The Westgate Campaign Chronicles - serial

Carlo-One

Villager
After several hours, the group arrived at the Reddansyr crossroads and turned south, soon spotting the town's walls in the distance. At the gates, they were challenged by the local guards and then allowed to pass, having been advised to take themselves and their ailing companion to the Giant's Folly inn. After pausing for a moment to scratch their heads upon seeing the overturned ship forming the roof the inn, they entered and were welcomed by Ian Gryphonhawk, who introduced himself as the inn's proprietor and town leader. Rahnee was taken up to the inn's suite, the only room available, and hot soup was quickly brought up.

By the morning of Nightal 22, Rahnee's condition had evidently improved, as color had returned to her face, although she had not yet awakened. Brok-Tul, Jokull, and Veran talked about the Giant's Run mountains with Ian, then explored the small town, finding a temple of Oghma. Veran took the opportunity to inquire at the temple about Ashnakzeroth and contracted for a tenday's worth of research, results to be delivered to the Gatereach Inn in Westgate when completed. (It is well worth seeking out the servants of the Lord of Knowledge wherever they are encountered, for much knowledge can be learned that is not otherwise available. --R)

By midday, Rahnee had awakened and was informed by the others of what had occurred during the bandit ambush and subsequent trek to Reddansyr. After washing up as best she could, she joined the others in the Giant's Folly common room, introducing herself to Ian Gryphonhawk. It was evident that Reddansyr was used as a base by other adventuring companies; one such, the Scarlet Cloaks, were also staying at the inn, and there was an adventurers notice-board in the common room. (I wonder if they actually had scarlet cloaks. Would that not be a disadvantage when attempting to hide from one's enemies? --C)

After some more soup and drinks were had, the companions were able to purchase additional supplies for the road, including some iron rations. Ian mentioned that the road south leading to Starmantle, where he was originally from, had been closed due to the weather and monster attacks. Somewhat hesitantly, he also asked the group to keep an eye out for his son Killian, who had departed for Starmantle at the beginning of Uktar. Killian had wanted to try the adventuring life and had not been heard from since. Ian said he was not overly worried, but clearly appreciated Rahnee and Brok-Tul's quick agreement to keep an eye out for the lad.
 

Carlo-One

Villager
Departing Reddansyr, the group headed north to the crossroads, then spent a short time searching the area for the trail leading into the Giant's Run. Once on the trail, it was a good twelve hours of travel before they arrived outside the small walled village of Mountaingate. Shivering in the cold and snowy night air, they knocked on the gates and were admitted by a village guard. Once inside the small yet cheerily warm village inn, the four companions were greeted by the proprietor, a gnomish woman named Allie.

After some warm drinks and introductions, Rahnee and Brok-Tul took a room upstairs, while Jokull and Veran spread out their bedrolls on the otherwise-deserted common room floor. Once the companions had rested, Allie served them porridge and told them about the way to Clan Ironhelm's valley, while eagerly soliciting news from Westgate. She also pointed them toward Skye's Provisions, where the proprietor informed them he would pay well for winter wolf pelts; a pair of them had been sighted recently in the area.

Departing the village, the four found the trail west toward the valley of Clan Ironhelm, which wound its way past a small cave entrance. Investigating the cave, they found an old stone pillar inside with runes carved on its faces. Brok-Tul took a set of rubbings of the runes, which appeared to be similar in appearance to the runes on the statue in Ashnakzeroth's cavern, although the words were clearly different. Leaving the cave, the group hiked up a snowy ridge and, after some searching, located the way down into Clan Ironhelm's valley.

