Last Stand of the Dorinthians

Deuce Traveler

My campaign here is going well, so I figured I would make it into a Story Hour:

The Dorinthian nation was founded by the warrior, Berl Dorin, later to be called King Berl I by court historians. The year of his coronation in the city he founded, Dorinam, is referred to as YR 0. The nation steadily increased in size, battling with the various goblin and hobgoblin tribes until finally pushing those people over the Dunkel Mountain range to the west. Dorinth settled into a period of peace that was interrupted with the arrival of the Tallione Empire to Dorinth's southern border at the year 421 on the Dorinth calender (YR 421). The Tallione Empire had overthrown the peaceful halfling townships and claimed the region as their own. Many of the halfling warriors that fled began a guerilla war with support from both an oppressed halfling population and from a sympathetic Dorinth, who allowed many of the halflings to use their country as a place for refugee camps. These camps became staging areas for raids and harrassment against the occupying Tallione legions.
The Tallione general requested that Dorinth's king, Torl Dorin VI, take action against the halfling populations working against Tallione within his territory. Torl did not send a reply, nor did he allow audiences with further Tallione messengers to his court. In retaliation, the Tallionian military began to make attacks inside Dorinthian territory in order to attack the halfling refugee camps that were supporting the combatants. Dorinthian troops were raised to stop the incursions. By YR 422, Tallione and Dorinth were in a state of war.
In YR 433, the Tallione Empire was able to ease tensions on its other borders and finally concentrate on the Dorinthian War, which had stalemated for the last 11 years. Four legions (about 22,000 men) invaded Dorinth and easily overwhelmed the border defenses, laying waste to much of the fertile southern lands. The famous Dorinthian general, Jarel the Proud, reorganized the broken forces of the country into new infantry and cavalry companies. Leaving the infantry in place for static defense, Jarel and King Torl lead the cavalry into hit and run tactics that wore down the long Tallione logistical lines. These lines of support were totally cut by the next year at the battle called the Field of Arrows, causing starvation and panic among the Tallione forces. Unable to live off the land they had ravaged, and unable to receive further supplies from Tallione territory, the four legions began to distintegrate into a mob. Many were chased down and killed by patrols of the Dorinthian horse archers. It would take a generation for Tallione to recover.
Dorinth was worse off, despite its hard-won victory. The eastern refugee camps were destroyed, forcing a migration of halflings into the various central and western towns of Dorinth where they became skilled laborers. This effectively ended the halfling resistance movement. King Torl was killed during one of the last minor skirmishes when he decided to lead a patrol into an attack on a retreating Tallione company near the border. In his place his only son came to rule in his stead, crowned King Rasnen Dorin II. Rasnen was fourteen when he ascended to the throne, which did nothing to temper his already spoiled personality. He ignored the much needed reconstruction of the fertile south, nor did he use the remnants of Dorinth's coffers to buy a peace with Tallione. Instead, Rasnen used the remaining wealth to redecorate his castle and various homes and threw wild, scandalous parties for his various mistresses and friends. When his coffers began to run out, he raised taxes upon the various nobles of Dorinth with his Proclamation of YR 438.
As far as the elites of his kingdom were concerned, this was the last straw. A number of nobles plotted an assassination of the king and chose Jarel the Proud to become ruler after the murder. A jealous rival of Jarel's betrayed the conspiracy, leading to the Night of Red Blades, in which much of the noble class was assassinated, their families given as gifts to Tallione as slaves (an unaccepted practice in Dorinth), and their property 'nationalized' and claimed by King Rasnen.
The remaining nobility and the commoners of Dorinth were in an uproar, which was soon quelled by Rasnen both violently and with large ceremonies funded by the captured wealth of the murdered nobles. By YR 441, the last of the unrest subsided and Rasnen had installed his personal friends and family members to lead his armies and settlements. Tallione also seemed to become more peaceful, as their captured halfling territories became used to foreign rule.
Dorinth may have recovered if it was not for King Rasnen's greed. The coffers that were filled with the stolen property of the nobility began to run out in YR 445, causing Rasnen to first double, then triple his taxes on the commoners. He also began cutting the expenditure of the military. The decadence of Rasnen's festivals in Dorinam annually increased as the state of Dorinth's economy plummeted. By YR 448, starvation was being faced by the people that bordered the Dunkel Mountains, since that region lacked the fertility of the other lands. Those towns began to riot, overthrowing Rasnen's appointed officials. Rasnen was forced to move soldiers from the southern border as well as his eastern coastal towns to quell the uprising. Large segments of his foot soldiers and almost the entire cavalry disobeyed his orders, plunging the country into civil war. By the end of the year, the rebel nobles and commoners were besieging the city of Dorinam in an attempt to bring Rasnen off his throne. The situation was closely watched by Tallione, who then decided to invade their weakened opponents.
The Tallione invasion came in YR 449, two legions coming from the south, while another two legions made an amphibious assault from the east, taking Dorinam within a week and throwing the rebel army into chaos. King Rasnen was captured and beheaded as a Tallione gift to the people of Dorinth. The Dorinthians showed a lack of appreciation by resisting the steady advance of their 'liberators'. The advance slowed down as the four legions met in the center of Dorinth, with the rebels and the remnants of King Rasnen's forces uniting to hold them back. The frustrated legion commanders began to resort to terror in order to subdue the population, completely destroying any settlement that resisted and selling the survivors into slavery. Most of Dorinth became a smoking ruin, the fate of the nation settled after the Lost Battle of Kalden. The Tallione losses at Kalden were so severe, that the angry invaders rounded up all surviving town people and refugees and massacred them.
The only force that survived the battle relatively intact was a company of horse archers from the small town of Fair Creek. Rushing home, they informed their people of the slaughter, the violence of the legions confirmed by the incoming trickle of various refugees. After a day of deliberation, the town's ruler, Baron Dren Dorin, decided that the population of Fair Creek was to flee northwards. They would go into the Silver Forest and seek the protection of the Saleentran elves, which had historical trade relations with Fair Creek. It is hoped that the elves might assist the refugees in finding a new home, safely away from the Tallione forces and other dangers.
Thus begins the adventure...

Although classes will be described shortly, Tallione and Dorinth have been at a state of war for the last few decades, and it is important to discuss their various archetypes since some of the party members are likely to be ex-military.
Tallione forces are almost always lead by a commander on horseback, although most of their men are foot soldiers. The commander is normally selected for his intelligence, wisdom, combat expertise, or social standing. Therefore, almost any character class may be used for a Tallione company commander, including wizard or sorcerer. Normal foot soldiers typically wear a shining bronze suit of scale mail and a bright crimson cloak. They normally also used a tower shield with the symbol of an eagle emblazed on the front, a shortspear for charging an enemy in formation, and a short sword for melee combat. The short sword also normally had the Tallione eagle incorporated into the guard.
Tallione cavalry normally wore the same armor, but did not use a tower shield, spear, or short sword. Instead, the cavalry used a buckler and a longsword and were used to flank opposing companies or to strike in the rear. Speed and discipline were the cavalry's strength. Commanders of the foot soldiers and cavalry normally wore a plumed helmet so they could be recognized by their men on the field. It is possible that an ex-Tallione soldier might have escaped to Dorinth in order to escape punishment or execution for a crime committed while under arms. Player characters that are ex-Tallione military likely fled from the ranks after committing a capital offense, such as striking a member of the Tallione nobility or killing a superior.
The foot soldiers of the Dorinthian military were used primarily to delay their opponents while the horse archers wrecked their havoc in the rear. Most of the foot soldiers wore a chain shirt and used a heavy wooden shield with a longsword. These troops were usually looked down upon by the nobler classes, and were not used effectively in combat, although the war would have been lost much sooner if it were not for these men who could take and hold the ground. The foot soldiers normally have their own bizarre comraderie, especially Radnal's Ruffians of Fair Creek.
The pride of the Dorinthian forces were the horse archers, which were normally comprised of the nobler families of Dorinth. These men were able to ride at a gallop while shooting arrows from horseback. They normally wore studded leather or chain shirts depending on their family wealth, and carried a composite longbow. Melee weapons were left to the preference of the rider, although it was common for them to decorate their equipment with depictions of a galloping horse. Commanders of foot soldiers and horse archers normally wore a royal blue cloak, while normal soldiers wore green.
Players should be encouraged to create an interesting background, even allowing for them to be members of the noble classes. Even if they claim a high-ranking noble background, it will matter little since Dorinth has been destroyed.

Barbarians have become more commonplace in Dorinth the last decade as more of the countryside has been laid to waste from war and Rasnen's decadence. Many of the human barbarians come from the western portions of Dorinth, on the border of the Dunkel Mountains. Others may come wandering and looking for a purpose from lands far to the south that have been taken over by the Tallione Empire. Half-orc barbarians have been raised by humans of the northern lands after a large scale raid that occured in YR 431.

Bards can be from anywhere, although it is not likely that they are from Fair Creek. Instead, they probably came into the town along with a group of refugees or had been passing through when the danger from Tallione struck. Allow the bard to create a backstory dealing with a hometown somewhere in Dorinth. It is likely wiped out now, anyway.

Clerics of Dorinth will likely be worshippers of The Rider, a chaotic good deity that is the most revered by the people of Dorinth. The Speaker is the head of the clerics of Fair Creek, and is currently Heron Silvertongue (Cl 6, CG). A character who follows the belief of The Rider will likely be on good terms with Heron.

Druids are common in the great woods of Dorinth, especially near the Silver Forest. Their numbers have increased since the devestation of the civilized areas over the last few years. It is likely that a druid character arrived in Fair Creek to warn the town of danger, and to help lead them to safety. Perhaps the Tallione forces destroyed the druid's grove, and the character seeks revenge.

A fighter will likely be a member of Fair Creek's militia and foot soldiers, Radnal's Ruffians, which were not mobilized during the recent crisis due to rumors of roving kobold bands near the settlement in recent weeks. Because of this, the foot soldiers were spared the destruction of the remnants of Dorinth's forces recently. Radnal (Fallen Paladin 2/Ftr 4, NG) has named his band of men in a mockery of the titles used by horse archer units, to the anger of the paladin order of Fair Creek. Radnal's men were a band of uncontrollable ruffians before he showed up five years ago and whipped the unit into shape. It was rumored that he was an old friend of Fabian Corl, the recently deceased leader of the paladins of Fair Creek.
There are about fifty active members of Radnal's Ruffians, forty-two being warriors with basic weapons training, while the rest have more specialized skills, such as fighters.

Monks are rare in Dorinth, but two monastaries are known to exist: one on a large hill on the border to the Dunkel Mountains and another by a lake near the Silver Forest. The one by the Dunkel Mountains is inhabitated by members of an order that call themselves the Path of the Eagles and is followed by lawful neutral members who have originally come from Tallione, although they owe no allegiance to that country. The order by the Silver Forest calls itself the Way of the Faithful and follows a lawful good philosophy. Members of either order may be passing through Fair Creek on a pilgrimage when news of the disaster reaches them, causing them to decide to help the citizens find safety. The DM may allow characters to create another monastic order, perhaps one whose monastary was destroyed, forcing the character to seek vengeance.

The paladin order of Dorinth normally leads the horse archers in battle, preferring the bow to the sword. It is also possible that a paladin from Tallione, disgusted with the legion commanders' disregard for human life, breaks with the army to warn the people of Fair Creek to flee and helps them escape. A Tallione paladin will prefer a sword and shield, as will an elven and gnome paladin. A dwarf paladin will likely come from the Dunkel Mountains and prefer an axe. The paladins of Fair Creek call themselves the Order of the Shield and are lead by Cal Dorin (Pl 3, LG), son of Baron Dren Dorin. Cal recently became leader of the order in the last year, after the death of Fabian Corl. Since Cal's command of the Order of the Shield relations between the paladins and Radnal's Ruffians have grown colder.
The Order of the Shield boasts only thirty remaining members on horseback, most being warriors of some skill, while five are fully ranked paladins.

Rangers will be comfortable both with the townspeople and in the isolation of the forest, likely moving between the two depending upon the whim of the moment. During the war rangers often joined the horse archers under paladin leadership, acted as scouts, or were snipers against Tallione leadership. Rangers who were snipers are avoided by other Dorinthian military members, since many have human as their favored enemy, a fact humans find uncomfortable. Characters that are rangers likely came to Fair Creek to warn the town of the incoming Tallione forces.

There wasn't a real crime problem in Fair Creek that Radnal's Ruffians couldn't handle, the worst being the occasional fist fights by town drunks or minor theft. Rogue characters will likely come from another town and will be escaping with refugees. Or the rogue will be a trouble maker of Fair Creek, too small time a criminal to be a real problem, but enough of one to have a bad reputation.

A sorcerer can have any origin since his skills are natural. Sorcerers were not common with the Dorinth horse archers, although foot soldiers employed them in their units. The Tallione military incorporated sorcerers in all levels of their military. A young sorcerer may be a new member of Radnal's Ruffians, or an assistant to Hector, the town wizard (Wiz 3, NG). An older sorcerer may be a seasoned veteran of a unit recently destroyed by Tallione forces or maybe escaping with family members from another town.

Wizards were sometimes incorporated with the Dorinth horse archers, although others were either merchants or members of court. A young wizard will likely be an apprentice to Hector the Incredible (Wiz 3, NG), or will come from another settlement with refugees or perhaps with the elven or gnome delegation described in the races section.

