Fhezik "The Ferryman" Stormborn
Gold Dwarf Cleric of Yam
Fhezik was born the youngest son of Brommur Tenbarrels, a master brewer of the Tenbarrels clan in the Smoking Mountains. From an early age it was apparent he was different from the other dwarves. He did not care for the cramped spaces under the mountain and preferred to roam outside. He would fantasize about living as a sailor, traveling the high seas and exploring the coast. This caused his father a great deal of consternation. Brommur tried to “fix” Fhezik by taking him as an apprentice brewer, but it was to no avail. On his 50th name day, Fhezik announced he was leaving to follow his destiny on the high seas. This caused a huge uproar in the Tenbarrels Clan that ultimately resulted in his banishment from the Smoking Mountains.
Nevertheless, Fhezik joined up with the crew of “Parson’s Pride” and set about sailing the trade routes of Faerun with Captain Sweetgums and his crew. Fhezik lived his dream for nearly a year before a freakishly powerful tempest blew their ship off course and threatened to kill them all. Fhezik convinced himself that the storm was the wrath of the gods for being a dwarf on the high sea and defying his father’s wishes. He decided that the only solution was to sacrifice himself to save the ship. His gambit worked, but it cost him his life when he fell overboard and drowned.
Though he should have died, he instead awoke on the shores of an uncharted island deep in the Trackless Sea. After nearly starving to death, he heard the call of Yam, a lesser sea deity, coming from a beautiful shell on the beach. Though he initially thought he had gone insane, Fhezik ended up conversing with the shell for several weeks. Yam taught him how to summon food and water and how to protect himself from the elements. He also learned the Ways of Yam and was set on his life’s course. Through his magic shell Yam commanded him to travel back to Faerun and spread his message to the masses; but he was travel inland to the pastures and fields. That is where Yam wanted his message spread and his temple built.
A passing merchant ship picked Fhezik up and dropped him off at Baldur’s Gate. From there he traveled south into the grassy plains where he eventually settled in the town of Oakburn. Over the course of three years he managed to build a small chapel to Yam and develop a good relationship with the townsfolk. Although they still view him with some skepticism (after all, no one else has ever heard of Yam and he speaks to Fhezik through a magic conch shell), they have accepted him as a good and decent fellow who has their best interest at heart.
Fhezik has further won over the hearts of the people by opening a brewery out of the back of his chapel. Stormborn Stout is a robust beer, brewed in the dwarven traditions taught to him by his father. Currently, everything is working according to Yam’s plans and Fhezik is more content than he has ever been.
Fhezik is a kind-hearted and good-natured dwarf that finds it easy to laugh with others and does not take himself too seriously. He relishes helping those around them any way that he can and will accept any task that helps no matter how menial. He always makes himself accessible to the people and can frequently be seen walking the streets and outland farm roads of Oakburn conversing with everyone he meets and helping those who need it. There is practically no one in town that does not know him or has not been directly aided by him in some way or another.
He is fully devoted to Yam and spreading his message. He understands the many people are still skeptical of his god, but that only pushes him to work harder to win over their support. He also takes great pride in the beer he has recently begun producing out of the back of his chapel. His Stormborn Brew has been well-received within Oakburn and its reputation has begun to spread outside of town as well thanks to passing travelers. The beer reminds Fhezik of his dwarven home and it is his secret hope that his father would be proud of it.
Fhezik misses his sailing days and longs to spend time on the sea, but he is devoted to following Yam’s wishes. When sailors pass through town on their way to port, he relishes spending time with them, listening to their stories and sharing his own. Many times he reverts back to the salty language of his past profession and tends to drink a little too much when in their company.
Nearly since birth Fhezik has been constantly reminded of how decidedly un-dwarven he is. He places little value on material possessions, particularly gold and jewels, and cares little for war-like trappings. His beard is shamefully unkempt by dwarven standards and his disposition is sunny and friendly instead of dour and coarse like those of his brethren. Fhezik is confident in his faith, but he often becomes uncomfortable around other dwarves, as he does not “fit in”.
Fhezik is a dwarf of typical height and weight who stands just at 4’8” tall. He is stout and well-built like others in the Tenbarrels clan, but carries himself is a relaxed and approachable manner. His skin has been deeply tanned and his long, frizzled beard has been bleached nearly white by all of his years in the sun. He wears simple jewelry made from twine and sea shells on his wrists, ankles, neck, and beard. Prominently displayed around his neck on a silver chain is the magic conch shell through which he communicates with Yam. He is dressed in light linen garments and his feet are covered by thonged sandals. His appearance is always kept light and breezy.
EQUIPMENT OF NOTE
Fhezik always wears the conch shell that Yam spoke to him through around his neck on a silver chain. He never takes it off. The shell appears as a large, iridescent, conch shell that seems to glow faintly with an inner light. It is Fhezik’s most prized possession. Often times he can be seen communing with Yam by praying into the shell and then holding the shell to his ear to receive Yam’s wisdom.
YAM, GOD OF THE SEA AND SAILING
Yam is a lesser known god of the sea that is making an attempt to reassert his power in Faerun and he has chosen Fhezik to be the instrument of his will. He is a Lawful Neutral deity. Suggested domains are Tempest and Life. His symbol is a conch shell.
TEMPEST DOMAIN OF YAM
(A modified version of the existing Tempest Domain that is more in keeping with the tenets of Yam.)
Available Cantrips: Shape Water, Thunderclap
1st Level Fog Cloud, Thunderwave
3rd Level Gust of Wind, Shatter
5th Level Tidal Wave (EE), Water Breathing
7th Level Control Water, Water Walk
9th Level Destructive Wave, Maelstrom (EE)
15th Level Tsunami, Control Weather
PICTURE OF CHAPEL IN OAKBURN
Reunification with his family: One of Fhezik’s greatest regrets is how things ended with his family. Though they live far away, he would jump at the chance to heal the deep wounds between his family and him.
Discovering what happened to the “Parson’s Pride”: Fhezik never knew what became of the “Parson’s Pride” (the ship he served on and that became lost at sea). His inquiries at various ports-of-call have not yielded any answers as no one has seen the ship in many years.
Dipping below the horizon, the last glimpses of the hazy peaks of the Smoking Mountains could be seen in the far distance. Fhezik Tenbarrels watched as his ancestral home disappeared from view and wondered if he would ever find himself welcome there again. It had been only a few weeks since he had said his goodbyes. His father had not understood; and, what had begun as a disagreement on principle, culminated into his banishment from both family and clan. Still, the sounds of the sea and the smell of salt in the air swaddled him, making him feel more at home than he had ever felt in the gloom of his father’s hall. Putting his melancholy aside, he smiled, thinking of the good things to come.
The work was hard, but Fhezik had never felt more alive. Over the past year, the blisters on his hands had given way to thick callouses. His skin had grown swarthy under the rays of the sun and his beard had become bleached and frazzled. Once onboard, it had not taken long for Fhezik to ditch his heavy hobnailed boots and thick, woolen clothes for a comfortable set of sandals and a lighter linen tunic. He imagined what his father would say if he saw his new look and it made him laugh out loud.
The once wary crew were now his fast friends. His dwarven work ethic had been on clear display from the beginning and it had earned him the respect of the other sailors. Even Captain Sweetgums had begun to cheekily refer to him as his “little buddy”.
For Fhezik, every day was a new experience full of fresh possibility. The crew would often joke that he must have knocked one of his cogs loose because he was unlike any dwarf they had ever met. Maybe they were right; but, the thought of it did not bother him much. On the sea, with his new family, he was the happiest he had ever been. Here, he had purpose. This is where he belonged.
As the ports-of-call came and went, Fhezik found himself less and less willing to venture ashore. He was devoted to the ship and the sea that supported her. Perhaps, Fhezik conceded, he feared that should he wander too far ashore he would be unable to make it back. And that thought terrified him. He began to find himself staring for hours over the ship’s rail, peering into the depths below, and wondering what it must be like down there. It was an itch he knew could never be scratched. But, no matter how hard he tried, he could not shake the notion that somehow he belonged down there among the waves, in the deep.
They should have seen it coming. A tempest more powerful than any the crew had ever experienced surged towards them as if it had been birth directly from the sea. They were still battening down the hatches and securing the sails when the gales slammed into the ship with the ferocity of a fire giant. In what seemed an instant, the sky darkened and lightning struck so close that it made the hair on his arms stand up. The crew wrestled the sea as best they could but the thrashing waves forced the ship away from its intended course and instead sent it out into the Trackless Sea. The crew’s efforts turned from frantic to desperate, as they all knew what fate awaited them there.
By the third day the crew had exhausted all of their prayers to the gods and now settled on cursing them. They began to speak of their impending doom and lamented the thing that must have brought them such ill fortune.
Fhezik had heard the whispers. Murmurs among the crew that bringing a dwarf onboard was bad luck began to plague him. Perhaps his father had been right, dwarves had no business on the sea. It played at the back of his mind like a discordant lyre, keeping him awake and refusing him any peace. By the fourth day, he had convinced himself that his selfishness had brought about this terrible tempest. The gods hated him for not staying in his place, not acting like a dwarf, and they were punishing everyone for it. It did not take him long to realize what must be done.
