Scales of War

Glimpses of Beyond
Wherein things are seen that cannot be unseen

After a troubled rest the party made their way out of the barracks room. Which was none too soon for anyone, as the remains of the hobs and gobs were beginning to be quite odoriferous. Moving to the corridor to the west Seakas and Rhavis scouted up ahead. Castianna called them up short however with a quick warning of an overwhelming aura of magic. Easing into the room the party was stopped short by a window into another world. On the northern wall was a portal undulating slowly. Floor to ceiling and 40ft across the portal showed a barren gray wasteland with with a large encampment in the distance glowing orange and red from firelight. The camp surrounded a gigantic building reaching up and piercing the sky with smoke stacks casting off a haze that eliminated any memory of what the stars above looked like. While the party was attempting to ascertain where this portal led to something was led to them. A slimy roiling mass moved toward Castianna as she examined the portal. With a pop the ochre jelly slid into the room and into midst of the group.

Castianna jumped back and unleashed an icy explosion on the jelly briefly crystallizing it and setting up with devastating effect for the massive attack that Ironskull brought to down on top of the jelly. Rhavis took quick aim and fired an arrow at the last moment the jelly remained crystallized and nearly broke it in half. From the shadows came an arrow launched by Seakas. The group thought they had achieved an early victory when the jelly fell into two parts. However they were soon dismayed to discover the jelly had now become jellies and there were two to contend with. While the part was occupied by the jellies all of the clangor awoke some of the spectres that inhabit the ruins. Thorin, sensing the undead awaking began to channel Pelor’s light and ran with a righteous fervor to smite one of the spectres. Pelor’s light flowed from Thorin’s hammer and a seared the spectre as his warhammer descended on the spectre crushing him as if he were flesh and bone. Before he could reach the second spectre however it faded away. Meanwhile Ironskull was having some bad luck with the jellies as they began to slam him with their mass. He managed to shrug off one of the attacks and smash one of them into even more of a pulp. The second jelly threw itself at Castianna who side stepped its mass and unleashed another icy grenado turning what remained of the jelly into an explosion of tiny green frozen crystals. Seakas had positioned himself in a corner in order to draw line of sight on anything else that made its way into the room. Unfortunately this meant he was not quick enough to respond to the remaining spectre as it materialized and raked him with its ethereal claws. Weakened from the attack Seakas only managed to do superficial damage to the creature and it continued to advance on him. Luckily for the halfling Rhavis’ keen eyes had picked up on his fellow adventurer’s plight. He nocked an arrow and spun in the opposite direction of the spectre, taking aim instead at Thorin. The arrow sailed from his bow striking Thorin’s upraised warhammer and transferring some of the divine light to the arrow head. The arrow ricocheted off the hammer and into the back of the spectre destroying it in a flash of light.

After taking a quick breather and one last uncomfortable glance at the portal the party moved out of the east exit of the room and found themselves in the hallway to the north of the barracks room. Once again with Seakas and Rhavis scouting the group came upon a room filled with sarcophagi. Rhavis and Seakas edged around the corner of the corridor and looked into the room unseen. There were several hobgoblins bearing shortswords and one that appeared to be armed with a bow and arrow on the far side of the room. Using the opportunity to strike from the shadows they both lined up shots and let fly. With two quick shots each all of the hobs with swords dropped with little clatter. The archer was alerted to their presence however and began unleashing volleys of arrows. Castianna stepped into the room and unleashed an icy blast cutting at the hob’s skin as well as pushing him back from the force. Ironskull and Thorin entered the room and started heading towards the iron spiral staircase to the north where a drake and another hob were making their way down. Rhavis pulled back with all of his strength and unleashed a powerful shot from his bow which caught the hob archer in the center of the chest and sent him stumbling backwards…into a trash pit where he met a sudden end with a long scream, a sudden thud and some reptilian growls. By this time Castianna had diverted her focus to the two creatures coming down the spiral staircase and she unleashed one of her most powerful incantations causing the entire staircase to be engulfed in a fountain of flame. The creatures had little choice in their actions as they attempted to run down the rest of the way only to melt during their journey while the rest of the party took harried them with attacks from range. The two dwarves looked at each other and shrugged with disappointment. Ironskull swore a dwarven curse and apologized to Betsy for her inactivity. Thorin took a moment to mend his fellows’ wounds before the party began to properly explore their surroundings. The party found a potion of blue liquid on one of the dead hobs and a few gold pieces. When they checked the sarcophagi they found the remains of what appeared to have been warriors or knights of the Rivenroar family. Each had been buried with a portion of gold to show their standing in life. One however held his family blade between his skeletal hands. A shortsword with its hilt made of outstretched black wings made up of incredibly detailed feathers descending down to the pommel where the sword was capped with a Raven’s head with eyes made from red gemstones.