When the Dorinthian refugees arrived in the Silver Forest, they were met by a group of elves that had been expecting them. The people were brought to a series of tents by a river and allowed to make a temporary camp there. Baron Dren Dorin was then met by representatives of gnomes from Loughphray Hills, dwarves from the Dunkel Mountains, and elves of the Silver Forest. They were discussing the crisis on their borders when the refugees arrived. Characters playing elves, dwarves, or gnomes are likely from this delegation.
Keep in mind that at the start of the game the Dorinthians race relations will be at 0 for each of the elves, gnomes, and dwarves. The actions of the party will dictate how relations have changed at the end of each section, but this score should be kept a secret by the DM. They will impact relations throughout critical points in the game.

Human characters are likely from the town of Fair Creek. The refugee camp has a population of 2,542 members at the start of the game. The following are important human non-player characters:

Baron Dren Dorin (Ari 2, CG): A chubby, nervous man, the baron was put in charge of Fair Creek by King Rasnen in YR 439. Dren is not a cruel man, but instead has a fondness of drink. Dren's party-going nature was an asset when he was younger, making him close friends with Rasnen when they were both still teenagers. As an older man he has calmed down quite a bit. Overall a mediocre leader, he is still respected by his people since he was able to use his connections to avoid some of the crushing taxes that ruined many other settlements. He is now balding, and the little bit of black hair he has left is quickly turning gray. He has difficulty making decisions and can be easily influenced by others with strong will. Dren enjoys the finer things in life and exotic items, and his openness to trade improved Fair Creek's relations with the dwarves, gnomes, and elves.

Cal Dorin (Pl 3, LG): Unlike his father, Cal is handsome and strong. He is willful and apt to make decisions without consulting others for help. He has dark hair and light skin, with dark, angry eyes. Cal has always been difficult to deal with, and became even more so after his mentor, Fabian Corl, died in his arms. Cal distrusts non-Dorinthians, especially elves. He feels that the elves have been treating his people badly since they arrived in Silver Forest. He is especially angry that they seem not to give him the respect owed a member of the Order of the Shield and of a noble. Although arrogant, Cal is fair and will deal favorably with those he sees as honestly concerned with the plight of his people. Especially since he hopes to be the new leader of his people one day. He is especially fond of those who have fought with him recently. Female player characters may see Cal as a subject to a possible romance, especially if they want to sit by his side in the future as a ruler.

Syra Dorin (Ari 1, NG): Beautiful, but young and naive, the 17-year old Syra is the younger sister of Cal. Syra has long, dark hair and brown eyes and pale skin. She quickly finds maturity as the campaign progresses, although she does not know what yet to think of the most recent crisis. She recently received word that the man she was supposed to marry was killed in the recent invasion. Since she never met him and since he was 30 years her senior, she is not sure what to feel about the situation. She could use a friend, although a romance would have to be approved of by Lady Huffring, the baron, and a jealous Cal.

Lady Huffring (Ari 3, NG): The older attendant to Syra, and an old friend of her mother, Lady Huffring is domineering and protective of her charge and the various ladies-in-waiting of Fair Creek. The recent situation has only made Lady Huffring stricter, and definitely not softer, insisting that the nobility keep their habits. Rightfully, she sees an in-charge attitude by the noble members important to keep the people from despair.

Heron Silvertongue (Cl 6, CG): An old priest and former adventurer, Heron has a full head of white hair, but now walks at a slight stoop. He has a fatherly manner and has been extremely active in the refugee camp, healing when needed and giving solace to those near despair. Heron keeps everyone's spirits up by talk of building a newer and better temple to his god, The Rider.

Kyle Radnal (Fallen Paladin 2/Ftr 4, NG): This older man is not quite middle-aged, but he is not far off. Kyle Radnal was asked to come to Fair Creek by Fabian Corl a few years ago, and to manage the ill-disciplined rabble that was the town's militia. This red-headed man quickly whipped the militia into a respectable police force, kicking out several of the worst offenders out of the organization and running them out of town. His past is unknown, but some say he is more familiar with the Order of the Shield's ways than most commoners. The jealous Cal never liked Kyle Radnal due to the obvious respect Fabian Corl had for the man. Relations between Cal and Kyle grew even more strained when Cal attempted to overstep his jurisdiction during a criminal case last year, and was chastised by Kyle who accused him of un-paladin like behavior, describing in-depth several philosophical tenants of the Order that Cal had broken.

Hector the Incredible (Wiz 3, N): Hector is a scrawny charlatan of a wizard who knows more about tricking potential customers than he does actually conducting magic of value. He came to Fair Creek eight years ago, settled down, and has been selling fake love potions and good luck charms ever since. His assistants know that he was an adventurer in his youth, although he was the only survivor of an adventure-gone-bad and decided to quit the life. The dark-haired man knows enough magic to start a young assistant of talent.

Most halflings will probably be laborers and citizens of the people of Fair Creek. Each Tallione legion that invaded incorporated a company of halflings from the territory they took possession of several decades ago. It is possible that a halfling broke from the ranks of the legion once in country to look for lost kin and arrived in Fair Creek before the townsfolk fled. Most halflings will look kindly upon the Dorinthians for giving them a place to go.

Half-orcs will be rare, but raised alongside humans inside Fair Creek. Most will have had a hard life, distrusted by the people they have grown up among. Whether or not this leads them to struggle with being good or falling into evil ways is up to the player.

The elves are not pleased to see the Dorinthians in their own Silver Forest. They have been wary over their neighbors for many years, mostly because of the frequent raids from the orc tribes to the north, but also because of the occasional skirmish with the humans of Dorinth. Now they see that their foolish human neighbors have destroyed their own country and allowed it to be taken by the aggressive Tallione Empire. They are considering whether or not to sell out the remaining humans, but sympathizers in the elven council support helping the people of Fair Creek, who have always respected elven lands in the past. Elven player characters are either joining the party to keep a closer eye on human affairs, or because they are genuinely concerned with their plight. Those sympathetic to the humans will still find their hygeine and mannerisms lacking.
The elves are currently considering setting the Dorinthians up in an abondoned half-elf town called Meristra inside the Silver Forest and on the western border of their territory, which was destroyed in an orc attack in YR 431. They have a delegation of thirty elven warriors and politicians.

Silas Generwine (Ftr 3, NG): Silas is a young elf delegate sent to deal with the human refugees by the elven council. He has a strong dislike for humans, and sees the assignment as an insult to his noble name. Unknown to outsiders, but a much discussed topic in elven society, is the fact that Silas' grandmother was a human and his mother was half-elven. Silas overcompensates for this blemish on his otherwise noble lineage with an irrational opposition to the Dorinthians. Unfortunately for the refugees, he is their only solid line of communication to the elven council.
Silas is a meter to elven society's opinion on the refugees. As the party proves their heroism, they will slowly change Silas' view. On the other hand, if the party makes the wrong decisions Silas will become hostile, as will the elven nation.

The Loughphray Hills are named after the Loughphray gnome clan that inhabits them. The gnomes are sympathetic to the human plight, but currently can offer little aid and they lack a place for the Dorinthians to settle. They clan is under harrassment from nearby kobold and goblin tribes that have poured into the region, causing the gnomes to struggle for their own survival. They have only come with a delegation of eight, although some of these may be player characters that offer to join the party so that the gnomes can provide at least some aid.

Phly Loughphray (Ill 3/ Ari 2, NG): Phly is a gnomish illusionist that heads the delegation to discuss the latest border problems in the hopes of gaining an advantage against the invading kobold and goblin tribes. Instead the delegation found itself discussing the problems that the Dorinthians are facing. Phly is unable to gain help for his clan, but he will try to be polite to the refugees in the dim hope that their soldiers may be able to help later.

The dwarves are the most sympathetic to the plight of the Dorinthians, as they have enjoyed a peaceful border with the less civilized western settlements for the last two hundred years. Also, they have been fighting goblin and hobgoblin since their clan, Clan Bermax, was established in the Dunkel Mountains five-hundred years ago. There is a delegation of twenty dwarven warriors present, some of whom may offer to take up their axes and hammers for the humans and be player characters. They also offer a place to reside in the Dunkel Mountains, but agree that the elven site of Meristra would be better for the Dorinthians. The land in the mountains is poor for farming and cattle, and the goblin and hobgoblin raids have increased lately.

Lender Bermax (Ftr 5/Ari 2): Lender is the nephew of the dwarven king, and considers himself a friend of Dorinth. He came to the delegation to meet with the elves about the heightened danger on their respective borders, and was shocked to find that refugees had entered the Silver Forest. A small population of Dorinthians (100 people) is currently seeking shelter with the dwarves, and Lender feels that a new home should be established for all the survivors of the once great civilization. He has a long distance to travel in order to return home, but he promises to trade important supplies for constructing homes to the refugees. This will come at a cost, as the dwarves won't give anything for free, but Lender plans to lower the price as much as is possible.

Other Races: Other races, such as goblins and kobolds, may be played at the discretion of the DM.


The Four Main Factions in the Silver Forest Council

The Sol Party (Sol'vi Elustru)
This is an elven political faction led by many of the priests and devout followers of Sol. They are the moral voice of the elves and were the ones that pushed the decision to aid the Dorinthian refugees of Fair Creek. Unlike many towns and cities of Dorinth, the town of Fair Creek always maintained a good working relationship with the elves of the neighboring forest. The Sol Party, or Sol'vi Elustru as the elves call it, did not feel a close affinity to the humans, but instead argued that they should give aid since it was the way Sol would expect his elven children to act.

The Neutrals (House Rela)
Although the largest political party in the council, and led by the ancient elven Rela line, the House Rela faction temporarily lost control of the discussion dealing with the human refugees. The neutrals have long dominated elven politics with the argument that elves should keep to elven business and let the rest of the world do as it will. Although the Sol party won the refugee argument due to its plea for a moral stance, House Rela was able to send two lead delegates from their own faction to bring the Dorinthians aid. These two were Silas Generwine (no relation to the human PC Silas) and Kel, priest of the Huntress. As the political tensions have heated up, these two delegates have lost their neutral stance. Kel has adventured with the humans and made friends with the kobold Rix and half-orc Alexander. His worldview has been shattered and he now leans closer to the beliefs of the Sol'vi Elustru. Silas Generwine now leans towards the pro-Imperial party.

Pro-Imperials (House Dran)
The smallest of the main factions, yet the most vocal is that led by House Dran. These elves argue that the Dorinthians had started an illegal war and that the Imperials are too strong to resist. The Pro-Imperial party is growing stronger as the Imperial armies still operating in Dorinthian land have heard that many refugees have run to the elves and maneuver towards the Silver Forest. House Dran argues that the only way to save the elves is to give up the Dorinthians, who were historically questionable neighbors anyway.

The Warhawks (Magi)
The Magi are the second smallest of the main factions, but have been steadily growing over the last decades. They are led mostly by elves with a talent for magic. Their argument is that the elven race is dying, something that many feel is true in their hearts. Each elven couple may have 3 to 4 children within their hundreds of years of life. On the other hand, the humans have the same amount of offspring every 20 years or so, while the orcs breed at a far greater and more alarming speed. The humans believe that the elves fight a small skirmish or quick war every generation, but the long living elves of the Magi faction see their civilization as constantly under assault. It is said that every elven couple will live to see at least one of their children die directly or indirectly from warfare. The Magi claim that it is time to save the elven race by any means necessary.

Story So Far
The adventure first started as the party left to investigate an abandoned elven town destroyed long ago in the orc wars. They found it inhabitated by kobolds, who had dug a complicated series of tunnels underneath the old settlement. The adventurers negotiated with the kobolds, and agreed to wipe out a rival clan of goblins who had originally pushed the kobolds from their hill dwellings. The party killed the goblin leader, which led to the dispersal of the goblin tribe, had the kobolds move back in, and then cleared the town for the refugees from Fair Creek. The kobolds became minor trading partners, much to the ire of the local gnomes.

The adventurers made it up to the gnomes in the next chapter, as the short folk were being overrun by an alliance of goblins and kobolds (who had originally kicked out their kin from the first chapter). These kobolds and goblins were led by an insane gnome illusionist and his gnoll mercenaries, who wanted to cleanse the land of humanoid races in order to wipe them out before a time of suffering prolonged the agony he foresaw for them. In his twisted mind, this was a kindness, but the party ended his nightmare and his life.

In the third chapter, the party has recently found out that the dwarven kingdom is being attacked by an Imperial legion. Inside the dwarven kingdom lies a number of their kin who had escaped the Tallione Empire's invasion. The dwarves have warned the Dorinthians to stay away, stating that the cause is lost. However, our intrepid party has decided to mount a rescue instead.

And during all of this, a troll had been stalking the party for some time now, killing their allies and sometimes their enemies while giggling grotesquely, before fleeing back into the forests. The party had decided that enough is enough, and moved to hunt the psychotic creature through uncharted woods before it could do more harm... and in the cavernous lair of a race of creatures called the formians, they finally found their hunter and killed him.

The party finally reached the dwarven kingdom, where they found themselves quickly embroiled in the plots of Advisor Nefius. They saved the life of Commander Sassarius, the Imperial commander besieging the dwarven kingdom and the target of Nefius' latest scheme. In return, Sassarius lifted the siege and headed back towards Tallione in an attempt to protect his reputation and family from the intrigues of court that Nefius left behind. Unfortunately, Rix and Alexander were critically wounded during this incident and are incapacitated.

