Cheap Whiskey

Trouble In The Vale

Nim had left an old dwarf sgt of the Fallcrest garrison in charge of his tower. It was midnight. All was quiet but they soon found the veteran sgt who assured Nim and Rudy that he had kept their residences locked and secured. Much badness had transpired since their departure. Paldemar, a former Mage of Saruun had overthrown all the other Mages in Thunderspire Mountain. It had been revealed that he was an agent of Vecna and a perverted history of the gods origin was being preached throughout the Vale. Most residents disregarded the sermons but there were some who had listened. The farms that supplied crops to Fallcrest had failed that season due to raids from the Black Petals undead and goblinoid followers as well as bandits, monsters and many believed Paldemars own agents. The old dwarf warned that Markelhey’s Monstone Keep was haunted by a spy working for the Thunderspire wizard. Rudy, Theren and Uthrid retired to the old Kamroth estate for the night and a couple guards were set outside to keep watch so the heroes could rest. Nim went to check on things at the Lucky Gnome Tavern. He met Madge along the way and she did not seem surprised to see him. After settling himself for the night in his baasement quarters Nim overheard Madge and Korey leaving the tavern not an hour after he had arrived. He spied them going into a nearby house and peeking through a window saw them meeting with a duergar. Madge and three duergar soon left the lower quays heading for the Kamroth estate. Nim realized they were up to no-good and captured Korey as he returned to the cavern. He sent a warning message to Rudy. Evidently, Madge and Korey were worshipers of Asmodeus and had been contacted by the duergar who wished to get revenge on Theren and Rudy. Up at the Kamroth estate the heroes were attacked by devils. As Nim went to help them he spied Madge and the duergar returning to the lower quays. The duergar went to their house and Madge returned to the tavern where Nim incapacitated her. After dealing with the devils the party came to the tavern. On the way they found an area in a patch of trees by the house. Where the duergar must have summoned the devils. When the party went to the duergar house they found the devil dwarves had departed but left a message for Rudy. The mutilated body of Amara Azaer was found in a wash tub and her head was on a table in the living room with the note. The hands and tail had been cut from her body and the horns were cut from her head. Amara was the cousin of Morthos Azaer who had adventures with the Beheaders before being turned to stone by a medusa in the Pyramid of Shadows. The note invited Rudy to meet the duergar at Yellowskull and end the feud with Grimmerzhul Clan once and for all.

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More Catch Up

The adventurers found Adakmi abandoned as they had expected. They searched and found the place where long ago Baal Riverwind had deactivated an arcane lock on a secret door. The fear moths they had left locked in the room were gone. They passed into a room where a giant skull was carved into the wall. The eyes and nose of the skull were mansized inlets. The teeth of the skull were tightly spaced columns. The lich Driedel sat upon a throne in the nose inlet and battle soon broke out between the adventures and the lich. The fear moths entered the room from behind the party and joined the fight. The party defeated the lich and the moths. The lich, clad in a basilisk helm and a large amulet, turned to dust when the killing blow was delivered. Behind the throne Uthrid found a black sword in a silver sheath. The sword contained a black shard of crystal and when Uthrid drew it from the sheath the word INVERNESS was on the black blade. In a hidden compartment under the throne the party found other treasure including the basilisk helm and large amulet worn by the lich. They also found a strange urn carved with runes. Nim studied the runes and although he could not outright read them, he and the party discussed the theory that it could be Driedel’s phylanctary. A lich uses a phylanctary to come back to undeath if its skeletal form is destroyed. When destroyed a lich’s belongings are transported back to it’s phylanctary and the lich reforms within ten days at the location of the phylanctary. They smashed the urn and were hit with a blast of necrotic energy when they did. I the eye sockets of the carved skull they found handles that could be pulled in unison to move the columns and create a passage. When the passage opened a pair of coatl mockeries flew out and attacked the party. Rudy and Theren secured the handles to keep the columns open while Nim and Uthrid, with the new black sword, fought the mockeries. After the mockeries were destroyed they found the passage led to a linked portal.