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Descent into the Ruins
Chamber of Flame Unbound/Goblin Warren

Descending into the Ruins of Castle Rivenroar the adventurers were greeted by a sight that all great and noble heroes long to see: goblins and hobgoblins. The goblin sharpshooters at the back of the room immediately turned on a device that sent the braziers moving across the room sending gouts of flame traveling back and forth between them. Meanwhile the hobgoblin soldiers moved forward to block our heroes entrance into the room and allow the archers to have free reign peppering the party with arrows. Our two sturdy dwarves, Ironskull andThorin, stepped up to the front lines to meet them and stop their advance against the rest of the party.

Seakas meanwhile used the two dwarves as sufficient cover to nimbly dart through the two soldiers and and take a more advantageous position from which to sent arrows into the soldier’s backsides. Rhavis in the mean time shifted around his allies to reach the opposite side of the soliders from Seakas and began using his skill with a bow to send one of the soldiers falling to his backside, grasping at his knee. Castianna remained behind her shield dwarves showing the hobgoblins why it is never a good idea to allow wizards to perform fancy moves with their hands and near silent mumblings. A boulder of ice sprung from the ether in front of her hands landing behind the two soldiers and pelting them with razor sharp shards of ice. The hobs and gobs were not incompetent however. Both of the archers took aim, landing powerful shots against both Seakas and Rhavis. The soldiers up front pushed their advantage against Ironskull and Thorin, landing a pair of devastating blows with their flails. The dwarves struck back but the hobs armor proved to be thick and unyielding allowing them only a few open shots against the hobs, and those only delivering minor harm.

Seakas and Rhavis continued lining up their shots one after another, finally dropping one of the archers and one of the soldiers holding the line. Thorin went to work healing his allies in the midst of battle, calling down Pelor’s light to mend their wounds and ease their weariness. Ironskull managed to catch the last soldier off guard and brought down his greataxe (some have heard talking to it in his sleep, calling it Bessie) down on the soldier cutting him in half from shoulder to hip. Castianna continued lashing out throughout the battle with fire, lightning and ice. A druid has never even used nature to such devastating effect. She dropped the last goblin archer with a simple flick of the wrist: her arcane energies manifesting and shooting out from her finger tips thudding into the archer leaving cauterized holes across his chest.

Three paths availed the party then. They could head forward and down farther into the ruins or take a corridor to either the left or the right. After some careful sneaking and peeking a mysterious blue light came into sight at the end of the hall. Deciding that mysterious blue lights generally equal “bad times” the party decided to go down the left hall.