Crawling out from below deck, he leaned into the tearing rain and the howling winds of the tempest as he clawed his way to the mast. Slowly, he began making his way towards the top, breaking his fingernails and he dug them into the slick mast. It seemed like hours before he was at the top, staring upwards into a swirling black sky that was barely indistinguishable from the roiling black sea below him. He lashed himself to the mast and closed his eyes. Silently, he prayed to any god that would listen. He prayed that the sea should take him if he was not welcome on it. He prayed for the lives of his friends.
A sudden listing of the ship startled Fhezik and he opened his eyes. The ship listed even further towards it starboard side as it slid into a massive trough. Fhezik turned his eyes skyward one last time just as the massive wave slammed down on him, breaking the mast, and sending him overboard in a torrent of water. His last breath of air was blasted away as he hit the water’s surface. As the mast drug him below, he could have sworn he saw the faintest glimmer of the sun’s rays dance across the surface of sea above him. He smiled. Then he drowned.
Later in life, Fhezik would look back on this day as the beginning of his life-changing salvation; but, at the moment, he would have preferred it if he had drowned. He had awoken still tied to the mast, beached on an island too tiny to name. His entire body was sore and half of his face was smashed into the sand by the weight of the mast. He could only guess at how long the waves had been washing salt water up his nose. It took several minutes of gargling sea water and flailing at the ropes before he managed to free himself. Slowly, he rose on unsteady legs and surveyed his surroundings. There was nothing here. A few bare scrubs which offered no real shade on an island barely a quarter mile wide.
He immediately set about to making a shelter and preparing to survive, telling himself that another trade ship would eventually pass by and rescue him. But there was nothing to provide shade. There was no fresh water and nothing to eat. Nothing he could catch anyway. Days passed and no rains came to quench his thirst. He could feel the sun siphoning the last of his strength away with each passing hour. For ten days he fought to survive until exhaustion, starvation, and thirst left him a ruined husk blistering on the beach.
Then he heard it.
“Fhezik.” A voice like wind howling through a tunnel beckoned him.
The ghostly call had come from further down the beach. He had been rescued! He lifted his head to see where the voice had come from, but no one was in sight. Pushing himself up, he stared intently down the shore searching for some signs of movement. There was none. Willing himself to his feet, he stumbled several yards in the direction of his name.
“Fhezik.”, came the voice again, only this time from behind.
He whirled around, but no one was there.
Eyes widening, he brushed the tangled mat of his hair from his eyes and peered downward. There at his feet was a conch shell of singular beauty. Its surface had a luminous, iridescent sheen that reminding him of the gem studded mines of his former home. Its shine was such that it seemed to glow from within.
He dropped to his knees and leaned in close to the shell. His pounding heart told him that the voice had called to him from inside the shell; but, surely he must have imagined it. Fhezik knew that starvation could drive a man into delirium and madness. Nevertheless, he felt a strong, singular urge to respond.
“Who’s there?” he asked the shell.
As he drove the final nail into the chapel’s new sign, a welcome donation from the local wainwright, the irony of what he was doing was not lost on him. To be sure, the “House of Yam” was a curiosity in Oakburn. Building a chapel to an unknown lesser sea deity on the plains outside of Baldur’s Gate had caused many to question his sanity. He had grown accustomed to such talk.
It had taken him a few years to gather the resources to cobble together the small chapel dedicated to his savior and protector, Yam. As his cleric, he devoted himself to spreading Yam’s gospel and sowing the needs of his new faith within the community. Converts had been nearly impossible to come by until a spark of “Yam-spiration” had struck him. Fhezik decided to put all those years of apprenticeship under his father to use and opened a brewery out of the back of the chapel. Nothing brings people together like good beer and his was the best for miles around. Made from only the finest ingredients and holy water brought forth through the power of Yam, it had a rich, smooth flavor that went down easy while still packing a serious wallop. It had won him acceptance within Oakburn at least; and, for now, that was good enough.
SESSION 1: “EVERY JOURNEY BEGINS…”
It was going to be a beautiful day. The morning dew clung to Fhezik’s toes as they brushed through the tall grass. He had left Oakburn before sunrise and was heading to his favorite spot out on the grasslands to say his morning prayers and to thank Yam for the blessing of the previous day. Fhezik did not pray like other priest. They preferred to kneel and prostrate themselves on the ground, eyes downcast. He knew better. Yam was not below, but above. So he would lie on his back among the swaying grasses and stare upward into the pinkish-blues of the morning sky. With one hand on the Shell of Yam and the other tucked behind his head, he would lie there to meditate and pray on the events of the coming day. After an hour he sat up among the grasses, a smile on his face. Yam had decreed this as a blessed day.
The walk back to town dried the last of the dew from his clothes. As was typical most days, Fhezik would walk through the streets of Oakburn, greeting everyone in turn and sharing Yam’s wisdom with those who would listen. This particular morning he bumped into Rita Greenly, a pretty young maiden with bright, golden braids whose eyes contained a deep, but hidden, sadness. She was running an errand for her father, the stable-master, she explained, to fetch her father’s breakfast, a bucket ale. Knowing all too well what domineering fathers could be like, Fhezik’s stomach tightened at what daily life at home for Rita must be like. Nevertheless, he gave her a friendly smile and offered her a free bucket of his Stormborn Stout in place of the alehouse’s typical swill. Fhezik to Rita that her father could consider it as a gift of Yam that would come each day on one condition, that he treat her fair and proper hence forth. With a wink and a grin he sent her back to her father, a bucket of his finest beer sloshing at her side. Silently, he lifted up a prayer that Yam would see to her well-being.
He was almost through with his prayer when the familiar sound of a clanging hammer that could only come from Tungdil’s Smithy resounded through the street. That gruff dwarf and his penchant for pointless insults always made Fhezik smile. Poking his head into the door of the smithy, he gave Tungdil a cheery greeting and was met with his usual grunt of acknowledgement. They began to banter about the generalities of life in a small town, as people are prone to do, when Fhezik caught sight of Alkolis, the reeve’s son, coming towards him with several companion in tow. As they came closer, he recognized several of the men. Sterling, one of the graf’s new scouts, was walking beside Alkolis and seemed to be having trouble holding Alkolis’ attention as he was bickering over his shoulder with his older half-brother, Beric, at the rear of the party. Across from Sterling was a carefully dressed halfling with prominent front teeth that Fhezik did not recognize. Lastly, a sullen paladin of Torm, clearly annoyed by the bickering of the brothers, quietly followed.
To Fhezik’s surprise and delight, they came straight to the doors of the smithy and each introduced themselves in turn. Sterling and Gerki explained that the graf had sent them here on an errand to gather souls willing to investigate some mysterious cattle mutilations at the Goldburrow Farms further north. Fhezik smiled a knowing smile at Yam’s wisdom. It would be a blessed day indeed. He heartily accepted the offer to join them.
The walk to the Goldburrow Farmlands was always a pleasant one and this one had been filled with good conversation that was only interrupted by the occasional squabble between the brothers. He had been here many times and knew that halflings to be good, kind-hearted folk. It was late in the evening and they were just coming into the halfling’s grazing pastures when Gerki and Alkolis spotted a strange shape darting through the grasses off in the distance. They quickly dashed after the movement suspecting that something was lurking among the cattle. Unfortunately, their suspicions were correct as Fhezik soon came upon a gruesome sight. Hyenas had attacked and slaughtered one of the halfling’s cows and the pack was set to take down another. Though Fhezik had never heard tale of hyenas being in these parts, he was relieved that the cause of the mutilations was so innocuous. His relief, however, was quickly abolished when, in the grass beyond the smaller hyenas he saw an impossibly large alpha male whose shoulder bore the brand of a triangle made from jagged arrows. Though he was not personally familiar with the symbol, it filled his heart with dread and he sensed it had infernal origins.
Not to be intimidated, his new friends charged headlong into the pack of hyenas. Sterling rolled into cover and loosed an arrow into the eye of a hyena dropping it instantly, as Deus Vult charged directly into the nearest animal, crushing its skull with a mighty swing of his hammer. Two more hyenas suddenly slumped unconscious, no doubt the work of half-elven magic. For his part, Fhezik leapt forward, channeling Yam’s divine power, and struck his hammer to the holy symbol that emblazoned his shield. The blow sent forth a cacophonous thunderclap that shattered all of the bones in the nearest hyena and blasted into the alpha driving it backwards.
Only the smallest of twitches in the corner of his eye telegraphed the upcoming rage of Tungdil as he roared a challenge at the alpha and charged in to bury his axes in fell beast’s hide. Despite the onslaught, the animal was resilient and soon Tungdil and Deus were fighting in tandem to hold the monstrosity at bay. Though each inflicted significant wounds, the alpha grimly refused to be felled and Fhezik began to wonder if its infernal brand was lending it supernatural endurance.
Suddenly, the sound of a distant horn blew across the plains and the remaining hyenas turned to flee as if being recalled by their master. Tungdil managed to strike down the alpha as it loped away, but one of the lesser hyenas managed to escape, fleeing towards the forest edge.
Surveying the scene of the slain hyenas, Fhezik realized that his companions could work well together and that they would be able to solve this mystery; but, given the late hour, he felt it would be unwise to pursue the animals into the growing darkness. Instead, the party made their way to Oddgar Goldburrow’s home and, despite his protestations, made camp for the night. Setting a watch, they settled in for a long, restless night as the ominous sounds of the horn echoing across the fields continued through the night.
Mystery Solve: What was killing the halfling’s livestock and was it worth all the trouble? Hyenas led by a higher infernal intelligence; Yes.