What greeted them on entering the valley was an impressive sight: a great stone arch filling the space between mountain walls, with massive gates set within and ranks of glowing dwarven statues. Two heavily-armored and armed dwarves challenged the group as they approached the gates. After formal introductions were made and Brok-Tul explained they brought news of a tomb of Ironhelm clansmen, the companions were allowed to pass into the valley and present themselves at the inner gates. Continuing through the valley, which felt much warmer than the surrounding mountains, Rahnee, Brok-Tul, Jokull and Veran introduced themselves to the inner gate guards, who listened to their tale and had them wait while a messenger was sent into the Ironhelm stronghold. The messenger returned and informed them that although they were outsiders, they had shown proper respect for the clan and would be granted an audience. (On the one hand, this is rather unusual, especially for a band of unknown outsiders including a half-orc. On the other hand, dwarves take very seriously the legacy of their clan members, and it appears that Brok-Tul was more diplomatic than usual. --R)

Time passed, then a dwarf exited from the inner gates and introduced himself as Clan Elder and Greeter Rumnaher. Formal introductions were again made and the companions' tale explained, including their shared dream and the message from Moradin. Brok-Tul handed over the set of rubbings and a dwarven waraxe taken from Ashnakzeroth's cavern as proof of their story. Although Rumnaher said he had not heard of Ashnakzeroth, he evidently took their words seriously. Rumnaher acknowledged that the copy of the runic inscription on the statue from the tomb outside of Westgate proved that his clan-mates were once there. Upon Rumnaher’s request, he was allowed by the companions to keep the copy as an important record of Ironhelm clan history. (It was good foresight that led the companions to recognize the importance of these material signs of what they had discovered in the chamber under the Seven Hills, otherwise their tale might have seemed too fantastic to be credible. --C)

The Clan Greeter said that the companions' vision of the construction of the statue and of Moradin signified that the matter should be of importance to the clan, and therefore required a dwarfmoot to debate its meaning. When compensation was offered to the group, Rahnee protested, saying none was needed, but in the end was convinced to accept some of the clan's gold as a symbol of their gratitude. (Being the usual dance of words by the good-aligned who express no wish for compensation for their deeds, yet are happy enough to receive it anyway. --R). Rumnaher inquired where a clan emissary could find them in the future, so Rahnee told him they could leave word at the Gatereach Inn in Westgate. Brok-Tul took the opportunity to also pass along Thessar's regards. The audience with Rumnaher now being over, the companions turned toward the valley's exit.

It was a dark on Nightal 24 when the four companions returned to the Gatereach guest house, clearly happy to be able to rest after their long journey. Aerikoth was filled in by all of them on the journey's events. He informed the others in turn that the previous few days had been quiet, although rumors were circulating in the city about the upcoming elections. After a night during which - for once - no one shared a dream, they reunited for breakfast at the Gatereach. Next steps were debated, with Veran indicating he desired to leave for the dead necromancer's lair in Amee Pass immediately, although he was unsure if that was the wisest course to follow. After finishing breakfast, Jokull departed to speak to Stanslav at the Quivering Thumb, while Brok-Tul went to the Mercenaries Guild to see if he could gather any new information there.
 

Carlo-One

Villager
In Search of Ashnakzeroth

Later that day, with Jokull still out and Veran having departed to post a message to his monastery, the boy Tabor showed up at the Gatereach guest house with a package for Aerikoth from the mage Gondeth. Aerikoth gave the lad a gold piece for his trouble and turned to examining Gondeth's writings, which contained the results of his research on Ashnakzeroth. Meanwhile, Rahnee and Brok-Tul discussed their upcoming wedding.

That night, Veran returned and confirmed plans with Aerikoth, Rahnee, and Brok-Tul to travel to Turnton and then on to the former lair of the necromancer Zagath near Amee Pass. They would be missing the former Purple Knight, however. While the others were at dinner, Jokull returned to the guest house and left a somewhat cryptic note in Rahnee's room that said urgent business in Westgate would keep him from joining them on the trip to Turnton. Aerikoth expressed his interest in examining the ruin where Zagath had lived, since he had not been able to do so the previous time he had journeyed to the area.

