A Gathering of Tribes

What, you wants that we put out flames with the wench, right?

After fleeing into the dark forest, against all advice, we traveled for a good couple of hours until we came in sight of firelights. Firelight, that seemed to be coming our way at ground level? As it approached we heard the trample of hooves, and we saw more flames, then they were upon our hiding locations as we tried to blend in with the dark forest around us.

Some of us did better at blending then others. The lead nightmare ridden by what looked like a mage of sorts rode right past Aaron and Cole, the other four without riders closed on Hendrik, Nanzad, and Lila. This left Ghostwalker, myself, and Tronar to attack out of the night’s cover. These jet-black horses with flaming hooves left trails of flame were they went, and could be a real pain to hit when they covered themselves in these flames. It seemed like the battle was spread out all over the place as Lila kept fleeing, and in attempting to protect her, I threw himself at any of the teleporting beasties that sprang up in front of her. Ghostwalker finally yelled to a burning Aaron to tackle the fleeing girl (and in doing so put out the flames now engulfing both of them). It was Nanzad that gave us the charge of death so ending the battle of twelve pines.

Ghostwalker continued his feral nature removing the head of the mage to carry as a trophy of sorts, but Hendrik not liking the change to Ghostwalker, ask for him to leave it behind. In the end it was Hendrik who won (he usually does). At this point we all stopped and tried to figure where we were headed (without head…lol), and Lila provided a general direction for us to follow toward the gypsy camp.

We continued on in that direction thinking only of self preservation and the unnatural beasties that probably had their eyes on us thinking of their next meal it the dark forest in the Shadowlands. Within an hour we came upon a group of men that seemed to be on guard duty, and after a little negotiation found them to be the gypsies we seeked. They like the fact that we had taken out the crazy mage and his flaming horses, saying they had been an issue in the woods for some time now. Before long we were on the way to their camp- The Tribe of the Alpha wolf.

As we descended from as small ridge into the valley below, where we could see the gypsy camp sprawled before us, Ghostwalker seemed to suddenly feel terrible and doubled over in pain. I called a halt to the group and asked the gypsies with us what this could be. They immediately got nervous and tightened their grip on their weapons, and said, “You dare to bring a lycanthrope into the village”. Ok, it was time for some quick calming…

Through trembling lips, the moonbane affected Ghostwalker told of his distant heritage to lycanthropes, and I spoke of their nobleness in our lands, and the fact the he was a friend of good, and one of our comrades, and in the end we were successful at being allowed into the camp. We were however asked to meet with “The Great Mother”, as she had foreseen our coming.

The meeting shed a lot of light on what had been going on around there for some time. It seems like I was right, Baron Lucius Catullis was the lycanthrope ravaging the land, and he had come to the Shadowlands from our world (or more specifically Hendrik’s). He was a legion scout who betrayed his countrymen over 400 years ago, and then fled the old kingdoms for the new world where he eventually was overtaken with the darkness and pulled into the Shadowlands. The reason the Great Mother was that she was actually a lycanthrope as well. For she was Pricea Catullis the baron’s sister.

The Great Mother wanted nothing more than to remove her brother from the lands, as she had seen the darkness overtake him, and he was in no way in control of the blight on him. He had ravaged the lands under his control for far too long. She, on the other hand, had taken the precautions to control as best she could the beast that had a hold of her as well.

For years she had looked for just the chance that she now had saw. A hearty group of adventurers to act as a surgical strike team to go in and remove him from the castle that had protected him with over the years (sounds like a job for The Kordson!). She knew of a secret way for us to take into his throne chamber through the catacombs below the castle, and she would lead a distracting attack, that would pull off a majority of his forces. Our other purpose for wanting this assault was the fact that the baron controlled a one way portal that would allow us back into the land of the living, and home again.

While the Great Mother had locked down the stores of alcohol prior to the fight, one of the gypsies, who seem to be inclined, to think of life along the same lines as I did, said that he had our backs. I thought it more than appropriate to raise the moral of all those going into battle the next day with the ballads of the deeds of our great group. Sampson, my gypsy friend introduced me to two young lasses that needed more than their moral raised that night. Who was I to say no?

The next morn our trip through the catacombs seemed easy up until we entered the nesting area of the beast, who had ruled these catacombs for many years. Additionally in this area these jars of brains seemed to hold the power to compel us to things we would normally not do, like attack our friends. I was made to attack Hendrik (not a choice I would ever make on my own). Eventually the large feral ogre –like thing fell to an assault like non I have seen by Hendrik. In a classic move even Ghostwalker got into the deal of drawing a creature into earning an attack by Hendrik, as he, in his feral state, lifted his leg on the beast’s shins. In a more of a spread out affair than Hendrik would have liked, even the brains fell, as Nanzad and Tronar spent their time bringing down these charming beasties when the beast was left to the rest of us.

Once the catacombs were clear, the way to the throne room was left vacant, as we heard the sounds of the diversionary offence beginning upstairs. We rushed the throne room in our standard charge, and once on the other side we in we bolted ourselves in. The entire room filled with lycanthropes, as they changed in unison and attacked, led by the biggest werewolf I had ever imagined. Tronar, being who he was, thought it a good idea to move in behind the baron-wolf, and sit on his throne. This sole move cost him much pain, but I have to hand it to the lizard – he did deal out a bunch pain as well. Between him, Hendrix’s opening move, a majority of the lesser wolves were down.

The rest of the fight saw us slowly moving the baron toward the mirror, where we were told to move him through, so as to stop his regenerative powers and make it possible to kill him. As in many battles, it was the Kordson, who I would sing about heaving the baron-wolf through, then only to follow a split second latter to lead the attack back in our lands.

In the end the Great Mother stayed behind, but many of the Alpha Wolf Tribe followed us through, wanting to be back in the light, and to pledge our cause after we had helped them through theirs.

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Crawling Trampling Rage?

The night began with the group healing up after the encounter in the fire trapped room, before they approached the double doors, and what may waiting beyond. It was the well trained shifter ears of Ghostwalker that picked up on the sounds of movement and a loud crash, but not ahead of them, behind them.

As he made his way back down the trapped hall toward the stairs he heard the thump, thump, thump, as something tumbled down the stairwell toward him. He braced himself as it neared, however he was relieved and horrified all at the same time when saw the unknown item come to rest at his feet. It was the torn off head of the harpy which had fled, the one that had failed to lure Ghostwalker off the cliff above (obviously she chose a poor time to return to her nest).

The group wanting to know what lay behind them, agreed to allow a somewhat stealthy Ghostwalker to ascend the stairwell to get an idea of what was above. Ghostwalker (who missed Fader) took one step after another, making his way slowly and somewhat quietly up the out of the darkness. He stopped just shy of the top of the stairs to stare in disbelief. There at the top, partially blocking the entrance was torn and raked torso of a horse. As he built up the courage to climb a little more, he heard a loud roar, the flap of mighty wings, and the intake of air. That was enough, and as he turned to scamper back down the stairs, he felt the heat as the gout of flames licked at his fleeing form.

With the knowledge of what was above Hendrik suggested that they open the doors and deal with what was there, then they could seal themselves in and rest up, before dealing with what had to be a dragon. Maybe they would get lucky and find another way out beyond the doors (DM laughter was loud).

The Doors opened to reveal a throne room of sorts. The mummified bodies of a pair Minotaurs sat on thrones on a raised dais. Four bone cover columns held the ceiling, and on the floor between them was the engraved symbol of Baphomet, the Minotaur God. At the crack of the door a glyph summoned four more of the Hell Hounds, like those group faced in the earlier room. These flaming canines joined the other undead guardians of this chamber.

The group jumped into action right away as Tronar cut loose with his signature lightning attack, which blasted into two of the flaming hounds. When Hendrik and Nanzad charged into action to meet the undead in the center of the chamber, Ghostwalker and Charnel helped from the edges of the room.