Mysteries Unsolved: Who blew the horn and why do they want to slay the halflings cattle?
Questions: Were we right to retreat and wait for daybreak or should we have pressed the advantage and followed the sound of the horn?
Rewards: 100 XP
SESSION 2: NOT WHAT HE HAD IN MIND
He did not know how long he had been pacing the floors of Oddgar’s home. Perhaps an hour. He could not say. The halfling’s wife, Penelope, had offered him some tea, which he politely accepted with a weary smile. The warm tea was soothing and helped settle his nerves after the evening’s earlier events. For his part, he remained anxious about what was still lurking out in the fields; however, not everyone shared his dour concerns. The brothers were busy belittling Oddgar’s grievances and retelling the tale of their heroic battle against the hyenas for the third time, as Gerki polished off his third bowl of stew. Fhezik could feel himself growing aggravated by their lack of manners. They had imposed on Oddgar enough already simply by staying in his home. To clean out his pantry and behave so rudely was beyond discourteous.
The final straw came when Alkolis, is an act of youthful hubris, tossed the severed head of a hyena onto the floor at Oddgar’s feet as proof of their victory. At that, Fhezik excused himself and headed outside to get some air. He knew there would be more fighting tonight. The distant horn all but guaranteed it. Sharing his sentiment, Sterling and Tungdil met him outside, followed shortly by Beric who had apparently taken the hint.
The night air was wonderfully comfortable. That perfect temperature when winter and spring were still in a tug-of-war for dominance. Though Oddgar’s home was very cozy, Fhezik found the night air to be a vast improvement. Stepping off the porch, Sterling and he headed towards the stables while Tungdil sauntered off into the boughs of a nearby orchard. He had just rounded the corner of the stables and was peering into the gray waves of the grasses out in the pastures when a sudden tingling crept up his spine causing the hair on his arms to rise. His gut told him that something was lurking in the shadows of the orchard just beyond his vision. Casually reaching down he picked up a pebble. Cupping it in his hands he held it close to his lips and breathed a whispered prayer into it that Yam would reveal the night’s secrets. Then he tossed it deep into the orchard.
Light and sound exploded all at once. A robed, beastly humanoid scurried into cover, as the blessed stone filled the orchard with light. From the porch, Beric screamed in alarm and Fhezik turned just in time to see him cut down by a ghastly man with ragged claws and sloughed, blue skin. The creature’s eyes shown with a sickly green light and his clothes were tattered and decayed. Alarm spread through Fhezik’s body as he realized the monster was a ghoul, recently returned and animated by a malevolent will. No more were they facing mere hyenas.
Past experience had taught Fhezik that the robed figure was likely the malevolent will behind the ghouls. Immediately he moved with purpose towards the caster while summoning forth a burst of lightening to strike at him from afar. The spell hit true, but the creature seemed unfazed. It was clear that a mere cantrip would be insufficient to dispatch him, so Fhezik whitened his knuckles around his warhammer and charged forward.
He could tell from the mayhem erupting around him that everyone else was engaged as well. His companions and he had been sloppy, he thought. They had led these ghouls and their gnoll masters back to the farmstead and had now gotten themselves ambushed as well. Clearly, these creatures were more organized than they had allowed themselves to believe.
Tungdil roared with rage as the paralyzing claws of another ghoul tore into him, rendering him unable to move. Having heard the commotion, Gerki and Alkolis burst through the porch door. Alkolis immediately set about tending to Beric’s wounds as Gerki drew his rapier and launched himself at the nearest ghoul. Deus Vult, chanting a prayer to Torm as he charged, barreled out of the house and into another ghoul.
Initially, things seemed to be going badly. The party had obviously been knocked off-balance by the surprise attack. Beric had falling quickly and many of the others were having trouble getting their bearings as their attacks continuously failed to land. Just as Fhezik buried his warhammer into the ground at the robed gnoll’s feet, an arrow sang over his shoulder and drove deeply into the caster’s shoulder. Finally, something was going right. The gnoll snarled in rage and turned his menacing gaze to Fhezik, intent to kill him quickly. Before he could react, Tungdil rampaged into the gnoll’s blindside, cutting him deeply and nearly launching him into the dirt. A fraction of a second later, bolts of arcane energy streaked between them and blasted a hole into the caster’s chest, felling him at last. Apparently, Beric was back in the fight.
With the caster’s death, his familiar leapt from the trees bent on revenge for his master’s slaying. In short order, Tungdil saw to it that he had joined his master in death. All around the farm, the party was finishing off the last of the survivors. Gerki and Alkolis each dispatched a ghoul with clean precision. Evidence of Sterling’s keen shooting could be seen sticking from the chest of another gnoll. Satisfied that things were well in hand, Fhezik leaned down to examine the robed gnoll. Reaching under his collar he snatched off a leather necklace with an emblem bearing an upside down triangle made of arrows. The same symbol he had seen on the alpha’s shoulder brand earlier that day. His suspicions had been confirmed. These were not random attacks. Someone was orchestrating each move.
He looked to Sterling and could tell that they were thinking the same thing. They collected their wits and then set about tracking the ambushers back to their lair.
Even though it was still a couple of hours before dawn when they struck out, Sterling had no trouble tracking the beasts through the tall grass. The pre-dawn light was just beginning to illuminate the plains when he drew the party to a halt. Ahead of them, silhouetted against the horizon, they could see a small pond in a clearing where several hyenas and gnolls were refreshing themselves. Sterling slinked down onto his belly in the grass and, putting his finger to his lips, signaled for the others to do likewise. Slowly, the party eased towards the pack, being careful not to make any noise. Fhezik was concentrating on suppressing the clinking of his chainmail when a sharp cry came up from behind him. He looked over his shoulder to see Beric frantically digging in his robes moments before he leapt to his feet to begin slapping at the ants that were covering him. With a sigh, Fhezik turned his attention back towards the clearing. The gnolls had vanished and left behind were the snarling hyenas that were now staring directly at them. He suddenly felt very exposed.
Knowing they had been spotted, Tungdil burst into the clearing and charged headlong at the nearest hyena. Gerki loosed an arrow that instantly killed another as Sterling put an arrow into the shoulder of a skulking gnoll who had strayed too far from his cover.
Clutching Yam’s shell to his chest, Fhezik sprinted as hard as he could out of the grass and towards a nearby gnoll. He watched in horrid realization as the gnoll nocked an arrow and drew aim on him. The gnoll was impossibly far away, he would never make it in time. There was nothing he could do as a black-shafted arrow punctured his mail and his lung beyond. Fhezik staggered a few more steps before dropping into the dirt, unconscious.
Moments later he jerked upright. Alkolis was helping him sit up with one hand on his back and the other hand covering the hole where the arrow had just been removed. A vigorous warmth flowed through his body and he knew that Alkolis has saved him from death’s door. Alkolis helped him to his feet and then flashed him a smile before rejoining the fray.
Fhezik quickly surveyed the scene and saw that Deus Vult had been overwhelmed by two particularly savage looking gnolls. Running across the battlefield, he flashed a cantrip back towards the gnoll who had shot him earlier. It landed on target, but only sufficed to distract him. Sliding on his knees up to the body of the fallen paladin, Fhezik poured the healing powers of Yam into him and prayed a silent prayer for his well-being. Immediately, Deus Vult awoke. He gave Fhezik a knowing look and then, grabbing up his warhammer, charged back into the melee, smashing the skull of a gnoll with a vengeful strike.
All around him Fhezik’s companions were beginning to overwhelm their attackers. Gerki drove his rapier through the spine of a gnoll that was too distracted by Tungdil’s raging insults to have noticed his approach. Arrow after arrow sang off of Sterling’s bow as he rained death into the remaining gnolls. Beric and Alkolis seemed to get along best when they were fighting for their lives side-by-side. All around the watering hole the last of the gnolls fell before the ferocity of their attacks.
The sun broke the horizon just as the last gnoll fell dead. In that moment, Fhezik’s mind wandered back to where had been the previous morning. Suddenly, these grasslands did not feel as safe and peaceful as before. Sterling made a quick assessment of the watering hole and informed them that hundreds, if not thousands, of creatures had been through here recently. This was no small raiding party that they were contending with. It was a warband of immense size. Fhezik panicked as he realized that the entire countryside, Oakburn, was in grave peril.
Everyone gathered and hastily discussed their options. It was decided that the local communities had to be notified immediately. Sterling would take someone with him to evacuate Oddgar and his family while the others made haste towards Oakburn. There they would regroup, alert the local reeve to the danger, and then set out towards Ebenau. He only hoped that they were not too late.
Mysteries Solved: The extent of the gnoll invasion is much larger than originally thought. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of them running the plains.
Mysteries: Where are these gnolls coming from? How did they get so powerful, so fast without anyone noticing? What will the party find when they return to Oakburn and Ebenau? What will Graf Horst do when they make their report?
Rewards: 295 xp
SESSION 3: ALL IS NOT WELL IN EBENAU
Fhezik breathed a sigh of relief when Oakburn came into sight. It was mid-morning. The village still stood and, from what he could tell, the town’s folk were none-the-wiser to the imminent threat of the gnolls out on the plains. With all haste, the party made their way into the Dogrobber Alehouse. Fhezik almost jumped in surprise when he saw Sterling, his feet kicked up on a table, throwing back a tankard of ale. Somehow the ranger had beaten them back to Oakburn even though he had doubled-back earlier that morning to evacuate the halflings at Oddgar’s farm. Across the room, Reeve Cenbald Berg caught Fhezik’s attention. He was sitting by the hearth with his wife, Lyra, and was beckoning them all over to sit at a long table near the fire.
