Seven Hands of Orcus

Entry 4: Althbred

The only other thing of note the group finds on the dead man is a dagger with an antler hilt. Ithilwyn brings this. You never know when something will be important and maybe they can even return it to his family. Ithilwyn and Azalynn determine that since we are entering enemy territory it is important to scout ahead so they move off of the path and disappear in the sparse bushes and rocks.

They travel about 30 minutes staying hidden and quiet as best they can. They come to the edge of the valley where the one road into Althbred begins its descent into the deep valley. Althbred lies at the farther end of a deep valley. To the north of it are steep cliffs. They can also see the old mine, now called ‘Grab Scratch Mine’, off to the Northeast of the town and what they can only assume is the Dwarven hold of ‘Clinger Dell’ built into the cliff face to the East. They can also see dark grey smoke rising from several fires and Azalynn’s keen eye picks up several very large humanoids around the fires that the duo determines could be the Ogres that we heard were in the area. It is clear that the invaders are not only still in the town, it seems they have entirely taken over. As they search around a bit, they find a path heading off to the Southeast that looks to go along the rim of the steepening cliff overlooking the valley where they hope they will be able to find a safe place to rest and maybe a better view of the ravaged town. Azalynn also finds the spot where the town’s brave and determined messenger had fallen; amazingly, he had crawled several miles to where we had found him.

Azalynn and Ithilwyn head back to the group to report and bring them in closer to the town. When they arrive, the group is glad to see them, they give a brief overview and head off towards Althbred. When they reach the path that skirts the valley rim, Irky advises them that this is the path to Clinger Dell and the old ‘Harper Mine’ where the letter said the marauders were using as their base of operations. The group carefully follows the path around until Azalynn finds a good, shielded place among rocks for the party to hide. They make camp, with a very small fire and talk in low, hushed voices. They each work on the coded letter and determine what they hope are several clues. The most important of which is that they believe the remaining villagers are hiding in a secret area of the Sun Stone Church. There are other parts that seem to refer to some sort of key, sand, and a broom. Ithilwyn and Azalynn go off a ways each to meditate and focus. They then all go to sleep early as they have decided to enter the town very early before dawn to use the darkness as cover. In the middle of the night, the group is awakened by a large explosion in the town and they look down to see a very large fire but they can make out little else.

The group rises early and leaves the camp around 4:30 in the morning which will put them in Althbred a little before 5:30 in the morning. The group sneaks around Althbred to the South, staying a ways out in hopes that any guards stationed in the six towers will not see them. The church is in the east most point of the town. The group sneaks around to the back of the church traveling through the field to move closer and waits a ways off while Azalynn and Ithilwyn go up to the church to find a way in before calling the others. Rhiannon casts a spell that allows her, Azalynn, and Ithilwyn to communicate effectively in only a whisper.

There is a fenced in area in back of the church. Azalynn and Ithilwyn carefully open the door and Ithilwyn wedges an arrow in the hinge to keep it open for the others. There is a door in the back of the church, but it has no handle and no lock. There are two staining glass windows about six feet off the group and one large stained glass window of a sun higher up. Azalynn gives Ithilwyn a leg up and Ithilwyn climbs up and stands in the ledge of one of the staining glass windows but she cannot see through them except to see there is a low light coming from inside and there is no way to open the windows that she can see. Azalynn scouts around the side of the church and finds that toward the front of the church on the South side, there is an Ogre sleeping and to the North are six Goblins playing cards or dice. Ithilwyn climbs down from the window and searches the back. On the southeast back corner where the ground has been washed away, she notices the foundation goes down into the ground indicating there is likely a lower level to the church. Ithilwyn calls the party up to see if they can help search. Delell notices this church is of Dwarven construction and he knows there is a common technique they use with doors where they are opened and closed using magnetic forces. Ithilwyn takes out the antler handled dagger they found on the dead messenger and the magnetic force pulls it to the door. She hands it over to Delell who carefully maneuvers it to open the door!

