Arantus

Mayantus 11, 1010 A.G.
Campaign Day 41

By early evening, you approach The Crossroads and view three hobgoblins with pikes harassing a human prisoner. The prisoner is in a metal cage that swings five feet off the ground on the limb of a metal tree called The Gibbet Tree. The prisoner identifies himself as Valtier Blackthorn and pleads with you to set him free. You defeat six hobgoblins and two black raven swarms and then set Valtier Blackthorn free.

Wolvar sees that a dwarf near the entrance to the trading post is observing them. The dwarf is chewing a big wad of tobacco. He tells Wolvar that his boss is inside negotiating a deal with Millen Silvereye, the Tiefling proprietor of the trading post, and that you will have to wait your turn until his boss is finished. Renthro tells Wolvar that these are the dwarfs who betrayed him and Katuun. Wolvar attacks and kills the dwarf. However, you hear a door slam as a second dwarf dashes to the safety of the trading post.

A short distance away, a pair of teen-aged humans, a male and female, leave the trading post and walk toward the boneyard while they study a map. They are attacked by zombies and are both killed quickly. You attack the zombies, but before you have killed all of them, you are attacked by a female Orc mercenary, a pair of albino Eladrin Wizard mercenaries, and four of the caravan dwarfs. The two wizards and the orc mercenary prove to be staunch adversaries. However, they offer to swap sides if you pay them double what the dwarves are paying them. You reluctantly agree to pay them 1000 GP for their support. Having lost the support of the mercenaries, the dwarves surrender and all hostilities abruptly cease. The dwarfs are told to go away by the mercenaries. They climb into their oxen-drawn wagon and leave The Crossroads immediately. The mercenaries return to the trading post and invite you to come inside to do some trading.

Balasar exits from the cone and tells you that the The Creature of the Cone told him that there would be a visitor soon, and that you should do what the visitor asks of you. The worm opens its jaws and vomits a huge stream of yellow bile in which a humanoid form is writhing. You help the humanoid clean up. After he regains full consciousness, the Kalashtar says he is Minharath. He was sent to this strange and primitive world by his elders, who used a powerful ritual to bring him here. His mission is to collect a lost member of the Kalashtar who was diverted to this place by the powerful Adaarian storms that were raging on the night that a portal of refuge from attack by The Inspired was created. His job is to collect the flaming-haired young woman and return her to Eberron, where a resistance movement against The Inspired is taking shape. A seer at the great Monastery foretold that the flaming-haired one of fair voice, who has gained considerable strength during her time spent on the far-away world, would play a key role in the Kalashtar resistance. Her arcane skills and her ability to boost morale are needed badly by her people and thus she must depart the far-away world and rejoin the resistance on Eberron.

Minharath says that the seer showed him a vision. Both he and Khashana must eat a bright golden apple. Then she must fearlessly follow him back to Eberron, no matter where the path takes them. There is scant time to first bid her companions farewell, but the apples must be eaten immediately thereafter and they must depart.

Cookie gives Khashana a black truffle custard pie to take with her on her journey. Dog Boy gives her a jade pendant carved in the shape of a torch, with flames of jasper and agate. Cookie explains that Dog Boy has been carving the pendant in anticipation of Khashana’s departure. Dog Boy tells Khashana that as long as she wears the pendant, she will always be a Torchbearer in her own world, just as she has been in Arantus.

Balasar offers the last two golden apples to the two Kalashtar and they eat them. The worm’s jaws come unhinged and its mouth gapes wide, revealing a twisting, dark tunnel within. Minharath runs straight into the gaping maw and disappears down the black tunnel. Khashana follows. The worm closes its mouth and its head returns to normal size.

You are invited in to the trading post by the female orc mercenary and the two albino Eladrin wizards who offer to buy you an ale. The orc, Turka, says, “It grows dark, who knows what dangers lurk out there? Come inside to Millen’s fine establishment. Enough battle for one day! The triplets and I will buy you ale, and the pretzels are on the house, though stale.” One of the Eladrin, Endrin, replies, “Turka, you missed your calling in life. I dare say you would have made a fine Bard! Speaking of which, where’s the pretty female that was in your party? (directed to Hypatia—No offense, Madame).” The two Eladrin brothers, Aldrin and Endrin, explain that they are triplets but their brother Dieldrin is dead and they are seeking a Raise Dead scroll for him. “We drop by at these Crossroads from time to time because our good friend, Millen Silvereye, has assured us that he would be able to acquire and sell us a Raise Dead scroll for our fallen brother, Dieldrin. This is our fourth visit to his esteemed establishment, and so far no scroll, and the pretzels grow staler each time!”

You enter the trading post and do some business with its proprietor, Millen Silvereye. Also at the trading post is a Half-Orc pelt trader, Kulgrim, who tells you that he recently sold an animal-faced totem to the Bullywugs of the Muckraker Clan, the same totem that the dwarven caravan had stolen from Katuun, and the one that Wolvar has been dreaming about. In return, the Bullywugs traded some Behemoth hides to Kulgrim which he sold to the caravan Dwarves, who intended to fashion the hides into armor.