Once again sending the rogue and ranger to scout ahead the party realized that they had stumbled upon a barracks of some sort. Seakas and Rhavis used the opportunity to line up some surprise shots while the rest of the party rushed the room in an attempt to take the hobgoblins and goblins by surprise. Rhavis unleashed a hail of arrows down upon a group that was clustered together in the center of the room ending the life of two of the hobs. Castianna followed up his attack with one of her chilling ice bombs to kill two more hobs and wound a third. With four grunts down and better armed soldier wounded the party went in for the kill. Unfortunately for the party this is when reinforcements arrive out of the northern hallway: goblin sharpshooters. Unfortunately for the sharpshooters one of them did not make quite make his jump over one of the pits in the hallway and plummeted into the hole. The sharpshooter that made it began taking aim at the party members as Thorin moved to block his entrance into the room. Rhavis took aim and placed a bow shot directly in the goblin’s chest and Thorin rushed him pushing him back into the pit where the fall finished the job. The other goblin managed to climb out of the pit around this time and was met with shield and sword from Thorin and Ironskull. Pressed back by their all out assault he fell into the pit and landed on the corpse of his friend, being impaled by his dead comrade’s sword.

The party was in much need of rest at this point, after their trek through the harsh wilderness and doing battle with a dozen hobs and gobs upon entering the ruins. There were wounds to mend, spells to weave into memory and weapons to sharpen. The group barricaded themselves in the room, hopefully having dispatched this area’s guards in the previous fight, and settled in for a weary and watchful night.

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Lions, Tigers and...
Bears, OH MY!

Gleaning what information they could from Morrik the party set out from Brindol heading north east into the mountains on their way to the ruins of Rivenroar where Morrik said that Sinruth and his new Red Hand of Doom had set up their base. Rhavis used his preternatural ability at tracking to keep them on the trail of the hobs as they headed into the forested mountainside. A steady downpour began and Rhavis’ ability to pick out their path became even more crucial as time and nature seemed to be set against them. Everyone chipped in on the journey keeping their eyes open for any hazards the wilderness might present.

The heroes made good time until the last leg of their journey when Seakas, keeping his eyes open for anything dangerous, spotted an innocent, innocuous cave that would provide them with some much welcome rest out of the storm. Not a fool, Seakas silently crept forward to scout the cave for dangers. Not a fool, no. But not silent enough either. As he neared the cave he stepped on a twig. A small harmless sound. Maybe no one would notice. No one did. Some THING did though, a very angry cave bear. The party flush from their resounding defeat of the hobs in town did not fear this creature of nature. They found out the hard way that there is nothing more dangerous than the wrath of mother nature and her children.

The bear mauled and clawed its way through the party, its thick hide preventing any of them from doing any substantial damage. Seakas was the first target of its ire, taking a crushing blow to the head. The bear made its way through most of the party delivering devastation to Ironskull, Rhavis, and Thorin. Only Castianna managed to get away relatively unscathed, darting between her allies and bringing her arcane powers to bear against this unexpectedly mighty foe. Ironskull furious at the afront this savage beast paid him and his mangled armor finally broke through (literally) the bear’s defenses and cleaved his greataxe through the animal’s skull. The cave now empty, the party really needed the rest they initially stopped for.

After regrouping and mending their wounds the part moved out back onto the mountain path, descending into a canyon leading to a forested vale. At the end of the canyon, flush against the mountainside the party could make out the ruins of Rivenroar. Unfortunately between them and the ruins were dozens of pushed up dirt mounds. Having learned a lesson from their encounter with the bear they were far more cautious this time. Seakas and Rhavis crept forward silently and with light footfalls. Rhavis got close enough to examine one of the mounds and realized it was the entrance to a kruthik burrow. As he and Seakas made their way through the canyon Thorin finally decided to try his luck and with one ungainly, clanking step brought every kruthik in the canyon out of the ground and skittering towards him.

Luckily the part had an advantage this time as the beasts had no eyes and could only sense them by the tremors that they made as they moved. Seakas and Rhavis stood in the middle of the canyon and unleashed a hail of arrows against the kruthiks, picking them apart. Thorin and Ironskull, being as nimble as, well, dwarves, stomped around trying to draw the kruthik’s attention. They did an excellent job. The kruthik focused their flailing insectoid bodies and mandables on the two dwarves who took a beating from their pincers and their chitinous outsides. Castianna stood behind her two sturdy dwarf protectors and brought lightning and frost to bear against the creatures, giving them a taste of what it is like to be targeted by nature. The arrows rained and the dwarves hacked and bludgeoned and finally the kruthiks’ bodies lie still; a pile of goo and ichor.