The group sneaks carefully inside the church. In the middle of the floor are two Ogres sleeping and a small fire. Ithilwyn and Azalynn sneak around looking for secret doors or passageways. After some time, Ithilwyn ventures out towards the other end and finds a set of stairs going down. She motions to the group and they move carefully to join her. One of the Ogres awakes and Ithilwyn motions the group to wait and the Ogre falls asleep again. After a few moments, she waves them on and they group joins her. They can hear angry muttering in what sounds like the language they heard the Goblins speaking before and listening for a bit, they determine it is only one voice. Ithilwyn readies a Sleep for the Goblin and as soon as he comes into view, she casts and the Goblin falls to the floor asleep. The group decends the staircase passing my some food stuffs on shelves. Ithilwyn heads over to the Goblin while the others take a look around the room. She knows that they can’t have the Goblin waking up so she carefully plunges her dagger into its throat causing blood to spurt up to across the front of her clothes. She quickly goes to work setting the scene, in case of discovery by the enemy, to make it appear the Goblin had tripped and fallen on its own knife.

Entry 3: Riddles of the Road

Riddles of the Road:
The next day comes and Dorian is no better off. Zook says he thinks he knows where his gear is but he needs the group to go with him. The group agrees to help Zook and they follow up to a kind of shallow cave. The entrance is booby trapped. The trap is sprung with some noise but the group gets by without much trouble. The entrance slopes to a hole straight down into the ground with a rotting rope ladder. After some debate the group descends into the darkness. To their surprise there is some light and it seems this is the ruins of some underground structure. They follow the light which turns out to be a candle and then a torch. The passageway with the torch leads to an area that smells very musty. Ithilwyn knows that musty spell comes from the deeper dark and they stumble upon some scat that indicates a creature that feeds in the Underdark. Delell picks some of the florescent mushroom there. Azalynn checks for tracks and finds there are no goblin tracks here at all, so they determine to go back. The light could be there for a couple of reasons, 1) to lead intruders to a dangerous area or to a dangerous foe or 2) to keep a creature from the Underdark at bay as often they shy away from light or both. The group goes back down the passageways until Azalynn picks up the trail of the goblins. She follows the tracks deeper into the structure and then eventually down carved pathways until they come upon the Goblin lair. The goblins know they are there and attack with crossbows from a defensible position. Ithilwyn and Azalynn use their bows to pick off the goblins as they show themselves, while brave Delell wades into the thick backed by Zook with healing and Rhiannon who is able to slow them with some sort of weakening effect. The goblins are fighting for their lair and they fight bravely. The barrel chested leader is formidable and brave but the group proves to be too much and he is felled. Only one female goblin and two of her vile brood are left. Rhiannon follows the female to the back cavern and starts to try to talk but then strikes her down, the whelps wailing. The group knows even a few goblins cannot be permitted to raise another tribe that will wreak havoc on travelers. Ithilwyn points out it is more merciful to end the whelps than have them die of thirst, starve, or be eaten and Azalynn, as a wise huntress who has put wounded animals down before, ends their crying. The group searches the area but finds nothing of consequence, so they search down the other pathway and find a storage room of sorts littered with the belongings of various travelers who likely met their untimely doom. Among these things, they find Zook’s items which he gladly dons again. And Ithilwyn has them bring out as much as they can carry. There are a number of swords, some armor and other provisions. They meet up with the gnome and the still unconscious Dorian. Dorian’s possessions are missing unbeknownst to the gnome who had snared a number of rabbits for food.

The group sets off on their arduous march towards Althbred. The pass by Kingsholm stopping briefly outside of the city for Rhiannon to replace her footwear with a pair of fine riding boots. They push on traveling steadily for almost 5 days. A couple of hours outside of Althbred, they come upon a murdered man. He looks burned from some kind of alchemical agents similar to the one the goblins had used before against the group. And there are crossbow bolts in his back. He has just been left there in the road. The group searches him and finds a letter telling of the dire position of the town and how they have all hidden. They also find a pulpy torn coded message that the letter says is the key to saving the remaining residents of the town.