The adventurers used the portal and were taken to the City of Moil in the Shadowfell. In Moil the party searched among the broken towers, making their way across the remaining wide bridges that conected the towers, for a portal to the Fortress Of Conclusion. They fought undead and saw signs that William Invidia had been there. Uthrid put away the black sword INVERNESS in favor of the sun sword he had found. The sun sword delivered radiant damage which was more effective against undead. There were also corpses from Raven Queen devotees who must have recently passed through. There were traps to avoid and the horrifying Tortured Vestige which was a collection of malevolent spirits made up of Moil’s dead residents. They nearly died a couple of times but found the entrance to the Fortress of Conclusion. There were many secret passages, difficult obstacles, traps and undead within the Shadow Tomb which were deadly and deserve a better, longer summary to appreciate. A green devil face was a prominant symbol in the tomb. Nim and Rudy knew that this was the symbol of Acererak the demi-lich who was the architect of a fabled Tomb of Horrors. They all had moments where death was on their doorstep but they survived. They found the corpse of William Invidia, they found The Book Of Ao and they discovered an eldritch engine similar to the one found in the Garden Of Graves in the feywild. Nim worked at deactivating the eldritch engine and the party was attacked by a hummonculus construct that was shaped like a skull with gems for eyes and teeth. Rudy and Uthrid could not contribute to the fight because they lacked effective ranged weapons but Nim and Theren killed it after Nim deactivated the engine. After the engine was destroyed the tomb began to collapse. A linked portal was on the floor of the chamber. Nim analyzed it. He determined that the portal had been transporting the energy that the eldritch engine had created to some place in the Astral Sea. The portal now could only be used to transfer people to The Mausaleum of Sra Turroch which was also in the Shadowfell located in a sandy wasteland.

They activated the portal and wound up in a secret room in the Mausaleum. A secret door led to a room with a bone naga and some other nasty monsters. The monsters were alerted when Nim opened the secret door. The party secured the secret door but had to fight some shadow snakes and a wraith that had phasing abilities. After besting those monsters Rudy realized the linked portal they had been transported to was capable of delivering them to a linked portal in which they had the coordinates. Nim quickly used it to take them all back to the wizard tower in Fallcrest.

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Catch Up Post

The common folk of Invidia were odd. Most statements made by them were preceeded by an announcement of what someone else had and how the speaker sure would like to have it. They appeared hard working and loyal to their lord William Invidia. The children waiting by the road were picked up by a carriage being driven by two warforged guards with no personality and taken to the palace.

Eventually Nim and Uthrid went to the palace which was extravagant. They passed a small tent on the way and heard that the Mijalla was the owner of the tent and that it had last appeared in the area 40 years ago. The Mijalla was said to be a powerful gambler who owned at least one of everything. He only stayed in an area for a week at most.

There were teens residing in the palace along with many servants. There were also four ladies occupying the palace – Lady Louisa greeted them on the palace steps. William Invidia was not present. The other ladies were not available immediately. One of the ladies was Wynn Longsaddle who William had brought there from Thunderspire Labyrinth several years before. Another lady was Lady Markelhey – the believed slayer of Lord Markelhey – the adventurers did not find out about her until shortly before escaping the palace with Lord Perry.

Theren and Rudy came to the palace once the others were greeted by Lady Louisa without hostility. They were all waited on by the servants and given nice rooms. While unpacking Uthrid gave a servant his sword and told him to polish it. The servant quickly became enamoured with the blade and called it his own. When Uthrid asked for it back, the servant attacked him and Uthrid struck the servant with his fist and broke the boys neck. The other servants quickly took the boy’s body away and apologized to Uthird.

Theren got friendly with one of the older girls and was challenged to an archery contest by a suiter of hers. When Theren won the young man stormed off in a fury and later tried to kill Theren while he was alone with the girl Llewella. Theren ended up killing the young man and the servants quickly carried his body away and made apologies to Theren.

The palace had a throne room with a green throne and the adventurers learned some incomplete, confusing things about the throne. Evidently sitting on the throne was a form of declaring yourself the Lord of Invidia but there were complications to the process and the adventurers were not able to learn of many of them. Some of the youths studying at the palace seemed protective of the throne. One named Jullian was challenging to Uthrid when he asked about the throne.

With the help of Llewella, Theren discovered that a greenhouse room on the top floor of the palace had recently been cleared out and designated as a quaranteen area. The top floor was mostly servant quarters. Theren discovered the room from the roof and the glass ceiling was obscurred by an oily liquid. The room appeared to be filled with bubbles. Later that night Theren and the others investigated the room and found Lord Perry sleeping there. The bubbles in the room were a sleeping toxin but the adventurers managed to get Perry out using their rope of climbing.