The party took a seat, but the Reeve preferred to remain standing at its head. “Well, did you find anything out here,” he demanded. “Or was all just a bunch of hogwash, like I said?” Alkolis and Beric took turns trying to explain the events of the last two days when the Reeve stopped them short and incredulously questioned their account. “There have been no sightings of hyenas or gnolls in these parts for hundreds of years”, he recounted. “Not since the great Gnoll Wars has any gnoll been seen on the plains”, he reassured them. Feeling the room growing thick with the reeve’s skepticism, Fhezik fumbled in his shirt pocket and produced the amulet he had taken from the gnoll caster.
“Do ye recognize this symbol, sir? It was around the neck of a gnoll gifted in the Arts. A summoner of the dead”, he added for emphasis.
Lyra’s eyes widened and she recoiled in disgust. “Put that away, dwarf, and never brandish it here again! Its presence is foul and of the Abyss. It has no place on this plane.”
Embarrassed over her reaction, Fhezik quickly tucked it back into his shirt pocket and apologized for the offense. He tried to press Lyra for more information, but she would say no more about it. Instead she turned her gaze onto Beric. “Might this have something to do with those experiments you have been helping the wizard, Strythar, with? What has he been working on so secretly these past few months? Speak truly,” she demanded. Beric squirmed under her commanding stare and became visibly nervous. Eventually, he relented under her interrogation and conceded that the dagger they had recovered was thought to be an artifact of Bhaal taken from Baldur’s Gate. Lyra suddenly seemed to grow taller as she drew herself up, an angry fire now flickering behind her eyes. In a controlled tone, she cautioned Beric that it was in his best interest to leave these matters alone. When she pressed as to the whereabouts of the dagger, Beric repeatedly denied that he had possession of the knife and surmised that the wizard must have it locked away somewhere. Staring intently at Beric she made it a point to let him know that she would be visiting the wizard soon and would be looking into the matter personally.
A long silence hung in the air as Fhezik suddenly realized how quiet the room had gotten while everyone was listening to Lyra admonish her son. The reeve cleared his throat to reclaim everyone’s attention and reached into his pocket to produce a formal looking document bearing the wax seal of Graf Horst Bucholtz. Walking around the table behind his son, he clasped him on the shoulder and handed it to Alkolis. “This summons arrived here early yesterday morning. The graf requires your immediate return to Ebenau. It does not specify why. Do mind your manners while in court, won’t you?”
Softening the tone, Lyra addressed each of the brothers in turn and hugged them as they made ready to leave. Taking his face in her hands, she looked Beric in his eyes and tasked him to have a care for the safety of his younger brother. She hugged him one last time and retired upstairs.
“You lads take a moment and get yer fill before hitting the trail again,” shouted One-Armed Jeb as he laid out bowls of stew for everyone. The party heartily wolfed down their portion with Gerki asking for seconds, as usual. Over lunch they discussed the road they would take to Ebenau and agreed to meet on the edge of town in an hour once their affairs were in order.
Fhezik walked briskly through Oakburn’s streets wondering if it would be the last time he would see it so serene. He flashed an unassuming smile at Rita as he passed the stables before turning right and heading toward the Chapel of Yam. He stopped on the front steps and stared at his handiwork. Yam’s handiwork, he corrected himself. Could it really be Yam’s will that all his hard work would simply be washed away by the coming tide of gnolls? He clenched his jaw. No. The gnolls would break around Yam’s Temple like waves crashing on the rocks.
He flung open the doors and headed straight for the altar where a pitcher of salt water he had collected from the sea earlier last week was always waiting. Grasping Yam’s Shell to his chest, he took a moment to mentally prepare himself then rolled up his sleeves. He placed a linen towel over his left arm and poured some of the sea water into a wooden bowl that he had carved from a piece of driftwood. Stooping over the table, he cupped some of the water from the bowl into his right hand. Then, whispering a prayer to Yam for his town’s protection, he brushed the water over his head, letting it run down his neck. He focused on the cool trickles as they made their way under his chain shirt and insinuated themselves along the curves of his body, just as Yam’s presence flows through him, permeating every part of his being. He focused on the smell of the sea, allowing it to clear his head and sharpen his focus. He did this four times, once for each day of the tempest that had first brought him to Yam.
Drying himself, he tidied up the altar and then left the temple, securing the doors behind him. He would be back, he told himself. And the temple would be here when he returned.
Everyone was on edge during the return trip to Ebenau. Under normal conditions Fhezik would have delighted to spend the night under the stars on the plains outside of Oakburn. But, given the circumstances, he was relieved when Sterling brought them to a secluded collection of standing rocks that could afford them some protection during the night. Keeping their fire low, they managed to pass the night without attracting the attention of any wandering bands of gnolls.
It was getting late in the afternoon when the black banners of Ebenau Keep came into view. Everyone paused for a moment to consider the implications. A black banner usually signified that someone important had recently died. However, considering the events of the past few days everyone decided to be cautious, just in case. The streets of Ebenau were quiet with few people moving about the usually busy thoroughfares. Fhezik’s initial suspicions were proven correct when they reached the doors to the keep and were met by two armed guard bearing black armbands. Graf Horst Bucholtz had died suddenly, the guards informed them, and his brother Nico was inside consolidating his power among the other nobles. Fhezik had never met the graf personally, but he had the reputation for being a fair and wise ruler.
Initially, the guards were adamant that they not be allowed to enter, but Alkolis used his considerable charm to cajole their way inside. The grand audience chamber was filled with the local nobles, there to pay homage to the Graf Horst, of course; but, more importantly, to sort out the details of the succession and the futures of their claims. The bickering ceased Alkolis, who was given deference due to his noble heritage, was introduced along with the rest of the party. Approaching Graf Nico, Alkolis introduced himself and began to make their report as per the directive of the late Graf Horst. Even though Sterling and Gerki, both agents of the former graf, supported his claims Nico sneered and challenged both their claims authenticity and motives for making them. Out of frustration, Alkolis bid Fhezik showed the amulet to the graf who readily dismissed it as a mere trinket. Fhezik was getting the impression that the graf was willfully dismissing their claims and would continue to do so despite all evidence. Fortunately, a member of another delegation spoke up, as he recognized the symbol that Fhezik held. The symbol he said was that of Yeenoghu, the Demon Lord of Gnolls. At length he described the horrors that Yeenoghu had unleashed on the civilizations of yesteryear. He explained that even the hyenas were hell spawns that they would mutate into fully grown gnolls once they had consumed a mortal’s flesh. Still, the new graf could not be convinced. In a fit of anger Alkolis lashed out at the stubborn graf telling him of the dire consequences of ignoring their warnings; but, the graf was not to be cowed. He dismissed the party, ignoring their pleas for aid.
Fhezik wondered how a man whose task was to keep his people safe could be so obtuse. Regardless, he would see to the protection of his own town. So he prepared to head back to Oakburn at first light.
As they emerged from the keep they realized that the sun had set while they had been inside wasting their breath pleading with the pompous new graf. For a moment they walked in silence, feeling aimless. Everything that they had witnessed, all the dangers they had shared, would bear no fruit. Without the graf’s intervention, the communities would not be prepared and each would eventually fall under the coming tide of slaughtering gnolls.
But such was not Yam’s will. For just when things seemed their bleakest, a friendly hand was offered to them. A shadowy figured emerged from a nearby alley and bid them to counsel with him. Though he was cloaked, Fhezik could tell the man carried himself with a proud, noble bearing. For his part, Fhezik did not feel threatened and took the stranger’s offer as an act of Yam’s divine intervention in their plight. Leading them down a narrow alley, he approached a heavy, iron-bound wooden door, opened it, spilling a blue light into the street, and motioned for them to enter.
Inside, the otherwise cold room had an eerie beauty. Radiant blue light spilled over the marble floors, illuminating an elegant red carpet that flowed across the simple rectangular room and ended at an altar at which stood a gnome propped on an ornate staff. Atop that staff was the source of the blue light, a luminous blue gem that chased the shadows away. The large gentlemen who had escorted them inside crossed the room and, pulling back his cowl, revealed him to be a half-orc, as he turned to face the party by the gnome’s side. Bright plate mail revealed him to be a paladin, but it was the symbol around his neck that intrigued Fhezik. A plate gauntlet grasping a sword by the blade was instantly recognizable to Fhezik and could only mean that these men were members of the Order of the Gauntlet. A collaborative organization that brought together members from various good factions with only one purpose, to confront and combat evil wherever and whenever it arose. Fhezik felt a weight lift from his shoulders. He knew these men were here to help.
The gnome did most of the talking. He introduced himself as Bertic the Wise, and his companion was Brother Maynard. They were the representatives of the Order here in Ebenau and they were gravely concerned. The sudden, recent upset in the political order had put them on edge; but, more pressingly, they recognized and understood the looming threat that the gnolls posed. Knowing that they were too few to attack the gnolls directly, they instead proposed a more subtle offensive. Northeast, in the edges of the Reaching Woods laid Fang Cave, an ancient holy site for the gnolls. Though they did not know if the gnolls had reclaimed the site yet, they were confident that the site still contained many holy relics that could empower the gnolls and bolster their ranks. The Order’s wishes were simple. Find Fang Cave, kill any gnolls that were found there, and return with the holy artifacts. At all costs, these items must be kept out of the hands of the gnolls. To this end, the Order wished to employ Fhezik and his companions.