After settling down at the bar with ales in hand, Endrin says, “We’ve heard Rumors that Parathion has been spotted traveling through this region. Do you know anything of this?”

Turka says, “The triplets and I are long-time veterans of the Bug Wars. We venture north from time to time for a change of scenery and some easy money in The Scar. Not a good idea to spend too much time in The Scar, though, it can do some really weird-ass things to you! Like, we knew this one guy, a Bugbear adventurer, who spent so much time in The Scar, he woke up one day – and I swear to Kord this is true – his mouth was where his butt-hole used to be, and yeah, you guessed it!”

Turka, turning to Rook, “You put some good gashes in me, brother! You would do well in the Bug Wars. You might consider hitching up with us for our next campaign. Our contract promises to be very lucrative.” Endrin adds, “Yes, and Aldrin and I would certainly welcome another meat shield in front of us!”

Valtier Blackthorn tells his tale of how he became a prisoner in the Gibbet Tree at the Crossoads:

“We were released from prison in Silverdale ten days ago (Mayantus 1). We traveled to Ardmore, where White Crane spied on The Company of the Black Wagon. She seemed increasingly jealous and bitter about the glory that was being heaped on you after the King’s Hearing. She waited for you to leave Ardmore, then she approached The King’s Council and begged them to give The Company of the Crane’s Wings a quest to fulfill. The council deliberated for a few minutes, then they handed over the Chaos Shard to White Crane and asked that it be returned to the Chaos Scar and destroyed.

“Initially, White Crane was intent on completing the mission. But the longer we traveled together, the more unusual her behavior became, even for her. Then one day the three females were bathing in a pond and I heard the Goliath let out a shriek. Later, she confided in me that the thing that startled her was that a pair of small, writhing tentacles were sprouting from White Crane’s back. We also noticed that her eyes were getting small and beady.

“We traveled west beyond The Wards, then beyond the old King’s Wall and into the outskirts of the great, strange valley of the scar. We had numerous adventures this past week, too many to recount now, and we met our obstacles with much success. White Crane became skilled at using the Chaos Shard to manipulate things in peculiar ways. For example, one evening I was playing my lute around the campfire. White Crane told me to stop playing so that she could focus and meditate on the power of The Shard, and I said I’d just like to finish the ballad I was playing because it’s bad form to interrupt a ballad, and I promised to cease immediately afterward. She became furious and pointed that shard at me. Three of my fingers fused together like icicles and would not move. I could not play my lute for two days until finally my fingers unfroze.

“It became clear to us that White Crane had no intention of ever surrendering or destroying the Chaos Shard, she was too enamored with its power, and devoted her meditations to sharpening her skill with it. She seemed to forget that she was a follower of The Raven Queen, never even mentioned her at all. She gloated about how she would return to Ardwen one day, subjugate The King’s Council to her will, and imprison The Company of the Black Wagon, condemning you to a life of slow torture.

“All of us in The Company of the Crane’s Wings became terrified of White Crane. All except the ranger, Ruby Blue, who seemed to admire, almost worship, White Crane’s every thought and action. Meanwhile, Heron, Argana, and I met secretly one evening, pretending to forage for food. We formed a pact and agreed to leave the Company at our first opportunity. That night, Argana woke me and Heron during her watch, and the three us of us left camp.

“We headed east, leaving the Chaos Scar behind, made it through the Old Gate, and put some additional distance between us and the camp. Once we were convinced that we had broken free without observation, we went our separate ways, thinking that we stood a better chance if White Crane and Ruby Blue could not pursue us the next morning as a single group. We agreed to meet up at a place to the south we’d heard of called Restwell Keep. I never made it there. I was captured by a roving band of Goblins and traded to the Hobgoblins at these Crossroads in exchange for a few baubles and 19 silver pieces. The Hobgoblins put me in the stinking hanging cage near the zombies and tormented me for three days straight. They tried to sell me to a band of Gnolls, but the Gnolls spit at me and laughed in their hyena-like way, saying I was not fit or strong enough to sacrifice to their God, Yeenoghu, who they call The Destroyer. After that incident, the Hobgoblins tormented me even more viciously, saying that they had wasted their silver pieces on me and that they would probably never get their investment back.

“I was at my rope’s end, alone, with no prospects of rescue. I had just played what I thought would be my final ballad, for I had decided to end my life tonight. When I finished the ballad, my throat was dry, and the Hobgoblins forced me to drink their sweat from a rag. But while I was suffering that indignation, I had a vision of my parents, who themselves were Torchbearers, members of The Company of the Black Thorn. They told me to look north and call out for aid. And just at that moment, you came over the horizon.

After hearing Valtier Blackthorn’s tale, you lay out bed rolls on the upper floor of the Millen Silvereye’s trading post, and rest the night uneventfully.