Entry 2: Ambush Alley

Ambush Alley:
The group travels for a day. Sleeps a rainy night in the edge of the Asparamyst forest. They find an old underground hole or tunnel that looks as if it has been unused for over a year. They find Elven bones in a metal pot as well, hinting that this was the camping area of some uncouth vermin, possibly Goblins. They spend an unpleasant but uneventful night and head out in the morning. After some time on the road, they come to the pass known as Ambush Alley as the road turns into a large gully perfect for an ambush. The area lives up to its name as the party is immediately ambushed by Goblins. While the group is rounding a bend, Dorian is struck by a Goblin crossbow bolt laced with a potent poison and falls to the ground paralyzed. The rest of the party, manages to kill two Goblins and the attacks cease. Delell must carry Dorian as they continue on-ward.

As it seems the road is fraught with dangers, Ithilwyn and Azalynn move off the road and scout ahead through the forest, keeping an eye out for more marauders or bandits. They come to an area where the road passes through a more dense vegetation. Rhiannon sees something ahead in the road. It looks as if someone needs help. She takes off at a sprint towards them. Ithilwyn and Azalynn cannot tell what she has seen so they following her but are moving through the woods, off of the road. When they get closer, the see Rhiannon face down in the road. The also see a naked gnome waving his arm for help, in the road 40 feet or so further down the road than Rhiannon. Ithilwyn and Azalynn slow their pace as they suspect something is not right. Brave Delell moves forward brazenly down the road towards Rhiannon. As he comes closer, a bolt whizzes down the road and into his chest. Delell stiffens, and falls face first and ass up onto the dirt road. It’s an ambush and it looks like the same tactics the Goblins were using before. Ithilwyn and Azalynn, try to close distance hiding behind trees and moving a quietly as they can. They close the distance and Azalynn identifies that there are 4 Goblins to the left of the road in the bushes. And now, it is apparent that there are more Goblins than upright members of their group. The entire party, save Ithilwyn and Azalynn are downed and paralyzed. Their guide Irky is far back down the road watching over Dorian. Azalynn and Ithilwyn move apart so they can fire upon the Goblins from different angles. Azalynn kneels down and fires her bow. Her aim is true and strikes the closest Goblin. Ithilwyn then snipes from behind a tree, hitting and felling the Goblin Azalynn had just struck. The Goblins are now aware that there are more. They turn and fire their poisoned bolts, sinking one into Azalynn who slides to the ground. Ithilwyn, now very much alone in her battle needs to think. She stands motionless and without a breath behind a tree contemplating her next move. Whatever it is, it has to be good. There are 3 Goblins with poisoned darts remaining and the rest of the party is incapacitated. She determines to lull them into a false sense of security. Several minutes go by and the Goblins start to move out of their hiding places next to the road. Each time the Goblins move or talk, Ithilwyn uses their noise as a cover to close the distance between herself and her foes. The Goblins move into the road and stab paralyzed Delell. Ithilwyn must act. She has gotten much closer and fires her bow at the Goblin that just stabbed Delell – missing. Now they know she is there. The Goblins take cover behind the downed party members and fire back but they don’t see her and miss. A fire fight is going to be too dangerous. From the woods, deep threatening guttural sounds come forth. (For those who speak Orcish “How dare you. You vermin. Drop your weapons and flee me or face my wrath.”) The Goblins seem to become a bit nervous, calling out in their skittering language. Several seconds go by and the Goblins fly into a panic. The one next to Delell, drops his weapon and does his best to crawl under Delell to hide, the one behind Rhiannon shrieks and flees into the thicket of brambles trying to flee. The last one next to Rhiannon, calls out defiantly, stabs Rhiannon several times and then starts to run away down the road. Ithilwyn has made her opportunity; she moves quickly, gliding out of the forest. Jumping through the air, she kicks Delell to the side, and lands straddled over the Goblin. She lets fly her arrow and it pierces the Goblin’s wicked eye into its brain. Azalynn emerges from the forest, having shaken the effects of the poison. Ithilwyn points down the road to the fleeing Goblin Captain. Azalynn takes just a moment for a carefully aimed shot and then looses her arrow. Azalynn’s aim is true and her arrow pierces the heart of the fleeing foe, killing it. It seems the worst of the battle is over. Ithilwyn walks calmly to the last Goblin who in its panic has dropped his crossbow and is stuck in the brambles of the thicket. Ithilwyn takes the Goblin’s crossbow bolt and stabs the vermin several times. The last Goblin goes limp. This battle, it seems, has ended.

