Our story began with three friends attending the Harvest Festival in Glynden. The celebration was interrupted with the terrible news that the parents of Isabeau, Rhys' love interest, had been killed on the road outside town. Speaks, Rhys, Krase and Kyndalyn all rushed forth to check things out.
It was quickly determined that Gnolls were responsible for the murders and the group turned their attention to tracking them down. They found the Gnolls just a couple of miles away, locked in combat with a barbarian of the Coritani tribe from across the Fodor river. The party quickly helped this barbarian dispatch the remaining Gnolls. After the fight, the barbarian reported that he had a message for the Council of Glynden. The barbarian turned out to be named Ilrath and he returned with the group back to town.
They met that evening with the Council in Nan's Tavern. Ilrath brought word that Chief Hrongar of the Coritani was seeking their aid against an army of orcs who had invaded from the Blackpeak Mountains. In return for their aid, he offered to cease the barbarian raids into the lands east of the Fodor.
Speaks With Stone, Rhys and Krase were asked to return with Ilrath to the barbarian lands to work out the particulars of the deal and to assure that it wasn't some kind of trap being laid by the barbarians. The party agreed and departed Glynden.
The group ran afoul of a band of Gnolls near the ruins of the town of Aquae Sulis. They were nearly wiped out during a night time attack and found themselves in a desperate forced march toward the Fodor while trying to evade the Gnollish patrols. Finally they reached the bank of the river and managed to get across just minutes from being overrun by the band of Gnolls.
Once in the barbarian lands, the group met with the various tribal chieftains who had been gathered in the village of Rilaga in the lands of the Coritani. The party led by the impassioned speeches of Rhys managed to sway most of the Chieftains to agree to Glynden's terms for them providing aid in the form of a small body of troops and a number of engineers (especially Dwarves) who knew a good deal about defensive fortifications.
The party was also asked if they would journey north to a mountain known as the Stone Tooth to try and contact the dwarves who used to dwell there and see if they might provide magical weapons crafted to slay Orcs. The party agreed and traveled beyond the forests of the barbarian lands and into the glacier-plains of the far north where they found the mountain.
Instead of a band of dwarves, they found the upper level of the mountain to be guarded by a group of Orcs. The party heroically fought their way through the Orcs and located a passage deeper within the mountain. There they did locate some Dwarves (Duergar) but they were found to have been cooperating with the Orcs! The party asked after enchanted weapons that could be used to slay the Orcs. The Dwarves answered that they no longer had them as they had been given to Nightscale, a dragon that lurked in the deepest part of the mountain.
The party ventured into the lair of Nightscale and after a harrowing battle, managed to slay her and recover the Orc-Slaying weapons. They negotiated safe passage through the chambers of the Duergar and left the mountain only to discover that a sizable orcish encampment lay at the foot of the mountain. An ascending party of Orcs forced the heroes to perform a dangerous nighttime rappel down the side of the mountain.
The group was battered and low on magic by the time they made it to the ground and worse yet, they were being pursued by the Orcs. They split up in a desperate attempt to confound the Orcs who would no doubt be tracking them and eventually regrouped safely having evaded the orcish patrol. They hurried back to the lands of the barbarians and presented the weapons to Hrongar.
In their absence, a site had been chosen for the fortress the barbarians were to erect. It was situated on a hill in the lands of the Brigantes and the combined forces of the barbarians and Glynden were hard at work erecting palisades and other defenses there. The party met with Kyndalyn and Hrongar and were asked to conduct a harassing operation against the approaching orcish army to slow their progress in order to buy time to finish the fortifications. The party agreed and set off to the north again.
The group encountered several bands of Orcs including more of their shamans and even some riding undead dire-wolves. Against these groups, the party enjoyed great success albeit with a few close scrapes. Eventually, they realized that most of the orcish army had moved south of them and was close to the hill fort the barbarians had erected.
When the party drew close enough to see the encamped army, they could tell that there were still several hundred orcs left, outnumbering the barbarians by at least three to one. Also, curiously, there was a small fortress comprised entirely of ice situated at the rear of the encampment. The party pulled back to consider their next move.