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Mayantus 10, 1010 A.G.
Campaign Day 40

You awaken to find the chalk-faced humanoids making a campfire and blowing smoke signals. Miniature-sized Balasar peeps out through the cone lid and asks you why someone is chanting in Draconic. He warns you that the chalk-faces are summoning someone they call The Stone Father. You realize that the humanoids are attempting to summon the Young Gray Dragon. You attack and kill them. Cookie remembers hearing rumors that a clan of berserker shifters who worship the Young Gray Dragon had been spotted along the northern outskirts of the Hobgoblin territory where the dragon hunts for prey.

You proceed south and come upon a wide gully. Rook and Wolvar attempt to cajole one of the zedonks into the gully but they push it too hard and it slips down the steep slope and breaks its neck. The remaining zedonk makes it down safely. The gully is full of thick brambles that hinder your movement. You are attacked by eleven Kruthiks. You fend off the toxic spike attacks of the two adults and defeat them.

Hypatia comes out of the black cone and tells of a long and interesting conversation with the worm. She says that the the worm told her that its name is Adugrain. However, the creature is not feeling well and Balasar thought it best for Hypatia to leave the cone for a time.

You leave the gully and travel an additional mile before setting up camp. Around the campfire, Renthro tells the tale of how he and Katuun were betrayed by a dwarven caravan who stole Katuun’s totem implement and sold Renthro and Katuun into slavery to the Hobgoblins at The Crossroads. The dwarves sold the totem implement to a Half-Orc pelt dealer who in turn traded it to a tribe of Bullywugs in exchange for some Behemoth pelts that the dwarves wanted to fashion into armor.

The night passes uneventfully, though Wolvar again dreams of the animal-faced totem. The totem tells Wolvar that it is in the service of an elder spirit called The Great Watcher. It also shows him a vision of its being in the possession of Bullywugs and it pleads with Wolvar to quickly rescue it from them.

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Mayantus 9, 1010 A.G.
Campaign Day 39

You spend most of the morning carefully digging your way out of the caved-in tunnel. Reaching the tunnel’s exit, Agapanthus listens intently but perceives no sign of the Young Gray Dragon. You leave the tunnel. With Cookie providing directions, you quickly arrive at the Stronghold of Tregulus.

Cookie knocks on the front doors and convinces the goblin guard to open the doors even though Cookie does not know the current password. Surprising the occupants, you quickly slay a large number of goblins and hobgoblins. The final goblin surrenders and you question him. Perturbed by the goblin’s chattiness, Rook knocks him soundly unconscious.

Balasar exits the Black Cone and returns to normal size. He explains that he was in a long but enchanting conversation with The Creature of the Cone. Balasar feeds the The Creature of the Cone a magic apple. Of the original seven apples that were in the sack given to you by the Mungo on Aprantus 9, five have been fed to the creature and only two apples remain.

You climb the stairs to the second floor and engage in combat with a Hobgoblin Warcaster who animates several skeletons and a statue, while a Goblin Hexer and four Goblin Sharpshooters attack from concealed locations. You defeat the opponents, but not before Rook falls through a weak spot in the floor, crashing down to the first floor.

Climbing to the third floor, you witness a Bugbear licking the boots of a Hobgoblin Dominatrix who sits on a throne while she casually lashes him with her whip. Joining with them are two gray wolves, a Goblin Blackblade, and a second Bugbear. Rogda, the Hobgoblin Dominatrix, presses a button on the throne and a trap door opens in the floor. Agapanthus jumps to safety on the stairs, while Balasar falls crashing through two stories to the first floor. You defeat the opponents, subduing the Hobgoblin and the Goblin rather than slaying them. You question the Hobgoblin and find that she has a strong aversion to Elves. Threatening to smear Elf germs on her, you intimidate her into answering your questions. She tells you that Tregulus and eighteen of his best Hobgoblins and Bugbears have traveled to The Circle Kingdom (their name for Ardwen) to find out why the old hag who lives there is no longer supplying the hobgoblins with slaves. Rook finds a box of coins and treasure behind a hidden panel in the seat of the throne.

You descend to the basement level. Balasar and Rook slip and fall down the oil-soaked steps and are torched by two Bugbears. A vicious demon-like hyena attacks, as well as a third Bugbear. Hypatia asks Cookie and Dog Boy to retrieve the gong, then Khashana uses the gong to sled her way down the steps without getting a drop of oil on her. You defeat the opponents in a heated contest.

Balasar and Hypatia shrink to one inch tall miniature sizes and are summoned to speak to The Creature of the Cone.

You enter the main dungeon room and find numerous captives shackled at the ankle and chained to the wall. The captives are:
  • Four chalk-faced primitive humanoids (three male, one female) who appear to be Longtooth Shifters
  • A human male, Bledsoe, one of the exiled Ward Guards
  • A wild elf male, Bissle, who knows Agapanthus from Blithewood
  • A female halfling, Poppit, from Ardwen
  • A female Razorclaw Shifter, Meadowbrook, from Ardwen
  • A male dwarf, Renthro, from Restwell Keep
  • A male Minotaur, Katuun, from Restwell Keep
  • A dead, decomposing male Orc wearing a strange uniform
  • Two dead Harefolk with their throats slit

Poppit tells you that Meadowbrook was violated by the Hobgoblins and Bugbears. Khashana succeeds in mentally healing Meadowbrook.