When Tronar moved within reach of the columns he found that the boney appendages attached to them swatted at him, and when one on the hell hounds and a Minotaur skeleton choose him as a target, off to the side of the chamber, he thought it wiser to move back to a defensive positioning with the group. Nanzad, having been knocked prone, left us with the memory of the battle when he found it possible to crawl trample the feet and legs of the opponents, who drew additional attacks from Hendrik as they swatted at the crawling barbarian.

It was not long before the group had all the undead defenders down and now just dealt with the hell hounds, who had teamed up to do some considerable damage on the frontlines and dropped Ghostwalker into unconsciousness. In the end it was Hendrik (now remembering his aura) who push one of the flaming hounds away, While Tronar and Charnel teamed up on the other standing one, and Nanzad worked to guard, and heal the fallen Ghostwalker.

With the door barred they healed up and prepared for what was to come. In the hours of rest they found what must have been the goal of the One Horn’s search party, a shinny golden shield with the head off a bull engraved on its surface. Well from this point forward it would make a fine protective device for Hendrik, and would give him something to taunt One Horn’s forces with.

Hours later, once fully recovered the entire Group of the Hand ascended the stairs with Hendrik and the Kordson leading the way. As they pushed beyond the horse corpse into the light they saw the Red Dragon, who had sensed them long before. Although was still a young worm, it would be a serious opponent. It lifted into the air to land before them, covering them all with flames, and stunning all with fear except Charnel, who fought off the overwhelming will assault. Then he ripped into them with its claw and terrible bite attacks before he was even touched. This was going to be a tough battle.

Though it was, as Hendrik came very close to going down, and Ghostwalker also got mauled pretty well also, learning that the bite of a Dragon is something to respect. As the dragon attempted to fly away, it was fittingly Hendrik who stopped its wing flaps for the final time, slaying it with his mighty hammer.

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That scout must have been a Whitetail!!!

The Hand minus one returned quickly to the Growtharn village from their time with the Sea Eagles, but with the union of one more tribe. At first look, it was evident that the population of Growtharn lands had grown much with the influx of tribes. In the groups absence more of the smaller Growtharn and Kordian frontier tribes had made their way to the large gathering. The fringe Growtharn tribesmen came for the protection, where the Kordians came because of Kordson.

Hemgesh and shubut had done well to lead and organize the Kordians in the Kordson’s absence, and though Hemgesh was a little wound up, he had been a very loyal convert to the Kordian way. The Kordson did suggest that in order to better utilize his skills, and to head off any over enthusiasm the Growtharn Chief should put Hemgesh into the field on long patrol.

In the few days they were within the village Hendrik put himself right to work organizing the chaotic war tactics and field training underway, where Tronar just sat and observed the strange ways of the human cultures before him. One thing for sure is that before long, he would need a new journal to log all the strangeness.

Ghostwalker spent the downtime perfecting a ritual that allowed him to run alongside his cohort, Mist, on all fours. Being able to change into a wolf would increase the Hands ability to effectively scout ahead, a skill that was missing without Fader around (now all they needed was a master dancer that left his clothes on).

Their stay was ended when word from the southwest came in, telling of a Minotaur and some gnolls searching the fringes of the Kordian lands, for something in the lands vacated by the Misty Orc Tribe when they went west. In the times of the original One Horn, the Minotaur progress was stopped cold by the Misty Orcs, and within that battle one of the many sons of the original One Horn lost his life.

Without much delay the group too headed this direction, with hopes to intercept. The long range scouts had been paralleling the progress of the searching band, and it was not long before the party stumbled across one of the rangers. He informed them of the closeness of the Minotaur’s group, but headed off just as Nanzad suggested the benefit of some ranged support during an ambush (Nanzad mumbled something about the ranger’s possible home tribe being the Whitetails).

With Ghostwalker in wolf form, it was easy for the Band of the Hand to get ahead of them and find a good place for an ambush. It would have been perfect, had it not been for the Minotaur’s great battle senses. As it was it was still good enough to get some good cover and choose the site of the battle. Additionally Tronar was able to increase the cover with his shadow cover power. The Minotaur closed with Nanzad and Hendrik, and even was conned into swinging at Nanzad as he move in behind the group, a move that cost him a smack from Hendrik. After Charnel’s Arrow of I’ll Omen allowed Nanzad to crunch through the Minotaur’s good defenses on two damaging occasions, the remainder of the battle was short lived, as the gnolls lacked the endurance against the group without the Minotaur.

In the end the group captured two alive, and went to work to get some intelligence about what these guys were looking for. However these battle hardened brutes seem to fear One Horns retribution far more than anything the Hand could possibly do to them. The only thing that these two did give up prior to the warrior’s death they wear given, was the name Cloudtop.

Between Ghostwalker and Charnel the location of Cloudtop was identified and the group was off in that direction. Before long the natural stairs, which wound up the steep hillock and disappeared into the low lying clouds came into view. After a rugged climb they came to the open aired tower top, which had a deerskin cover over the only portal, the smell of rotting meat, and the occasional flap of wings betrayed the presence of avian creatures.

Wanting to get off the stairs and away from of the cliff, made a frontal quick assault was the best approach for the group. The original call of Harpies turned out to be correct, and a tough battle it turned into. With their ability to dazed, blind, and lure the group, the group had its hands full. Tronar’s ability to pull creatures toward him, work to drop one off its high perch, placing it in trouble on the floor with Nanzad, Hendrik, and Charnel. When the battle looked in bad shape after the one feathered survivor, who stayed off the floor (away from Nanzad and Hendrik), had flown outside and failed to lure a blind and dazed Ghostwalker from the cliffs, it flew off sparing its own life.

After a brief search the group found that what the Minotaur searched for had to be down the covered stairs, as the scattered coins of the harpy lair offered little wealth. A short while later the uncovered stairs revealed the groups descent.

Within the halls beneath the natural tower, the group found a series of trapped short halls ending in a Minotaur statues and an end room where a pair of hell hounds appear as the entire area was engulfed in flame, and a spectral Minotaur attack through the walls. Another tough fight, but the teams combined efforts proved way too much for the creatures of the flame chamber. With the fight done, the only direction left was beyond the ornate set of double doors centered on the northern wall centered between the two flaming braziers…….

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I AM NANZAD THE KORDSON!!!!!

And I am the Chief of the Kordians. Here is my account of our previous outing. I had just helped my companions rescue the slaves taken by the vile Whiteeye woman. I destroyed her vile compound with the help of my companions. I burned her place to the ground and severed her head from here shoulders. I then carved a symbol of One Horn on her forehead and left it for the Whiteyes to find.

While we were Helping the slaves back to the Growthar lands, I was wrestling Hendrick. We were approached by Tronar and a slave, err former slave, and naturally he wanted to talk to me. I heard his pleas. He asked me and my friends to save the rest of his companions whom had been sold to a scarred orc mystic. I agreed to help them. We would travel there and Charnel would take the freed slaves back to the Growtharian lands.

I traveled to the cave of the scarred orc with my companions, and we carefully crept inside. On watchful alert I arrived at a cavern with a pool of stagnant water near the entrance, and several passages branching off the back. Moving carefully forward Hendrick pointed out the pool and said,” Watch that”. I failed to hear, but Ghostwalker and Hendrick heard a voice call out of the darkness.

Before anything else happened I was not surprised to be attacked by Fish Cultists. I was however a tad surprised to see a giant Shit Monster lunge out of the pool. I was later told it was called an Otyugh. Hendrick and I engaged the creature, as Ghostwalker called on the spirits to aid us. I’m not really sure what Tronar was doing, but from the exploding Cultists I suspect it was impressive magic.