Perry woke a little disoriented but immediately warned the adventurers that they needed to follow William Invidia to Adakmi where he had gone with The Book Of Ao. Uthrid asked Perry about the whereabouts of his father and Perry only had time to tell him that “the children ate him” before the party was under attack. They were attacked by Rakshasa who had been posing as some of the teens training in the palace. The leader of the attack was Rhuminor, a rakshasa assassin. He had been posing as one of the ladies that they party had not formally met.

The adventurers battled their way to the palace roof where they ran into Llewella. Perry and Llewella accompanied the adventurers as they leaped off the palace roof and activated their greatwing tattoos which allowed them to fly a short distance to the ground. They made it safely to the tent of the Mijalla although Rhuminor did pursue them. Perry had met the Mijalla in the past – he was a powerful Djinn.

The djinn met with Perry and Rhuminor before meeting with the adventurers. Perry spoke with them before they met the djinn and told them the he had made a deal with the djinn to take them to Adakmi. Perry would have to spend some time in service of the djinn but the party would be allowed to pursue William Invidia who had gone to Adakmi in order to enter a portal to the shadowfell. The portal led to the ruined city of Moil where Perry described there was another portal that led to a place called The Fortress Of Conclusion. In the fortress an entity known as the Tormentor had constructed an engine that was generating eldritch energy for some nefarious purpose. William had gone there to try to capture the power of the engine. Perry felt this was a foolhardy and doomed quest. He cautioned that the adventurers should destroy the engine. Perry had learned this information from the Book of Ao. He had also learned of a similar engine in the Feywild and determined after talking to the adventurers that this was the engine they had destroyed in the Garden Of Graves. He had more information about the book but mostly just that it was dangerous to read. Perry did not know what sort of deal the djinn had settled with Rhuminor.

When the adventurers met with the Mijalla, the djinn was interested in gambling for their more powerful items. Nim offered to do a reading for him from The Deck of Many Things and the djinn could not resist the offer. The death card turned up and the Mijalla was attacked by demons and undead. In a quick torrid battle the djinn was left physically spent as he seemed to dispatch his enemies. He then called an end to their meeting. They were treated to fine accomodations the rest of their stay with the djinn. Theren spent nights with Llewella but she remained behind with Perry when the adventurers were dropped off near Adakmi.

Some details about the rhealm of Invidia and the Book of Ao were revealed to the adventurers but due to time restraints they will be mentioned later if they become relevant.

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Invidia

Theren led the others through the mountains. They fought four legged vulture-like demons in the misty peaks. On the eastern side of the mountains they found the land of Invidia.

While the others made camp, Nim decended from the hills to scout. Below the hills was a road that led to a stupendous palace to the north. A two horse drawn cart rode along the road toward the palace. The cart was open on top with a driver in the front and a boy in the back among many barrells. The cart appeared to be the first spark of wakening to this strange realm. After it passed the fields and orchards and ascended the hill to the palace’s splendorous fortified gardens, the rest of the village south of the palace sprung to life. Some youths came to the orchards and began playing soldier in the road using sticks. Nearby the orchards, where the boys played, was a roadside rest stop where some benches sat in a roofed stall. From the village came walking a group of six, four adults a small girl and slightly smaller boy. The children were beautiful looking in their simple linen garments and sandled feet. Each child carried a small wrapped bundle tied with string. The adults were two men and two women in their late middle years. Barry Cabbages was a heavy-set farmer and his younger wife and he were the parents of the boy. Dusty was a quarryman, he was tall and his wife was plump, they were the parents of the brave faced girl. The adults led the children to the rest stop and took seats on the benches while the children stood aside the road.

Nim joined the group at the rest stop. The boys playing in the road were yelled at by a man in the orchard. He wanted them to stop goofing off and start working in the orchard. As they began walking into the orchard they commented to the children waiting by the road.
“How would I like to get called to the palace?” said one boy.
“How would I like to pick apples and play soldier?” said the small boy by the road.
“How would I like to learn to read or become a proper soldier?” said another of the working boys.
“How would I like to kiss my ma goodnight, every night?” burst out the pretty girl who could no longer compose her brave face.
“That’s enough talk!” said the heavy-set farmer.
After a moment the farmer spoke again.
“How would I like to be done plowing my fields, Dusty?” he said, “Is Longbean’s fields been plowed?”
“How would I like to run my hands through the soil instead of blistering them on stone?” said Dusty, “Yep, his fields are all plowed.”