Now the party goes to rescue a lost group of Dorinthian cavalry from a dark glade ruled by a twisted dryad. They are guided by the Tallione defector, Ventus, who swears to them that he has left his old allegiances...

Rough Map of the World
Rough Map of the Continent (Not to Scale and North is up)

To the west is the Stand River and to the east is the Crystal Sea

. = Plains
* = Forest
^ = Mountains
/ = Hills
~ = Water
<> = Destroyed half-elf town of Meristra, now home to the Dorinthian refugees and party
1 = Saleentra, the Elven capital
2 = Where the Party Fought the Kobolds that threatened the Loughphray gnomes
3 = Kingdom of the Loughphray Clan of gnomes
4 = Small Kobold tribe that humans have allied with
5 = Goblin fortress that party snuck into and killed the goblin chieftain
6 = Ancient ruins of the lost tribe of winged elves, where party killed the mad gnome
7 = Destroyed Town of Fair Creek, where most of the original Dorinthian refugees came from
8 = Mountain Kingdom of the Bermax Clan of dwarves
9 = Dorinam, former capital of Dorinth, now ruined
A = The Singing Glade
B = Formian caves, where party finally killed the sadistic troll that stalked them
C= Site of the Lost Battle of Kalden, named after the local town which was destroyed
D = Field of Arrows
E = City of Tallione, and once a minor city-state, now capital of an empire

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The Layhrmons were a tribe of people that came before the people of Dorinth, and some believe are their ancestors. They are known for their cavern burials (one such cave was found, but unexplored by Danica) and were supposed to be strangely advanced in architecture and sculpting, though they were a nomadic people. Much of their religion has been adopted by the Dorinthians.

The Layhrmon Pantheon by Alignment

Saul, Lawful Good (Sun, Good, Law, Protection) [Sword, elves; Axe, humans]
- Called 'Sol' by the elves and venerated highly by them, he is both the enemy and great love of Lumear, the Moon Goddess. He and is lover are the creators of life in the world. Few Dorinthians worship him today, though the works of his prophets are still held by monks in the rare human monastaries of the region.

Matrial the Motherly, Neutral Good (Good, Healing, Magic, Earth) [Net, Mace]
- She is sometimes called 'Auntie' in her motherly aspect, but 'Oathbinder' in her more commanding one. She is much revered by the women of Dorinth, though she rarely has a church of her own. Mothers make their children (and sometimes husbands) swear upon her name when they want their offspring to behave in a certain manner. To break an oath sworn under Matrial is considered highly insulting in Dorinthian custom. Some halflings and gnomes worship a goddess that is considered another aspect of Matrial.

The Rider, Chaotic Good (War, Good, Travel, Chaos) [Bow]
- The Rider is the most popular deity of Dorinth, and seems native to the Dorinthians though adopted by the elves in a stronger nature loving aspect (drop war for plant with the elves). No one knows what the cloaked Rider looks like under its hood, but the elves call the deity the Huntress, while the Dorinthians call the Rider, the Hunter. The Rider is an old god, and has supposedly appeared in Dorinth's darkest hours. The orc tribes have a natural fear of the priests, rangers, and paladins that worship the Rider, though the reason is lost but is embedded in racial memory. Human loving half-orcs have a strange tendency to worship the Rider, however. The last time the Rider was seen, was during the battle at the Field of Arrows. No one knows why the Rider hasn't been seen since. Some say it is because the Dorinthians have lost their way. Others say its because the darkest hour of this generation of Dorinthians have lost their way.

Agryol, Lawful Neutral (Plant, Law, Luck, Water) [Sickle]
- A nature god, Agryol is strangely also the god of law. Believers call this 'natural law', and although they have a love for nature, they have an equal love of philosophy. Agryol is not a popular god among the Dorinthians, although he is among the halflings who see him as a farming god. The Layhrmons never worshipped Agryol, instead believing in a once-mighty fertility goddess whose name and existence is largely forgotten.

Sanmar, Neutral (Magic, Travel, Trickery, Knowledge) [Dagger]
- Although worshipped mostly by rogues, Sanmar is a popular deity in Dorinthian culture, though his church is usually small. The antics of Sanmar make for popular children's tales, but some say the god's idea of mischief was once much darker. It is said that he was once known as the god of dreams, and some darker versions of his faith still call him the Nightmare Lord and are said to have power over men's dreams.

Eroll, Chaotic Neutral (Chaos, Air, War, Animal) [Flail]
- Eroll is the god of passion and of the beasts, and the Dorinthians believe that he sometimes drives creatures wild, causing them to enter civilized areas and attack men who do not leave the proper offerings. Although few Dorinthians are mad enough to enter the wild and perform the dark rituals that Eroll requires, all leave little sacrifices to ward him away, such as leaving a dish of milk outside for his cats to hanging meat from a tree outside of a town.

Lumear, Lawful Evil (Law, Evil, Moon, Strength) [Sword]
- One of the two greatest gods in the pantheon, Lumear is the lover of Saul, god of the sun and co-creator of life. Lumear considers her children to be such creatures as the orcs and goblinoids, and they worship her in turn. Both Lumear and Saul claim man, however. It is said that a new race is born by the union of her and Saul during an eclipse.

Ulavree, Neutral Evil (Evil, Magic, Death, Protection) [Kukri]
- Ulavree is the goddess of death and magic, and is feared the most by the Dorinthians. It is said that her worshippers will not achieve her blessings until they slay an intelligent being. Unexplained murders are normally attributed to her, and assassins are among her faithful. She is called the Night Mother, and is said to collect man's sins, which are like jewels to her, upon the time of his death. She sometimes counts Eroll as her lover.

Banbosel, Chaotic Evil (Chaos, Evil, Fire, Destruction) [Club, (Morningstar among the gnolls)]
- Banbosel the Fire Dancer is not truly part of the Layhrmon or Dorinthian pantheon as the other gods despise him, but is said that he is an ancient god worshipped before even the nomadic civilizations. He is sometimes called the destroyer, as he hates civilization and seeks to remove all traces of it.

The Craeco-Tallione Pantheon

A few centuries ago, the second emperor of Tallione decided to reform his empire's too diverse church by unifying aspects of the various gods under the guise of the popular Craeco religion, as Tallione had recently taken over the nations of Craece and adopted their culture.

Phonicleus, Lawful Good (Law, Good, Plant, Healing) [Mace]
- This is the patron god of Tallione, although his church has fallen out of favor in recent years. He is the god of civilization and the healing arts. His priests teach the proper use of herbs to ward or heal disease.

Plativus, Neutral Good (Good, Protection, War, Knowledge) [Sword]
- Plativus, also called the Defender, was once a popular god among the soldiers of Tallione, though he has lost worshippers to Stersius in recent times. He is the protector of civilization and the god of moral philosophy. Many warriors that revere him also take pride in their education.

Casles, Chaotic Good (Chaos, Good, Strength, Fire) [Warhammer, (was a Club until recently]
- Casles the Rageful was never a popular deity in Tallione, though he is admired for the ferocity that he displayed in his mortal life. Casles was once a great hero who wandered the world in years past and fought against evil, and was thought to have been partly divine and able to control fire. In his wake came the gods of civilization. Not surprisingly, even some Dorinthians worship Casles, and the dwarves also find him popular.

Heristeus, Lawful Neutral (Law, Knowledge, Sun, Protection) [Spear]
- Also known as the Lawbringer, Heristeus is closely associated with Phonicleus and Plativus, forming the triad of civilized gods. He has survived the empire's religious conversion almost fully intact from his Tallione aspect, though his former name of Heristivus has changed.

Mercandus, Neutral (Luck, Travel, Magic, Air) [Bow]
- Once a nomadic god, Mercandus has changed aspects numerous times in the ancient Craeco histories until he has now become the god of merchants and trade. He has become more popular as the Tallione empire has grown and established order.

Stersius, Chaotic Neutral (Chaos, Water, War, Destruction) [Trident]
- Sailors pay their respects to Stersius, lest the god vent his anger upon their ships. Many times, such offerings matter little, and storms come and threaten both boats and coastal towns anyway. Stersius is also called the Sea Lord, and is unpredictable in his feelings on the question of mankind. It is said that he gave the first mariner the knowledge of navigation.

Oberius, Lawful Evil (Law, Evil, Strength, Trickery) [Dagger]
- Oberius is a god from eastern lands and known there as Lzaar, god of Obedience, but his cult has grown remarkably fast in the Tallione empire. The emperor himself is said to have considered squashing the religion as well as that of Festios and Cryon, but some members of his court have changed his mind. Oberius, or Lzaar, is a also sometimes considered a god of court intrigues, though he cares more for obedience than civilization.

Festios, Neutral Evil (Evil, Plant, Animal, Earth) [Quarterstaff]
- Festios, the Lord of Decay, is an ancient nature god closely aligned with his brother Cryon and his spheres of death and destruction. The worshippers of this god seek to balance the civilized world, which they see as growing too powerful. The answer to this, in their minds, lies in restoring nature to the world and civilization pushed back. Festios is revered by darker druids, and many ancient pillars are said to be places of sacrifice to the Feeble Lord.

Cryon, Chaotic Evil (Chaos, Evil, Death, Destruction) [Scythe]
- No one admits to worshipping Cryon, the Reaver, though the more popular worshippers of Oberius and Festios treat him with respect. Cryon is the god of death, and Festios causes his creations to become old and feeble before dying as a gift to Cryon. In return, Cryon seeks the destruction of civilization so that Festios' version of nature may spread.


Cast of Player Characters:

Danica Swann, Female Human Sorceress
Player: Kobold Stew

Player's Note
At the start of chapter 1, Danica is a 16-year-old girl who has worked for the past 18 months cleaning up for Randal's Ruffians. It's a job, and she does it tolerably well--her smile means they like her, and generally treat her well, even if she is not particularly good at it. The men joke with her, and have taught her some fighting tricks--self defence, how to use weapons, etc. -- because it amuses them, and she seems to have a good eye for such things. But she is not indentured, and has lately been thinking that she should try something new. Like most of the girls in Fair Creek, her body has been going through changes recently. In Danica's case, though, they have been more extreme: she is a spellcaster, it seems, though this is something she has not told anyone. It's not a secret, and she suspects that Hector has figured it out though he hasn't said anything to her. But she doesn't want to make a deal of it. She has discovered that she has ways of fending off the unwanted advances of the occasional drunken Ruffian, and that has made her job a little bit easier.

When she hears about the Baron's call for assistance, she decides to offer her services. Danica brushes her hair, puts on her cleanest dress, and presents herself.

Between chapters 1 and 3, Danica had been working as a courier, carrying messages between the various factions of this temporary alliance. Much of her time had been spent alone, waiting for a message or for a reply that she is to bring. This work has expanded her horizons immensely--even in seeing the camps of other races, she has been introduced to new aspects of life. On her own, though, she has felt her magic developing. It will not be easy to keep it secret much longer, she thinks. She feels the powers of life, but with them comes the powers of unlife. This has her scared, but she is emboldened to see what she is now capable of.

Before chapter 3, Danica was dressed as a young boy, serving as a crossbowman. Her disguise was far from perfect, but she thought it helped avoid attention. She is small and pretty, but this is hidden by the fact that her clothes are plain and not especially clean and she keeps a pet rat. Her hair has been cut, roughly, to shoulder length, but she continues to take care of it. Still, most people would not take a second look at her, which is apparently what she wants.

But occasionally, she changes. It is sometimes clear, only in passing, that her natural posture is excellent, even though she often slouches. When she smiles, at you, well, it sticks with you for days, as you try to understand what it was she meant by that. And occasionally, when she's mumbling to herself about something or other, she momentarily can seem like the only person in the room.

After Chapter 3, Danica finally revealed (confessed) that she has magical abilities, and with this, there is a noticable change in her demeanor. She is standing taller, her shoulders are a bit more relaxed, her chin is steady, and she is no longer hiding herself from the world. She is wearing a dark blue silk bouse that shows off her figure, tucked into traveller's pants, with leather boots rising to her upper calf. Her dark hair, still cropped short, has at least been evened out.

She carries a crossbow at her side, and a backpack over her shoulder.

Her smile is still there, and there is a spark in her eyes, that for some, will suggest ambition.

DM's Note: Kyle Radnal has treated Danica as the daughter he never had, and had known about her secrets though gave her respect by not confronting her about it. She has been quite the addition to the team, usually acting in a support role, while being deadly on occasion with her trusty crossbow. She is also one of the more innocent and pure of the characters.

Vaerixsjach “Rix”, Male Kobold Rogue
Player: Ferrix

Player's Note

Rix is a runt, but a brilliant and talented runt. He stands a meager two feet in height, although if he stretched his double-jointed legs out, he might make two and a half. His limbs are long and spindly, his finger tips reaching almost to his knees. His scales are like polished steel which has been rusted and pitted, a subtle glisten remains. He carries a small backpack, a longspear and a light crossbow. Covering his eyes are a pair of smoky goggles. A yellow bandana runs around his reptilian forehead.

Brilliant, shy and coordinated, Rix is thoroughly sure of his ability to deal with whatever comes his way. Whether if that’s by knowing when to run away, or when to take advantage of the situation, he’s capable of it. The loss of his clan has left Rix without the social hierarchy and structure that he’s used to, something which he yearns for. Preferring to keep out of the midst of any conflict, he prefers to set traps and then ambush his opponents from afar with his crossbow. He has a misplaced dislike for the typically brutish orcs, blaming them for the fall of his clan.