Wolvar recognizes the dead Orc’s uniform as the same type of livery worn by the Mungo.

You interrogate Bledsoe and he tells you a tale of a recent visit to the dungeon by a Deva with skin of orange and black who referred to himself as a traveler. Tregulus treated the Deva with utmost respect and also seemed frightened and intimidated by his presence at the stronghold. The Deva said that he was journeying north to Tr’ome, the capital city of the troll realm, to pay homage to the newly crowned Overlord of Trollgard, the same Troll who was formerly the commander who lead the attack against the slave caravan of Finneas Jack, taking him prisoner.

Bledsoe adds that the Deva wanted to purchase a gift for the Overlord. The Deva showed a strong interest in the last surviving Harefolk captive in Tregulus’s possession, a fellow named Clydesbee. The Deva tasted the blood of a dead Harefolk and uttered, “And so the legend is true.” He asked Tregulus where more of these Harefolk could be found and Tregulus replied that he would attempt to seek out this information for the Deva, if the Deva would ask Overlord to considering releasing Finneas Jack. The Deva agreed to this, and also purchased Clydesbee from Tregulus in exchange for a wondrous black obsidian horse figurine.

Wolvar gets dizzy and passes out. You interrogate Rogda and she reveals that Yaeva was sold into a life of hard labor to the Trolls. If Yaeva is still alive, she is probably a slave in Tr’ome. Cookie is very disheartened by this news. He believes that the party could not survive an adventure into Trollgard. Rook promises Rogda that he will let her go after the interrogation. Fulfilling his promise, he carries her to the top of the tower and drops her three stories. Upon her crashing to the ground unconscious, Cookie slays her, and also slays the remaining unconscious goblin captive.

Wolvar awakens and describes his disturbing visions. He was spoken to by a totem covered in animal faces. The totem animal spirits tell him that Wolvar must immediately set out to find the totem or it will soon be destroyed and forever lost to him. Renthro and Katuun also agree to give the party their Battle Standard of Healing if you escort them safely back to Restwell Keep which is located near the Chaos Scar.

Near the fortress tower you find a barn containing a wagon and two zedonks (striped donkeys). You disguise yourselves as slaves, with Cookie acting the part of your slave master. You set out on a southern journey through the heart of Hobgoblin territory and succeed in averting attention from the Hobgoblins in various towns and villages along the way.

You make camp. One of the chalk-faced humanoids blows on a conch and says that he is signaling their friends. You tell him not to make any more noise. You camp for the night but during the night you are attacked by a Scathebeast adult and two calves. You quickly slay them and resume your rest undisturbed until morning.

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Mayantus 6-8, 1010 A.G.
Campaign Days 36-38

You set out from Braemore on the morning of Mayantus 6, traveling beyond the Kingdom’s borders and into the western wilderlands. After an uneventful night, you travel a second full day along the northern borders of the Hobgoblin Nation. Using Cookie’s knowledge of the terrain to aid you, you manage to avoid observation. You camp out a second night with no encounters.

On the morning of Mayantus 8, you help Cookie search for an entrance to the tunnels. Finding an entrance, you descend into the tunnels that pass below the Wyvern-patrolled badland hills. One-quarter mile into the tunnels, you come to a fork. Cookie recalls that the right-hand passageway leads to a lair of Cave Trolls, and that the left-hand passageway leads to a cavern with a rope bridge. Cookie suggests that you choose the left-hand passageway, and Hypatia confirms this using a Hand of Fate ritual.

Another quarter mile beyond the fork, you descend into a large cavern. At one end is a chasm with boiling, acidic water at its base. A broken and tattered rope bridge spans the chasm. You enter the cavern and are attacked by two Ankhegs and two centipede swarms. After defeating the enemies, you enter the Ankheg lair and swiftly dispatch with six Ankheg Broodlings.

Balasar approaches the rope bridge and is attacked by a Fungal Bloodthorn Vine. The vine is defeated quickly. After two grappling hooks are accidentally dropped into the boiling, acidic water below, Hypatia casts Tenser’s Floating Disk and, after some time, manages to shuttle everyone across the chasm.

After traveling through another half-mile of tunnels, you descend into a second cavern. You are engaged in battle by a Grick, two Troglodyte Maulers, and a Troglodyte Curse Chanter. The grick is killed. Balasar is summoned by The Creature of the Cone. Balasar shrinks down to one inch tall and is drawn into the cone with the creature.

Though the Troglodyte defendants are resilient, you wear them down and eventually overcome them. Wolvar’s badger slays the Chanter as it attempts to escape into The Shallows. Agapanthus picks through a pile of bones and rubble and finds a magic shield which Dog Boy begins to clean for you. Hypatia uses Religion to identify the runic circle as a tribute to Torog, the God that Crawls, but she is uncertain as to its exact nature. Wolvar lifts the lid of the cone and finds Balasar sitting on a tiny bale of golden hay, absorbed in pleasant conversation with the creature.