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The Bandit Lord

The adventurers find Carthain and get a rough idea about how to get to Invidia. They check out a silver comet that fell from the sky and rescue a mithral dragon wyrmling from some hill giants. They find magic items, are given greatwing tattoos from the dragon and level up to 14th.

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The Battle at Cheap Whiskey (ChapterThree)

The dragonborn mercenaries held firm when they initially engaged the Black Petal’s army. The front ranks were filled with zombie fodder, many of whom were created from dead Provincial soldiers. Hobgoblins and goblin archers and spellcasters lashed out with no regard for the undead allies. Body parts scattered from the blasts and bursts of the spells. Then the warrior wraiths and wights slipped into the melee and the weaker of the dragonborn fell quickly.

The Frontier Gate was open when they arrived and although they were wary of a trap, too many of them had waited too long to engage the enemy. Valkarn’s younglings and Jilko Vren’s rabble pummelled the animated dead while veterans like Gerwynn’s dozen and Abilon Azaer looked for the real threats among the shadows of the fort.

Less than ten soldiers fled when the wraiths and wights joined the fight. They went for the bloodied soldiers and those soldiers that died rose as wights or wraiths soon after.

The one called The Black Petal was there but rarely exposed to attacks. A few of the veterans escaped into the woods south of the fort. Those who stayed on the road were run down by the Black Army.

Valkarn and two of his younglings Patroika and Yemeqai were among the survivors who joined Abilon Azaer and the remainder of Gerwyn’s dozen in the woods. They discovered Coarses Durgin lying wounded and revived him. They all pursued the Black Army to Cheap Whiskey.

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Hammerfast

Brother Benny knew a half-orc who had come from Archertown to sell hippogriffs to the Provincial Army. She had just arrived in Spearpoint and was afraid she had missed the opportunity with the attack on Cheap Whiskey already taken place. She was willing to give the adventurers a good price on four well-trained mounts. Uthrid had learned to ride while a member of the Provincial Army and he quickly earned his mounts respect. Theren was a natural with animals and earned his hippogriffs trust although it would take sometime before he would be able to shoot his bow effectively in flight. Karkarai, the half-orc gave them tips and they were all soon able to ride capably as long as they didn’t try anything tricky. They were advised to keep low so an accidental fall might not kill them.

The hippogriffs would be the quickest way to get to Hammerfast. Nim messaged Oddlin via SENDING and told him to inform Marsinda Goldspinner, the Merchant Guildmaster of Hammerfast, that the party would be arriving soon. Marsinda had sent a message to Rudy in Fallcrest asking for a meeting. William Invidia had also left a dated message for Rudy to contact Lord Carthain in Hammerfast so a meeting to discuss old business could be arranged. The adventurers hoped Marsinda could point them toward this Carthain without anyone hearing about it so Nim only told Oddlin that they were coming and no more.

Despite the hippogriffs swift flight the adventurers had to camp for one night on the way to Hammerfast. Before they landed in the mountains they passed across the Nentir Vale where they could see Thunderspire Mountain many miles to the west. Although the others did not notice, Uthrid believed he saw a purple energy rising out of the top of the mountain. For a moment he saw the flash of a pyramid hovering above the mountain and the purple energy appeared to be enveloping it.

When they met with Marsinda Goldspinner the next day they asked her directly about the names Invidia and Carthain. She was not familiar with either name. She assured them Carthain was not a Lord in Hammerfast. She agreed to discretely look into the names. She needed some help from the adventurers. The long story short was that a group of adventurers who had already provided some heroic services for Hammerfast had uncovered a plot in which a dragonborn cleric of Gruumsh named Thar was trying to awaken a century-long vanquished red dragon. The wizard Starris had defeated the dragon, Calastryx, one hundred years ago; wounding it so badly that it had slept deep in it’s lair in Forgepeak with it’s wounds never healing. The adventurers led by Lukylyl the Invoker had connected a bandit raid on a merchant train, in which vials of hydra blood had been stolen, to have been funded by Thar. Fire had erupted from Forgepeak the previous night and Lukylyl had led his adventurers along with dwarven hammerers and orc priests of Gruumsh up Forgepeak in order to stop Thar. Marsinda hoped Theren, Nim, Uthrid and Rudy would go to Forgepeak and assist. They agreed to go.