Combat Preferences
Rix prefers to avoid melee combat at almost all costs. If anything he'll resort to using his longspear from behind a meatshield (ally). If he gets closed on, he'll Withdraw (35 ft. speed) or Tumble away. He will try to work anything to a tactical advantage (cover, concealment, high ground, rough ground, etc.). If he can he'll attempt to maximize sneak attack potential (hit-and-run hide tactics with his crossbow preferrably, although flanking with his longspear works too). He always focuses his attacks on important figures letting his companions deal with lackeys (spellcasters are often his primary target). He uses his small size to his advantage, he is only 2 ft. tall basically so will hide under tables, chairs or get up on the top of dressers, beams, etc. He likes putting something between him and his enemy that keeps his enemy from getting to him, whether that's companions, rough ground, a wall, climbing whatever.

DM's Note
Rix made no effort to hide his evil intentions, though the kobold was influenced by the better-minded Dorinthians. The local church leaders took a special interest in trying to steer him to an honorable path, and he made strange friendships with the good-hearted Kel, Alexander, and (especially) Danica. Somewhat loyal to his friends, but greedy and conniving, Rix is a strong-willed character.

Alexander, Male Half-orc Ranger
Player: Land Outcast

Player's Note

Basic Story: Born at a small hamlet in middle of the forest where his mother moved to give birth to a half orc, in search of a medium where said kid could fare better. When she left he was still young, and was left under the care of the local priest of the Huntress, a man who went by the name of Ravil. Alexander trained as hunter for the hamlet, and everyso often did scouting assignments requested from Fair Creek. One day, after a week's scouting he returned only to find the hamlet in ruins, the shrine desecrated, everything he had known burned and brought to floor level.... and the corpses gnawed upon...
Aberrations under the command of the enemy stormed the hamlet, undead, those who corrupt the undending cycle, as the Huntress taught it. He picked up two things, a broken blade, which he affixed to his left wrist with a leather cord and some leather to protect his flesh, and a holy symbol of Artemis, which was still held by the amputated hand of whomever.
*He has a brownish mark on his throat, reminiscent of a near encounter with death at the jaws of a wolf.

DM's Note

Alexander was the defacto leader of the group, until he was captured and Dartis took a larger role in the party. The half-orc fell in love with the baron's daughter, Syra, and also has a twin sister named Alexandra that is a paladin. Unfortunately, the player of Alexandra did not continue the campaign after our first chapter was interrupted and wiped out by the ENWorld crash earlier in 2006.

Silas Eyrstan the Caernite, Male Human Abjurer
Player: GlassEye

Player's Note
Silas Eyrstan, known as the Caernite, was born amidst blood and tears in the town of Fair Creek to a mother who did not long survive his birth. Weeks later his father, a skilled stonemason, returned to Fair Creek from the Dorinthian capital where he had been employed in making repairs to the High Temple to find his wife buried. When the midwife placed the robust baby boy in his arms he found he could hold no resentment in his heart but only love for his child.

The next years were tough. A succession of cruel or indifferent housekeepers left Silas disinclined to leave his father’s side and the elder Eyrstan disinclined to forbid his son anything if it were within his power to provide. Luckily, Silas’ only desire was to be at his father’s side. Throughout his childhood Silas learned a fair amount of the stonemason’s trade by doggedly following his father as he travelled the lands repairing the great structures of Dorinth or building new architectural wonders.

It was the intent of both father and son for Silas to apprentice in the stonemason’s craft. That is, until the elder Eyrstan was hired to work among the crew expanding the keep of Baron Karadore. The stonemasons were instructed to salvage stone from a nearby ruin. Silas found the ruin a site of endless fascination and spent countless hours roaming through it. Fascination became near obsession when young Silas discovered runes carved into the walls deep within the ruin. Though the runes were totally foreign to him he spent hours studying them, tracing their shapes in the dirt, and finally begging, borrowing, or just plain stealing what paper he could to make rubbings of the runes before the stonemasons could come to take the stone.

Totally absorbed in the making of one of his rubbings, Silas was discovered (and, quite frankly, nearly startled out of his wits) by a short fellow, stocky as stone. The fellow’s irritation and gruffness melted away when he discovered Silas’ passion for the runes and it was only a short time after that Silas was able to convince his father to apprentice him to the odd scholar.

Silas’ apprenticeship was one of excited discovery. Language, history, architecture; the scholar encouraged Silas’ passions for it all, provided method for the young man’s researches, and awakened and trained his latent talent for manipulating the forces of magic.

Years passed, his apprenticeship ended, and Silas became known (in a very small circle, however) as a promising young Caernite scholar. He married, had a child of his own. And then disaster: the Nestrav Empire invaded Dorinth. Unable to let other men bear the brunt of defending his family and country, Silas charged his aging father with taking his wife and son to safety in Fair Creek and set off to war where his education allowed him to take the position of adjunct to a low-ranked officer.

After Dorinth’s Last Stand Silas wearily made his way to Fair Creek only to find the town deserted. In exhaustion and despair for his family, Silas collapsed. Found by one of Radnal’s Ruffians, Silas was led to the refugee camp in the Silver Forest where he was reunited with his family. With the looming threat of the Nestravians and their dark allies, Silas will do what it takes to find a safe haven for his family…

DM's Note

The running gag with Silas is that he enjoys fighting on the front lines, and often engages the enemy with his quarterstaff in hand and armored with protection spells. He's actually been quite an effective fighter, too, and has become the unofficial advisor to Dartis, who is looking to becoming the new king of the Dorinthians.

His name is not to be confused with Silas Generwine, the elven diplomat and adventurer.

Kel, the Male Elven Cleric
Player: D20Dazza

Player's Note

Appearance: Wild, foreign, feral, draped in furs and shells, fangs, feathers and claws.
Personality: Tactirum, cautious, observant, calculating

DM's Note

To fill in some information on Kel, he started out in agreement with Silas Generwine, in that the humans needed to be watched. He quickly began changing his mind after forming a strong bond with Alexander, Danica, and Rix. Currently he has retired from adventuring in order to become a leader in the more pro-Dorinthian factions of the Elven Council despite his young age.

Baron Dartis Kalnian, Male Human Fighter
Player: Fenris

Player's Note

Appearance: Dartis is a young man whose bearing has all the hallmarks
of his aristocratic upbringing. His blond hair is short in the manner of the archers.
He keeps a sword by his side as he tends to be too close to the enemy when he runs out of arrows.

Background: Dartis was the youngest son of the Baron of Kalnian,
a small Barony located in the south. Like his brothers Dartis was raised
to join the cavalry. He was taught to ride and shoot at a young age. When
he reached majority, Dartis joined the army just as all the Kalnian's had
before him. But unlike his ancestors, times were troubled and the Tallone
were always a threat. Dartis was stationed on the southern border and
watched for Tallione incursions becoming involved in minor skimishes along
the border. The real trouble began when the order came to move north to
quell the riots. Dartis was glad when his commander told them they weren't
moving as he didn't believe that they should leave the border updefended to
support the corrupt rule of Rasnen. Once the Tallione invaded soon after
things changed, Dartis was first and foremost a Dorinthian and he would
defend his country from the Tallione. His unit was pushed back, and further back.
The losses were very hard and his unit was disbanded and he was reassaigned
to a unit from the small town of Fair Creek. This was a small bit of good fortune
for him on a foul day as he found out that after a long seige his father's keep
had finally fallen in the south and his family slain.

Dartis was there at the Lost Battle of Kalden and followed his commander back
to the town to report the massacre. Dartis rode his horse so hard getting back
the the poor beast that hea had had since he was a boy, died from the run, But
the warning was sent. Dartis followed the town watching over the
migration and awating orders from the only current leige he had, Baron Dorin,
on how to proceed. Meanwhile he lost most everything he had in the flight from
Kalden, but his weapons he had with him.

DM's Note

Dartis has become the leader of the party, and because of his royal heritage he also seeks to become king of a New Dorinthia. Recently, he has proposed to Syra and made friends with Cal in order to cement his position. Still, he is finding that politics can be as dangerous as adventuring, even among those that are his comrades.

Chalik Bermax, Male Dwarven Fighter/Rogue
Player: Ilium

DM's Note

Chalik was only with the party for a short time as they ventured into some caverns past a seal in the dwarven kingdoms. He was the party replacement for Rix until Barok became a member.

Tessan Ventus, Male Human Fighter
Player: Hafrogman

Player's Note:

I am a soldier, as was my father before me, and his father before him. Legionaire's all, we did battle as men, on foot, face to face with our enemies. Our lives for the Empire.

I was born while my father was away, fighting for the glory of Tallione. He was there during the during the final push of the last Dorinthian War. He was one of the few who made it back at all, even if he was no longer the man he used to be. Often in my youth he would sit by the fire at night, looking at the space where his leg should have been and he would tell me tales of his service. The battles and the glory, and the terrible losses that the Dorinthians wreaked upon his comrades. It was always my destiny to follow in his path.

When I came of age, I entered the service of my Empire. The night before I left my home to begin my new duties, my father took me aside and handed me his sword. A legionaire's sword, decorated with the Tallione eagle. It was the sword of my grandfather, blessed by the gods, an heirloom of the Ventus line. Not a noble's weapon, not gilt or jewels adorn it. It is the sword of a soldier. Sharp. Made to be used. I wore it with pride as I joined the legion. Two years later I marched for Dorinth with the sword at my side.

The war seemed to be in our favor at first. We marched on Dorinam as conquerers, and quickly defeated their weak king. But the people themselves proved more of a challenge. As the war continued, our losses increased. True to my father's tales, the Dorinthians were fierce in battle. I reveled in the conflict, eager to prove myself on the field of battle. But as the fighting grew more fierce, I began to notice changes in the character of the legion. Discipline broke down, and often the troops were allowed. . . or encouraged to commit horrible deeds in the name of the Empire. This was not two armies meeting on the field of battle with honor, this was not the way of my father.

I stood victorious at the Battle of Kalden. The fighting had been fierce, and our victory won at a terrible cost. But we had held the day. After the battle though, the mood turned dark. My fellow soldiers, and the officers meant to be their guidance, all turned upon the civilians and refugees. The innocent and the helpless were slaughtered. . . in the name of the Empire. Sickened, I turned away from the massacre and tried to flee. My commander noticed my motion, and moved to confront me. We argued over the bloodshed, and I decried the legions' atrocities. He drew his blade on me and I was forced to defend myself. I left his body on the field of battle as I stumbled away in a daze. I gazed down at the blade of my sword, red with blood, Tallione blood. I had betrayed the memories of my father and grandfather. . . or perhaps the Empire had betrayed their memories . . . or perhaps both.

I found myself alone, outside of the town, covered in the blood of my own comander. I threw aside the trappings of my service. The shield and the cape and the spear of a legionaire were all cast aside, but the blade stayed with me. I could not bring myself to abandon it. I replaced my shield with that of a fallen Dorinthian soldier and fled into the night. I had no direction, and no concept of what awaited me, but I could no longer return.

DM's Note:
As a former Imperial soldier, Ventus had a hard road becoming accepted among the Dorinthians, but he has bled alongside their warriors in protection of their new home and gained their respect. He normally engages the enemy in melee, alongside Barok and Silas.


Barok Hume, Male Human Rogue
Player: Nephtys

Player's Note

Self-reliant, independent-minded, doesn't like to dwell on the past (or much of anything really). He's been trough hell, and he's repressing it for all he's worth.

The pay was good, so he joined the army. The pay got less good, so he found other ways to make money. The war came and changed everything.
Thrust into a role he never would have wanted he found himself forced to flee the foes who murdered his family, leading a column of refugees into the mountains.

DM's Note
Barok is the bad boy of the party. He's taken over as the party's rogue after Rix and Chalik departed the group, but has also taken over much of Rix's outlook. Barok is hoping that Dartis declares himself king, since he wants to have a position in a new order if it is formed along with the wealth and power that it would bring.

Nikolos Viridikos, Witness of Adeiros the Seeker, Male Human Cleric
Player: Blarkon Dragonslayer

Player's Note

Description: Nikolos is a slightly pudgy man, standing 5'10", weighing about 190lbs. He has dark hair, which he keeps cut close to his scalp, and lively dark eyes, which seem to always be examining everything about him. He's usually cheerful, and busy. Most often, especially in the field, he is wearing heavy exploring clothing, and his armor. Otherwise he wears the burgundy vestments of his calling as a Witness.

Background: Nikolos is the third son of a prominent Craecean family. An ancestor of his had the great good sense to quickly leap to serve Craece's Tallione conquerors. This act of foresight (at the time, the Talliones hadn't 'quite' actually conquered Craece) has assured the Viridikos family of high position in the long conquered but ancient and honorable land. As the third son, Nikolos was not in position to inherit the family lands and offices, nor was he expected to rush off and join the Tallione legions. Instead, his father purchased for him a position in the Church of the Seeker. It was expected that he would seek, and eventually gain, a high position amongst the Archivist Order, thus adding more illustriousness to the house of Virikidos.

Instead, Nikolos joined the Delver's Order, and set out to see the wide world. He hasn't been back to Craece since, and has little intention of returning anytime soon. As a Witness, he travelled with the two legions making the amphibious landing during the conquest of Dorinthia, so that he could witness and record the glorious march of Tallione arms. What he saw wasn't exactly what he expected. Now that the war is largely won, he's traveled on north, intent upon viewing the lands and peoples still resisting the vast might of the empire.