At first, Fhezik found himself reluctant. To his mind, they should be preparing to defend the local communities from the coming attacks. Oakburn could not withstand an assault, not without aid. If they travelled to the Reaching Woods, they would be too far away to lend any type of realistic help should the gnolls attack. Bertic quieted his frustrations by explaining again that they were too few to stop a full-scale assault and that their best interventions would be to hurt the gnolls behind the scenes. Fhezik never considered himself much of a tactician so he placed his faith in Yam’s wisdom and adhered to Bertic’s advice.
Bertic unfurled a map onto a nearby table and bid Sterling to study it with him. For a few minutes they discussed and plotted a quick, but safe route to the general known location of Fang Cave. Meanwhile, Brother Maynard gave each person a small pouch containing fifty gold coins each as a measure of their good faith. With their course plotted and their plans made, everyone settled in to get some much needed rest. They would depart just before dawn.
Though they were already exhausted from a long day’s journey, they decided it was best to push on into the night. The route here had not been as easy as they had assumed it would be and Sterling was growing visibly aggravated by all of the obstacles that kept appearing on their path. Despite the hardship, they all agreed that it would be best to get this task accomplished as quickly as possible. For his part, Fhezik did not like the idea of delaying for even a single hour if it could be helped. Throughout their journey, his mind had repeatedly drifted back to the inhabitants of Oakburn. He feared for their safety and he would not be able to forgive himself if something happened to them while he was away.
An hour after sunset, the forest’s edge came into view. Never knowing who might be watching, everyone moved forward cautiously. Once safely under the canopy of the old trees, Sterling and Gerki slinked into the underbrush to search out the entrance to Fang Cave while the rest waited quietly in the dark. It was not long before they returned and, in hushed whispers, informed everyone that the entrance to the cave was not very far away, but that there were gnolls guarding its entrance that had to be dealt with first. Both Sterling and Gerki felt that the party had a good chance of sneaking up on and killing the sentries quickly without alerting anyone who might be lurking inside the cave.
Sneaking up to the cave’s entrance went about as well as they had come to expect. Between Tungdil’s grumbling, Deus Vult’s clanking armor, and Fhezik getting his beard caught in the underbrush they might as well have sent a herald ahead to trumpet their arrival. Fortunately for them, the gnolls had grown lax in their duties and were still caught relatively unaware when the party burst into the clearing. Both Tungdil and Deus Vult charged headlong at the gnolls on the far side of the camp neutralizing any threat that their longbows may have held. Having learned a hard lesson regarding the power of those longbows at their last encounter, Fhezik channeled Yam’s will and placed a fog cloud between his companions and the remaining gnolls. At the very least, its obscuring effects would make shooting at his friends and he very difficult, if not impossible.
The battle that ensued was quick and bloody. Gerki struck first, skewering the nearest gnoll before he even knew the halfling was there. With unparalleled skill, Sterling loosed an arrow through the obscuring cloud that found its mark in the heart of a gnoll. Tungdil flew into a blind rage and swung his ax with reckless abandon at the nearest gnoll. His wild swing hit home, hewing the gnoll in two from his right shoulder and exiting at his left thigh. Deus Vult wounded a gnoll that attempted to flee into the cave, only to have it felled moments later by another well-aimed shot from Sterling. Beric wove his magic and the hyenas fell unconscious. Fhezik had engaged the last gnoll, but his hammer could not find its mark. Despite this and seeing his companions fall in combat, the remaining gnoll fled for the cave’s entrance only to unceremoniously fall prone from Beric’s well-placed Grease spell. With the gnoll prostrate on the ground, Tungdil had no problem quickly dispatching him.
Everyone took a moment to catch their breath. For the most part, his companions had come through the melee relatively unharmed. More importantly, no one inside the cave seemed any-the-wiser that they were there.
The entrance to Fang Cave was framed by the ancient, gnarled roots of a mighty oak tree that had grown into the modest rise of a hillside. Fhezik could smell its damp, earthiness as he approached the entrance beneath the tree. Placing a hand on a clump of tangled roots, Fhezik squinted as he peered deep into the tunnel. His gut told him that something was down there even though his darkvision could not see it. Looking over his shoulder at the others, he steeled himself and stepped into the cave.
Revelations: Graf Horst Bucholtz is dead and his brother Nico has assumed the lordship. The Order of the Gauntlet is secretly operating in Ebenau and they are keeping an eye on both the new graf and the emerging gnoll threat.
Mysteries Solved: The symbol is that of Yeenoghu, the Demon Lord of the Gnolls.
Mysteries: How did Graf Horst die? What is his brother’s, Nico, agenda? What is the Order of the Gauntlet doing in Ebenau? What will everyone find in Fang Cave? Is the Dagger of Bhaal in anyway tied in to these situations?
New Allies: Bertic the Wise and Brother Maynard of the Order of the Gauntlet.
Rewards: 185 xp; 50 gold (From the Order the Gauntlet); 1 point of Inspiration.
SESSION 4: “OUT OF THE FRYING PAN…”
The descent into the cave was slight, but was fraught with narrowings, hidden cubbies, and sharp turns that made them all wary. Touching Yam’s symbol on his shield, Fhezik mouthed a silent prayer and it lit up with the brilliance of a torch. His companions gathered around him, Tungdil and Deus at the forefront with Beric and Sterling bringing up the rear. Carefully they proceeded down the earthen corridor until Gerki spotted the flickering shadows of a campfire around the bend. The smell of wet dog in Fhezik’s nose told him that gnolls must close. Gripping his hammer close, he mentally prepared himself for what may lay around the corner.
A sudden yipping followed by the near-miss of an arrow told him that they had been discovered. A rapid succession of gnolls stormed up the passageway. Some with spears and other with bows. Nipping at their heels were hyenas eager to get into the fray. With a fierce dwarven roar Tungdil launched himself into the melee. Close behind came Deus Vult, his warhammer lifted high over his head as he screamed vengeance in the name of Torm. It seemed to take hours to hew away at steady stream of gnolls. Just as the battle began to subside, the clamor of the melee would draw more to them. Finally, the last of the gnolls fell bloody at their feet and they had a chance to assess their circumstances.
Unknowingly, they had steadily advanced into the cave complex, killing several patrols and one small room of soldiers. Fhezik was saddened to discover that Deus Vult and Beric had slaughtered a group female gnolls along with their cubs. Though he understood that gnolls were generally regarded as evil creatures, it was not in keeping with Yam’s faith to kill the helpless, even if they were your enemy. Perhaps he had misjudged the character of his travelling companions after all. He feared for their souls and wished that they would heed Yam’s wisdom. To his amazement and relief, Alkolis seemed to share his sentiment, along with Sterling and some of the others. Maybe all is not a bad as it could be, he thought to himself. Seizing a break in the action, the party decided it prudent to take a moment to gather their strength and rested quietly in a secluded side chamber.
They were not prepared for what they found when they emerged. Gerki had scouted ahead and came back to report that strange mud-like creatures under the direction of a gnoll caster were ahead. They appeared to be repairing a broken stone bridge that had once spanned an enormous whirlpool at the room’s center. Beric informed the party that he knew these fiery mud creatures to be lesser demons and advised caution. It was decided that a quick ambush would afford them the best opportunity for success.
Gerki struck first, ambushing the caster and nearly felling him in a single blow. Sterling followed up, felling the caster with an arrow placed neatly through the neck. Fhezik and Tungdil surged forward hoping to push the fiery creatures into the water. Their plan succeeded as Fhezik’s shield crashed into one demon launching him into the whirlpool and Tungdil simply bull-rushed one off of the ledge. For once things had gone exactly as they had planned. Surveying the room, they had a couple of options to choose from in how they would proceed. A narrow stream that could easily be reached by skirting the boundaries of the whirlpool fed into the chamber. The other option would be to complete the repairs to the bridge and proceed into the gloom beyond. Fhezik found himself staring at the roaring waters of the whirlpool, both awed by its wonder and terrified by its power.
Revelations: The presence of minor demons inside the cave has once again escalated the seriousness of what the gnolls are up to.
Mysteries Remaining: What are the gnolls after in Fang Cave?
Rewards: 180 xp; 25 silver (gnoll loot); 1 trinket (gnoll doll found by Alkolis in room where Deus Vult and Beric slaughtered the mothers and cubs)
Not wanting to stay in Fang Cave any longer than they needed to, everyone agreed that the shallow stream offered the quickest means to finding the ancient gnoll artifacts and completing their task here. Fhezik knew that they were on to something when the first arrows came whizzing out of the darkness beyond a bend in the stream. Tungdil and Deus Vult leapt into action, surging forward in the hopes of overrunning the enemy before their arrows began to whittle the party’s numbers. They rounded the corner at a full run, but quickly came to a screeching halt. This was no small patrol of gnolls they were pursuing, but instead their commander’s entourage. Standing taller than a bear, an alpha-hyena bared his fangs and snarled at them as they ran into the chamber. On a rise to their right a lone gnoll was positioned to rain arrows down onto them. Next to a makeshift camp at the back of the chamber, an immense armored gnoll slowly stood to his feet and raised a menacing-looking glaive in Fhezik’s direction. Everyone stood for a moment staring at one another without saying a word. A sudden cry for help broke the momentary silence and everyone looked upwards to see a human captive trapped on the ledge above them.