The morning of Nightal 26, Brok-Tul took inventory of his equipment in preparation for their journey, remembering after some fruitless searching that he had left his magical sword and a set of armor with High Cleric Carlin in Turnton to be blessed. At breakfast, Rahnee reminded Aerikoth that the results of Gondeth's research had not yet been shared with Veran. Aerikoth mentioned that Gondeth had come to some conclusions and had offered some speculations as well, passing Gondeth's papers to the monk. Veran read the papers, imprinted with Gondeth's wizard sigil at the bottom, with intense interest:

"Notes on Ashnakzeroth:

For the past tenday, I have researched all of my available lore, including the dark tome which you provided me, and have reached the following conclusions, presented in order of certainty. Do with this information what you will.

-- Certain: Ashnakzeroth was a mage of great might in the era of Netheril.

-- Mostly certain: Ashnakzeroth either created the first human lich, or was himself said lich. Based on what you have shared with me during our discussions, I believe he ended up as one, regardless, and was worshipped in ancient times by some unsophisticated dwellers of the Dragon Coast, eventually becoming one of the Seven Lost Gods. His material form was almost certainly destroyed by the events precipitated by Karsus' Folly.

-- Speculation: Ashnakzeroth's spirit could have survived, even if the magic binding it to its undead form had failed. Such a spirit would be incorporeal and no doubt suffer major shock and loss of power from the experience. Such a spirit might be able to eventually reconstitute itself, at least in part, if sufficiently powerful and if aided by either its own prepared magicks or those of outside forces."

Veran was particularly taken with the portion on the potential reconstitution of Ashnakzeroth, commenting that their trip now appeared to be even more important. Rahnee agreed that there was apparently some connection with the defeated necromancer Zagath, there being entirely too many coincidences for the situation to be merely a flip of Tymora's Coin.

(The wizard Gondeth did a great service in researching and exposing the history of the abomination. His speculation was also well-informed. --R)

(Although this is now well-known to the Order, it is still of great significance. It gives me a shiver to think of these first steps being taken in understanding the threat posed by the abomination. --C)
 

Carlo-One

Villager
After returning to the Gatereach guest house and equipping themselves, the companions headed for the road outside South Gate which lead toward Turnton. After some hours' travel, they were attacked by two great wolves in the wooded area near the Glees crossroads. Brok-Tul took several wounds in the fight, but the animals were killed without anyone else being harmed. (These crossroads appear to attract hostile creatures, as the party is regularly ambushed there. --C)

Continuing on, they reached the northern outskirts of Turnton after another three hours. Once they had been challenged and recognized at the gates, the guard captain saluted the three heroes of the battle of Glees – Aerikoth, Rahnee and Brok-Tul – and was introduced to Veran. Asked by Rahnee for news, the captain commented that the town was doing well, although fell beasts continued to roam the countryside, with commerce among the Baron's holdings down as a result. Rahnee mentioned that they had run into huge wolves on the way and the captain commented that those and more were now common on the road north. The Baron's guard no longer sent out individual patrols, but traveled in large numbers with caravans once a tenday.

The four stopped at the Traveler's Cheer Inn for the night, Rahnee generously paying for individual rooms for all of them. The innkeeper Karl was somewhat embarrassed at having to ask for payment, since he normally provided free rooms for her and the other heroes of Glees, but greatly appreciated Rahnee's coin in light of the recent drop in trade. The morning of Nightal 27 they enjoyed the inn’s hearty fare, porridge with honey and sweet butter for breakfast, although the taste was somewhat overwhelming for Veran's palate. Rahnee inquired about Baron Pahar, and was informed by Karl and two baronial soldiers who were loitering nearby that he was inspecting some new defenses and would likely be out for another two days.

Brok-Tul, Rahnee, and Veran then paid a visit to High Cleric Carlin at the temple of Helm, while Aerikoth busied himself in the town. Once the three had finished with Carlin, they emerged into the daylight to meet a waiting Aerikoth, then headed out of town and turned northwest, the way to Amee Pass. As the group approached the pass, Brok-Tul dropped back out of sight in order to cover their back trail. The other three made their way towards the pass entrance, passing in silence the remnants of Baron Pahar's former outpost, now only marked by an old guard platform. After hiking for three hours, they reached the fork and confirmed that the western side remained blocked, the boulders having been placed there by the Sess goblin tribe. The eastern side of the fork, where two ettins had previously laired, was confirmed to be open. Aerikoth, Rahnee, and Veran followed it until the path ended in a dark, forested area.