They flew their hippogriffs up to the lair’s opening where they met up with Ris a female human trying to drag the unconscious invoker Lukylyl and an unconscious male goliath in hide armor out of the cave. She told the party that Thar and his ogre henchmen had killed all the hammerers and priests. The adventurers fought Thar and his ogres further inside the cave and killed them. There were orc, dwarf and ogre bodies lying about from the previous battle. As the adventurers looked around they heard screeching growls from within the mountain. Soon they heard someone approaching. Orcs called out to Thar. The adenturers hid and sprung an ambush on the orcs who were carrying a couple sacks. They dropped the sacks when melee broke out. They were having trouble defending themselves when a three-headed adult red dragon came squeezing down the hallway behind them. One orc was quickly engulfed in flaming breath and then eaten. The orcs and adventurers fled. The adventurers made it to their hippogriffs and flew back to Hammerfast while the dragon finished off the orcs. Ris, Lukylyl and the goliath were nowhere to be seen as the party left.

Back at Hammerfast the party told Marsinda about the dragon and warned that it was too much for them to deal with. This disturbed her greatly since they were the most famous and powerful adventurers she had heard of in years. Nim offered to do a reading for her from his Deck and they went to a private room. When they returned Uerthen Stonefist the dwarf fighter accompanied them. Marsinda was delighted with Nim for “summoning” the former member of the adventuring company Band Of Valor. Uerthen gave Marsinda a vow to call upon friends to help defend the town.

Marsinda gave the adventurers an old map she found which appeared to be the ruined kingdoms east of the mountains. There were seven areas labelled on the map. One was Aelia Invidia. It was the only mention of Invidia she could find. She had found more luck with the name Carthain. He was the leader of a group of bandits that lived around Hammerfast. He was known to have had dealings with Serlek Undertow who was a halfling bandit boss. Nim knew his agent Oddlin had fallen in with a group led by Serlek Undertow and he arranged to meet the crime lord at the crossroads outside Hammerfast. For 3000 gold pieces Serlek gave Nim the location of Carthain’s camp to the northeast.

It was midnight when the adventurers got back to Hammerfast. A scribe working for Marsinda greeted them at the Gate Ward and took them to the tavern to plan their departure. They did not want hirelings but did re-equip their adventuring kits. They would be leaving by hippogriffs so the scribe went out to the stables to alert the hands to prepare the mounts. The dwarf barkeeper was going to shut down the stove but the adventurers were all hungry so he went to the kitchen to prepare meals. A dwarf in plate mail entered the tavern and another dwarf was coming down the sttairs from the upstairs loft when a ruckus was heard in the kitchen. The barkeep staggered out with quills in his back and fell to the floor. Theren rushed to his aid and Rudy turned to get a better look at the two dwarfs. It was then the adventurers noticed the coal black faces and spiny red beards that marked the dwarves as duergar.

“Theren Brightwood and Rudolph Harmony, the Grimmerzhul Clan sends it’s regards.” sneered the duergar comingdown the stairs. He was dressed in robes and carried a large club. The plate mailed duergar had a heavy shield and warhammer. Two spine devils joined from the kitchen once the melee began. The duergar got the upper hand at first but the tide quickly changed after a few rounds of combat when Theren landed three arrows into the robed blasphemer and killed him. During the combat the blackguard duergar hit Uthrid several times but a combination of attacks from the party killed him. Rudy took out one spine devil and wounded the other before Nim decorated the bar with the devils insides by using a well placed force orb. The only attacker from the assassin group to escape was an imp who stung Theren several times and was a quite frustrating opponent. It attacked from an invisible state and teleported away as soon as it hit. In the chaos of the battle, the adventurers never could locate it because it hid behind tables and chairs after teleporting and then became invisble the next round and moved into attack position.

After the combat the adventurers decided to delay their departure for one day. The dwarf barkeeper lived but closed up the tavern for the night. The local guard came by and accepted the adventurers explaination of duergar assassins. The dark dwarves were hated by the dwarves of Moradin and most of them had heard about the Beheaders heroic acts of rescuing the Baroness of Harkenwold, Farrah Goldleaf Stockmer, from duergar at the Horned Hold in Thunderspire Mountain.

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The Battle at Cheap Whiskey (ChapterTwo)

Enubrius watched with grim thoughts as the army he collected under the Unconquered Standard of Arkhosia left Cheap Whiskey. They were mercenaries who had served Tiamat’s priest in Fallcrest but Enubrius had given them a noble purpose. The standard was a beacon they could come together under. Without it they would not be as strongly united. The Bronze Cleric had fifty of his faithful on the crenalated wall at Cheap Whiskey. Durgin had allowed him that courtasy. The number leaving was near two hundered.