Slowly, certain members are coming out of their paralysis. Zook, the naked Gnome goes off into the woods with Irky to find his clothes. Azalynn goes to the woods to try to find something that will fight off the paralysis. Delell, takes the dead Goblins one by one in the woods to dispose of the bodies away from the road. Ithilwyn stays to watch over Dorian and Rhiannon. She does what she can to comfort them and she tells them a story to pass the time.

Zook returns and informs the group that he followed the Goblin tracks to an underground tunnel but it was getting dark so he did not go in to explore or search for his clothes. Delell returns and takes over guard duty. Ithilwyn goes to the forest the opposite way of where Zook said he found the passage, in order to find them a place for the night, which she does. She then returns to the group, leads them to the campsite. Azalynn follows their tracks to the campsite and arrives with mushrooms and dinner. Azalynn mixes the mushrooms and makes a concoction that she feeds the still paralyzed Dorian.

Entry 1: Firemyst

It took the two of you 6 days of hard travel to reach the treeline from your wood elf home of Lelrengroth. An unfettered horizon was a welcome sight, but the sky was much like the mist within the Asparamyst as a storm was brewing and the air was thick with electricity and a quiet foreboding. Ithilwyn took a deep breath of the new air and focused her eyes on everything she could feast them on. After nearly a week of seeing only grey mist ten feet in every direction even a burned out tree stump was something to see and appreciate. After her moment of zen, she looked to her long time and frequent companion, Azalynn. The young elf appeared to be wrapping up a prayer as she rose surrounded by sparse saplings and random underbrush.
A small smile and nod from the young wood elf was all she needed to turn south and start again. It was another hour until you reached the Crossfire Causeway, a busy stretch of road between the Crossroads and Firemyst and another two hours through that hustle and bustle to finally enter the city. Other than the clearly posted laws you did notice a few wanted posters on your way in, city criers describing their heinous crimes in detail.

A few days in the less than savory Halfway Inn just inside the Adventurers Sector or Tavern Town as most call it, was enough to get your fill of Firemyst, but after three days of asking around no one seemed to have ever heard of this Handrevlias Banetree that the village elders spoke of. After 5 days, you were beginning to lose hope, but a tip from a traveler who had eyes for Azalynn and looked to be on his fourth or fifth ale in The Hungry Weasel, your 20th tavern it seemed, was enough to send you to a new watering hole. This establishment was called God’s Creatures and is known for catering to wood folk, tree-huggers and the like. At least that’s what the drunken man told Ithilwyn when she pressed for more information. A regular in the tavern, by the simple name of Strand has been drinking there for years and knows every forest dwelling, nature loving elf in the city. It’s the best lead you have had in days and as far as taverns go, it doesn’t sound too bad.