The scarred orc showed himself, and I charged to attack him. I was surrounded by lesser men when Hendrick raced across the battlefield to my side. I was so stunned at his newfound speed I barley realized that I had killed the orc. After that it was just mopping up the cultists, which I helped with.

We took one of them alive, and I tried to get him to tell us what lay below. He wouldn’t speak to me so we sent Tronar to terrorize him. I was irritated when he would not tell us the way through the maze that lead to there temple. “Damn cultists” Hedrick mumbled. Tronar killed the cultist before I could, and we descended into the maze.

After several miss turns we discovered the cultist lair. Advancing ahead we were attacked by more of the cultists, a giant snake, the Cult leader, and their loser god. Some stupid eyeball thing.

Being that we were fairly outnumbered I executed Hendrick’s battle plan, Get em. I rushed them engaging the giant snake. Tronar blasted all the enemies he could see, including some that I assume were cowering behind a table. Hendrick surprised me again as he ran up a small ledge and attacked the eyeball thingy. Ghostwalker summoned ancestor spirits to help us, and did some other stuff; I wasn’t really paying much attention.

We beat the crap out of them. The details are fuzzy, but we kicked large amounts of ass. I helped to rescue the Slaves, for some reason there weren’t that many left. Together we returned them back to their tribe the Sea Eagles.

When we arrived at the tribe we were welcomed to their lands. During the feast I was telling people about horrible horrible Cults associated with One Horn. Tronar and Ghostwalker talked to the Chief and Shaman and convinced them to join my Alliance.

--As remembered by Nanzad the Kordson told to Charnel the bard.

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A Slave revolt! That’s the story the street screamers will tell

The group traveled east down out of the hilly forested region, making for the coast and New Greeshan. The group count was one less now, as the young Fader had stayed behind with the Ghost Owls to share his dance secrets. Within a few uneventful days they came within view of the great swamp, which they tried to give a wide berth to.

Although they avoided much of the natural interruptions cause by the changes to the landscape as they circled swampy regions, the group still saw slowdowns as they proceeded thought the grassy marshlands. One of which, happened as one of the local inhabitants stepped out from behind a willow tree and called for a halt to the groups progress.

In a croaking voice the old Grippli King called for the group to pay for trespassing, as the group saw numerous signs of movement in the high grass around their location. However as Ghostwalker and Charnel stepped forward to try to negotiate a peaceful passage, Tronar thought differently and roared his challenge as he charged, “How about you give us 50 gp, and we only eat one of you”.

With that the Grippli hunters hopped high into the air raining down arrows on all of the traveling companions. By the time they landed, Tronar had busted through the line and dropped the old Grippli King with one strike, growled loudly, and began eating the leg of the downed king, stating loudly, “I loved frog legs”.

This was very unsettling, and many of the hunters, lost their will to remain in the fight. The combat was pretty much over before it got started, leaving one broken hunter crying for mercy and many other bounding back into the high grasses and bogs beyond. With that the frightened hunter was lashed around the neck and reined in when he tried to jump beyond the ropes length. Using the prisoner as a precautionary message to other frogs, who may be thinking of attacking, the group continued on to the far edge of the marshlands without further incident.

By the time the group released the prisoner, Charnel had been able to at least understand his froglike communication. He found out that the creature was still totally rattled by Tronar, and he wanted nothing more than to escape back to the safety of the marsh, wishing that he was once again a tadpole. Tronar did nothing to help the situation, as he continued to cook frog legs the entire time in the wetlands.

After a few more uneventful days of travel down past two bear cave, and on into the expanding valleys of the white-eye civilization movement, the group finally arrived at New Greeshan. As everyone else sought lodging at the Inn, Hendrik returned to his house, which he had lent out to his friend, Watch Commander Von Fredrikson, as an extension of the officers quarters. On the way he noticed far more soldiers about the streets now days, and a large number of warships in the harbor.

Arriving at his house, he found his friend right away. Within minutes they were sitting in a pub enjoying ale and exchanging recent happenings. Hendrik found that the influx of soldiers were the result of a legion sent to expedite the colonization. The Von Fredrikson found the information that Hendrik told him very interesting about the expansion of One Eyes forces, the gathering of tribes, and the Iethian interest in the relic in the desert. He suggested that Hendrik and his friends meet with General Jan Reichert. However, because of possible Iethian eyes within New Greeshan, the watch commander suggested a staged arrest, and an interrogation by the General and the legion’s intelligence officer, Counselor Garret Luddvick. Hendrik would have to sell this point very carefully to the proud tribesmen he traveled with.

On his return to the Inn, Hendrik stumbled across Charnel, who stood looking in wonderment at the number of magnificent warships in the New Greeshan harbor. It took Hendrik a couple of shakes to pull Charnel out of his multi-eyed stare. However soon they were both quickly on their way to the taproom at the Inn where Hendrik was sure to find the remainder of the group.

The Meet up with everyone went as Hendrik expected. Both Ghostwalker and the proud Nanzad initially refused to idea of a false arrest, but after Hendrik explained the need for such secrecy and deception they all agreed to go along with the charade.

This agreement came not a moment to soon as a reinforced watch patrol burst through the doors within moments, and roughly arrested the group. The fact that this was suppose to be for show was not evident in the level of hostility. There would be a number of the watchmen dressing wounds for a number of days there after, Nanzad saw to that, and each of the group were banged up as well.

With the cell cleared of all but the watch commander, the intelligence officer, the General, and the group, the meeting officially took place. It was a meeting that was not officially logged on any books, but was be beneficial to both parties. The General learned of the threat that the Empire faced from the gathering tribes to the west, the potential allies gathering closer, and the possible shit stirring Iethians. Hendrik now believed he had the real backing of Empire.

General Reichert commissioned the group to find out what they could from a suspected agent of the Iethian’s, the slave merchant Nyishsa. The idea would be for the group to go in strong and gather as much information as they could. However none could be allowed to live to dispute the stories generated. “A slave revolt, that’s the story the street screamers will tell”, interjected Garret. “After all who could blame the tribesmen from wanting a little vengeance, on their slave masters?”

A little while later the charade was perpetuated as the group was ejected out the front gates, and they were off toward Nyisha’s plantation. They traveled with satisfaction, knowing that whatever they wanted to do to this bunch of slavers was fair game, and they would suffer no negative consequences. Even though the Darkunian Empire tolerated the slave trade, and some Dakunians even had slaves, Hendrik was not one who found this trade acceptable and looked forward to a little payback for the sake of his new friends.

As they came within view of the plantation house, they could see that faced its own dock along river and that there were two guarded slave quarters between the main house and the docks. They would have to try to surprise these guards as they approached. However, the group never has been real good at sneaking up on anything, and they still are not (at least there was no “I am the Kordson” announcement, as they were trying to mask their identities).

The noisy attack had Nanzad charging across the compound to take on the two guards in front of the far quarter. Tronar came around the near corner of the front slave quarter, and was met by a barrage of arrows. The remainder of the group followed a charging Hendrik as he charged the head slaver and his two orc bodyguards. The slavers and guards did not put up much of a fight, and Ghostwalker put down the last fleeing guard. However the fight did serve to warn those within the main house, and gave them time to prepare for the group, as best they could…..

The locked and blocked doors did not hold up under the weight of Nanzad and Hendrik, as they burst through the plantation houses front doors. The fight for the house was going to be a bit tougher and the group found this out right away. Upon entry they were met by four guards with Halberds two firing down from upstairs with crossbows, a noble lady, a sly roguish type gentleman, and a not so stone statue.

Highlighting this fight, was Tronar jumping behind enemy lines once again to pull the two crossbowmen from their positions above the main floor, and Nanzad’s luring charge through the racks of those who were tied up with Hendrik (or otherwise known as marked for death). When the Devilish statue finished off the slaver merchant Nyisha, before she could be made to talk, the group combined to bring it down. After that they set about freeing the slaves, and searching the house for incriminating information.