It is believed, The Black Petal slipped out of the Steward Estate long before Rudolph Harmony and his companions warned Coarsus Durgin or sent a message to Makkas Day. She entered the Frontier Gate before warnings had been sent out that she was a threat. It was not heavily guarded. She quickly murdered a number of soldiers and used her powers of necromancy to raise them as undead and attack the other soldiers. By the time Coarsus arrived The Black Petal had the place set for an ambush. Coarsus detected the ambush too late to save his fellow soldiers but after a fierce battle he was able to ride his wounded horse out of the fort. The horse perished outside just as the Black Army was arriving but Coarsus made it to the cover of the surrounding forest on foot before he finally collapsed from exhaustion.

The two hundred mercenaries:
Gerwynn’s dozen was a company of dragonborn who had ventured into the Cairgorn Hills. They had travelled from Arkvana to Archertown and followed the river up into the Witchlight Fens. They went through Winterhaven after the business with the Keep On The Shadowfell. In the Cairgorn Hills they had adventurers and fought Rugas Doombringer’s orc tribe. They returned from their adventures in the hills with little to show for it and signed on with Fallcrest.

Valkarn Goldtooth had fought the Hand of Naaresh when some of his childhood friends were abducted by hobgoblin agents of the demon. He had found himself alone in the world when he finally caught up with his old friends and they had each received a red shard of the heart of Naaresh. They then served the demon and Valkarn found himself hunted by them. They were all dead now – fallen when the heart of Naaresh was destroyed by the Beheaders. He had returned to Arkvana and led a group of younger dragonborn up to Fallcrest.

Jilko Vren was the cousin of the famous bandit leader who had disappeared in the Winterbole Forest. Jilko and the nine dragonborn he travelled with were part of Garesh Vren’s outlaws when the dragonborn leader and the rest of the band disappeared. Jilko and the nine were securing the forest area so they could set up camp and when they returned to camp there was no sign of Garesh or the others. They had come to Fallcrest after wandering the forest without a leader.

Abilon of the tiefling merchant Azaer family, had spent the last three years working with friends of Enubrius the Bronze. He was a fierce fighter and had guarded the eladrin embassador Lynn Sysvani during her time working in the Nentir Vale. She had recently returned to Mithrendain and Abilon had latched on to Enubrius’ army with his friend the dragonborn warlock, Ardellosia. The war of Bael Turoth and Arkhosia meant nothing to Abilon, it was more a myth to him but he was used to watching Ardellosia’s back so he had accompanied her to Cheap Whiskey.

Abilon was from Archertown but there had been run ins with the Redcloaks of Sosh in his past. The people of the City of Sosh were distrustful of spellcasters and tieflings. Not all Redcloaks were outright prejudiced against tieflings but if you got enough of them together who had been raised by fathers who still held the many generation-long grudge against “black magic” than trouble could bubble up. Many of these Grudge-bearing Redcloaks did not trust divine powers unless the blessings came from a Sosh priest of Kord. Thus many of the old soldiers wore battle scars. In Cheap Whiskey, Abilon got the cold shoulder from a number of Redcloaks. A devil army threatened their outpost – devils that shared a part of his lineage. When Julian Durgin ordered the mercenary dragonborn and assorted soldiers from Fallcrest and other parts of the Nentir Vale to support the Frontier Gate, Abilon joined their ranks and left Ardellosia on the crenalated wall with Enubrius and Bralvuna.

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The Battle at Cheap Whiskey (ChapterOne)

Captain Julian Durgin of Cheap Whiskey received Makkus Day’s message via a SENDING spell from Richilda the Blue. The Sherrif of Bridgeblock reported that an enemy army had materialized at the Fort Steward Estate. Rudolph Harmony’s band had braved the mist and taken the road onto the grounds. The Provincial Army was advised to look out for a necromancer called The Black Petal. This witch had apparently killed Jonathan Steward and raised an army of the dead on his estate. Harmony had reported this to Julian’s brother Coarsus as he and his band fled Fort Steward. Coarsus rode to the Frontier Gate in the path of this Black Petal Army and planned to organize a defense there until reinforcements arrived.