You begin to feel the debilitating effects of the tunnels, but you succeed in using a series of skills that lead you finally toward the western exit. In the final cavern, you witness a vicious battle between two great beasts, a male Wyvern and a Young Gray Dragon. A second wyvern, a female, attacks Rook but returns to its loft, intent on guarding its nest of eggs. Hypatia is attacked by a Deathjump Spider which is quickly slain. Avoiding further combat with the female wyvern, you cross a shallow lake into a small tunnel that you squeeze into. Crawling through the tunnel, you reach daylight and enter a canyon. Looking up to the ledge fifty feet above, you can see that the Young Gray Dragon is getting the best of its wyvern opponent. You attempt to leave the canyon without drawing the Dragon’s attention but you fail. Having killed the male wyvern, and delighted to find a new opponent to hunt and slay, the Dragon glares at you then launches from the ledge to give chase. Dog Boy finds a tunnel in the canyon wall and you scamper into it just in time to avoid the Dragon’s attack. You are cramped into a small chamber where you begin an extended rest. You hear the Dragon clawing, snorting, and stomping at the tunnel entrance for hours on end, eventually blocking your exit with a cave-in.

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Aprantus 30 - Mayantus 5, 1010 A.G
Campaign Days 30-35

Hethica requests that the Temple of Ioun mount an expedition to recover her library books which are hidden in Glyph’s Tower. Several followers of Kord volunteer to assist in the expedition, hoping to find opportunities to hone their battle skills.

A political faction in Ardmore declare Lady Ryselka the Queen of Ardwen. The claim is that she is the King’s daughter. Lady Ryselka herself quickly squelches the movement, explaining that she is the King’s step-daughter, not his daughter, and therefore has no claim to the throne. She and her mother, the former Queen of Ardwen, were Eladrin refugees from the Feywild who settled in Ardwen some forty years ago when Lady Ryselka was still a child. The dashing young human king, Gwenyk the Good, fell in love with Lady Ryselka’s lovely Eladrin mother. Thirty-five years ago they had a child, Prince Graid, who is Lady Ryselka’s younger half-brother, but the Queen died in childbirth. Prince Graid, a half-Eladrin, left Ardwen over ten years ago, for unknown reasons, and has not been seen since. Lady Ryselka is happy to serve in her position as Seneshal, and as a member of The King’s Council, but has no desire, and makes no claim, as head ruler of the Kingdom.

Hypatia spends a few days helping the Temple of Ioun acquaint themselves with the first volume of The Tomes of Power. The party returns to Braemore and Greeves helps everyone settle into their new quarters. According to Greeves, Madame Duffington wanted Greeves to ask you whether Lord Duffington perfected the re-animator elixir he was working on for Nostone. She requested that you please continue to strive to do something to help poor old Nostone who is still suspended in fluid in a sarcophagus in the basement.

Sitting by the fireplace in Duffington Manor one night after dinner, Dog Boy is asleep on the bearskin rug near the hearth. Cookie moves him a little further away from the fire, afraid that the rug might catch fire. “Sorry, I know, I’m like a mother hen when it comes to lookin’ after the boy.” Cookie then begins to speak of his and Dog Boy’s history. Years ago, Cookie’s lovely daughter, Yaeva (ee-AY-va), was courted by a powerful Hobgoblin slave-trader named Tregulus, but she despised him. Instead, she fell in love and married someone from outside their clan and Dog Boy, Cookie’s grandson, was born shortly afterward. Everyone in the clan mistreated Dog Boy because of his parentage, and Yaeva was scorned and ridiculed. Out of intense spite, the slaver, Tregulus, captured Yaeva and sold her into a life of slavery somewhere to the north of the Hobgoblin Nation. Yaeva’s husband immediately left to rescue her but has never been seen since. That was about seven years ago, when Dog Boy was still a very small child of two or three. Cookie has looked after Dog Boy since then. “I’m all that Dog Boy has left and he’s all that I’ve got left.”

Agapanthus asks Cookie to tell you who Dog Boy’s father is, and Cookie reveals that it was a very noble young man who went by the name of Prince Graid. Cookie pushes back the shaggy hair from around Dog Boy’s face as he sleeps, and asks you to take a close look at Dog Boy’s face, something none of you had ever thought to do before. Lo and behold, you observe from his features that Dog Boy is part Hobgoblin, part Human, and part Eladrin.

Cookie adds that Tregulus deals his slaves to creatures from far away lands. He has been known to deal with Gnolls, Orcs, and even Trolls. Tregulus has an ongoing business relationship with one particular tribe of Gnolls that is extremely vicious, being devout worshipers of the Demon Lord Yeenoghu. It is that same Gnoll tribe that requested young would-be Adventurers of the type that Mother Gerd had been diverting to the Hobgoblins in exchange for ritual components. The Gnolls engage in a monthly ritual sacrifice on the 13th day of every month, and they require 13 healthy young victims to sacrifice to Yeenoghu. The hobgoblin slaver Tregulus would always be certain to have that many captives available to sell to the Gnolls who would send a contingent to his stronghold to buy the slaves on the 10th of every month. The Gnolls pay Tregulus a premium price for such victims, so it was a very lucrative business venture for him. If Agapanthus, Hypatia, White Crane, and Valtier had not been rescued from the slave wagon as they were on Aprantus 1st, their fate most likely would have been to have been sacrificed by the Gnolls to the Demon Lord Yeenoghu on Aprantus 13th.