It was more information than Fhezik could take in all at once and, suddenly, battle was engaged. Sterling concentrated fire on the gnoll upon the rise above them and got some unexpected help when the captive leapt onto the gnoll’s back and began to hammer away at him with a rock. Gerki and Deus Vult concentrated on felling the alpha-hyena while Fhezik attempted to distract the champion in the hopes of giving his fellows a reprieve. Beric and Alkolis lent their aid by attacking the gnolls from a distance, both with their cutting words and their arcane craft. Tungdil cleared the field of those closest to him and then engaged the champion with the others. The gnoll champion hit like a stone troll and many of Fhezik’s friends were nearly felled by his blows. The battle was hard fought and many allies where very nearly mortally wounded; but, they persevered and, eventually, the gnolls succumbed to the onslaught.
The human captive introduced himself as Hassan Downscar, a local minor noble from Ebenau. He explained that his caravan had been ambushed by the gnolls and that his wife and daughter had been sacrificed in order conjure the fiery demons they had encountered earlier. Though he was a little worse for wear, he agreed that it was in everyone’s best interest to convince the council of the impending danger that the gnolls represented.
Looking around at his fellow companions, Fhezik could tell that the battle had taken an immense toll on them. They agreed to take a long rest to recuperate their strength and to regain their wits. Fhezik sat next to the underground stream and dipped his tired, worn feet in, allowing its cooling waters to wash over them, relaxing him and carrying away his fatigue. Hours later he was gently shaken awake by Sterling. It was time to leave.
It was time to get to work. While he had been sleeping, Sterling had been evaluating the fallen bridge and had devised a means to quickly build a crossing. At his direction, everyone worked together and, within short order, had made a rough bridge that spanned the gap. Proceeding cautiously they entered into a portion of the cavern that had clearly not seen any travel in hundreds of years. Gerki eased forward into the darkness to let his eyes adjust before plunging deeper into the cave. Everyone was waiting anxiously for his report when a sudden ‘thunk’ followed by the halfling’s scream resounded back down the corridor. Fhezik and the others rushed forward to see what had happened to find Gerki lying at the bottom of a pit, clearly hurt. The passing of several hundred years had masked any indication of the trap’s presence; otherwise, Fhezik knew that Gerki would have noticed it. After they lowered a rope down to him, Gerki was easily able to climb back up. Fhezik took a moment to nurse Gerki’s wounds and then everyone leapt over the pit to continue their journey. Everyone made it, except for Fhezik that is. Running in sandals never had afforded him much of a jumping distance and he quickly found himself cursing and scraping at the walls as he plunged downward to shatter his clavicle. A softly spoken and newly-humbled word to Yam saw to his broken bones and a rope saw to his escape. Next time he will wait for a plank to be laid across, he swore to himself.
A puff of dust arose around each of their footsteps as they warily made their way to the back of the chamber. The temperature of the air seemed to noticeably drop and the roaring sound of the nearby whirlpool faded into nothing. Before them stood what they had been seeking. A dark altar of stone, caked with centuries of blood, holding seven ornate skulls. The skulls were those of a canine to be sure, but not any that Fhezik recognized. They were inlaid with gold and silver and dark rubies adorned their eye sockets and coursed throughout their length. Thinking back on it, Fhezik had not given much thought to returning with the dark artifacts, but now seeing them, he was reluctant to even touch them. Then his mind turned back to Oakburn, his community. If these artifacts could help save his town then he would do whatever it took to get them back to Ebenau. Reaching out with a covered hand, he paused for a moment and braced for the worse, before grabbing the closest skull. Nothing happened. Not wanting to tempt fate, he quickly stowed it and another in his bag. The others did likewise with the exception of Gerki who refused to touch any of the skulls stating that he could hear them whispering to him. Though he heard nothing himself, Fhezik did not put it past them that these abyssal objects may just very well be trying to converse in their dark tongue.
Their mission complete, they quickly gathered their belongings, and met Hassan Downscar for the return journey to Ebenau.
They moved quickly, not wanting to waste any time resting and eager to be rid of the accursed skulls. They were still several miles away from Ebenau when they realized that something was not right. Dark smoke was boiling up into the sky from the city’s direction. They re-doubled their speed and, just before sunset, drew to a halt a half mile from the city’s northwestern gate. Before them the city was in flames and the cries of both battle and terror filled the evening air. It was clear that the city was being sacked before their eyes. Against the sun’s setting light, they could make out a large force of gnolls attacking the city on its eastern side as two winged fell beasts assaulted Ebenau’s main keep.
Although they were exhausted and had been anticipating a respite, everyone steeled themselves and double-marched into the city, determined to reach the keep before the gnolls. The streets were largely abandoned except for those fleeing towards the safety of the keep. Keeping to side alleys and narrow roads, they did their best to avoid a confrontation. They were nearly to the keep when a desperate cry rang out from a side street. A family had been cornered by a large pack of ravenous gnolls and, from the families terrified look, it was clear that they were not interested in taking prisoners.
Revelations: Holy Yam! Ebenau has been attacked while we were away.
Mysteries Solved: Found the gnoll artifacts. Seven ornate canine skulls. Clearly of evil origin.
Mysteries: How did such a large force of gnolls manage to surprise the city? What are those flying creatures circling the keep?
New Allies: Hassan Downscar, Minor Ebenau Noble that we rescued from the gnolls in Fang Cave.
Rewards: 150 xp; Seven wholly-evil canine skulls (gnoll artifacts), chain mail (human), glaive, 9 gold, 2 garnets (10 gold each), Potion of Climbing
SESSION 6: “SOMETIMES I HATE BEING RIGHT”
Seeing the family kneeling in the mud, whimpering their pleas for mercy at the gnolls caused Fhezik’s vision to turn red. It was not in his nature to lose his temper, but seeing this helpless family stirred feelings of rage deep inside him that he had never experienced before. In the face of the young girl, all he could see was Rita pleading for her life. The old man could easily be One-Armed Jeb, desperately searching for a way to save his family. Not realizing his companions and he were there, the gnolls leapt into the family, striking down their father and attempting to seize the women. Before he realized it, his feet were moving and he was charging headlong towards the gnoll pack. He drew upon Yam’s infinite power and felt it surge throughout his body. Channeling it into his arms, he drew them out wide and brought his hands together in an earthshattering thunderclap that exploded behind the gnoll lieutenant. The gnolls screamed in pain, their bones shattering as the shockwave ripped through them, sending them flying into the dirt.
Following his lead, Fhezik’s companions stormed past him and fell upon the gnolls, hewing and blasting their way through them. He waded in behind them, swinging his hammer wildly in a blind rage of desperation to save the family. The nimble gnolls easily dodged his reckless attacks and he soon felt himself growing weary. Sensing that he was floundering, Sterling shouted for Fhezik to have a care for the wounded. The father still lived. Fhezik felt a sudden rush of shame that he had allowed himself to become so overwhelmed with emotion that he had failed to tend to those in dire need. It was one of Yam’s most basic tenets, to have a care for all of those in need. He immediately shifted his focus to the wounded family members and, under Yam’s good grace, brought them back from the brink of death.
By the time he had finished helping the father back to his feet the battle was over. The others were bloodied, but little worse for wear. However, they all realized that things could change very quickly. Danger was still very close. Deus Vult picked up the scared little girl and the others helped escort the remaining family members as they quickly, but quietly made their way with all haste towards Ebenau’s main keep.
The guards initially moved to block their entry, but a scowl from Hassan Downscar quickly convinced them it was in their interest to let them pass. Once they were inside, the family was placed in the care of a nearby field hospital. Fhezik could hear the arguing coming from inside the main hall before they even got to the doors. Without waiting to be announced they plowed passed the guards and marched up the center aisle to face Graf Nico. The room fell silent as everyone waited for the bloodied and road-weary companions to speak.
It was Alkolis who spoke first. “At last you have your proof, good graf! The gnolls march upon your gates unchecked and unchallenged for your failure to heed our words! Your arrogance and pride may have very well doomed Ebenau and its poor citizens to a horrible death at the hands of these savage beasts. We go now to defend this city and to save its people. Not by your command, but by our own volition. For we will not see this city burn whilst we each still draw breath!”
With that, he turned on his heel and marched out of the room. Fhezik gave the graf a lingering stare and shook his head sadly before turning to follow Alkolis. Sterling showed the graf his two bow fingers before storming out. Beric gave the graf a mocking smirk then left. Deus Vult pledged his life in defense of the people, then solemnly marched outside. Giving the graf a knowing look, Gerki just shrugged his shoulders and followed the others. Tungdil lifted his kilt, grabbed his cock, and spat on the ground before the graf, then headed for the door.
The world outside was complete chaos. Massive winged creatures swooped down upon the keep unleashing hellfire at its defenders. Outside the gate, the sounds of battle and terrified civilians filled the air alongside the fiery ash and smoke that arose from the town. If there was an organized defense, Fhezik could not see it; but, he knew that if anyone had taken charge it would have been Bartic the Wise and Brother Maynard. They found them in the Chapel of the Order of the Gauntlet. Although he was happy for their return, Bartic postponed any discussion of their journey and had them place the demonic skulls they had recovered from Fang Cave beneath the altar because there were more pressing issues to deal with. The keep would soon be surrounded by the gnolls and he tasked them with defending the postern gate while Brother Maynard and he returned to the ramparts to fend off the demonic beasts assaulting their walls from the skies.