“Tyburn!” Julian called to his sergeant of scouting,“Any movement in the east?”
Three fires had been burning in the wilderness east of the gates at Cheap Whiskey for three days. Twelve scouts had been monitoring the fires. One scout had not returned. Soldiers milled around those fires. Many wore the red cloaks of Sosh. Scouts on foot and riders on hippogriffs could only guess at the armies make up and numbers. The only scout to get close enough never returned.

“No, Captain!” responded Tyburn, “No advancement since they appeared three days ago.”

“Where is Fazueul Farseer?” asked the Captain.
Fazeuel was the most capable wizard this side of Bridgeblock. Julian like most members of Sosh society did not trust the arcane arts. Fazueul and his wizards had tried to spy on the army in the wilderness with scrying spells. Julian was told that spells such as clairvoyance and far seeing were drawn away from the camps by a powerful preseance in the mountain lair by Fort Dolar where the blood portal to Dis was said to be. The preseance in the mountain called itself Hihizol. The wizards called it an Osyluth or Bone Devil. It tried to provoke with insults and threats. For the first day Fazueul had tried to communicate with the devil but he ordered all wizards to cease scrying when the devil proved to be a formidible manipulator. Fazueul was concerned that the creature could corrupt the minds of the weak willed.

“He speaks with Enubrius on the southern wall.” said Tyburn and directed Julian’s attention to the crenalted wall beyond the border gate.

“Very well,” said the captain, “I need to speak to the cleric as well. Alert the sergeants of the mercenaries to ready for action.”
The captaincy of Cheap Whiskey meant that Julian Durgin was responsible for the defense of the eleven mile crenallated wall that protected the twenty mile long natural bridge that separated the northern lake from the southern sea. The bridge was tha eaasiest passage from the eastern wilderness to the Southern Provinces. The Wall began on the coast of the northern lake and extended nearly three miles before reaching Cheap Whiskey which is where most soldiers were stationed and supplies were stored. From Cheap Whiskey the Wall ran five miles to the southeast where wooded hills provided a natural barrier to enemies. The Wall filled in gaps among those hills. South of those hills were the marshes. Wesy of the marshes were hills and the Estate of the late Jonathan Steward.
Julian thought about the old soldier, Steward, as he moved along the wall to where he would find the wizard and dragonborn cleric. If an army had materialized on his estate than it had penetrated their defenses through magic and trickery. Perhaps the impending attack on the Wall was a ruse and the real attack was coming from within. By the time Julian reached Enubrius he was certain his guess was correct. Enubrius stood with a dragonborn warrior, Bralvuna, the Unconquered Standard of Arkhosia flew in the cold wind above their heads as they conversed with Fazueul. The cleric seemed convinced that the reappearence of the artifact was a sign that his dragonborn of Arkvana were meant to relive the aged old war of Arkhosia and Bael Turoth.

“Enubrius, we have been duped. An enemy army marches from Fort Steward to the Frontier Gate if reports are reliable. If not they could be marching on any of the forts within our borders.” informed the captain. “I need your dragonborn to support the few troops we have at the Frontier Gate.”

“Arkvana stands here under the ancient banner. We will throw those devils back to Dis.” objected the Bronze cleric looking confused.

“Not if the fight doesn’t come to us. Richilda the Blue just sent word from Makkus Day. Your champion from Fallcrest, Rudolph Harmony, and his men uncovered a secret army on Steward’s Estate. My brother rides for the Frontier Gate to organize a resistance until your dragonborn arrive.” said the captain.

“Are you certain the devils are not planning a frontal asault?” asked Enubrius, “Perhaps they are trying to split our forces before attacking.”

“They have been sitting out there for three days without advancement. They are a decoy. If they do have a force among those camps I have enough of my own men to hold them until your dragonborn return.” said the captain, “You can mop up and chase them back to Dis when you come back. I promise you can bring the fight to them upon your return.”

The priest attempted to respond but the captain cut him off.
“I will not abandon my brother and countrymen because you want to relive the days of Arkhosia and Bael Turoth. You gave me authority over these mercenaries when you brought them into the jurisdiction of Bridgeblock. Stay here and wave your standard but those troops leave now.”

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Spearpoint

Nim received three SENDING messages. One, from Makkas Day, encouraged them to proceed to Spearpoint and meet with Herrman Specks at the Boar’s Head Brewery. They needed to get Perry or a ritual that could destroy the portal to Dis. The second message was from Finji who said he would do his best to stay safe but didn’t want to disrupt Nino’s and his relationship with Mistress Arden, their new employer. The third message was from Oddlin who was near Hammerfast. He had met interesting people at The Five League House and was currently with a band of adventurers or maybe bandits. Forgepeak, the largest mountain in the range had erupted fire last night. His new friends saw that as a bad omen and told tales of a red dragon called Calastryx who had long ago laired in that mountain.