DM's Note:
Nikolos has been following the party, somewhat because of professional curiosity, but also because he has found himself growing attached in a very personal way.

Caramip Ashhearth, Female Gnome Bard
Player: Bloodweaver 1

Player's Note

It has been Caramip clan’s long duty, honor, and privilege to weave the tall tales of all great heroes, villains and commoners that have been thrust into all of the large wars that have scarred this vast realm. This war is no different. With two of her fellow clan members scattered throughout the battle field each taking a different side, Caramip instead hitches a ride with a local noble. Hoping to witness at first hand the greatest tale of the whole war.

DM's Note

Caramip is a follower and assistant of Nikolos, but has much more of a lighter side. Out of the two, Caramip is more compassionate over the plight of the Dorinthians and has been influential when it comes to convincing Nikolos to forego professional distance in order to render aid to those in need.

Connavar Banouin, Male Human Barbarian
Player: Leinart

Player's Note

Appearance: Conn is a tall and powerfully built individual. Standing at almost 7 ft tall with huge corded muscles he is an imposing figure to say the least. His blonde hair is shoulder length and is kept out of his face by a black leather cord. He has sharp blue eyes. And has an almost permanent stubble.

Personality: Loud, brash and bold and reckless. He lacks subelty prefering the direct approach. He is also incredibly stubborn

Background: Conn was born to a small village out west nestled in the shadows of the dukel mountains. His home was one of choas and violence as the area had never been restored after the last war. He never knew his mother and his father abandoned him at the age of 13 to go to war thus leaving conn to fend for himself. He spent the couple of years fighting for survival and joined up with the rebels when he was 16. His fighting based on his stubborn will to live and savage rage at the life he was forced to endure. He earned the reputation as a fierce warrior and pulled his squad through several tough situtions with his never say die attitude. He was present at the battle of kalden and was one of the few survivors that withdrew to fair creek. Since he has been around he has pulled his weight and then some to ensure that they save as many people as possible. He has also recently tried to gain the attentions of Syra Dorin, much to the chagrin of her older brother.

DM's Note

Conn ran into the party when they were deep in enemy territory, his character going on a solo and bloody vendetta of his own and running into them by chance.
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Deuce Traveler

The town of Fair Creek is no more, and the Dorinthian refugees from that town have fled into the southern edge of the elven Silver Forest. There they have been offered a new hope. An old half-elf town called Meristra was partially destroyed and abandoned after an orc invasion a generation ago. The town can be theirs, if it can be successfully explored and made safe. At the same time Baron Dren Dorin's son, Cal Dorin, is taking a group of riders east to the dwarven lands to seek a possible home there, and to see if more survivors of Dorinthia can be found and recovered.

A number of talented Dorinthian step forward willing to investigate the ruins of this lost town and report back whether or not it is safe to occupy the territory. These are Alexander the half-orc, Rix the kobold, and Kel, a visiting elven ambassador.

The town looked empty except for some vermin and scattered skeltons from long ago. They made their way inside a building that was likely used as a administrative building for the town's guard. The structure was the scene of past fighting, with the skeletal remains of half-elves and orcs still littering the floor. Several of the group were investigating the downstairs area, when one of the party members opened the door to a staircase leading to the basement.

This door had a primitive warning device tied to the doorknob, a rope with bells attached to it. When the door was opened the bells rung, their sounds echoing down a dug corridor leading from a wall in the basement. From the looks of the corridor, it was newer than the building, perhaps completed within the last year or two.

Following down the stairs Kel watches the group huddled by the door cautiously "Well they know we're here now, who is going down? Or should we wait here for them to investiagte?" the elf hisses in a whisper.

The great half orc shrugged at the moment of silence and asked, "We came to take them out, I say we go in. Ready to go on? I am."

Alexander started descending, scimitar on hand and dagger at the ready, wary for any noise or movement.

The ceiling was low, causing the half-orc to have to stoop down as he entered the tunnel. There was only room for one medium-sized creature to walk in at a time, although two small creatures could probably walk side by side.

Alexander had taken the lead and reached the bottom of the staircase, the rest of the group following and seeing that they could stand comfortably there. They noticed a tunnel in a nearby wall that looked like a natural collapse from a distance. As they walked closer they realized that it was actually an artificial creation. Someone had dug a tunnel directly into this basement. The tunnel snaked off to the right after 10 feet and is small in size, which causes everyone except Rix to have to stoop uncomfortably as they entered.

The kobold, Rix, searched the tunnel before the chamber opening, when a small bolt flew into the tunnel and left a gash across the thief's right arm. They saw a small shape scurry behind a couple of barrels that lie in the chamber, and a small voice yell something unintelligible.

Something unintelligible that is, except for the kobold who hears his own native language of draconic. He yells out in draconic, "I have meant no intrusion kin, these others poke and prod in the manner of brutes." He grimaces at his wound, "I saw evidence of my kin here, may I have counsel with the All-Watcher?"

A creature answers in a similar language, and after a moment a kobold comes into view, disables what looks to have been a hidden trip wire at the end of the tunnel, and lets the party into the antechamber. Two other kobolds stand in the room, each holding a small crossbow at the ready.

A voice answered in draconic, "Come forward and explain who you are and what you are doing here while the All-Watcher decides whether to see you," the kobold says demandingly, while holding a long dagger at his side.

Rix grins the tooth-filled grin of a dragonkin, he speaks again in his own language to the kobold. "I am Vaerixsjach, dragonwrought of a tribe now extinct. I have been pressed into service with these pointy-eared and tusk-toothed brutes to explore this decrepit town, to see if it is habitable once again. I saw evidence that my kin were here, but these brutes blunder heavily without any finesse like they own everything." His ochre eyes narrow awaiting a response.

Meanwhile, Kel hung back in the corridor, carefully watching the scene play out in front of him. He had half an ear cocked for sounds coming from behind the group. Alexander, realizing that his intervention wouldn't be welcome, waits for Rix to make introductions... though he didn't loosen his grip on the scimitar. Let the wolf deal with the pack of wolves.

As Rix and the other kobold converse in their language several more kobolds beginning to appeared from a corridor opposite the party. They stood ready with small crossbows and daggers until another kobold, larger than the rest appeared. He seemed to be their leader. The kobold looked older and more intelligent. A shortspear was carried in one hand, while he fingered a claw necklace with the other.

After a moment he spoke: "Talk common we shall, since that is tongue of your taller comrades. What purpose you come to our home?"

Shrugging Rix continued in the common tongue, "My name is Vaerixsjach." He jerked a scaled thumb back at the others, "They are here to see if this town, once abandoned is habitable. The orc there decided it was his business to blunder into your domain," he pointed out Alexander.

The kobold leader chuckled nastily. "It is habitable! We are proof of that, but we don't want your big men coming here. This is our home! We lived in hills nearby, but goblins force us out." He pondered a moment, and scratched his chin.

"Perhaps you help with goblins. Your big men go with you and kick them out and we move back in. We give you maps of place and escort you to entrance, too. Then maybe more of your big men come and trade with us. Orc and human weapons good."

Alexander made an effort to block the situation, he isn't asking "goblins, where?!" just because he knew that if he did so, that'd be the first step towards loosing control and impaling the kobold with his punching dagger...

He managed to muster a "trade? trade and not raid big men?"

...Remember the words of the Huntress, when the pack of wolves sorrounds you, if you have meat they want, give it to them and you can get to feed them regularly, while your enemies won't always have spare meat...

"Then we have a deal, anything against it Rix?"

...Even though, keep an eye open; and the knife at the ready, as always.

Deuce Traveler

The terms were agreed upon, and the party headed back to camp to get some rest before heading into the goblin lair the next morning.

They were led just outside the village, to the crest of a steep, dark hill. The party's kobold allies explained that the entrance to the tunnels are at the peak of the hill, with a portcullis that is normally guarded by a couple of goblins.

They drew a rough sketch in loose ground of the complex, which featured 10 main rooms. The first room was just beyond the doors and used to admit guests. It had three connecting tunnels, one to the north, one east, and one that goes west.

The western room were the living quarters of the goblins and consisted of one very large communal area, although the goblins slept in shifts. The eastern tunnel had two rooms in sequence, and was often used to store prisoners or pens to keep animals.

The northern tunnel led to a room that split again, with three rooms to the east that normally held the food and water storage of the goblin tribe, plus the occasional plunder. These rooms were not in sequence. The first room had two tunnels to each of the other rooms, one which lay north, the other which lay east.

The two northern-most rooms housed the goblin leader and his defenders. If they could kill him, the other goblins would lose heart.

The rooms looked like this, with '4' being the entrance:

_____________________________9__ 6

Alexander got besides the group just in time to hear the kobold's explanation of the complex and knelt down to examine the situation.

"We must sneak upon them, the first step is to eliminate the guards..." Or, knowing this was inhabited by smart scaly buggers... "Or go through a backdoor directly into the Scum's Chief room; is there a backdoor somewhere?" Alexander asked to the kobold drawing the map.

After that we can just wreak havock within the complex...[/COLOR]

Rix grinned, there could be a profitable future here. "A rear entrance would be most effective for a stealthy infiltration, what other sorts of defences were there before. Goblins are poor trapmakers, but they may be able to jury-rig some of the master traps into working again."

The dragonkin scratched a nail across the back of his hand.

Kel pondered whether he should still be involved in this venture, he has after all done what was asked of him, he has escorted the rabble to the ruins and has found them a home. The thought of ridding the world of some goblins though does hold a certain amount of appeal.

"Hmm, a back door would make things simpler" he concurred.

The kobold guide, Linds, considered the party for a moment before answering. "Maybe there is a secret exit that leads from the leader's living chamber (room 10) to somewhere behind hill. Is rumor I heard from All-Watcher's woman, once, but only All-Watcher would know and maybe goblin leader knows, maybe not. Another tunnel goes from animal pens (room 2) to leader's throne room for possible escape. Is on east wall. A real kobold finds no problem. And you no need to sneak. You have big ones with. They chop slice!" The kobold, Linds, made some quick jabbing and cutting motions with his knife. "Oh, and traps too difficult for dumb goblins. Except for pit trap in front of throne room (room 9), by south door. That drops with switch at throne."

"Yeha, we "chop slice"..." Alexander smiled to himself, even though vicious, these kobolds can lighten the mood when they are not trying to bite a piece off you

"To me it seems settled, we take out the guards at the entrance silently, then sneak inside to the eastern room. That way we get to the Scum Chief's room in no time, then it becomes her turn" -as he touched his sheathed scimitar with his punching dagger; a broken blade tied to his forearm with leather underneath.

"Are we ready to go?"

Rix nodded, for once he and the half-orc are in agreement about something. "Let us go then." He thanks the kobold helping them with the map in draconic, also sending his regards to the All-Watcher for their cooperation.

Kel stood back and watched the exchange, feeling even more an outcast than previously "Seems the orc and kobold are starting to form a friendship" he thought to himself as he waited.

"I am ready, let's cleanse the kobold home of goblins so we can move the refuges in here" the elf druid said tersely.

The party moved onward, with Rix in the lead. They approached the crest of the green hill and saw what looked like a cave opening topped by a ceiling of red stone. From their vantage point at the end of some bushes, they could make out the shapes of two hunched goblins who were tossing around a game of dice. One was armed with a spear, while the other had a short sword attached to his hip. The goblin with the spear was sitting on a rock, his back towards a line of brush.

Rix unslung his light crossbow, holding it at the ready, and examined their surroundings.
Speaking in a hushed tone, "if we pincer them in a crossfire from either side, they'll have little chance to respond adequately."

Under likewise hushed tones, Alexander added "I'll circle the hill and get on top of them ready to drop" he looked at Rix "you get in the bushes, behind that goblin" and shifted to look at Kel "we attack when the first arrow falls upon the goblin to the right side of the hill"... "We must be brutal and swift"

The half-orc nodded emphatically to encourage the others onward. I'm used to do things my way... do they disagree? Let them complain.

"Should anything go awry and the yellow midgets give the alarm... we move to the top of the hill."

There we can, as well as run away, hold our ground, depending on my mood... and how much these two can stand.

"I'll take the hill, I can cover the area more easily from up there. You'll just make a racket climbing it anyways. Better to have you on the ground where you can do some good." Rix smirked at the half-orc, better to put him in the way of danger than myself.

Kel nodded his agreement to the half-orc and then carefully watched his reaction as the kobold changed the plan.

Happy to have the decision made by the chosen of the refugees, the wild elf sinks down into the foliage and starts to quietly edge his way into position, pulling a short spear from the long quiver that hangs from his back as he moved.

Alexander had his own thoughts. Scaled little cowardly scoundrel... Let him go uphill... Break a leg Rix.

"Sounds like a sensible suggestion, from up there you'll be at a a good vantage point for whomever comes from inside. Anything to add Elf?"

Kel stops and looked over his shoulder at the orcs hissed question "Yes. Let us kill these goblins, rid the area of one more evil, and then we can move the kobolds out of the ruins and you and your people can leave me and mine alone. Unless you're concerned about killing your cousins?" the elf replies nonchalantly to the ranger.

"Choose your terms carefully. "Cousins" implies family or pack. "My people" are those who defend this land." By the Huntress!, why did he offer himself for the job?