The findings were gathered from a crumbled note, which was found near the fireplace, and a hidden ledger book in the study. Charnel was able to decipher the note that linked Nyisha to providing information to the Iethian Intelligence Service commander, Memnon. Additionally there was a coded note within the ledger that referred to a sale of slaves for an up coming western arms deal brokered by this same Memnon. The notes found also identified that there were additional agents in New Greeshan, but not who they were.

After gathering this information, gathering up the freed slaves, and setting the plantation aflame, the group headed toward Growtharn lands for things to cool off a little bit…

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You must stay and be our dance instructor

By Charnel the Storyteller

We left the Scared Earth village happy with the results we had achieved, returning the stolen tablet to the tribe, along with the heads of the grave robbers, and securing the Eye of Timor for all time. Additionally the Goliaths had joined the alliance, which would benefit greatly by having their iron strength guard the passes in the hills vacated by the Kordians.

Being tired of the desert heat (at high noon), I was relieved as we entered back into the forested hills, and started our journey back toward New Greeshan. Hendrik had said that we should check back in with the white-eye. Not sure why, but we will be glad to see what the white-eye are up to.

The trip went well for a few days until one morning when I stirred from my meditation to find Ghostwalker had left camp during the early morning hours. At first I figured he was taking care of nature’s call, but when he did not return I became alarmed. Waking the Kordson and the rest of the group, I ventured out into the morning darkness to call out for our comrade.

On return I found that the Kordson had had a dream about Ghostwalker, where he had departed camp with an Elven woman. The rest of the group had examined around Ghostwalker’s bedroll and located moccasin prints, which seemed to leave camp alongside of Ghostwalker’s. The size of these prints were smaller than mine, an easily could be those of a female elf in moccasins similar mine.

Quickly breaking camp, we picked up their trail. It was not hard to follow; they had passed, caring not if they were followed. Eventually we came to a twisted pair of pines, which had grown together to form an archway. Though natural archways like this can happen, this one showed signs of arcane influence, and I felt remnants of magical energy about. The carved glyphs and runes led us to believe that this was a portal. The style led me to believe it was originally constructed by the Ghost Owls, an Elven tribe of non-warriors well versed in illusionary magic who had disappeared into the Feywild decades ago after numerous defeats at the hands of the Kordians.

It was Tronar, who located the portal’s activation, and we continued on through following the trail of our friend. Venturing through, we found that it did in fact take us to the Feywild, as I had expected. Everything about the place was larger than life, and the colors were so magnificent – we just stood and took it in. Unfortunately the grass and undergrowth was larger also making the trail tougher to follow. At Hendrik’s suggestion, we spread out, and managed to pick up the trail again, but occasionally I was stopped so that we could take in the sights again… the Feywild pleases us much.

It was Fader’s fine ears that picked up the first sounds, and as he signaled for us to listen, we all heard the faint sound of Elvish music. My guess was that it was of Ghost Owl vintage, and I was right. As we moved cautiously closer, we heard the sounds of a party of sorts taking place, and though the thick foliage saw figures dancing to gay melody.

We cautiously emerged into the glade and though the figures were surprised to see us, the festivities did not stop, and we were even invited to join. No sooner than we tried to inquire about Ghostwalker, ale was forced in our hands. So naturally, I had to join and dance – in true Elvish style, except for the armor, and we wouldn’t allow the removal of that.

We found it tough to get much information out of these gay party goers, finding it necessary to seek information on multiple fronts with Hendrik and me teaming up on one side, while Nanzad and Tronar sought info across the glade, and Fader attempted to gain approval and acceptance through his moves alone by taking control of the dance. Tronar eventually gave in, losing himself to the dance and doing the lizard shuffle to the new fad, known as the “Fader hop”.

With Fader on the floor doing his thing, and Tronar swept up by the revelry of it all, Nanzad watching with a looks that kill, it was Hendrik and I who managed to stop an Elven gentleman while he watch and clapped for the impressive Fader. “Welcome to Kegg’r Glade, I am Crow Walking”, the young Eladrin said in a tone that told of way too many spirits.

We found that our friend, “the wolf dude”, had come into the village with Queen Seven Stars, and was currently her personal guest. This did not sound like it was going to be a happy meeting, especially with the look of bloodletting in the Kordson’s eyes. I would need to speak with Nanzad as soon as I could to cool him down, as I saw the opportunity arising to gain the support of another tribe if we played this right.

As Tronar regained his notebook from the pixies that took it, and Nanzad chased the faerie off his shoulder for the fifth time, we made our way toward the Ghost Owl village. Crow Walking took us directly to Queen Seven Stars, and Ghostwalker sat right next to her with glazed over eyes. Both Tronar and I could tell that he had been enchanted with some type Elvish charm (or had drunk way too much in Kegg’r Glade).

This only further enraged the Kordson, so I quickly intercepted him before he accused the queen of being a criminal who kidnapped and stole our friend in a way that would only end us all in a desperate fight with the entire village. Then I went back to work on the queen, and with Tronar’s help, I managed to broker a deal. We would not only leave the village with our friend Ghostwalker, but with the ability to call on the Ghost Owls for assistance during the upcoming campaign against One Horn. In return for this we would put an end to a bandit gang known as Stonefist and his redcaps, who had been a pain in the side of the good queen. Additionally Tronar and I were asked to spend some time with the Ghost Owls after the ordeal with One Horn had been concluded.

The Redcaps were said to be holding up in some ruins on the other side of the Wondering Wood. And being like many fey areas which I had studied, the group let me guide them through. I believe the saying was, “While in gay pants-less land, listen to Charnel.” Whatever…It beats getting tossed around by the pissed off trees, that are mad at Nanzad’s big feet kicking their roots.

With me to thank, before long we gazed upon the ruins, which held our prey. A little forward recon supplied by Fader found one way into the bramble covered abbey, which would mean the gang would have to go through us in order to get away. So in we went.

As we entered the dark chamber and made are way around the rubble cover interior, numerous severed hands crawled from the rubble to assault us as wall hanging skins animated as well at the command of ghostly priest, which rose as if protecting the area.

I took a beating, as I believe the priest did not like half-elves that much. Tronar proved to be the star as he did wonders taking out many of the hands, and paying the priest back tenfold for me. I did learn about a cool ability that we gave me, letting me see while others were blinded in the assault by the flying skins. I can still hear Hendrik cursing at the terrain and the blinding skins.

Once the priest was laid to rest, Tronar and Nanzad found that by returning the broken holy symbol to the altar, the spirit of the priest was released to make his final journey into the nether world. In departing he left us with a blessing from his god.

Leaving the church we moved through the brambles to an open courtyard, where Nanzad held the portcullis high as we moved in and fanned out. Only to notice right away that the brambles around the center statue seemed to attack as we got to near and the redcap gang members heard our entrance and came out to evict us.

This fight found that Hendrik grew sickle and tired of the shenanigans of the tough little gobinoid redcaps quickly. Between him and Nanzad, they made up for their poor first showing by hammering away at Stonefist and his gang. I accounted for myself well, as I ran to aid my comrades even as one of the little bastards gave chase. Tronar held his own, but Fader pretty much had left it on the dance floor. In the end they proved not to be much trouble.

The queen lived up to her word upon our return by removing the charm from Ghostwalker, and giving Tronar and Myself a small box with three silver leaves within. Queen Seven Stars said that with these leaves we could summon her for aid when the tribes needed the Ghost Owls. Fader was offered a place amongst the Ghost Owl tribe now if he wanted, as a dance instructor. I do believe the little guy in going to take her up on it. That night there was much partying, with Elven dancing as well, and I spent the night with a beautiful Elven lass…we were happy.