Nim learned more about his magic deck of cards and before the party slept for the night at Fort Durgin he gave Madam Durgin a reading from the deck to enlighten her on her family’s fate – particularly her sons, Coarsus and Julian the Captain of Cheap Whiskey. The first card Nim drew was THE IDIOT which indicated that some poor choices were in their immediate future. The second card drawn was THE KEY which indicated a magic item would be found that was tied to their fates. Madam Durgin was worried.

The next morning the adventurers left for Bridgeblock where they would use a linked portal to quickly get to Spearpoint. They stopped briefly at the Sheriff’s Fort where Harten the dwarf paladin reiterated that Makkas Day wanted them to find Perry Harvest. Early reports on the battle at Cheap Whiskey did not sound good.

At The Boar’s Head Brewery, the adventurers met the halfling Herrman Specks. He was a glass maker and regularly drank with Perry. He had not heard from Perry in the last couple of months. The last time they had met Perry had given Mr. Specks three keys and told him if anything happened to contact Rudy, Nim, Theren or Uthrid. He gave the adventurers the keys to Perry’s tower and told them they would find a halfling cleric to Ioan named Benny sitting on the tower steps. Benny was trustworthy as far as Herrman knew. Perry had adopted Benny many years ago after the halfling, who was born the bastard son of a mob boss in Archertown, accidently saved the life of Corelia Flamet. Benny didn’t have a talent for arcane magic but became dedicated to Ioan. He had recently been working as a highwayman out of Fallcrest but returned to Spearpoint when he learned of trouble with Perry.

The adventurers found Benny where Specks said they would and they offered him the keys to the tower and let him lead the way. The first floor of the tower was a reception room where comfort was supplied to visitors waiting to meet with the wizard. A fireplace, chairs and a large banquet table normally took up the room with plush carpets and tapestries. When the party entered they found most of the room empty. There were bits of broken glass, stone pottery and pieces of metal hardware and silverware scattered about the room but mostly it was cleaned out. Even the wooden door to the tower stairs was gone although the metal hinges were still mounted to the stone doorframe.

The second floor of the tower was Perry’s private quarters. They found the room in the same condition as the first. Various items were scattered about the floor but the majority of the furnishings were gone. Among the items left were some metal urns, a gold bedframe and gold chair frame and a stone safe. The furnishings and padding were gone from both the bed and chair. They used a key on the safe and found a hand axe and dagger inside. The third floor would be the wizards study and the top floor would be an open rooftop garden according to Benny.

In the stairwell up to the study, Theren nearly walked into a huge gelatenous cube and a battle broke out. Rudy and Uthrid were engulfed by the cube and damaged by it’s corrosive acid but the escaped it’s grasp and the party eventually destroyed it. The party surmised that the cube had disintegrated all the organic material in the previous rooms of the tower. Only metal, stone and glass were to be found in those rooms.

They proceeded to the study. The door was missing but magical runes had been carved into the floor to encircle the entire room. These were evidently some sort of protection because the cube had not entered the study. In the room was a linked portal circle and many bookshelves. The was a table with bottles against one wall and in the center of the room was a chair and an overturned table. There was blood on the floor by the chair. The bookshelves had been ransacked. A search of the room found nothing useful until Uthrid picked up the overturned table and they found a ritual scroll. Nim examined it and was able to determine that it was a nearly completed SENDING ritual. Nim could not determine who the ritual was intended for but he could complete the ritual and send its message to its target with a few arcane words. He decided to take a chance and trigger the ritual. When he did Nim immediately received a SENDING message from Perry.

Perry appeared before Nim sitting in the study’s chair. He looked a little on edge. “The tower has been compromised,” he said, “trust no one.” Perry then cried out in pain as a black cowled creature in black chainmail appeared by his side. A short sword pierced Perry’s side. “Who dares?” asked Perry as the doors to the study burst open. “Alive! Rhuminor!” a voice called out, “His knowledge of the book is valuable.” “He’ll live.” replied the slithery growl of the black cowled creature stabbing the wizard. “He better,” said the other voice, “Invidia will need…” and the ritual message ended.

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