The party trudged through the remainder of the canyon, covered in the remains of their skittering foes, and smelling worse for the wear. The ruins of Rivenroar loomed ahead.

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A Captive Audience
Good Constable, Bad Constable...

Before making the trek out of town to follow the hobs the group stopped by the town square where one of the members of last night’s raid was being held prisoner in the stocks.

The town guards allowed some leeway with our adventurer’s methods in extracting information from the hobgoblin, Morrik, as long as they did not damage him so much that he could not stand “trial” or attempt to set him free.

Castianna and Thorin_Dawnbringer used their silver tongues to convince the hob that it would be better to answer their questions that they could salve his wounds and put in a good word for him with the council if he cooperated. Rhavis showed the hob a grim face as well as his knife collection, etching his name along side one of his blades to get his cooperation. Ever attentive, Rhavis also noticed a Red Hand insignia on the remains of the hob’s armor and pointed it out to Thorin. Thorin remembering his studies of warfare at the Temple made mention of the events of the past, which caught the hob’s interest. Seakas turned his silver tongue against the hob as well, whispering things the hob wanted to hear, promising him a release from the stocks. The sad thing actually believed him. Ironskull ever the diplomat scared the literal piss out of the hob and slapped him around some.

Morrik relented to the questioning of the heroes:

- Sinruth was named as his leader; and the leader of The Red Hand of Doom reborn in all of its glory.

- Sinruth and his new Red Hand have set up their base in the Ruins of Rivenroar located about a day’s travel to the south east of town.

- The townspeople were taken at random or if they got in the way. They have a darker fate however: they are to be offered to the undead that roam the lower halls of Rivenroar so that the Red Hand forces can move relatively unmolested.

- The heirlooms from the Hall of Great Valor were taken as an insult to the people of Brindol to make mockery of their “supposed” defeat of the Red Hand over a decade ago.

- Morrik drew a crude map for the group to help guide them through the wilderness to the ruins.

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A Meeting with the Councilman
Real battles are fought with words, not swords

Our heroes arrive at Councilman Troyas’ manor in answer to his summons; but he does not exactly welcome them with open arms. The people of Brindol (map) are leery of adventurers, especially the city council. Troyas is the only one who has argued in the favor of hiring any to help solve the town’s problems. He is no fool however and our heroes have to work to convince him of their sincerity and dependability. Using the art of diplomacy and drawing upon knowledge of Brindol’s past (especially the war with the Red Hand of Doom) the heroes convince Troyas they can be depended on.

Troyas fills them in on the details:

Six of the townsfolk is appears have been kidnapped:

Jalissa – An acolyte of Ioun

Kartenix – Head of the City Watch

Thurann – Kartenix’s 8 year old son

Mirtala – A cook from The Red Door

Zerriksa – A crone

Adronsius – An alchemist; owner of Alchemy by Adronsius

Sertanian – Castellan of the Hall of Great Valor

With the reveal of the last kidnapped person Troyas reveals the second thing the hobgoblins accomplished in the night: the robbery of the Hall of Great Valor. Either with the hobgoblins decided to take some treasure while kidnapping Sertanian or took Sertanian because he got in the way of them getting to the items they were after; Troyas isn’t sure. He lays out the list of items that are missing so far from the Hall :

—An ornate, gilded dragoncrest helm

—A ceremonial platinum longsword

—A set of three shields with the Red Hand insignia with a charred hole near the center.

—A set of iron gauntlets with extensive filigree

—A Heraldic battle standard depicting two hands clasped in a handshake

Troyas tells the group that there is a 200 gold reward if those that were kidnapped are returned to town or their fate otherwise ascertained. He also says that he will offer a 200 gold reward for the return of all of the missing heirlooms.

Before the heroes depart he mentions that the city guard did manage to capture one of the hobgoblins alive during the raid last night and that he is currently being held in the stocks in the town square. Troyas believes that the group may have a way to squeeze the hob for information if they so desire.