God’s Creatures:
Ithilwyn and Azalynn made their way to the tavern God’s Creatures. As they approach, the sounds of revelry inside the tavern are overshadowed by the noise in the surrounding watering holes, most notably The Vengeful Cherry Pub & Grill a popular haunt for adventurers looking for a black eye and a good story. God’s Creatures, though busy and full of patrons, is tranquil in comparison. As they enter, the soft tones of a bard’s song fills their ears while thick tendrils of pipe smoke part for them, as they cross the threshold, like an oar through water. It permeates their nostrils and makes their eyes burn, but is almost sweet and carries with it an air of sophistication. Directly across from them is the bar, behind it a pudgy bald man, middle aged, but full of energy. He pleasantly listens in on a conversation down the bar while smiling at Ithilwyn and Azalynn as they enter. Hanging over him, is a large wooden sign that reads God’s Creatures with the holy symbols honoring Ehlonna, Obad’hai, Garl Glittergold and Yondalla. To their left is a softly burning fire. Many coals have fallen from the protective gate and cooled on wooden floor. Animals of several kinds scurry here and there between the legs of chairs and under tables. Everywhere they look they see droppings, straw and dirt. The place looks more like a kennel than a pub, but thankfully smells much better. Two full tables of mixed race patrons dominate the main floor. Shoulder to shoulder they talk, laugh and drink. One table is full of males, save one brown haired female who looks to be enjoying the attention. The other is full of all men who appear to have just finished a good story and look to have been drinking all day, as two of them are resting their heads on the table. One man feeds a rodent of some kind that is perched atop the passed out man’s head. All but two of the bar stools are unoccupied, one on each end. On the stool at the far end, away from the fire is a blonde woman drinking alone, her head low, but swaying to the music, at her feet is a good sized snake in a worn basket. She sits closest to the bard playing in the corner. The stool closest to the fireplace holds an elderly man atop it. He wears light green robes the color of the sea and has short white hair, neatly trimmed, his sideburns growing into his long nearly white beard, the hairs around his lips stained from years of drink. He sits with his back to wall so he can survey the entire pub with a wry smile and a long ivory pipe. Leaning against the far side of the hearth facing the elderly robed man is a gnome, with his back to Ithilwyn, one foot planted on the dirty floor, the other against the warm stone of the fire. He too smokes a pipe, nearly as long as he is, has shoulder length dark hair pulled back into braids and is wearing a burnt orange silk spun tunic. Few take notice of their entry and judging by the density of the smoke in the room, it has been some time since someone used the door.

Ithilwyn, with her head still covered by the hood of her cloak, and Azalynn head towards two open barstools and survey the patrons of the tavern to get a feel for the place. After a short time, a very alluring human female with red hair and striking blue eyes, enters that tavern takes a quick look around. Ithilwyn takes notice lowers her hood and makes a slight motion to the open barstool next to her. The beautiful human, Rhiannon, accepts the invite and moves to the barstool. Rhiannon is dressed very plainly in a peasant’s tunic and sandals, but her attractiveness still comes through. Although dressed plainly, Rhiannon offers to buy Ithilwyn and Azalynn drinks, to which they gladly accept. Ithilwyn and Rhiannon strike up a conversation while Azalynn watches the elderly man in green robes while periodically turning a wary eye to the snake at the other end. As the night wears on, the other party members arrive at the tavern. Delell, a Dwarven fighter from Aram’Ral’s military and Dorian, a very large bearded human woodsman. At the end of the night, only the party members, the barkeep, the gnome Irky Timberbottom and the elderly man known as Strand remain. Delell speaks with Irky, who has agreed to take him to Althbred a mining town to the north. Azalynn speaks with Strand and learns that the Elven sage they came to find, Handrevlias Banetree, left Firemyst around 20 years ago and moved to Althbred. Dorian presents a document, written in Sylvan, which Azalynn reads for him. The scroll is foreboding and is about a dying forest in need of help. The group agrees to travel together to Althbred as that is where all of their paths are heading.

The party heads out the following morning, heading to Althbred. On the way, they stop at the gypsy-like camp known as the Cross-Roads to get out of the rain for a bit and visit a ‘friend’ of Rhiannon – a very small human woman named Zelda Hagraven, a soothsayer. While in Zelda’s tent, Ithilwyn shares the legend of ‘The Creeping’ a depiction of which appears on one of the tapestries. After his morning prayers, Dorian and the rest of the party gets back on the road. Ithilwyn relays the story of ‘The Creeping’ to Dorian who has many questions. Ithilwyn ponders that maybe the group met for a reason. The scroll and his visions could be referring to ‘The Creeping’ and they are headed towards the Asparamyst which is one of the largest forests that she knows of. Dorian’s interest in their journey and destination increases.

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