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Hey, Is this a stirge wound back here?

The session began as it was high noon in the desert, and only a fool would be found in its grasp. So it was a good thing that the group was hundreds of feet below in an enclosed tomb. They had just finished taking care of the necromancer turned gibbering mouther and it’s undead cohorts when Charnel made his appearance. He had finally caught back up with the group after being isolated from them by strange shifting walls – the Scared Earth ancestors sure knew how to make devious traps and were good at tomb design.

After recanting Charnel’s story and finding out about the exploding undead that the group had faced, they were ready to venture through the waiting portal, which would place them in the final tomb of the Twelve Lords, and pit them against the two tieflings (if they had arrived in time). This time the portal had not been messed with, and the group found themselves appearing on target in a small sandstone chamber with strange writing on the walls, large stone doors, and a small fountain, which they found themselves standing in.

Fader and Ghostwalker determined that there were no traps within the room, or on the large stone doors, while Charnel spend the time examining the walls and confirmed that the group was in the exact location which they needed to be – This was in fact the tomb of Timor, and the relic which the tiefling sought lay within. Now the only questions remaining were if the tieflings had come this way, and were they still here? Fader seemed to answer the first right away finding the tracks of two passing this way recently.

As the group opened the large stone doors, they saw more of the undead tomb guardians stepping forth out of the wall niches that had held their bodies over the years. Between the risen undead and the group lay a number of open pits, and it was Fader’s well tuned eyes that saw something else strange about the causeways between the pits. The stonework here was slightly angled toward the pits and of a different composition. When the skeleton’s began tossing javelins and the a couple of them had some type of magical power, which pulled the group members toward the pit, it became apparent that someone had to get to the other side to disrupt the plans of those across the way.

However when the Kordson and Fader found the slick stone of causeway to much to handle after miscalculated the jump, the fall into the pit hurt. At the bottom of the pit waited a couple of desert asps (why does it always have to be snakes), and one of the skeletons which Ghostwalker had already slid into the pit. As Tronar and Charnel attacked from the near side with ranged with lightning and insults, Ghostwalker popped Mist up amongst the skeleton on the other side, and Hendrik flung himself across to crash through the bone line as well.

The highlights from this point on found the Kordson and Fader escaping the poison bites and skeletal assault in the pit, as fader grabbed a hold and the Kordson found just how well the new boots he had picked up worked, as he scaled the wall as a spider would have. Tronar and Charnel took care of several with a great ranged assault, and Hendrik scattered the skeletal forces as soon as Kordson and fader and Ghost walker’s companion, Mist, found a secure hold on the opposite side. The clean up of the battle scene had the group getting everyone across to the far side, healing up and gathering up any goodies that could be found.

Beyond the next set of doors found the group face to face with Par-Tholos, a ghostly image that formed as a sudden gust of wind washed over the group. Swirling like a small dust devil, kicking up dirt in a funnel-like shape. The dust slowly coalesced into a humanoid form, a bald goliath male clad in robes. He bowed before the group and spoke, “Who seeks entrance to the Tomb of Twelve Lords?”

Nanzad normal response came first before either Charnel or Ghostwalker could mussel it, “I am the Kordson”. After that the group found it difficult to get on good footing with the spirit, failing to impress upon it with their good intentions (this marked the first skill challenge loss for the group ever). The group was allowed to pass, but it was as if they were also to be tested as Par-Tholos spoke, “If the gods will you to defeat the interlopers, so be it. I can offer you no aid. Chance and your own cunning are your only hopes.” The group did however find out from Par-Tholos that the tieflings were indeed still beyond the doors trapped by Par-Tholos, but they had found the eye. It was up to the group to return the eye to its place and rid the tomb of the tieflings.

After Par-Tholos opened the sealed tomb, the group descended into the darkness of the final tomb. As the group reach the bottom of the flight of stairs, the doors opened to reveal a large tomb area with many roaming skeletons, all stirred up. The group also found out that the tomb itself seemed to have a mind of it’s own, and liked to turn the party on each other.

As they progressed through the tomb a quite large skeleton joined the fray, as it exploded out of a sarcophagus at the far end of the chamber. The group also found that no matter how many skeletons fell, more kept crawling out of the rift, and they would need to find another way to stop them. As Hendrik and the Kordson combined to drop the big guy, they moved past him to a portcullis that blocked access to the throne room. The skeletons swarmed over Ghostwalker, Tronar, and Fader, and they followed as fast as they could to the entrance that Hendrik bashed away at. Meanwhile Charnel found another way by the undead, by picking up on something that the Kordson had said as he moved by everyone after one of his tomb caused attacks against Ghostwalker. Charnel did his best to appease the undead, and moved around them as unthreatening as he could.

The final room found the two tiefling waiting, and they assaulted the group as they entered. Thee group found that the eye also held the ability to turn group upon itself, and the tieflings used it as best they could, along with their devilish magic. Even though they had prepared as they waited for the group, they were found to be but a road bump when the group finally got to unleash their built up tomb jumping frustrations on them. A combined Kordson and Tronar combination brought down both of them.

When the battle with the two tomb raiders was completed, Nanzad the Kordson was quick to take the eye from the dead grasp of Tyran and pop it back into the socket of the skeleton resting on the throne with in the chamber. This put all of the wondering undead to rest for good, and released the seal that was on the outer doors. From that point on it was mostly wrap-up. The stolen crowns were decided to remain lost, the tablet was returned home to the Scared Earth tribe along with the head of each of the tieflings, and the coalition had its newest member. The muscle of the Scared Earth tribe was a very welcomed member

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I don’t know, maybe they have an extra ribcage or something
So told by Nanzad the Kordson

It was high noon in the desert and only a fool would travel at such a time. The party found themselves underground so it wasn’t a real problem. Having defeated the insidious leaping, (not hitting, but leaping nonetheless) spiders and their best buddy the acid-spitting column the party turned their attention to unwrapping the cocooned survivor. A few careful dagger slashes revealed him to be a human rogue named (at least for now) “Fader” Flynn. The Fader spun a tale of betrayal by Haarak and Tyran the Tiefling spies, who not only left him to become spider chow, but stiffed him on the balance of his promised fee. The party was so mesmerized by the sagas unfolding that nobody seemed to notice when a jealous Charnel snuck away to investigate a suspicious-looking wall panel only to disappear abruptly in the best Scooby-Doo tradition.

Fader was grudgingly allowed to join the team on a probationary basis in the hope that he might at least soak up some damage from traps. The party moved forward and discovered that the next portal was down at the bottom of a dry well. As Fader was uncoiling a rope to lower it down Tronar suggested he construct one of his famous ladders instead. Unfortunately the party realized that they had nowhere near enough corpses to do the job, so they had to make do with the rope. Sweeping the well for traps, Fader pronounced it safe and the group moved on.

Passing through the portal the party found themselves pressed into a cramped corridor half the size necessary to hold five adventurers in anything approaching comfort. Trading places with Fader, Nanzad moved back away from the door, stomping more than a few toes in the process. It quickly became apparent why the natural habitat of large orc barbarian is the wide open plains and not tiny rooms.

After a quick trap check turned up negative, Nanzad once again elbowed his way to the fore and he and Hendrik bent their mighty strength to forcing open the reluctant doors. The ancient stone portals groaned open and admitted a surge of water that quickly filled the corridor to ankle level and soaked the party to the skin.

The room beyond was pitch black. Wary of an ambush, Hendrik dug into his backpack and produced a sunrod to illuminate the ink-dark chamber. Unprepared for the multi-million candlepower brilliance of the sunrod the team was momentarily blinded. As the massive colored blobs cleared from their eyes, the adventurers peered into the room seeing it was about ankle deep in water.