Having spoken thus, Alexander unsheathed his scimitar and started moving cautiously towards the bushes at the right of the cave's entrance.

The killing was brutally quick.

Rix managed to quietly work himself around the hill and atop of the cave entrance as Alexander circled through the bushes, crawling then through the brush until he was nearly touching the right-most humanoid. At a signal from Rix, all pounced at the goblin guards.

Alexander leapt from the ground like a flying spear, driving his scimitar through the back of his opponent, instantly killing him. The second goblin fumbled for his weapon while screaming in horror, only to be interrupted by a crossbow bolt from Rix that struck his throat and silenced him forever. The battle lasts only a few seconds, too quick for Kel to engage.

Kel scouted around as Alexander examines the cave and finds it sealed by a metal gate. The kobold put the gurgling goblin out of his misery and then searched the bodies and found a few loose coins, a rusted spear and short sword, and the key that opened the metal gate.

With a gentle click and a loud squeak the gate comes open, allowing access to the halls below.

Deuce Traveler

Chapter 1- Homeless

"Quality work Rix," Alexander commented while cleaning his scimitar on the fallen goblin's clothing.

Rix nodded wordlessly, I knew it would work, no question there. "Sorry you two missed out on the fun, better be quicker next time." A draconic chuckle rolled from his throat, a humorous malevolence present in the sound.

He checked to see if he could recover the bolt he had just used, but found that the head splintered after passing through his enemy's jugular, rendering it worthless.

Better lodged in a dead goblin than in my quiver, Rix thought as he tossed the broken bolt away.

Taking the lead, the kobold detected no traps or goblins as the party entered the first main room, far from the cave entrance. The room was 50' wide, by 70 feet long. The room was an artificial creation, with several stone columns carved out of natural stone and depicting scenes of what looked to be kobolds worshipping a dragon. A tunnel led into the unknown into each of the north, east, and west directions. The tunnel the party just came from pointed towards the south. There were no signs of goblins in the room.

Pausing a moment to admire the excellent craftsmanship of the room and its scenes, the kobold gestured towards the east and moved off again cautiously towards the prisoner and animal pens.

Alexander halfway smiled at the kobold's comment, then nodded and proceeded silently in direction to the pens. He felt there was no need to warn the elf to keep silent.

Kel ignored the kobold's snide remarks, feeling even lonelier as he followed the kobold and the orc into the darkness.

The elf moved as silently as he could, using the light seeping in from above to aid his eyesight. A short spear was gripped loosely in his hand, his arm cocked and ready to throw it should become necessary.

The party began to walk down the eastern tunnel, warily stopping just outside the entrance to the next room, where they could hear the sounds of a goblin speaking commands loudly in his rough language. Rix peered inside and reported seeing the back of a goblin in leather, holding a whip and snapping at a creature the kobold could not make out.

Meanwhile, Kel discerned the sound of two, very hungry wolves in addition to the goblin animal handler. It would be a tough battle.

Alexander whispered to Rix, "Can you put a bolt in the base of his skull?"

In reply, Rix cocked his crossbow and loaded another bolt into it, nodding to the half-orc. "Stand ready. I only saw one but if there are more I'm coming back and I want you two ready."

He crept forward again, to get a clear line of sight on the goblin, sighting for a gap in the armor behind the heart. With confidence, he loosed the bolt, the crossbow bolt lodging in the back of the goblin's skull, instantly killing him. Alexander moved to cover the rogue, but was jumped by two wolves. The first of the canines bit down on Alexander's arm, causing him to yell in pain. The second wolf barely missed the half-orc.

In anger, Alexander sliced the wolf that had bitten him, killing it with a blade into its ribs. Kel then moved forward, while Rix fired another bolt into his target, and dispatched the second wolf before it could reattack.

The battle was over. Kel cleaned his weapon and then checked on Alexander's arm while Rix examined the room. It was 30' wide by 40' in length and lit from the torch still clutched in the dead goblin's hand, showing a cobblestoned floor. Eight pens lined the walls, all closed and empty except one that was open and housed the wolves. A passageway continued to the east to what appears to be more pens.

A quick search of the trainer revealed a whip, loose coins of little value, and a tarnished dagger. A ring of keys was also found in his belt.

Alexander carefully touched the wounded area, repeatedly, until he seemed not to realize the wound was there. "Thanks elf," he added in a low voice.

Snapping back to reality, he carefully took the whip with his left hand and commented "Tsk... These vermin, they have need of this," -The half-orc split the whip in two with his scimitar- "to make wolves do their bidding... but better them be wolves than worgs, I suppose."

"Let's see, before going on let's examine these cells... the tunnel's entrance might be there." He proceeded to unlock the nearest cell with the keys on the keyring.

Initially, the party did not find signs of a secret entrance in the room, despite looking in each of the six cells. The adventurers moved on and checked the cells in the adjoining room, successfully finding a secret door against the eastern wall that was activated by turning a stone in the wall. The only other thing of note in this second room of pens were the decaying corpses of two kobolds that had been locked up in one cell. They looked to have suffered from wounds inflicted by torture before they expired.

Rix pocketed the dagger and examined the ring of keys after Alexander was finished with them, saying, "We'll need this."

Before departing the second room, Rix moved over to the dead kobolds, speaking a short litany in draconic so that they might be reincarnated into the next hatching of kobolds.

At the sight of the corpses, Alexander looked silently at Rix... and his thoughts drifted away...

I wonder if they have felt my absence at the shrine during this month... Heh, this deer will be motive of a good celebration, noone fell one this size before... Strange, I should be hearing the noises of people by this time, I'm near enough...
Ash, cold ash and carbonized buildings, footsteps, scores of footsteps, splinters of bone...
What!?... The shrine! Destroyed! What's that thing shining down there?...
The holy symbol of the Huntress, still grasped tightly by the decaying hand of the acolyte who took care of the shrine, and besides it, a piece of a broken blade...

Suddenly he returned to his senses, and said nothing, but shook his head in grief.

Scoundrels or not, these two were his people...

"...Eh? Sure, yes" [/QUOTE]

Meanwhile, Kel paced nervously back and forth in the room while the orc and kobold paid their respects to fallen evil.

Examining the hidden passageway carefully as they proceeded, he remarked to his over-sized companions, "Watch your head."

The group continued down the tunnel, eventually reaching the end without a problem, although Alexander had trouble fitting his body through. At the end, Rix turned a stone against the wall, which caused a secret door to slide open and revealed a large goblin playing catch with two large, feral-looking wolves.

The goblin stood at the center of the room while tossing a femur to one of the wolves. The remnants of a ragged bed with a form lying on it stood at the far corner of the room. A chest rested at the foot of the dirty mattress. The walls were decorated in primitive goblin war banners.

As the party took this all in, the second wolf began to sniff the air and growl.

"Surprise has already been lost," muttered Alexander.

And with this, Alexander charged at the goblin, hoping to take by surprise the wolves so that they couldn't react, his scimitar rose, ready to make an ascendant arc and bite into goblin flesh.

Rix stayed back in the shadows of the hidden tunnel and drew out his crossbow, takes aim and firing at one of the wolves, figuring it as more dangerous than the goblin.

As Alexander yelled and rushed into the room, Rix shot from his crossbow caught one of the wolves flat-footed, and making it give a satisfying yelp. The large goblin and other wolf jumped in surprise from this, turning to face the half-orc, Alexander.

The goblin leader blocked the initial blows of the ranger, although a second attack got past his guard and sliced his side, causing a trickle of blood to flow. Kel fired his sling at the wolf Rix hit, striking the wolf with a critical blow between the eyes, although the creature still stood on wobbly legs.

Both wolves recovered from the shock of being attacked, while the goblin leader was able to draw his short sword.

Rix loaded another bolt into his crossbow, took aim and loosed steel at the wobbly-legged wolf, hitting the wolf once more and dropping it.

"They are forced to do these foul deeds," the elf said as he concentrated his fire on the goblin. "The next time we encounter animals let me first try and deal with them."

"Sure, let's just get done with this," answered Alexander. Without stoppping his movement, he changed the direction of the scimitar to produce a oblique arc to the goblin's shoulder, while at the same time throwing in a stab with his dagger.He got passed the goblin's guard and sliced him badly, but not enough to stop the goblin leader for yelling for help with a shout that echoed against the walls. He was silenced forever, though, by a sling bullet from Kel that pierced his eye, blinding him with a mortal wound and causing his return strike at Alexander to miss.

Alexander struck the goblin as he fell, but was brought down in turn by the remaining wolf, which tore at his jugular and brought the half-orc down.

At that same moment, a feminine form rose from the bed and cast a spell, a magic missile striking Kel.

"Take care of the wolf." Rix loaded another bolt into his crossbow and fired at the female figure. His shot slightly wounds the goblin sorceress in the corner, disrupting her spell.

"Forgive me, but you threw your lot in with the goblins," Kel said as his stone flew through the air towards the wolf.

The wolf moved to leap at Rix, only to be felled mid-strike by a well-shot sling bullet from Kel.

Recognizing the difficulties faced by the group if the half-orc remained down Kel spit, "Hold on dumb orc, I'll heal you in a moment."

Alexander bled some more, but Rix was able to fire his crossbow again, killing the shamaness before she could cast another spell.

Freed up from combat, Kel moved up to heal Alexander, barely saving the half-orc, although a scar across his throat would remain in later days, while at the moment he was shaken and not in a strong position to engage in a long fight.

From the hallway to the south the party could hear the shouts of several goblins preparing to rescue their leader, probably not realizing that he was now dead.

"There are more on their way" Kel said as he scanned the room for something he could use to block the corridor and give the party some cover. Kel grabbed the only thing he saw that might block the door for a short while, the torn mattress and bed frame and held it up against the door. "I have no more healing, you'll have to fend for yourself," he whispered to the orc as Alexander slowly rose from the floor. Turning to the kobold he said, perhaps mockingly, "What're your acting skills like Rix?" the name rolling strangely off his tongue. "Feel like dressing as the sorceress?"

"Damn it elf, thanks for not letting me die," said Alexander, coughing, as he gathered himself up. "I'm in debt... but what to do now?"

Rix quickly examined the body of the goblin leader for anything of value, stripping it with thoroughness.

"Time to demoralize them." Once done stripping the body, he gestured Alexander over. "Toss it out the door, that should give them a few things to think about."

Alexander first retrieved his scimitar from the floor... and spit at the goblin corpse, cursing when he saw that his saliva was made mostly of his own blood. Damn it, I'm really bad off...

Rix found a small bag filled with coins hooked to the goblin leader's belt. Unfortunately he had no time to count them, although he did note that the belt buckle looked valuable and slipped that into the bag before allowing Alexander to pick up the body.

Suddenly, a goblin spear went through the mattress that Kel was holding, barely missing the elf. Alexander had Kel move the mattress back slightly from the door as he tossed the goblin leader's bloody body into the surprised mass of angry goblins, then moved to help Kel block the doorway.

The goblins could be heard arguing on the other side of the makeshift barricade for a few minutes before their footsteps were heard walking away from the party's location.

Hearing the goblins on the other side of the door depart, Alexander stated"They'll come through the tunnel."

He weakly supported himself on the wall, grimacing as he moved his neck and touched the place where the wolf's jaws sunk still marked on the skin. "We can try to make a rush through the tunnel... or we can try the door. They'll certainly not expect us to come through there."

"I doubt they even knew the tunnel was here. Killing their leader probably gave them a reason to reconsider attacking us." Rix smirked at the half-orc.

Alexander answered with short laughter (which was interrupted by pain, again) to Rix's comment, and then said: "What now then? Any idea? Elf? Rix?"

"Well, it would do us little good to leave empty handed. I propose we search this and the guard chamber first, then move on to the storage area and then finally go to check the common area." Rix smiled menacingly.

"I'm not sure that we should press them right now. Let's retreat, get ourselves patched up and then come back and deal with the rabble. They'll likely kill each other, trying to establish a new leadership while we're away." Kel responded sagely.

When Rix spoke of ransacking the place, Alexander said "I agree about not leaving empty handed, but there should still some of the vermin around."

At Kel's words he stood up straight and looked at the elf, notably surprised. "They are weakened now and we shouldn't have further trouble... after I'm somehow recovered," he nodded, agreeing for the first time with the elf.

This one is curious, first he spits on me and then he not only saves my life, but also has answers which coincide with the Huntress' teachings...

Rix noticed the chest in the room and went up to it while the half-orc and elf considered one another. Finding a simple blade trap, Rix disarmed it without much effort. The key found on the goblin's body openened the chest so that Rix didn't have to spend any more time trying to pop it open. Inside was a masterwork medium-sized chain shirt that the goblin leader never had a chance to put on before the party barged into his home, and a garnet of some value. The small sack Rix took from the body contained a mixture of a few dozen silver and gold coins. Two small vials of an unknown liquid were also found near the body of the female goblin spellcaster. There was nothing left in this room that seemed valuable.

The kobold pointed out the masterwork chain shirt to the others, finding it useless himself and almost too heavy to be worth carrying back- well, almost too heavy. "Someone carry that back."

At Rix's request, Alexander silently takes the chain shirt and puts it in his backpack.

After a quick scouting mission, Rix discovered that the remaining goblins had all left the tunnels, although it would seem that they had taken their treasure with them. Still, the tunnels were now once again clear for the kobolds to move back into, if the party was willing to have them as neighbors once the refugees moved into the town.