Cookie despises Tregulus because he sold his daughter into slavery. He also despised his underling, Finneas Jack, the Hobgoblin slaver that was taken captive by the Trolls at the request of The Old One for failing to pay sufficient tithe to her upon leaving Notchwood. As agonizing and disagreeable as it was for him, Cookie was forced to work for Finneas Jack because Tregulus promised to torture and kill Dog Boy if Cookie refused. It was the only way to keep Dog Boy alive, at least until the Torchbearers came along and lead the two Hobgoblins to their new lives with you in Ardwen.

Tregulus operates from an old fortress along the northern border of the Hobgoblin Nation. The fortress may have once been part of the last great human empire, known as the Empire of Nerath. Cookie used to play there as a child when it was still abandoned, years before Tregulus and his gang moved in. Although it would be dangerous, if not impossible, to approach the fortress using a direct overland route, Cookie knows of an alternate in the badlands that skirt the northern edge of Hobgoblin Nation that will draw less attention to you. However, it will require crawling in ditches, slot canyons, and in dry river beds, and then crossing through dangerous badland hills before arriving at the stronghold. The badlands are patrolled by Wyverns, who prey on foolhardy travelers. Cookie knows a route under the hills, an underground tunnel two miles long. He used to explore the labyrinthine tunnels when he was a boy. He knows of some dangers that lurk in the tunnels but he thinks that your party can handle them. The tunnels pass through a zone that connects to a deeper network of tunnels and caves known as The Shallows. Sometimes dangerous creatures emerge from The Shallows, but Cookie says that it wouldn’t be necessary to delve down into them, only to make your way past entrances that lead down to them.

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Addendum to the King's Hearing

White Crane, Ruby Blue, Heron, Argana, and Valtier were released from prison in Silverdale. Bonded by their prison experiences, they start their own company of Adventurers, The Company of the Crane’s Wings, breaking off from The Company of the Black Wagon, a group that White Crane claims she never cared for much anyhow.

Hethica announces that you have proven your trustworthiness to her and that she is ready to reveal the location of The Tomes of Power as told to her by Glyph. The Tomes, she was told, are in the sacred vault deep within the Sunken Temple of Avandra, a few miles south of River’s End.

The King’s Council relieves the Changeling, Crexis, of his duty as impostor-King. They ask him to vow never to mimic anyone while he remains in Ardwen. He says he was only doing what he was brought here to do by command of the real King, but if they don’t need his services any further, he would like to return to his home in Eberron as soon as that can be arranged.

Greeves informs the party that he is now their most humble servant, as Madame Duffington has set out with The Rag Man and their other companions for a life of Adventuring in their new-found company of Torchbearers, The Company of the Bright Torch. She has no expectation of ever returning to Braemore, and thus has bequeathed Duffington Manor and its loyal servant Greeves into the capable hands of The Company of the Black Wagon.

Pixelator says that The Rag Man (the true King Gwenyk) and his new adventuring company, The Company of the Bright Torch, had a couple of successful forays along the fringes of Notchwood. With their newly found confidence, they have set out to find what wonders lie beyond the high snow-capped peak known as The Notch to the north. They decided to travel straight up through the heart of Notchwood to their destination, seeking Adventure along the way. They fully understand that they may never return to the Kingdom. Meanwhile the King says that the The King’s Council should rule in his stead, until such time as the true heir to Ardwen returns to the Kingdom. It is understood by everyone that he must be referring to Prince Graid, who has been missing for ten years.

By a vote of 5 to 1 (Chancellor Whitemoat being the only dissenting vote), The King’s Council legalizes Adventuring in Ardwen, and passes an accompanying resolution declaring tolerance for the goddess Avandra and her followers. But only citizens that have either (1) Completed a minimum of six months service in the Ward Guard; or (2) Tithed 100 GP to the treasury for the purpose of training and equipping the Ward Guard, will be eligible to pursue a life of Adventuring. To maintain their Adventurer credentials over time, Adventurers must annually tithe an additional 50 GP on the first day of the year. Enlistment rates in the Ward Guard immediately begins to increase after this announcement.

Lady Ryselka asks Hypatia to establish a school at the Temple of Ioun in Ardmore to promote the teaching of the Paths of Power to all would-be Adventurers, that is, those who qualify for study based on their prior service to the Ward Guard or on their tithing 100 GP to the treasury.

Gabbie would like to know whether the party needs a river boat ride to anywhere in the kingdom. He says that the next ride is on him, free of charge.