Rahnee and Veran expressed feelings of dark foreboding, but were nonetheless ready to move on and explore the area, when a small goblin figure emerged from the shadows. Through a combination of broken speech and gestures, the Sess scout - for that was what he was - managed to convey to the three adventurers the danger posed by lurking spirits in the forest and the need for a shaman to combat them. As best as the others could understand, the goblin was a scout left behind by the Sess tribe to keep watch on the dangers of the forest. Rahnee, Aerikoth, and Veran decided to move back into the pass and camp for the night.
 

Carlo-One

Villager
At the camp, the Sess warrior introduced himself as "Hunt-Good-Bad-Things" and shared the group's fire, speaking in broken Common about some of his clan's legends. One legend referred to "Ashnakzeroth-taglanonik" - meaning (according to the goblin) "It Rise in Dark." As the goblin was speaking, Brok-Tul arrived and confirmed that nothing was threatening their back trail. Introductions to the Sess scout were made and the four adventurers took turns standing watch as the others slept.

In the morning, the adventurers struck camp and headed back for the forest, while "Hunt-Good-Bad-Things" volunteered to wait for them in the pass and bring word back to his clanmates of their fate. Although it was daytime when the four reached the forest, it remained unnaturally darkened. Soon after they began to penetrate the area, they had their first encounter with a spirit, which was summarily dispatched to its final rest. Several other individual ones were encountered and the party was attacked by a group of them in the northwest part of the forest, near some old ruins. Their enemies were accompanied by a human-looking figure that cast several spells before entering the melee. After an intense fight, the spirits were defeated and the spellcaster - a curst - was also put to its final rest. The spirits caused little damage to the adventurers, although Veran suffered the chill touch of one that sapped his life energy.

While Veran said words to speed the spirits on their way to final judgment, Rahnee knelt by the body of the curst and uncovered a small, weathered book. After some further exploration of the area and the defeat of another group of spirits, the party's attention turned toward the old entrance to Zagath's lair, now covered by a rockfall and a network of vines. Aerikoth stated that the vines were the result of a druidic spell. Brok-Tul's efforts to clear the vines with his sword resulted in a notched blade as it clanged off the stone underneath, while Veran's attempt to torch the vines sputtered.

After reading the curst's journal, Aerikoth declared that it was likely the crazed druid Yane, whom Aerikoth had encountered previously; it appeared that anything dying within the confines of the darkened forest rose as undead. (This is a powerful indication of a baneful presence in the area. --R). Yane, before dying, had apparently collapsed the ruin's entrance in an effort to save the forest, although the circumstances were unclear. His journal also made reference to explorations of the old ruins, including the discovery of powder from a shattered gem, and cryptic words about "blood magic." (A sad but nonetheless brave and noble end for the forest's druid, who did everything he could to combat the spreading evil. --C). Veran, occupied with his thoughts, mused about the possibility of the shattered gem having contained the soul essence of a lich. Following some prayers and a minor ritual, Brok-Tul told the others that Helm was satisfied with what they had done in releasing the dead druid from his curse. The half-orc cleric also seemed to have undergone some sort of internal change, as he thanked Helm for his new insight.

Aerikoth, Rahnee, Brok-Tul and Veran left the darkened forest and headed back into the pass, where their Sess goblin acquaintance was waiting for them. Rahnee informed the Sess scout that they had successfully broken some of the forest's curse, although she still advised caution for any who would enter it. Aerikoth commented to Rahnee that hers was perhaps an over-optimistic assessment, but that the "creature" might not understand anyway, making a misleading tale warranted. After Aerikoth had finished speaking, Brok-Tul turned to the goblin and told him that the forest spirits had been laid to rest and that Helm said their work was done for now. The goblin scout saluted the adventurers for their deeds and departed to return to his tribe, while the others began the trek back to Turnton.
 

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