Arc, Speaks With Stones' loyal wolf companion was sent to scout the edge of the orcish rear and failed to return. The following morning, the party set out to learn his fate and approached the back edge of the orcish encampment where lay the ice fortress. As they got closer, they realized that they had arrived right in the middle of an orcish attack on the hill fort and the camp was only lightly guarded.
The party did battle with a handful of guards and shamans before they were set upon by a flying snake-like creature (Banelar) bent on their destruction. In a valiant battle that brought more than one party member to the brink of death, the Banelar was defeated and the orcs were put to rout.
In the aftermath of the battle, it was learned that both Hrongar and Uncle Claudius (Glynden's town Wizard) were killed during the battle. Memorials were held and awards were handed out to the party for their pivotal role in disrupting the enemy chain of command at a crucial moment of the battle. They all returned to Glynden as heroes.
They spent the remainder of the winter engaged in various activities around town but as spring approached, there was talk of re-inhabiting the town of Aquae Sulis. Unfortunately, there were unsettling rumors that a band of Gnolls had taken up residence there and the party was asked to rout them.
The party arrived outside the town and set up camp in an abandoned tower once owned by a powerful wizard. They observed the town and found it to be occupied by over a hundred gnolls. They orchestrated a clever hit and run attack (mostly hit) on the town and killed at least a score of Gnolls before withdrawing to the tower. In the process, they captured a magical flail from one of the gnollish priests.
A Gnoll messenger arrived at the tower and requested the return of the flail. The party informed him that they must abandon the town and if they wanted the flail back, they must fight for it. The following day, a large group of Gnolls appeared outside the tower and their best warrior faced off against Krase.
In an extremely hard fought battle, Krase fell to the gnollish champion. Rhys tried to rescue his fallen friend from being killed by the Gnolls and was successful, only to have Krase be shot by a group of Kobolds hiding in some nearby trees. With that, a full on battle broke out between the Gnolls and Speaks and Rhys. This culminated in Rhys using a Fireball scroll on a large cluster of Gnolls, killing most of them and putting the survivors to flight.
That night, as they mourned the loss of Krase, Speaks and Rhys met Raven, a dwarf traveling toward The Stone Tooth to aid his fellows in routing the Duergar there. Raven turned out to be Krases third-god-cousin or some such distant relation and decided to take up with the party at least until they got revenge on the Gnolls.
The group set out, chasing the Gnolls after they had fled Aquae Sulis. Using his ability to Wildshape, Speaks took to the air as an eagle and quickly found the column of Gnoll refugees. He staged an ambush that killed or wounded large numbers of the Gnolls using the combination of Entangle and Flaming Sphere to deadly effect. Their numbers vastly reduced and their morale shattered, the Gnolls scattered into the surrounding hills and forest.
The party returned to Aquae Sulis and decided to explore the mines, which were the main object of the resettlement. Inside, they were confronted with a band of Kobolds, heavily possessed of magic, including the ability to summon forth some kind of shadow-dragon. The party managed to kill a few of the Kobolds but were forced to withdraw after taking brutal damage from Magic Missiles and crossbow bolts.
The party regained their strength and made a second foray into the mines only to encounter even stiffer resistance. After an abortive attempt to scout further into the mine, Rhys was forced to flee, pursued by the shadow-dragon. The entire party escaped to the mine entrance only to be ambushed by a pair of Kobolds lying in wait who claimed the life of Rhys.
Raven and Speaks took the body of their friend and withdrew back to the tower to rest and plan. Speaks concocted an elaborate plan to flood out the Kobolds by collapsing the entrances to the mines and using his Everflowing Bottle to fill them with water.
While putting this plan into effect, the party was joined by Scar, a half-orc warrior and worshiper of St. Cuthbert, sent by Father Tomas of Glynden to check on their progress. Scar aided Raven and Speaks in carrying out their plan to flood the mines. But just when it seemed the plan would work, the Kobolds launched a desperate ambush which distracted the party long enough for them to steal the Everflowing Bottle.
In frustration, the party withdrew to the tower to plan once more. The made a final assault on the mines, burrowing into the collapsed main entrance with the help of a summoned dire-badger. Upon encountering the Kobolds, Speaks used a Loosen Earth spell to collapse a tunnel on top of them, killing several and breaking their chokehold on the mines forever.