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Night Raid on Brindol
Nothing sets the mood for kidnapping quite like firelight

On the way to Overlook to answer a call to arms for adventurers our party stopped in Brindol (map) for an evening off the road. At the instances of the male members of the group they took up residence at the Brindol Gentlemen’s Club.

Conversing with the patrons they learned that Brindol had been the target recently of raids by hobgoblins out in the wilderness. Before the party had time to decide one way or another if that was significant to them the choice was taken away by hobgoblins bursting into the bar yelling “For Sinruth” and setting the bar afire with pitch covered torches.

Having had their weapons checked at the door the fight started off as a good ol’ fashioned bar fight. Seakas snuck over to the weapon check first and began turning hobgoblins into pin cushions from atop a table. Rhavis jumped across the firepit smashing a chair into the head of a hobgoblin on his way to his stored weapons. Once armed he began ricocheting arrows across the room with precision knocking the hobs on their backs. Castianna had her hands full putting out the fires the goblins were spreading. In between combating the blaze she showed why it’s not wise to interrupt a wizard’s happy hour throwing lightning and watching it jump between the hobs sizzle their insides. Thorin having spent much time in the Temple was not accustomed to bar fights and couldn’t seem to find his footing, or make his foot find the hobs, as several of his blows were too slow to catch the invaders. He did however call upon the renewing power of Pelor to mend the wounds of some of the bar patrons, his allies and himself. Ironskull took to the bar brawl with passion fitting a dwarf. He moved from enemy to enemy ending their life and taking their weapon for use on their friends beside them on his way to his own battle-notched greataxe.

The hobgoblins poured into the bar continuing the fight and trying to set it ablaze for the next few minutes but the heroes easily dispatched them and managed to save the bar (mostly) and earn the everlasting gratitude (and a 50% discount) from the barkeep:Bruhaus Ironcask.

Cautiously stepping out of the smoldering bar the heroes were met by several of the local guards who filled them in on the situation in the town. A quick look around did a better job. Buildings across town were ablaze and people were screaming in the streets. Some of the screaming started drawing closer and the heroes heard and felt a series of loud booms. The crowd of people screaming turned the corner and fled. From an ogre pulling a card full of lit casks of pitch and two more hobgoblins. The ogre welcomed the heroes by tossing one of the casks right at them.

Luckily for the group the ogre’s aim was as bad as it’s temper and the cask flew wide, landing right atop the tavern they just left setting it ablaze again. Having tired of these creatures interruption of her night of rest and relaxation Castianna stepped forward throwing her hands together in a clap and bringing them apart quickly —sending huge pillar of horizontal fire at the ogre and the goblins. All of them were badly burned but the hobs took the worst of it. More importantly though the remaining casks of pitch in the wagon caught fire and began exploding one after another every few seconds. Seakas and Rhavis both began a hail of arrows at their enemies with Rhavis using his cleverly placed bow shots to drop the ogre on its face several times. Ironskull and Thorin attempted to harry the ogre up close but neither were particularly successful and Thorin wasn’t quick enough to dodge a blow for the ogre’s giant club and was nearly pulped. Pelor showed his favor though; allowing Thorin to heal his wounds and those of his companions. In the end the ogre and his hob companions could not stand the peppering of arrows and the explosions and fire from the casks that Castianna set off. They collapsed a dark pile never to move again.

The group spent most of the rest of the night helping the towns people. Castianna helped put out blazes with her icy dweomers. Thorin healed those who had suffered injuries and had not yet passed the Raven Queen’s Gate. Ironskull and Rhavis stood watch on the ramparts watching for more invaders and Seakus put his informational skills to work finding out as much about the situation as possible. Having earned a rest the group were given rooms at the nicest inn in town: The Silk and Spoon. They had barely closed their eyes however when they were awoken by a messenger: Councilman Eoffram Troyas wanted a meeting with them.

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