte of Ioun.
Sertanian – Elderly male, Castellian of the Hall of Great Valor.
Kartenix – Tall, muscular, male guard captain.
Thurann – Dark haired, 8 year-old son of guard captain Kartenix.
Mirtala – Middle aged brunette woman, cook for the Pantashi Inn.
Zerriksa – Elderly crone rumored to have “dark powers”.
Adronsius – Balding dwarven Alchemist

Missing Artifacts
Helm of Shadinn – Ornate, gilded dragoncrest helm worn by Shadinn of the Talons.
Longsword of House Tarin – ceremonial platinum longsword.
3 Red Hand Shields – Each with a charred hole near the center.
Gauntlets of Ayadar – Iron gauntlets with extensive filligree worn by Ayadar.
Battle standard of the Talons- Black standard with a 3 clawed hand in white.
…End of List from Davon…

After meeting with counselor Troyas, the party headed to the jail to interrogate the captured hobgoblin. The group found a lone hobgoblin in stocks and shackles in front of the jail. His wounds from last night’s battle were bandaged, but the collection of tomatoes on the ground near him and on the surface of the stocks indicated that his treatment had not been completely kind.

The hobgoblin took one look at the approaching group and stated, “I ain’t saying nothin’ unless you people let me go.”

A lively discussion ensued where Acorn tried deceit to convince the hobgoblin he could have him freed only to be called out by Flint. Turok made it clear that cooperation was in his best interest. At the same time Brambles negotiated to get him a meal and moved into the jail in exchange for better information. Flint confirmed the honesty of Brambles offer. Given a chance to be removed from the sight of the vengeful town members, the hobgoblin identified himself as Morrik and agreed to help. Morrik spoke fervently of Sinruth, his leader, and their legacy as descendents of the Red Hand. He was confident that Sinruth would succeed in his goal of raising a hobgoblin army large enough to carve out its own fiefdom. Even though he seemed enamored of this vision, preservation seemed to take precedence in his decision to help the party. He let the party know that the raiders were ordered to take prisoners during the raid to give to the “undead horrors” that guard part of the goblin’s lair in the catacombs of Castle Rivenroar. Morrik knew nothing of the stolen treasures taken from the Hall of Great Valor. He assumed that Sinruth must have had a reason, maybe something to do with the Emissary, a caster of dark magic that Sinruth had allied with recently. Morrik even went as far as drawing a map for the party including marking a dangerous nest of Kruthiks to avoid. According to Morrik’s map, the ruins of Castle Rivenroar were located in The Giant’s Shield mountains.

After learning about Sinruth and his new Red Hand, Acorn questioned Morrik whether he had ever raided in the Feywild. Morrik lied and told him no but was not very convincing. Acorn was enraged and wanted to see the hobgoblin punished on the spot. Flint conversed with Morrik in Goblin and learned that yes Morrik was there but he lied because he thought the pixie was unstable and was afraid to be honest. He saw what was done to the pixies at that grove.

Brambles and Flint ensured the guards moved Morrik to a cell and got the meal they promised on Brambles coin. While they were busy, Acorn pulled aside the guards for a quiet conversation. He was very convincing in letting the guards know that Morrik was dangerous and was planning to escape and kill them in the process. Acorn suggested they deal with him before he has the chance.

Acorn used his influence to acquire horses from the town stableyard and the party gathered provisions to prepare for their journey to Castle Rivenroar. With their horses, the party estimated they could make it in less than a day. Thanks to Morrik’s map and Flint’s skill, the party was able to make it to the entrance to the catacombs of Castle Rivenroar with only one incident at a river fording where Galtheri was thrown from his horse and twisted his ankle.

The party found a suitable hiding space to set up a small camp while Brambles and Flint observed the guards and their schedule. Once they were ready, the party entered the catacombs while the guards were on the far side of their circuit.

As the party entered the catacombs, they noticed the floors were made of slippery flagstone due to the damp. Thick wooden beams held the ceilings up. The party cautiously descended the slick stairs and found themselves in a dimly lit room with a pair of braziers on the far wall. Standing between the party and progress stood two flail-wielding hobgoblins at the ready in the center of the dank chamber. Two goblins with crossbows stood behind the hobgoblins near a door on the far wall. As soon as the goblinoids spotted the part, the hobgoblins charged forward, blocking the entry passage and trapping the party in the stairwell. This allowed the goblins to rain arrows on the party as the group tried to deal with the two hobgoblins. The hobgoblins fought as a cohesive team, using their shields to guard one another and push the adventurers back. The fight appeared to be in the goblins favor as they continue to avoid Turok’s massive sword and Bramble’s arrows, but eventually the tide turned. Brambles shifted his attention to the goblins with Flint to devastating effect and Turok unleashed a series of massive blows on the hobgoblins with Galtheri. This let Davik rush forward to engage the goblins, preventing their attempts at escape.

After a few moments to catch their breath, the party chose to investigate the doors. The doors each had plaques above them. The west plaque stated “To Von Urstadt.” The north plaque was marked “To Rivenroar Family”, and the East door was labeled “To Von Jallach.” The party decided to investigate the Von Jallach door. The passage led to a room with sarcophagi and a square bounded by glowing runes that dominated the floor. In addition, the walls were lined with empty alcoves designed to hold dead bodies. In one corner, a large swarm of needlefang drakes appeared to be eating a dragonborn alive as their gnome master watched with malicious glee. Brambles and Flint were able to sneak up on the swarm of needlefang drakes and their skulking gnome master. With surprise on their side, the party made quick work of the enemies and managed to save the dragonborn, Brolaf. In an adjoining room the group found Adronsius, the dwarven alchemist. It was clear that Adronsius had taken serious abuse during his two days of capture. He had numerous wounds from the needlefang drakes and it appeared as if he had been beaten bloody numerous times with clubs or other blunt objects. An attribute to his stoic race, Adronsius asked for armor and weapons so he could help save the others as he limped away from the manacles. He informed the party that he was brought to an interrogation session with Jelissa on an upper level. He was blindfolded while they moved him, but he remembered the way pretty well.

“No true dwarf gets lost in a tunnel, blindfold or no. It was down the stairs, straight across the entry chamber, turning left in the room that smelled of goblin, then left again the room with the crackling sound, around two right corners, then through a room that smelled of the dead, then up the stairs to a room with a sticky floor, right and up another set of stairs, then through a dusty room and left through a door. That good enough directions for ya.”

After searching the sarcophagi and finding an exceptionally well-made fullblade and a nearly perfect Lapis Lazuli sphere, the party decided it was best to send Adronsius back to their camp in the foothills while they sought the other townsfolk. Galtheri agreed to see him back to camp with Brolaf.
…Needlefang Drake Swarm…
Needlefang drake swarm

…Adronsius…

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