Without a word, everyone rushed towards the gates. Outside, Fhezik could hear the wood of the postern gate buckling under the weight of the gnolls assaulting it. The gate collapsed just as they arrived and a flood of gnolls and their demonic allies stormed through. With a roar of defiance, the companions threw themselves into the invaders. Sterling’s bow sung sending arrow after arrow into their ranks as Beric, realizing that an evil wizard was at the helm of the attackers, sent a web into the gate to trap him and prevent his engagement in the battle. Tungdil’s rage boiled over and he launched himself into the gnolls and demons alike, hacking them to pieces as his great ax hewed their limbs from their bodies and sent the demons screaming back into the abyss. Calling on Torm’s divine wrath, Deus rang hammer blow after hammer blow down upon their heads, crushing the gnolls beneath Torm mighty fury. Gerki slipped forward unawares, found the weak points in each gnolls defense, and plunged his rapier into them with deadly precision. Though the battle was fierce and several of his companions sustained severe injuries, they were ultimately victorious. With Sterling’s help, Fhezik used Yam’s power to seal the breach in the gate. At least it would hold for a time.
It was clear to Fhezik that these gnolls were not ordinary by any means. The presence of infernal magic coupled with their demonic companions stirred a deep fear within Fhezik. He knew that these creatures would not be easily defeated. What’s more, he could not shake the feeling the perhaps the graf’s incompetence was not something more nefarious. It was all too convenient that Graf Horst died under mysterious circumstances only to be replaced with his brother who openly dismissed the gnoll encroachment as dangerous. And here they were just days later fighting an invading army.
Though the battle had been fierce, there was no respite to be had. As the last board of the gate mended itself back together, a weary and wounded Bartic approached them with another task. The Temple of Chauntea was besieged and it occupants would surely be slaughtered soon if no one intervened to safe them. But, the way to the temple was not safe overland, so he gave them a key to the sewers beneath the chapel. From the sewers they would have access to many parts of the city and they should be able to reach the temple without encountering any gnolls if they were careful.
Descending into the sewers was about what Fhezik expected. He fought hard to keep his head above the filth as they worked their way along the tunnel’s edges towards the exit near the river. As unpleasant as it was, it was far better than fighting his way through a steady onslaught of gnolls. It did not take long for them to arrive at the grated exit without alerting anyone to the presence. The grate was firmly bolted into the stone, but it proved little impedance to Tungdil as he wrenched it from its housing and sat it quietly aside. In front of them were the banks of the stream running through town. The desperate cries of civilians echoed into the tunnel as the gnolls continued to slaughter their way through the streets. Quietly, Gerki slipped outside the tunnel and disappeared ahead of them, determined to scout a safe path through the madness in the darkness beyond.
Revelations: Graf Nico crashed the plane into the mountain. But did he do it on purpose?
Tasks Completed: Saved the family and escorted them to the keep; gave Graf Nico a piece of our mind; returned the gnoll artifacts to the Order of the Gauntlet; successfully defended and repaired the postern gate; navigated the sewers to the river’s edge.
Mysteries Solved: Placed the gnoll artifacts under the altar in the Chapel of the Order of the Gauntlet.
Mysteries: How could Ebenau not seen a force of this size approaching? Did Graf Nico allow this happen? Is he a hapless putz or is he in collusion with the gnolls?
Rewards: 400 xp; 14 silver pieces, 12 copper pieces.
SESSION 7: SEPARATING THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF
The party quietly waited in the chilly, waist-deep waters of the stream for half an hour before Gerki returned. It had taken him some time to work his way through the chaos to find a clear path; but, with his help, they managed to evade several of the wandering patrols as they made their way through the ransacked city towards the Temple of Chauntea. Quietly approaching the temple, everyone took up a position behind the closest cluster of bushes and assessed the situation. Fhezik whispered a silent thanks to Yam for letting them arrive just in time. At its front door, a group of gnolls, led by their pack-master, were swinging a makeshift battering ram at the door. Fhezik could feel the crunch in his bones as each blow caused the wood of the door to buckle a little further. Behind the church, two gnolls cackled with delight as they directed a group of bat-like abominations to set fire to the church, blocking any escape from the rear exit.
Everyone took a moment to huddle together and discuss their options. It was decided that Beric would use his magic to grease the path at the front entrance to prevent them from breaking in the front door with battering ram and then everyone would charge towards the rear of the church to douse the flames and kill the demons before turning their attention back to the other gnolls. They waited until the moment was right, and then sprang their trap. Beric’s eyes grew a pale blue as he called upon the arcane energies of the Weave and used them to alter the stones below the gnolls’ feet, creating a thick film of grease across their surface. Immediately one gnoll lost his traction and fell to the ground while another loosed his hold on the ram, struggling to maintain his balance.
Without warning and contrary to the agreed upon plan, Deus Vult threw himself headlong into the group of gnolls at the front door while everyone else began to move north towards the fire. Seeing the trouble he was in, Alkolis did his best to seize control of the gnoll pack-leader in order to keep him from the fray. Unfortunately, his efforts were to no avail as the gnoll pack descended on Deus Vult, striking him unconscious in short order. Tungdil, Fhezik, and Gerki ran as hard as they could to engage the demons while Beric, Alkolis, and Sterling held back and split their attentions between the two groups in an effort to help Deus Vult.
Together Fhezik, Gerki, and Tungdil fell upon the demons and their gnoll masters. Tungdil’s eye began to twitch and the hair on his arms stood up as he willed himself into a furious rage while leaping into the demons. For a time, he disappeared into them and Fhezik feared the worse; but slowly, as if hewing his way through thick brush, Tungdil began to emerge. His mighty ax felling one demon after another. Gerki got as close to the whirling melee as he dared, stabbing at opportune times and doing his best to avoid the teeth and claws from the dretches, as well as, Tungdil’s ax. Fhezik could feel Yam’s divine guidance coursing through him as he slammed his hammer into Yam’s symbol on his shield, sending a thunderous shockwave ripping through the demons.
All around him the fighting was fierce and many of his comrades fell in battle. Gerki was nearly killed by an arrow fired from a cowardly gnoll; but, through Yam’s grace, he was healed to fight on. Alkolis, having done his best to assist from afar, was chased from his hiding place by one of the gnolls and eventually cornered. Sterling ran to his aid and repeatedly loosed a barrage of arrows into the enemy, felling many of them and weakening the pack-master. Though things were not truly desperate yet, Fhezik began to worry that perhaps they had bitten off more than they could chew.
Suddenly, the doors to the church were flung open and the occupants they had come to save rushed to their aid. A cleric of Chauntea came from the back door and helped finish off the last of the demons and gnolls at the back of the church. Up front, a handful of parishioners lent their healing talents to Deus Vult and helped him rise unsteadily to his feet. With the tide shifting steadily back in their direction, Fhezik and Tungdil rushed back to rejoin their comrades. The last of the gnolls began to flee with their arrival. However, never content to let a gnoll escape, Deus Vult chased each one down, crushing their skulls in turn with his maul.
With the battle abated, the cleric of Chauntea introduced herself as Priestess Morningscribe and expressed her gratitude at our timely arrival. Without delay, they rallied the survivors and escorted them back through the sewers to the keep.
They rose out of the sewers back into the Chapel of the Order of the Gauntlet to find Bartic the Wise deep in thought and closely examining one of the unholy relics of Yeenoghu. Taking a moment from studying the skull before him, he turned his penetrating gaze onto the party. Despite their bravado and eagerness to see the gnolls destroyed, he could tell that they were weary and needed rest. He ordered them to take a short respite and, afterwards, he would discuss with them plans on how best to capture one of the gnoll commanders. It was time to take the offensive, time to find out exactly why the gnolls were here.
Revelations: The gnolls are definitely working in concert with demonic forces, but no one knows what their interest is in Ebenau or why its people are targets.
Tasks Completed: Saved the stranded towns people in the Temple of Chauntea and escorted them to safety back at the keep.
Mysteries Solved: None, but we wore their asses out.
Mysteries: Why would the gnolls choose Ebenau for their target? What is their interest in the city? Why are they killing the men and abducting the women? Is it to use them in their demonic summoning ceremonies? And what is happening back in our beloved village of Oakburn?
Rewards: 500 xp
SESSION 8: MISSED
SESSION 9: THE TAINT OF GIANTS
“Ye shite on yer own clothes, ye say?”, asked Fhezik incredulously as he tossed another log onto the fire. The sweet smell of stewed lamb was wafting heavily through the air now.
“Yep, just took a big ol’ dump straight on ‘em.”, replied Sterling as he dipped a finger into the pot and quickly withdrew it to suck on it, testing the stew’s flavor.
Fhezik nearly blew ale out of his nose. “Damn laddie, that takes dedication! No wonder ye smell like shite.”
“Well at least it’s just my clothes. You smell like you’re covered in it after trying to break this big baby’s fall with your body”, he said with a grin as he patted the dead hill giant’s forearm that they were currently using as a bench. “What the hells were you thinking anyway?”
“I was thinking that I better move my arse, but sandals don’t make for quick getaways”, he answered as he held up his sandaled-feet and wiggled his toes in Sterling’s direction.