Now that we've cleared this out, I'm sure the kobolds would enjoy their home back, and I'm sure a profitable arrangement can be made with the humans as to a mining treaty. And I'm sure the kobolds could use a hand setting up a new wave of defensive precautions that I could help with.

Alexander shook his head as the group exited the complex... and suddenly takes a moment to reflect on what just happened I fell... couldn't fullfill what Ravil asked me to do...

He remained silent for quite a bit of time.

Another member of the party was quite a bit happier. Rix smiled at the garnet... he always appreciated gems. He gathered the coins together, as well as the two vials, for safekeeping of course.

Kel stalked out of the kobold home trailing behind his companions, withdrawn and silent, seemingly lost in thought. What's going on? I'm starting to see value in these two. They stood strong while many others would have fled. They've proven useful. Is it ime for me to leave the woods Huntress? Is it time for me to experience more of the world? Will this lead me closer to You? Will this make me a better Hunter?

The party left the now empty tunnels and did a quick sweep of the remnants of the town, but found no other signs of immediate danger. The heroes did find several fields of forgotten farm fields, which lacked any sustenance that could be used for such a large population of the refugees. The town looked like it could comfortably house about 700 people when the homes weren't in such a state of disrepair. The current vacant fields could be used to feed about a thousand. It would take a lot of work this spring before the 2,000+ refugees were able to make this a decent home and become self-sufficient.

Rix headed the negotiations with the kobolds, who agreed to move out of the town and into their old tunnels. They were grateful for the assistance and looked to trade with the Dorinthians when they became established. The kobolds began to move their various digging tools and other items into the hills. The party estimated that there were perhaps slightly more than 50 kobolds, and therefore not a large tribe.

The party headed back to the elven camp of delegates, where Kel entered into a discussion with Silas Generwine, the camp leader. After a few minutes they agreed to lead the party back to the Dorinthian refugee camp in order to bring the human civilians to the abandoned town, although Silas couldn't help but to add, "I'm not sure why the group of you would think it a good idea that the humans should live next to a pack of thieving kobolds, but I'm happy to move the lot of your them further from elven territory at any rate."

After a couple of days of travel the group entered the Dorinthian camp, Alexander then discussing with Baron Dren Dorin and his daughter, Syra, what was found in the abandoned town. Cal and his riders were still gone, since the trip to the dwarven lands was much longer in duration. That put Kyle Radnal and his men in charge. Alexander briefed them on what to expect in the settlement. The older fighter wasn't happy about the nearby kobolds, but seemed to be satisfied that there were only a few dozen of them.

The party was taken care of next by Heron Silvertongue's priests, who looked over and healed their remaining wounds.

The next day, the elven camp stayed behind with the refugees while Radnal's Ruffians and the party entered the abandoned town and did a thorough sweep, killing the remnants of the vermin left over without much of a struggle. The refugees followed a day later. At first it was chaos as different people argued over the better homes. A few disappointing incidents of fist fights broke out, which were quickly settled by Radnal's Ruffians in a not always gentle fashion. Although Baron Dorin was unable to effectively organize the process, Kyle Radnal did a remarkable job of taking over and assigning people to the buildings and restoring order.

The party members suddenly had a newfound respect for the Dorinthians, as they quickly took to Kyle's leadership. After his assignments they started clearing trash, patching up damage with their limited tools or bare hands, and helped their brethren. Many of them worked even through the night. By the second day the town started to make a remarkable transformation, looking almost livable. The baron and his daughter, along with their retainers, established themselves in the government building in the town square, with the Ruffians moving next door into the old guard barracks. A family of halfling merchants (the Risenthrops) moved into the trade building, which was also in the centralized town square, and began to make plans on opening business to the population along with the visiting delegations of gnomes, elves, dwarves, and nearby kobolds.

As the sun approached noon on the second day of the refugees' entry into the town, the party finally allowed their exhausted bodies to relax...

Deuce Traveler

End of Chapter 1, Rix's Reflections

Rix's Reflections

The sorceress and childhood friend of Rix, Danica Swann comes to him, and hugs the kobold. "Rix! What a great job you've done with those kobolds! Of course, Mr. Radnal worries about them, but I think it's great that you can be close to your people. I hear that the baron wants to make you the delegate to speak with them, but Mr. Radnal thinks you are too busy and someone else should do it."

Rix, unaccustomed to the close physical contact shied away from Danica before giving up and returning the hug. He did like her. She was the only one who really treated him well from the start. "I may have time. My kin are an industrious people and their mines may bring business and stability to this small village. Although it has been a while since I have been with my own, it may take some getting used to again." He smiled draconically, teeth showing through, although for once it showed warmth.

After his conversation, he was able to mingle a bit and overhear discussions from members of the various foreign delegations. It seemed that the dwarves were very pleased about Dorinthian actions against the goblins, and admired their decency when it came to attempting peaceful relations with the difficult kobolds. The elves also grudgingly admitted surprise at the party's well thought approach, although they mostly credited Kel's influencee. The gnomes were not pleased, however, and there was a worry of improved relations between the Dorinthians and the hated kobolds.

Rix made the customary snide and derisory remarks towards the indolent and self-righteous elves; too full of their own personal glory that they couldn't see anything beyond their pointy-noses.

The rogue then tried to keep his profile low, although he did visit a few times with the nearby kobolds. Mostly, he helped them set-up their defensive precautions again and negotiated business with the Risenthropes, along with the dwarves as well. He attempted to exclude the gnomes from any benefit from the business negotations as well as he could.

In his spare time he also perused a journal he found in one of the administrative buildings before they investigated the tunnels underneath the town, and examined poison in a mug he had found...

Although most of the journal was full of logistical information that was barely of any interest, parts of the two entries at the end caught his eye...

The orcs tribes have been united by a single leader, something that hasn't happened in many of their generations. They have overrun much of the elven lands, and now the Elven council has decided that it is more important to defend their own people than to protect my town of half-breeds. Should I blame them? We half-elves may be their children, but we were never accepted as truly one of the elves. Now we are almost defenseless against the coming onslaught...

Second Entry
I wonder... how much of this is my fault? I helped establish this town. I refused to call the retreat when I had a chance. It is now too late, and the orcs have circled our town and cut off all hopes for finding sanctuary. If we are unable to hold the line, I will drink the poison I requested from our alchemist. I created this town. I'd rather die of poison than be alive to watch it die. I offered the same escape for the men, but they have sworn to go down fighting... if only we had a little more time. I have heard that the orcs have caught a disease that is killing off their population. Time and sickness may bring us victory, Sol willing...

The poison smelled strong, despite there being only a few grams left in the empty mug. No one could have mistaken such a pungent smell as anything healthy.

One of Randal's guards walked up to Rix and he quickly hid the container in his pocket as the guard said, "Sir, I'm sorry to have bothered you. The baron would like you to come by in the morning, about an hour after breakfast is served in the town square. Something about a mission to the south, sir."

Deuce Traveler

End of Chapter 1, Kel's Reflections

Kel's Reflections

One of the humans, the cleric named Heron Silvertongue, smiled at the elf when he caught Kel coming out of a meeting with Silas Generwine, and came over to speak with him. "I have heard from Alexander about your healing technique. It's very similar to how we do it in case of need. If I may ask, what are your skills at healing with herbs versus magic? Some of our most experienced herbal healers have not made it back, (may The Rider carry their souls swiftly), and we could use the expertise."

Kel reluctantly spoke with the priest, but as he talked he started to warm to the man. He may be human, but he is likeable, quick witted and wise. Pretty soon Kel was telling Heron about the local herbs and what they were best used for.

Heron nodded as he talked, all the while leading the elf into the burned ruins of a former temple that was destroyed when the village was taken. It was difficult to discern which god was worshipped there. Heron's followers of the Rider had started treating the sick patients on the old site. Heron kept talking as the human and elf passed by the ill, "I hope these herbs will help, Brother Kel, and I thank you. I'll have some assistants try to gather some later. As you see, not everyone made the trip here in good health. I have about 50 very ill people and a few hundred moderately sick that I had to send back to the new, decrepit homes since I lack room to house so many. A few dozen have died along the way, like the parents of this young boy," he stopped in front of one glassy-eyed child and his voice became lower, "Some are not really sick. They've just given up."

Heron was lost in thought for a moment, but then said, "Brother Kel, I do not know what god you may follow, but give a prayer for us from time to time."

The elf left the temple deep in thought, but was met by one of his fellow fay. Kel was told there would be a meeting with the human baron at the main building an hour after breakfast the next day. His presence was specifically requested.

Deuce Traveler

End of Chapter 1, Alexander's Reflections

Alexander's Reflections

Syra Dorin walked towards the half-orc, followed by the haughty Lady Huffring, her lady-in-waiting. She stopped in front of the ranger and asked, "Are you enjoying your accomplishments, Alexander? I'm so amazed about what you and Kyle Radnal have succeeded in doing. My father would have had ... difficulties if it weren't for you."

Alexander couldn't help but feel awkward before the young lady, he didn't blush... or maybe he did but the darkness of his skin protected him from showing it.
When he realized that he had been silent for a few seconds he promptly answered -in a surprisingly uneasy voice-:
"Indeed, I'm enjoying this... Although I was of little help when we came upon the goblin chief..." Some more seconds go by...
-He passed his hand over the mark left over his throat, suddenly vigorizing his voice with the memory- "But I could still serve through the Huntress' way! My cunning helped us better than my strength..."

"Sorry lady, it's good to hear your father considers our actions helpful; surely you came to deliver some missive, not to hear a scout's ramblings"

I ejoyed it because this is the first step towards doing justice to the hamlet where I was born... Serving the Dorinthians will lead me to those who desecrated The Lady of the Lake's shrine. The previous owner of this broken blade...

At noticing his wound, Syra unconsciously moved her hand to touch at the injury, but was interrupted with a loud cough from a distressed-looking Lady Huffring. Syra smiled at the interruption and asked, "Alexander, will you meet with my father tomorrow at his office an hour after breakfast is served in the square? Your presence is requested." With a courteous nod to the half-orc, Syra left followed by a pouting Lady Huffring, who gave the ranger a sharp, angry look.

"Sure..." Ignorant of Lady Huffring's glare, Alexander absently continued, "I hope we meet again..."

It was the first time a women had extended a hand towards him... since his mother. More than once he had noticed people in the city looked at him, including women, but that's why he prefered to be outside, in the forest; those critical eyes weren't welcome.

More than once he had expended a glance towards those beautiful creatures, women... but they weren't as easy to catch as the other creatures of the Huntress. He didn't know how to weave those nets of speech of flowers and moonlight.
And the little words exchanged showed that they wanted to have nothing to do with talk of stalking the woods and living away from the city.

But my scars didn't drive her away from me...

Suddenly having changed his previous ideas of leaving the town as soon as possible, Alexander walked around, hoping to find the old priest Ravil, and to speak with him both as son and as fellow servant of the Lady of the Lake.

Ravil, priest of the Lady, also known by some as the Rider, was assisting Heron attend to the sick at the remnants of a long-ago burned out temple. For a moment Alexander thought he saw Kel leaving and walking down a nearby trail. As he approached Ravil walked away from the sleeping body of a sick-looking woman. The older priest wiped his hands in a cleaning rag, then clasped the half-orc's hand and pumped vigorously, "Alexander! I'm sorry I've had little time to seek you out with all of our exhausted peoples becoming ill. How have you been?"

Alexander joined his other hand to the clasp, and smiled warmly for the first time in days.
"Ravil, I have doubts... doubts concerning happiness and doubts concerning fears..."
Alexander spent the rest of the day helping to tend the sick, and when most of them were stable and not in need of immediate attention, he spoke once more with Ravil.

Speaking by the fireside, time ran like water, night fell, and the two followers of the Huntress conversed for a long time...

Alexander spoke about his doubts, about how he should deal with Rix, about what sickness had attacked the refugees.
Then he went to the important doubts... about him falling in battle without being of help when they had the prey surrounded, and about Syra; how she wasn't scared by him or his scars...

Ravil listened for a long without interruption, except with a nodding of his head and an occasional smirk. Finally he spoke when the half-orc had finished. "Rix is a rascal, and will always be a rascal. He is greedy, untrusting, and likely to be a detriment to your group if he can gain from causing you harm. Yet, there is a small, compassionate side to the kobold. You are afraid of falling from the light, and into the darker beliefs that he has. Be strong, and remember it cuts both ways. Your faith can also make him see that there is a better way of dealing with life. Be his friend when you are in agreement, but do not fear argument when he wants to do something that is against the Lady's way."

"As for Syla," He sighed, then paused. "I have seen her gazing also at Sgt Radnal. Syla has been protected by Cal, the strong man in her life. Now that he is gone and her father is... not the strongest man... she seeks other strong men to help support her during her own crisis of faith. You are the talk of the town right now, our wild protector who was felled by the wolf, but refused to die. So are the others. She needs a hero right now, as do the rest of us. Be her friend, but be careful with her. It will take some time for her to find her own strength."

"Men fall in battle, Alexander. Sometimes, however, they fall from lighter things such as stress. Look at these people. They've lost their homes, moved a hundred miles or more in a few weeks, and are having to start anew in a strange land. The illnesses are natural, and it is remarkable there aren't more sick. It's their willpower that has kept our people healthy, but you must also keep the body intact. Men die in battle, that is the way of the world. Yet, you survived that wolf attack. Perhaps you lowered your guard a moment before it leapt. Have you thought about how this constant movement and these understandable doubts may have exhausted you? Go rest now, Alexander. You have even greater trials ahead, and exhaustion will not suit you in battle. And remember... The Lady is with you."