Moving through the water was a pair of Ocher Jellies, oozing relentlessly towards the party. It was only the trained eagle eyes of Ghostwalker that spotted an odd distortion in the middle of the room. The shaman’s shouted warning was barely in time to warn his comrades to be on their guard against the new menace, a horrifying Gelatinous Cube. Recognizing the danger posed by the Cube Hendrik called for a coordinated assault against it. Joining forces with new ally Fader and his trusted comrade-in-arms Nanzad, the hardened veteran unleashed a furious rain of deadly hammer blows. With a bellow of triumph Kordson hewed the Cube in twain with a mighty blow from his massive axe. From there it was little effort to finish off the Jellies.

Moving ahead the party discovered the next portal and passed through. Waiting on the other side were Skeletons poised to attack. Reacting swiftly Nanzad ducked their blow, but one of them caught Hendrik under his shield. With a guttural cry of “It’s a trap!!!!” Hendrik lead the assault into the room.

Quickly the group dispatched the decrepit skeletons clearing the way for the battle with the far deadlier boneshard skeletons. Though a Burning Skelton who seemed to be the leader of the group was raining fire down on them from a balcony overlooking the battlefield the party thought they were doing well until a massive skull sigil on the floor flared to life instantly regenerating the fallen skeletons. Fader, who had seen these infernal magic at work before knew just what to do to disable them, and tuned away from the battle to do his work as the party covered him. His nimble fingers quickly disabled the sigil, giving the party the edge they needed to defeat the lesser skeletons.

Despite gaining ground the party was dealt a devastating blow as the boneshards began to explode in a hail of fragments but were somehow left completely unharmed by the powerful blasts. “What, they have extra bones or something?” mused Hendrik.

With clever use of his magic Tronar pulled the Burning Skeleton down from his perch, sending it crashing heavily to the ground and right into the sights of a party weary of being bombarded with fireballs. It was looking bad for the heroes as a second sigil located up on the balcony was still healing the undead and the strain of combat was beginning to tell on the whole team. In a moment of tactical brilliance, Ghostwalker unleashed the power of the sinister magic symbiote he had dubbed “Blinky,” and yanked all the skeletons forward, away from the sigil’s regenerative power. Exhausted by the effort, he fell to another devastating boneshard explosion.

The battle turned in the party’s favor when Hendrik called for no one to hold anything back in what his tribe called an “Alpha Strike.” Suiting actions to words Fader unleashed a devastating display of acrobatic blade work that dropped the Burning Skeleton as it tried to also defend itself from Hendrik’s assault. The party finally dispatched the rest of the tenacious boneshards (which fortuitously turned out to be duds) and Nanzad healed Ghostwalker with the holy power of Kord. Rushing the remaining skeleton archers still positioned on the balcony above the party made short work of them and the other deadly sigil. Barricading the portal they rested and tended their wounds.

Further on they discovered the impromptu lair of a necromancer, really just a straw pallet, a chest, and a pile of documents in Imperial Common He had several books explaining the foul ritual he was planning to bind an army of undead using the plentiful remains of the Scarred Earth tribesmen buried in the tomb complex as raw material. He wrote in his journal that he was ready, and he had set the traps and skeletons that the party fought there way through. Hendrik shook his head sadly, having seen a lot of this sort of delusional thinking during his wars against the Ghost King in his native lands. “Everybody thinks they can harness infernal power for their own schemes so easily. This bloke is headed for a bad end, mark my words.”

Hoping to aid Hendrik’s prophecy, Fader rigged up a quick trap in the necromancer’s bed, just in case he happened to make it back…

The next morning, it was high noon in the desert and the sun was beating down. Only a fool would travel at this time, but the party made preparations to pass through the portal. Hendrick lashed together the remains of a skeleton and dubbed him Sir Skelly. When asked what it was for he demonstrated by chucking it though the portal. “Better him than me,” chucked the Imperial veteran Following in the skeleton’s wake, they found Sir Skelly had checked for an ambush and found none. Hendrik dusted him off and brought him along for later.

Moving on they discovered a passageway that had been mostly intentionally collapsed. Mist was sent ahead to investigate and abruptly vanished in a massive gout of flam as he triggered a deadly trap! Instantly the corridor was filled with fire mere inches from their faces. Fader crept ahead and adroitly disarmed the trap with cautious aid from Ghostwalker, but not before accidently triggering the fiendish device into his own face once. “That’s how it goes”, the rogue said philosophically as he beat out the flames still licking at the hem of his cloak. “Sometimes you get the honey, sometimes you get the stinger. You shake it off and move on.” With the trap finally cleared they did just that.

The party arrived at the final room (preceded by Sir Skelly) to discover the remains of a ritual gone horribly wrong. The necromancer had been transformed into a Gibbering Mouther and the skeletons around him attacked the party. Despite the endless droning of the Mouther the party struck like lightning. Especially Tronar. In short order they dispatched the enemies, claming the field of battle.

Cleaning up the desecrated bones of the Scarred Earth tribe Ghostwalker did a ritual to set them to rest again. Moving forward the party found the next portal, wonder what was to come next.

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We are the Kordians my friends, and we’ll keep fighting till the end…

The return to the largely deserted Kordian camp was quick. Nanzad the “Kordson” led the quick paced march dragging the Skull Clever battle standard behind him, and carrying Crimson Tusk’s severed head by its hair. He announced his entrance back in to the camp, as he always does, heaving the head and standard before the elders to emphasize his point, “I AM THE KORDSON”.

Chief Kordson now set to giving marching orders to the Shubat, Ider, and the others elders who now made up the true Kordian’s. “Wait what is that?” asked Kordson, as he pointed to a tied up and bleeding Hemgesh. Shubat stepped forward and said that some of the warriors got carried away, and over welcomed him to the tribe. The Kordson, smiling, said, “Ahhhh the Glump-Gishh initiation. I am sure we no longer need to welcome Hemgesh to the tribe. He is now a true member let no one dispute this from this point forward”. As he spoke he looked down at Hemgesh, who said, “They made me feel at home great one.” The Kordson smiled wider, and said “Then rise, KORDIAN!”, as healing magic flowed through his outreached hand.

After that they continue with the direction the Kordian tribe was headed. Shubat was informed that Kordson would continue to travel with the gatherers of the tribes, and that Shubat himself was to lead the Kordians into Growtharn land to defensively merge (not invade he repeated more than once).

With three tribes now in league within the union, the group was heading to the lands of the Scared Earth tribe. If they could succeed in achieving diplomacy with the Goliaths, then the backbone of the union would be strengthened tenfold.

Within several days of combined work the camp was fully dismantled and the Kordians were on their way toward the Growtharn lands, and the group was headed toward the western ford or the great river which separated the Kordian lands from the Scared Earth tribes. For several days they traveled north, sending all straggler orcs toward the Growtharn lands to meet up with the Kordians and partake in the Glump-Gishh (At least they were not being challenged in the circle of death anymore thought the rest of the group).

By noon the third day, they came to the western ford and thought that this would make a fine ambush point, finding it necessary to scan the surroundings well before approaching. To their reward, they did notice movement around the bush on the near side of the river, and saw some large dimwitted Ogres attempting stealth. Calling ahead and announcing approach, the group thought to give the unlikely future allies the option to not attack and live, but were ready non-the-less.

The battle was fairly short lived, and the only standout was Charnel who took quite a beating but paid the big oafs back all the same. Before long the Kordson was loading mangy hide armor and greatclubs upon the mule, Calling Hawk. Calling Hawk was groaning under the weight, but Hendrik was quick to toss the crap off the other side of the poor mule, leaving only a few fleas and termites upon Calling Hawk for the trouble. The Kordson dropped and obviously losing battle.