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Aprantus 29, 1010 A.G.
Campaign Day 29

After a couple days of rest in Ardmore, you attend the King’s Hearing. You are in King Gwenyk’s hearing chamber, a small but regal-looking bi-level auditorium that seats about three-hundred. The chamber is packed with attendees, a standing-room only crowd ranging from street urchins and unsavory types who look like they might be here to pick pockets, all the way to the highest nobility in Ardmore.

King Gwenyk the Good sits on the main stage facing you, the six members of his King’s Council, three to either side. You recognize Lady Ryselka, the King’s Seneschal, and Ward Marshall Warwick of the West Quadrant. Some of you recognize Ward Marshall Huxor of the North Quadrant. New to all of you is Chancellor Whitemoat, a middle-aged man with a shock of white hair and a white goatee; Ward Marshall Arbrand of the East Quadrant, a tough athletic-looking dwarf; and Ward Marshall Vortina of the South Quadrant, a tall, intimidating-looking Dragonborn female with a dark green tinge to her scales.

You are seated in a separate seating area between main stage and the audience behind you. The exception is Kashana, who was forced to sit by herself far off to the side, with instruction that no one is to be within 30 feet of her during the hearing.

Ward Marshall Vortina uses a large gavel to call the Hearing to order. After some introductory remarks by Vortina, she describes the four major issues on the agenda, and proceeds to the first matter to be addressed.

On the matter of the condition of The Wards
Ward Marshall Arbrand of the East Quadrant, presents a report about the current condition of The Wards. Everyone is shocked to hear his assessment: The Wards, he says, can be maintained in their current condition for one more year, perhaps two.

On the matter of the condition of the Ward Towers and the state of the Ward Guards
Ward Marshall Huxor of the North Quadrant, presents a report about the lack of supplies, training, and morale in the Ward Guard. He urges the King to dedicate greater resources to its support.

On the matter of Adventuring
Priestess Erathena, of the Temple of Erathis in Ardmore, argues against Adventuring. Priestess Civilia, of the Temple of Erathis in Braemore, argues for it. Priests and priestesses of Ioun, Corellon, Moradin, Kord, and Pelor add their remarks.

On the matter of the Adventuring company known as the Torchbearers
Finally, Chancellor Whitemoat makes a stinging case against you. Lady Ryselka counters by bringing forth Captain Ubada as a prime witness for the defense. Ubada making a rousing speech and salutes you. The crowd cheers.

Lady Ryselka has a look of satisfaction. Chancellor Whitemoat is frowning. The King looks a little confused. Ward Marshall Vortina pounds the gavel, then addresses the King – “Majesty, you have now heard both arguments. Is Majesty prepared to enlighten us with his ruling in this matter?”

King Gwenyk speaks for the first time: “We thank our Chancellor, the Lord Whitemoat, and our Seneschal, the Lady Ryselka, for their spirited arguments. Lady Ryselka, be assured that We shall read your document before arriving at our final decision. We require one month of further consideration in this matter, and thus, We shall reconvene this hearing after such time has passed, at which time Our justice shall be rendered unto the Defendants. Until such time, the Defendants are to be confined to the Castle dungeons.”

The hushed moan of disappointment reverberates through the crowd then fades into silence. A VOICE IN THE CROWD BREAKS THROUGH THE SILENCE. “That’s bullshit! You can’t do that. That’s bullshit!” Everyone turns their attention to the speaker. It’s Cookie! “You’ve heard both sides of the argument. Any King worth his salt would make a decision right now! Or maybe you’re not a real King after all!”

Chancellor Whitemoat: “Silence that Hobgoblin prisoner, lest his black tongue be ripped from his foul mouth right on this very spot!”

Cookie, to the King: “Dog Boy is a good judge of character, and he doesn’t think you’re a real king, do you child?”

Dog Boy: (in crystal-clear Common): “No, grandfather, I don’t. In fact, I am quite certain that he is not the King, but an imposter.”

Chancellor Whitemoat: “Shall we stand here and allow these ignorant intruders to cast wild aspersions on the veracity of our good King! Insolent knaves, you will both surely die for this!”

The crowd breaks out into a loud frenzy of confusion.

Ward Marshall Vortina, pounding her gavel: “Order! Order! Allow Majesty to respond directly to these accusations!”

King Gwenyk (leaning forward, peering down inquisitively at Dog Boy): “Tell me child, why do you say such things to Majesty?”

Dog Boy: “I have spoken to the true King of Ardwen, and you are not He.”

King Gwenyk: “How did you know? It was the accent, right? I always knew the phony accent would give me away. I look exactly like the King – after all I am a Changeling – but I just couldn’t get that accent down pat!”

Chancellor Whitemoat: “What manner of deception and trickery is this! Majesty, I beseech thee, do not succumb to these wicked enchantments!”

King Gwenyk: “Aw, give it up Whitemoat. The charade is over, and it couldn’t end soon enough as far as I’m concerned!”

A small female figure rushes up the aisle – it’s Pixelator. She is followed by a tall gaunt gentlemen in butler’s livery (Greeves) and a salty old codger with a mild limp and a fisherman’s beard (Gabbie). Arriving on the stage, she turns to face the crowd and shouts at the top of her lungs, “King Gwenyk wishes you all to know that he is well, and that he just made Second Level!”