Deuce Traveler

A New Hero- Silas Eyrstan the Caernite

A New Hero Steps Forward- Silas Eyrstan's Tale

The human abjurer with the elven name, Silas Eyrstan the Caernite (not to be confused with the elf, Silas Generwine), was a camp follower that helped keep the party's campsite outside the abandoned town cleaned while the others handled the kobolds and goblins. He had fought in the war and hoped to see an end to combat. Such was not to be his future, however. During the return to the refugee camp Silas said little. His concern for the refugees was temporarily overshadowed by the tension and bickering amongst his companions. He frowned as he looks at each of them in turn. At least they were able to set aside their differences long enough to secure the village. "But how long will it be safe?" he asks himself quietly.

Silas was overjoyed to return to his wife, son, and father at the refugee camp. He realized that the buildings in the village would require much work to make them habitable and that there were not enough to house the entirety of the refugees. Though he wanted to keep his family close, at the moment his skills in building were much needed and he threw himself into the task of restoring the structures and helping those who had become his new neighbors. Soon he planned to turn his mind to finding a small plot of land very close to the village where he could begin building a home for his family.

The abjurer was able to find a home on the northern outskirts of the village. Although it provided less protection from an attack from the north, it rested on a decent plot of land. Because space was tight, Radnal assigned a family of seven to stay with the Eyrstans.

The family of seven were the Rostans, a mother and her six children. Mrs. Rostan's husband, Eric, had died on the trip. In fact, it seemed the the wizard that about forty of the people of Fair Creek had died or gone missing since the initial flight from the town. He hoped that the rate of casualties would start to go down and that there would be a roof over everyone's heads. Some of the larger Rostan boys were planning to start looking to build a home off the Eyrstan land once they could find a proper location and materials.

After two days, and finally a full night of sleep, Karl, a member of the town guard, came and knocked upon the door to Silas' house. After greeting one of the smaller Rostan children who had answered the knocking, he was introduced to Silas and said, "I'm sorry to bother you, sir, but I've been asked by Sgt. Radnal to ask if you can join an expedition to the south. A group of adventurers are being sent to help some of our neighbors, and we are hoping to augment them with your popular...errr...skills. Sir, if you say yes, I should give warning that you will be gone for awhile."

Silas nodded obediently, though with some hesitation. "Certainly, Karl. I just need a moment to load my pack and say my goodbyes." Silas quickly packed, kissed his wife goodbye, again charged his father with the safety of his family, and said goodbye to his son and the Rostan children of whom he is already growing fond.

Making his way into town, Silas looked for Sgt. Radnal.

Sgt. Kyle Radnal greeted the abjurer at the new barracks that he had made. It was his decision to save room by taking over the military administrative building and leaving room for the towns people by making the underground tunnels that the kobolds had created into an underground barracks for his troops. Although not the best location since it required a lot of torches and lanterns to move about (oil was coming in at a slow trickle from the elven lands), it did serve well defensively.

"Silas! Good to see you! I've heard you've accepted my request without even hearing the details. Good man," he said in all seriousness. "Let me tell you what I know. The gnomes in the hills farther south to us are having trouble with increased kobold and goblin raids. Their delegation has been the most helpful in agreeing to send to us needed supplies, but they actually had come to ask the elves for help, and did not initially know of our own plight. We really can't send our own forces to help right now, as they are needed here and are of limited numbers. We asked if a small group of specialists, like the one that helped clear this town would be welcome instead. The gnomes gratefully agreed. Now Silas, we plan to send the group that helped before, but they lack a mage and I would hope one would join to aid their party. You will be gone until the issue is resolved. Of course failure may mean that the gnomish lands become overrun, causing our south to be filled with aggressive groups of kobolds and goblins. If you are still up for it, meet the baron in his building an hour after breakfast is served in the square tomorrow morning. You may go back home for now, or stay in our barracks to meditate and train."

Silas nodded in reply. "Thank you, sir." He hesitated a brief moment. "I've said my goodbyes..." His voice trailed off before he straightened and continued. " I will billet here until the briefing in the morning. Sir."

When Sgt. Radnal gave him leave, Silas exited the barracks and sought out a quiet and secluded spot to meditate and study his spellbook, taking advantage of the daylight to save precious lamp oil...

Deuce Traveler

End of Chapter 1- Homeless

What I posted to end Chapter 1:

The sun begins to go down, and you realize that it is time to get some sleep, especially if you will be starting an important journey tomorrow. Rest comes easier than expected, despite the troubling last few weeks. As you enter the land of dreams, terrible images begin to fill your mind. You see gnomish underground dwellings in ruins, goblins overrunning the last of the defenders. The image fades, then a new one takes its place. A strange, hairless humanoid creature holds a struggling kobold in its arms, then straps the the smaller creature to a chair with a strange helmet-like contraption. The device is lowered onto the kobold's head, and you feel your blood run cold as the creature's struggling grows weaker, then stops, the intelligence in its eyes disappearing as its pupils turn white and mindless. Again the image fades, only to be replaced with the image of a large, pulsating purple sphere levetating off the floor. A gnome with a pointed hat stands before it, his face shining with a joyous rapture akin to worship. His unkempt face is that of a madman. An image that you cannot make out appears on the surface of the crystal. Somehow you manage to get closer to the vision, and you see your own sleeping form imprinted upon the sphere's surface. Fear tosses you from the land of dreams, but not before you hear the madman throw his head backwards and howl in glee. In a cold sweat you wake, glad to see the safety of your cot and signs of the approaching dawn. You know in your heart that a new chapter of your life is about to open for you.

Next chapter, Chapter 2- Illusions

Deuce Traveler

Intro to Chapter 2- Illusions

An hour after breakfast was served in the Dorinthian's new home, the party met in the baron's administrial office. Baron Dren Dorin, Sgt Kyle Radnal, Heron Silvertongue, Silas Generwine of the elven delegation, and Phly Loughphray of the gnomish delegation were also there. After short greetings, the party was motioned to chairs while the foreign delegates remained standing. Baraon Dorin started the discussion, "Thank you for coming to hear us out, gentlemen. Mr. Loughphray here has a bit of a problem with his own home and is here to seek aid. I'm willing to send you gentlemen and a handful of other men to accompany him back to his homeland. If you can help him, it would help secure our south and establish for us a strong partner for trade, which we desperately need to get back on our feet. I can't spare more men, so I hope you are willing to help."

He nodded to Phly Loughphray, who started explaining the situation, "We honestly came here to seek help from the elven lands, when we heard about your own plight. We've been willing to help with the limited supplies that we brought, but now we must return to our clan. The elves are unwill... err... unable to help us," he said this part carefully, while glancing at Silas Generwine, and Kel. "And the dwarves have sent a small contingent of aid, however can't spare anymore because of their own border problems. We've always had trouble with the various kobold clans," he glanced then at Rix, "but recently a large influx of goblins in our hills has devestated our defenses. Also, the kobolds have become more aggressive, almost suicidal. There have been other problems... " his voice trailed off for a moment. "Regardless, we need capable men to help us protect our lands. It is our hope that you may be of assistance. Especially, Mr. Rix, who has shown an ability to make the kobold people a little more willing to negotiate... at least long enough for us to kick the goblins out. I hear they have been preying on the kobold clans as well, which may be the reason why the kobolds you met earlier have shown up this far north."

After Phly finished talking the baron finished the meeting. "You are to leave in a few hours, if you accept this task, gentlemen. That should be enough time to restock or to get a drink or say good-byes or whatever it is you do," the baron said awkwardly. "Thank you. This is a big help to us."

At the mention of goblins attacking and about them being thent to gnomish lands, Alexander was staggered for a few seconds, remembering the dream he had the night before...

Immediatly the half-orc accepted the proposition, but planned to say his good-byes..."I accept. But what's that handful of other men? We need to know whom we'll be working with"

Tunnels... Underground... New terrains... I'll stand firm this time!

Silas nodded his agreement with Alexander and shouldered his pack. He seemed as if he wanted to make mention of something but he remained silent, remembering the dream of the previous night and wondering if it was in any way prophetic.

Sgt Radnal answered the half-orc's question, "Just a few volunteers from our people. They won't be going with you while you explore the surrounding area or track down the goblin bases. Instead, they'll be extra swords for guarding the homes of the gnomes while you adventure outwards."

"Good to know then" Alexander nodded and without further ado retired to say good-bye to Ravil... and see if in the way he could run into Syra, and maybe even exchange a few words with her...

That dream was sent by the Huntress to warn me of what lays ahead... Those kobolds aren't acting by their own will... I shoulld warn Rix later.

Gnomes... bah, incompetant, groveling, worthless creatures. Think they'll trick us into helping them for nothing. Vaerixsjach was silent during the meeting, but perhaps if his eyes could have been seen behind those smoky goggles he always wore then others might have had an idea as to what he was thinking. He clicked two claws together like a clock, in perfect rhythm.

The stupid beasts have gotten themselves into something they probably started, foolish stupid gnomes delving into what they shouldn't. My assistance... there's a perfectly reasonable solution to all of this, wipe yourselves out, problem solved. The stacatto clicking of the two claws continued, uninterrupted and still in perfect intervals.

When the baron closed the meeting, Rix finally shifted to speak, "we've been pressed into service before Baron, without any recompense. We're not indebted to this village, you're indebted to us. It would only seem reasonable that you would pay your debt before we are to leave, hard times or not. This is not even to speak of proferring my services to gnomes." His voice was sharp with contempt as he finished.

Kyle Radnal and Loughphray stiffened at Rix's words, though Silas Generwine smiled and nodded to himself, as if solving a previous puzzle that had eluded him.

After an awkward pause, Baron Dorin spoke with a confused look, "Uh... Rix is it? Well, I would not consider you 'pressed' into service. This is simply a request and I had thought your last journey was made profitable for you, but if you feel abused I certainly will not force you to go. Do you feel I owe you money? I wish I had wealth to give you, you who have done so much. What of the rest of you gentlemen?"

Rix smirked at the gnome and human as they reacted to his statement. "Profitable? Some rusty blades and armor which would sell for barely the worth of the metal they are made with and a few coins to divide amongst four who risked their lives. Surely you can at least pressure the Risenthropes to waive their exuberantly inflated prices and offer equal trade for the goods we acquired. They would have even less business were it not for us securing this village."

Loughphray pondered for a moment before answering, "The goblins and people of...your kind... have taken many valuables from gnome lands. Whatever you recover you may keep, it's previous gnome owners will be told they may not reclaim any items stolen by the invaders, despite their worth. Does that satisfy, kobold?"

"That was expected. Stay out of this." Vaerixsjach said with a cold and utterly malevolent air. "Baron? We have given you a new town, isn't that worth having your merchants refrain from fleecing our nearly bare pockets for their equipment?"

Loughphray bristled angrily, fingering his hand-axe. The baron looked almost ready to agree when Kyle Radnal stepped in. "Sir, the Rosenthorpe's have their prices so high since they are trying to trade what little we have for essential tools and equipment. If it's the price of equipment that is giving Rix, here, a problem, our guard's armory can help outfit them with several items at no cost. Ammunition, food, water, and so on."

"Perhaps that may be an equitable solution, although I doubt your armory will have much sized for myself nor the equipment I was seeking, although my companions may find it useful." Rix said with a hint of annoyance in his voice.

DM's Note: Silas Generwine, the elven delegate, was watching this uncomfortable moment with a smile the entire time. If Rix had gotten greedy and requested more goods, the elf was going to step in and offer the kobold a very valuable brooch for his troubles. I have little doubt that Rix would have taken it as payment, but what he wouldn't have known was that the brooch was a family heirloom of Silas Generwine's family. Silas Generwine would have went back to the rest of the delegation, 'distraught' that the greedy Dorinthians could only be bribed by such treasure in order to act to save their gnomish cousins who had done so much for them. The resulting scandal would have hurt elven and human relations.

After all was decided, Sgt Radnal took the party into the armory where they had the chance to pick out one weapon and one piece of armor from what was available, and two other items. They were also allowed to take all of the ammunition and food they could carry.

"I do indeed find it useful, Sergeant," said Silas as he addded 20 bolts and several days worth of trail rations to his pack. Hefting its weight he nodded to himself as he decided that he has not packed more than he could comfortably carry. Looking first at his companions then to Sgt. Radnal he said, "I am ready to go."

The cleric Ravil had seen the party leave the administrative building and followed the half-orc into the armory, slipping him a small potion, "Use this in case you or someone else is badly hurt. No need to fear wolves this time." He gave Alexander a wink, and in return the ranger patted Ravil's shoulder thankfully, and slipped the vial into a new backpack. Alexander also took a grappling hook, a 100ft coil of rope, and a longbow along with 40 arrows.

"Ready. When will we depart?" I would have been lifted by her sight, pity I won't see her until we return.

Kel, believing that the Huntress had a purpose to how he was feeling at the moment, agreed to the contract. Exchanging his armour for something sturdier in a chain shirt, and swapping his short bow for a longbow, he waited patiently on the road for his comapnions.

The group left by midday. As they began to leave, Alexander took one last look at the baron's new building. On the balcony he saw Syra watching him. She smiled charmingly at the ranger as he left, and gave one quick wave as he disappeared with his group down the main street and off into their next adventure.

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