After the river crossing, they entered into Scarred Earth lands and found them marked right away with the rotting corpses of gnolls hanging from trees. Hendrik commented the signs would be less smelly, and no one could disagree with the logic. Obviously One Horns call fell on deaf ears in these lands. Before long a challenge was bellowed out, and a lone figure with a huge axe approached, barring their way.

“Turn and leave the lands of the Scared Earth People. Outlanders are not welcome.” This was the greeting, or lack of one that initiated the encounter. However, Ghostwalker and Charnel stepped forward to make the first gestures of friendship, and were somewhat successful, up until Charnel made an unknowing slight as to the warriors power. The Kordson found it necessary to jump in and challenge Gallamoth to a wrestling match, and soon found himself lying on his back with Gallamoth’s foot securely on his chest. However, just as quickly, the Goliath reached down and hoisted Nanzad to his feet as one hand grabbed the chest plate of his armor and stood him upright, turning to look at the others as if to say, “Next?”

Hendrik took it upon himself to overcome the obstacle that stood in their way; after all he had some wrestling training in the academy during his early years. Through he was up against a very tough opponent that took everything he had, he was able to basically win the next two sets, winning Gallamoth’s respect. After this he was much more receptive to the group request for an audience with Mt. Cragmuth his Chief.

After an introduction and the pledge by Gallamoth, the audience with the chief went as well than it could have. The group did learn that part of the reason for the mistrust of outlanders rose out of an incident not long before. Three days ago a pair of Tiefling treasure hunters came through with a guide and a Goliath escort, claiming to want rights to search for minerals in the desert lands beyond. The chief had denied them access to this area, as the area is ancestral lands where many tombs are buried. However when the three travelers left camp, they stole a stone tablet, and a matching set of headbands. All indication is that they headed into the dry lands anyway.

At this point the group offered their assistance to recover the stolen items and take care of the tomb thieves. After hearing the group’s reasoning for their journey into his land, he pledged his backing toward their cause, and would increase his aid, if the group was successful in returning what the Tieflings had taken. He also allowed the group to speak with the Goliath tribesman who had brought these two to the camp. Johnath was currently chained to the wall in the chief’s throne room, and would be on tribal punishment until they returned.

The information gathered was far more discouraging, as Johnath recalled through the clearing enchanted haze that the two Tieflings worked for a someone named Memnon and were members of the either the intelligence organization, or free lancers working out of the other colonizing city of Almraiven. They were definitely searching for the relic named the Eye of Timor. This relic’s use and resurgence into the light of day could only be a bad news no matter who the owner was. The more they learned, the more that Hendrik sensed the real need to stop these two.

After a good night’s rest, in the secure village of the Scared Earth people, the group set out in the morning for the dry lands, following a map given to them by Shalamon, the Shaman, to the Tomb of the Crawling One. At least this tomb, though still three days away, was close to the fringes of the hills. The group could skirt the desert for some time before setting off across the barren sands, but could also save a little time by risking the harsh travel. The chase was on….

The sun beat down upon the land like a hammer striking an anvil. Normally, only a fool would walk these Wastes during the day, but desperate times called for perhaps foolish measures. You had tracked a pair of villainous Tiefling treasure hunters named Haarak and Tyran to this heat blasted region. If your informants were right, they were about to recover a powerful magical artifact called the Eye of Timor for the evil ends.

Beneath the sands of the Wastes lie a number of tombs, many of them sealed from the surface world when their ancient builders collapsed their entrances. However, a network of portals originating from the tombs that still have access to the surface allow explorers to reach even tombs buried beneath hundreds of feet of sand.

I the Shalamon was right the portals are by no means reliable. Some of the portals function only at certain times of the year or on specific dates. In other cases, explorers must pass through a specific series of portals to gain access to their final destination.

Uncovering the proper sequence of portals, or the date and time of a portal’s activation, can lead to tombs that have remained untouched for centuries. According to Shalamon, Harrak and Tyran have stolen just such a lost sequence. Luckily, you have learned their path and must follow them to prevent the Eye of Timor from falling into Memnon’s hands.

Thus, the group found themselves standing just outside the entrance to the Tomb of the Crawling One, the crypt of a long dead priest of Scared Earth ancestors. While you know that strange creatures lurk within the crypt before you, if you fail thousands of innocents shall fall into slavery at the hands of evil.

At this Hendrik was kicking himself for not making sure someone had a decent ability to find and disable the devious traps that were always found in places like this. Additionally when it was Hendrik who saw what must have been Kon-Tarath amble out of vision, as flames from more of the fire beetles blocked his and Tronar’s path, he would grudgingly agree that it was a good idea for Charnel and Kordson to assault the tomb from another direction (hence splitting the group – never a good idea). Then when the large scorpions and the stirges attacked the rear assault group, and Kor-Tarath again made his appearance to throw his insect summoning magic, Hendrik recanted his earlier tactical advice.

Kordson fought on through the insects, not even realizing one stirge was stuck to his back. Charnel made a fighting withdrawal, so not to leave the rear of the group open, and to not get hung out all by himself either. Ghostwalker jumped into aid a blinded Hendrik, and his spirit wolf, Mist, became a stirge remover. This is about where Hendrik’s patience ended, as he bust forward out of the stinging mess he was in and hit the undead bug priest with such a blow that sent him back to the grave. From that point on the, crawling one tomb was just a wrap-up operation.

After the fight Charnel, Tronar, and Ghostwalker combined to study the portal and determined that it had been tampered with, but although it would not drop them exactly where they needed in would not place them under tons of sand either, or so they guessed. They had little choice; they pushed on through the portal, hoping they were right. They were, but the desert heat was harsh, and the four hour hike took its toll on Charnel and the Tronar the worst (sunburns do suck).

The second of the Tombs was heavier trapped and protected by more of the desert native insects. The deadly jumping spiders harassed them while they were trying to deactivate the acid shooting snake column, and the alluring lights, which lead to a quicksand pit. Additionally the group saw to free a cocooned victim of the spiders. It was Tronar who came through by hitting the column with back to back lightning blasts, ending the acid shooting. The group steadily worked together to defeat the three spiders, who failed to really come through with any of their threatening attacks in any serious way.

The night ended with the group resting and finding that the cocooned victim was the enchanted guide that the Tieflings brought with them only to double cross….

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Where were you for the ladder of bodies?

When the group returned to the Growtharn village, and the rescued villagers were again safely amongst their people, there was much rejoicing. As part of the celebratory festivities the remaining family remembers of one of the villagers, who was slain by the Cult of Belashyrra, gave a family heirloom to Hendrik as thanks. There was a general consensus amongst the village, that the weapon was to go to him after misjudging him and all white-eyes based solely on the words of the Tronaash.

Over the next several days the party rested and recovered in the village, making preparations to leave for Kordian lands. They traded away the items that they had taken from fallen foes, and any valuables they had recovered from the cult shrine. They recovered their bear cloaks, which they had had been cured and tailored for them. On the last night in the village they finally spent some time talking with a clear headed Chief Wolf Paw.

The group spoke much about empyreal expansion of the white-eye, and the pending invasion of One Horns growing hoard, explaining to Wolf Paw that only an alliance of the tribes could hope to alter the path of either threat. The chief agreed with the assessment, and the pipe was passed around one more time (non-laced stuff this time). And so the Tribal Alliance was formed. Chief Wolf Paw, speaking for the second member of this alliance, as Chief Tandrik of the Whitetail had officially been the first charter member (yes even armies need cooks). Hendrik used some of his new popularity to gain the employ of Yentu, a young quick runner, to get an iltelligence report to Watch Commander Von Fredrikson one of the few in the Empyreal military that he trusted. Additionally, Tronar sought out the help of Ghostwalker and Moonseer to see if they could help him do the same and contact his people through a sending ritual.