The party was approached by the leader of the Kobolds, Frakir, who wished to negotiate for the withdrawal of her people from the mines. Speaks With Stone agreed provided that they returned all of the belongings stolen from their fallen comrades and that Frakir remain hostage to the party and give them information she had about the location of the silver bars that had been smelted in Aquae Sulis before it was abandoned and the goings on in the Darkwood to the north.
In the aftermath of the battle for the mines, Speaks With Stone felt the awakening of new powers and was able to Reincarnate Rhys who returned to the living as an Elf. This was a happy occasion but clearly one that would take some getting used to.
Frakir served her time cheerfully and revealed the location of the silver bars (approximately 11,000 GP worth) and informed the group that undead in the northern Darkwood were driving the Gnolls into the lands around Aquae Sulis. With that, she departed to rejoin her tribe with the understanding that they would not trouble the folk of Glynden.
The party returned to Glynden with the silver and related their story to the Glynden Council. The conversation grew heated when it was suggested by some of the Council members that the silver rightfully belonged to the former owners of the mines. The meeting ended on a bad note with Speaks making some veiled threats. The party received a quarter of the silver as a reward for its return and were able to sell a few of Krase's possessions to Tadius Silvanus, a traveling elven wizard/merchant whom they had met during the Winter War with the Orcs.
Tadius had come to town early in the hopes of making a side trip to the barbarian lands across the Fodor River. He carried more goods than usual and had hired on additional guards led by none other than Speaks' sister, Tarsheeva. Speaks and Tarsheeva caught up and Tadius was able to speaks with the, now-reclusive, Rhys about all things elven. It came to light during that conversation that the Elves had once ruled the Darkwood until a bitter civil-war had caused the place to become a blasted battlefield. Now, most of the Elves lived far to the south and it was rare for the people of the Northlands to see one.
Raven stayed hard at work at the local forge, enchanting a variety of weapons and armor for himself and his party members. Several days after the party arrived back in town, a group of dwarven priests from the Novantae Highlands arrived. They bore dire tidings of an evil arising in the west and carried an Edict Stone, a stone bearing important instructions for dwarven eyes only. It read, "Trust only in those who speak with stones." Raven went straightaway to seek out Speaks but found that the Druid had departed to an unknown location.
Shortly after that, a group of Inquisitors associated with the church of St. Cuthbert arrived in town. They carried with them an amulet similar to the Amulets of Communication worn by Speaks, Rhys and Scar. They wanted to know where these amulets came from because they believed them to be of an evil nature and associated with some kind of corruption that was foretold to arise in the Northlands.
The Inquisitors first questioned Tadius Silvanus who had sold several similar amulets in the city of Oar. He indicated that he had obtained the amulets from the Heroes of the Winter War. Next they questioned Scar and then Raven who both indicated that Speaks With Stone would be a more reliable source of information.
Speaks was unavailable for questioning because he had answered a calling coming from within the Darkwood. There he found an enormous Treant named Great Root who asked Speaks to investigate a temple located in the western portion of the Darkwood. Great Root indicated that what he found would put him on an important but terrible quest.
In Speaks' absence, some of the Councilors who had personal reasons to dislike the Druid had started rumors about him implying that he might in some way be connected to the corruption the Inquisitors spoke of and could possibly be somehow responsible for the deaths of Rhys and Krase. That, combined with the Inquisitors seeking him made Speaks a questionable figure in the minds of many of the townspeople.
Finally, Speaks returned to town to gather his friends in order to go explore the temple in the Darkwood. When he found what had transpired in his absence, he was angry. He and Raven confronted the Inquisitors outside the gates of Glynden. He demanded the return of the amulet that had been taken from Scar and angrily denied that he had any connection to any "evil or corruption".
Although the encounter started out angrily, as the conversation went on, both Speaks and Capito (the chief Inquisitor) gained a grudging respect for one another. Both saw that the other was doing what he felt was right. They parted, not as friends, but wishing each other well in his endeavors.
With that, Speaks, Raven and Scar gathered their things and departed for the Darkwood and the temple that lay therein. Hopefully, there they would find the secret of what made the dead restless in the north and answer the rumors of the rising of a force of corruption.