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Aprantus 25-26, 1010 A.G.
Campaign Days 25 and 26

After spending part of the morning in Ardmore trading some of your valuables for gold pieces, you return to Blithewood and set up camp a few miles northeast of Mother Gerd’s cottage. Wolvar and Rook build a small plank bridge. The next morning you return to the cottage, where a red rooster perched on the weather-vane tells you to leave 300 GP on the bridge. You attack the rooster and engage in another battle outside the cottage. The rooster is joined by a snowy white owl, a dark shadowy figure throwing daggers from behind the curtains, several tainted roots, and several enchanted snapjaw plants. Two of the snapjaw plants grab Balasar and knock him unconscious. You overcome the enemies and enter the cottage. You find a corridor lined with cages containing rats, dire rats, giant bats, stirges, a spider monkey, needlefang drakes, a pair of Harefolk, a wolf, and a badger.

After a short rest, you enter an alchemical laboratory with Bunsen burners, flasks, and other equipment. Two dead bodies lay in a state of partial dissection. One of them is a young man with a beard. The other is a drake that Balasar recognizes as the same one that you had freed at Glyph’s Tower. Three slimy white slugs with bulging purple veins emerge from the corpses and attack using tentacles and emitting a greasy, gray mist. Balasar peers through the window into the parlor room and sees an old crone rocking in a chair, Mother Gerd, who attacks with a loud, painful shriek.

The snowy white owl rejoins the attack, as well as a female Were Boar, who comes crashing through a room of potted black tulips, squeezing herself into a narrow corridor to engage you. The smell of the black tulips is familiar to both Agapanthus and Hypatia; they recall that they were the cause of their drowsiness and amnesia when they were taken captive several weeks ago by Mother Gerd and her accomplices.

With the battle going against her, Mother Gerd attempts to teleport away, but the hag is taken down by attacks from Agapanthus and Wolvar before she can complete her escape. Before long, her remaining allies are also defeated.

You find hordes of alchemical treasures and ritual components, including Mother Gerd’s Book of Alchemical Formulae, as well as a book of rituals that once belonged to Mother Denebola (Hypatia’s previous incarnation). You free the two Harefolk and the natural animals from their cages and allow them to escape from the cottage. You torch Mother Gerd’s cottage and watch it burn to the ground. You spend the remainder of the day traveling back to Ardmore.

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Aprantus 23-24, 1010 A.G.
Campaign Days 23 and 24

You return to Ardmore and escort Felgrim Cornerstone to the office of Ward Marshall Warwick, successfully completing a Major Quest. You are brought to see Lady Ryselka, who tells you that you will spend the next day providing a full debriefing of your recent adventures. There is to be a hearing before King Gwenyk in one week in which the fate of all Adventuring in Ardwen is to be decided by the king.

The following day you are interrogated repeatedly by Chancellor Whitemoat, Lady Ryselka, and their many advisers. Cookie is upset over the fact that Dog Boy was roughed up during the interrogation. Dog Boy speaks poor Common and could not understand the questions well or answer them fully. You rest the night uneventually. Hypatia hands over the pewter crown that the self-proclaimed Prince Flak was wearing, as evidence towards the existence of the slave trader.

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Aprantus 22, 1010 A.G.
Campaign Day 22

You bring the seven captured mutineers to the western boundary and exile them from the kingdom. You then assist Felgrim Cornerstone with a ninth and final day of Ward inspections (Wards 81-90).

Felgrim wishes to be escorted back to Ardmore using the most direct route possible. Beginning the journey through Blithewood, Agapanthus and Hypatia come upon an eerily familiar woodland path which they recognize as the way to Mother Gerd’s cottage. You are approached by a pixie-like bug creature, a Grig, who demands precious gems for himself and his three fellow Grigs. The Grigs attempt to mesmerize you with a fiddle dance, but you defeat them swiftly.

You proceed up the path toward the cottage. The path opens into a clearing with a cobblestone walkway winding alongside a lily-pond and a swamp. A white owl is perched on a weather-vane over the porch entrance. It instructs you to leave 100 gold pieces on the bridge and come back to see Mother Gerd tomorrow. You ignore its instructions and attack instead, engaging in a fierce battle with Giant Frogs, Hellvenom Hornets, Enchanted Snapjaw Plants, Tainted Root Pods, and a shadowy figure who hurls daggers. Agapanthus, Balasar, Wolvar, and Hypatia are knocked unconscious at various points in the battle, but ultimately everyone in the party survives the encounter. Spent and weary, you retreat away from the cottage to rest and regroup.

Agapanthus leads you a few miles east to a secret hiding place he knows of called Rustling Leaf Grotto. Khashana senses that the grotto has a nearness to Dal Quor, The Region of Dreams, and knowing it to be a dangerous place for Kalashtar, she resists the temptation her Quori spirit feels to enter the grotto. Although the night passes uneventfully, everyone except Khashana loses track of time. Khashana rouses everyone awake the next morning.

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