Hearing that the patrols to the west had been encountering less than the normal run-ins with orc tribes, was somewhat concerning and they were eager to learn why. As they left, they traveled west through the forested hills toward Nanzad’s homeland, all wearing their new bear cloaks with the exception of Charnel, who had stored his. As the group traveled they noticed that Charnel seemed more interested than normal with the surroundings, and seemed to take more sightseeing stops (strange half-elf, always stopping to smell the roses).

The intelligence was correct in saying that there were fewer encounters with the orcs who frequented this area, as the group ran into to nothing until the third day out when they came upon an abandoned village. At least at first glance it appeared that way, but as they moved through they found that the Brutal Fang Tribe had vacated the village leaving just the old, who could not make the hazardous journey west to the Gathering of One Horn. Nanzad offered the old the honor of dying a warrior’s death after they told of this migration. Charnel and Ghostwalker on the other hand asked if there were any that could make the two day journey to the Growtharn village, where they would be taken in and cared for.

As six older orc villagers gathered there belongings for the journey, four met Nanzad in a circle of honor, where he quickly put down two before they had a chance to swing. The other two lasted just a little longer, giving far less than they received. Nanzad did suffer a weak blow to his shoulder that left a bruise, as one old guy hobbled in and whacked him with his cane (Hendrik just walked away from the scene in disgust, and Tronar wrote in his book that he did not want to grow old around Nanzad or his people).

After the “honorable” deaths of the old orcs, the group continued west for another day. They were now well within the lands of the Kordians, and as with the other days of this journey, they found no indication of eyes upon them while moving through the forested hills. This was not the Kordian lands that Nanzad remembered. By noon the second day out of the abandoned Brutal Fang Village, the group arrived in Nanzad’s former home village. He realized right away that there were far less people then there had been, and there were a couple of orc warriors watching over the camp, whose totems Nanzad did not recognize. Charnel was able to lend assistance and tell that they were members of the Skull Cleavers a hostile western tribe.

One of the village elders, Shubat, came out to intercept Nanzad, and to inform him of the past happenings. The group learned that the Kordian warriors led by Warchief Mishig and Warmistress Ajurin had answered One Horn’s call, and taken the warriors west, leaving just Shubat and Ider, and a handful of warriors, women, children, and old, to finish the camp dismantling. They also learned that those remaining in the camp were under the charge of Warchief Chargen Crimson Tusk of the Skull Cleavers, who now was held up in the mountain Hold of Relfang. These orcs had travelled here with the warchanter, who had successfully “_convinced_” the Kordian warchief.

With a building momentum of anger Nanzad moved toward one of the two Skull Cleaver wardens, and before it had a chance to react, threw a head butt that sent to the surprised guard to the ground with a broken nose. At that point everyone acted and the fight was on. Nanzad struck again quickly trying to take the downed one out, the anger that was released with the bone-crunching blow was amazing, as only the yell that pursued was louder, “I am the KORDSON”.

Hendrik and Mist closed on the other warden, as Tronar and Charnel hurled lightning and insults from a distance. All in all, two against five did not last all that long and it was over pretty fast. The warden which Nanzad originally put on the ground to open combat, somehow survived to regain his feet long enough to get knock back down and out by Nanzad with another head butt, as the group wanted one of these alive,

After the fight Tronar found out by interrogation the layout and the forces that were facing them at Relfang Hold with Crimson Tusk. Additionally it was determined that Tronar was a truly impressive interrogator, and the mountain lizards had some very effective methods, as Hemgesh, the warden was broken to the point of pledging oaths to the great KORDSON by the time it was all over.

The trip up the mountain to the hold took less than a half hour as Nanzad led the way along a seldom used path. When they arrived they found the doors to the hold had been busted in, but no outer guards had been posted, just as Hemgesh had said. The doors opened into a small empty chamber where a circular stairway of rough stone wound upward. The stairwell ended in another empty ante-chamber, which were sealed off from the rest of the hold by a set of double doors. Hemgesh had said that beyond these doors the group would face the first opposition. He was right.

Two bodies of two glowing beetles provided light in the room, highlighting several cages and two orc guards. The rear of the room was in shadow. However, the group saw a flickering light through the arrow slits of an alcove overlooking its position. The group charged in to take down the dangerous beetles before they could do much damage with their fire breath, and to that end they were very successful. Each of the fire breathers was only able to bring that ability to action once, and then only Hendrik and Charnel were slightly singed by it.

The orcs in the room were only slightly more trouble, and fell prey easily to the now well established tactics employed by Hendrik and Nanzad. Hendrik not being an opponent you can easily turn away from to strike at a luring Nanzad, offered up a nice penalty to one of the guards who did. Hemgesh was correct again in his summation that the guards in this room would find no help arriving from the rest of the Hold. The group also believed they heard laughter as the yelling guards from this room died under the rush from the group.

Within one of the cages the group found the corpse of a male half-elf in the dress and carrying the spirit totems of a Growtharn tribesman. Neither Charnel nor Ghostwalker recognized the tribesman, but they would see to it the effects found their way back to the family of this fellow Growtharian.

As the group pushed on they found a large room, which looked to be a dining area. A cauldron in the middle of the room bubbled atop a blazing fire, and a banquet table to the right was covered in leftover food and ale. Many orcs stood around the room, snarling and ready for battle. A door in the wall across the way stood slightly ajar. When the door opened a couple of the orcs charged right away and were cut down quickly by both Nanzad and Hendrik, but the majority of them just fanned out inviting the group into the room.

When Tronar, the warrior that he is, charged in to get into a better position to use his electrifying powers from, he found out why a majority of the orcs waited when a trapdoor dropped him into a ten foot deep pit. Then he was slightly alarmed a few seconds later when one of the berserkers jump down there to get him a little mountain lizard (tastes like chicken to orcs).

Shortly after that one of the leaders showed himself, as he emerged from the doors which were slightly ajar. Cursing the stupidity of the two that broken ranks and the third one that was in the pit, The Eye of Gruumsh tipped the cauldron, dumping the boiling hot contents on the two in the pit. This act not only burned the two in the pit, but signaled to all others to charge.

Hendrik cut his way out to one side and was met by three others as he worked his way toward the Eye. Nanzad and Ghostwalker were held in check for a while by three on their side as well. Charnel held in the back taking aim and hurling insults at the orcs. In the pit, Tronar had managed to take down the berserker, and was taking aim and dropping other corpses in the pit as well. He also had to dodge the occasional body also as it fell by gravity, but that was to his pleasing anyway, because he was using the bodies to build a ladder to get out of the pit.

As the end of his forces fell, even the Eye of Gruumsh was no match for group, but he did harass Hendrik quite a bit with his Eye of Wrath attack on his way out.

With the dining hall eliminated, that left the barracks as the last place to encounter the Chief, and so it was with no surprise when the group crashed through the double doors they found him. They also found that this room looked like the sleeping quarters for all the orcs. A crackling fireplace spread light throughout the room. A large wolf, with bony spines protruding from its back, growled deeply, baring its fangs. Orcs in leather armor stood across the room with greataxes, ready to attack. Warchief Chargen in his fine chainmail stood near the wolf. He twirled his greataxe and snarled in tribespeak, “Smash them!”

Hendrik’s tactics in this battle called for the group to take out the orc guards and the wolf before much was done to the Chief. The group followed this doctrine pretty well and it was highlighted by Ghostwalker using the spirits to throw one of the guards and the wolf into the fire. This did not kill the two but it did bring into the combat a close second for a title, “The wolf, the wolf, the wolf is on fire…_let the mother fucker burn_.”

Once his allies were down, it was just a matter of time for the chief as well. He was not fooled by the Nanzad/Hendrik lure, but did give in once to reward Nanzad with an unanswered wound. Charnel keep up the distraction to weaken defenses as much as he could, while Tronar and Ghostwalker aided as they could as well. In the end it was fittingly Nanzad’s brutal axe that brought him down.

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