“Could have been worse”, Sterling added as he gestured towards a badly bruised Alkolis. “He’s still recovering from that unfortunate mishap with the giant’s club.”
“Two mishaps”, Fhezik corrected with a wry smile. They both paused a moment looking at each other and then burst into laughter. Fhezik quickly grimaced and clutched his ribs. “Ah, that giant was a heavy one to be sure”, he laughed between pains from his bruised ribs. “So, tell me again how you eluded those gnolls earlier.”
“It wasn’t much,” began Sterling. “I used the bone mask to make myself into a gnoll, convinced them I was one of them by shitting on my clothes, and then led them on a wild goose chase through the plains until I led them back into the ambush. Simple really.” Sterling nonchalantly poked at the fire with a stick sending some ashes floating over them and up into the night sky.
Fhezik leaned in closer to Sterling and suddenly became very serious. “Ye know those things are evil, right? Pure evil. The masks, I mean. I’d be careful about comin’ to rely on them too much. Ye cannot trust dark magic.”
“Yeah, yeah,” came Sterling reply along with a dismissive wave of his hand. “It got the job done, right? That’s what matters.”
“Ye soul matters more, son. To both me and Yam. I’d like to see ye stay the good lad ye are and not get pulled down because of some reckless decision making. Just be mindful of the consequences is all I’m askin’.”
Sterling nodded that he understood, but said nothing.
With that Fhezik sat back and surveyed the scene around them. The sun had just set and everyone was tending their wounds or prepping for the journey ahead. Slaying the hill giant had been a diversion for them, but he couldn’t help but feel good that they had saved this poor farmer’s sheep and daughters. They had chosen to give what few coins the giant had to the farmer and in return he had invited them to stay awhile and enjoy some mutton stew. Not a bad trade in Fhezik’s opinion.
“Tell me somethin’,” Sterling suddenly said, breaking Fhezik reverie. “Why in the Nine-Hells won’t Beric put that damn knife down? It’s starting to unnerve me.”
Across the campfire, at the edge of the light, stood Beric, seemingly trying to shake a knife out of his hand that wouldn’t let go.
“I see what you mean there,” Fhezik replied. “I haven’t the foggiest idea, but it’s worrisome to me too. What exactly has that boy been into?”
“I dunno”, replied Sterling, “but is it just me, or are we the only two sane people out here?”
“Nothing much seems sane to me anymore,” Fhezik stated flatly as he stood up and poured them a helping of stew into some wooden bowls. “Ever since all this began all I do is go mad with worry. Mad with grief. Mad with desperation. To tell it plainly, I cherish simple moments like these”, he said as he handed a bowl of stew to Sterling.
“I know what you mean”, came Sterling’s response after a thoughtful pause.
For the next few minutes they sat quietly together, staring into the fire, and enjoying their stew as if the world they knew were not collapsing in upon them.
Revelations: There are some deserters among the gnolls who are mad at not getting paid enough and for not being allowed to eat the human captives. The main gnoll army is pushing north to some undisclosed location and for some unknown reason.
Tasks Completed: Evaded and killed a group of deserted gnolls. Also gained valuable intelligence from them. Killed a hill giant that was terrorizing a farmer, his daughter, and his sheep.
Mysteries Solved: None.
Mysteries: Where is the gnoll army head and why?
Rewards: 500 xp.
SESSION 10: LYRA’S RESCUE
“They mean well, ye know,” Fhezik reassured her as he sat atop a worn stone staring out across the plains towards Oakburn. Behind him Lyra Berg stood waist deep in the stream washing the filth of the past few days from her elven frame.
“I know that,” she replied with the hint of a sigh in her voice. “But they are foolish and reckless. Alkolis could have easily gotten all of you killed by entering the camp in such a manner. Those masks are altogether evil. Using them as a disguise is dangerous at best and could cost you your soul at worst.”
“Aye, that’s true,” said Fhezik as he reached down and plucked a long blade of grass from between his feet. “But his plan worked and now we know where they are headed with the other ladies. Thanks to his quick wit, yer now free and soon, so too will be the others, Yam willing.”
“Did you ever suspect?” she asked as she rang the water from the tips of her hair.
“About the sorcery? Aye, I suspected. Over me travels I’ve leart that most elves know a little. But, I’ll admit, yer a fair bit more practiced than I imagined. Given Beric’s talents I should’ve assumed as much.”
“Your rather perceptive for a dwarf,” she said flatly. “In my experience, most of your kind are rather obtuse.”
Fhezik knew that her haughtiness came with the territory, so he easily dismissed it without taking offense. “I like people,” he replied as he flicked the blade of grass out into the wind. “Yam calls upon me to have a care for others and their needs. That requires paying attention to folks.”
“What of Beric then? Have you paid any attention to him? What are his needs?”, she asked in a condescending, but loving way.
“The boy is lost”, Fhezik replied with a heavy heart. The wind caught the blade of grass and he watched as it was carried up high over the grasslands. “He has no direction so he grasps at anything that will give him meanin’. The dagger of Bhaal that is permanently affixed in his hand should be proof enough of that.”
“I had nothing to do with that. I warned him,” came her somewhat heated retort as she stepped out onto the stream’s bank to retrieve her clothes. Fhezik could tell that she took his words personally, though he did not mean them as such.
“Aye, ya did. But if he is to be believed, he was manipulated easily enough by someone posin’ as ye in his dreams to make him do it. Ye could say, he did it for you…however misguided it was.”
“Now see here, dwarf!” Lyra was as emotional as Fhezik had ever seen her. Still pulling her robe on, she stepped directly in front of him so that she could look down on him. “You are no sage. You know nothing of my children. Do not presume to pass off Yam’s wisdom as some profundity. I once thought you wise, but I see now you are merely a fool. Is it not time for you to be leaving to catch the caravan with the prisoners that is headed towards Baldur’s Gate? Perhaps you should expend the limits of your modest intellect preparing for that encounter,” she said as she pointed a finger at his nose for emphasis.
With that, she turned and left him in silence to look out over the grasslands once more. Out in the distance, the blade of grass that had once been carried so high by the wind fell into the grasses and disappeared.
Revelations: The gnolls have crated up the women and are sending them to Baldur’s Gate in a human caravan to avoid suspicion.
Tasks Completed: We saved Lyra Berg, Alkolis’ and Beric’s Mom!!
New Tasks: Travel to Eltherell and meet with Leosin Erlanthar to gain quick passage to Baldur’s Gate so that we can head off the gnoll caravan.
Mysteries Solved: The gnolls are sending the captives to Baldur’s Gate.
Mysteries: Why are the gnolls taking them to Baldur’s Gate?
Rewards: 550 xp.
SESSION 11: THE GRAND ILLUSION
“This isn’t the way that I prefer to do things, lad”, Fhezik said as he pulled the ropes tight around the hands and feet of a naked Alkolis, “but I’m quite honest out of ideas.”
“This is an injustice,” cried Alkolis as he rolled over to look up at Fhezik and the others. “A crime against my family name! Don’t you know who I am?”
“Aye, I do,” came Fhezik’s reply. “Yer the one who damn near killed to one we swore to protect,” he said looking over at Theodriel, the cursed elf in the form of a majestic golden stag.
“What are you talking about?”, asked Alkolis. “I have not attacked anyone. I have been resting here in the grass all evening, enjoying the night air.”
“Yer naked”, observed Fhezik.
“Well…yes”, began Alkolis slowly. “All those of high birth enjoy the elements in such a way. I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”
“And the fact that you attacked the golden stag, cursed elf fella…?”, asked Fhezik leadingly.
“We all saw ye turn into a bloody wolf-monstrosity!”, stammered Fhezik, his impatience clearly showing. “If it wasn’t ye, as ye say, who in the nine hells could it have been?”
“I couldn’t say”, came Alkolis’ reply. “I was here, resting in the grass.”
“No ya weren’t!”, came Fhezik’s aggravated reply. “We all saw ye change”, he said motioning to the others around him, who all nodded their heads in approval.
From his position on the ground, Alkolis looked around those circling him to each party member in turn, searching hard for an ally. Finally, he inhaled deeply and let out a long sigh before saying, “It is true then, it is as I feared.”
Fhezik leaned down and placed his hand reassuringly on Alkolis’ shoulder. “It’s alright, son. We will make sure this…”, began Fhezik’s emphatic consolation.
“You are all deceived by a powerful wizard’s grand illusion”, Alkolis cut him off.
“What?!” Fhezik could not believe what he just heard.
“Yes, I have suspected it for some time,” came Alkolis’ reply as he looked up at Fhezik with a stare of unbelievable seriousness. His voice dropped to a whisper. “Don’t let him fool you”, he said, his eyes glancing towards Beric. “He is a far more powerful illusionist that you can imagine, and he has always been jealous of me.”
Fhezik was stunned for a moment by what he was hearing. “Have you lost yer fuckin’ mind?”, he finally said. “We aren’t all deceived by some mage’s trickery, nor is yer brother behind it.”
“I feared you would say that”, came his reply. “You are too deeply mesmerized to see the truth. Free me and I will do my best to unravel that schemers sinister illusions.”
“Yer bloody daft is what you are. We all saw you change. We all saw you attack Theodriel the cursed stag elf-fella”, was all Fhezik could retort.
“No you didn’t,” Alkolis stated flatly.
“YES, WE DID!”, Fhezik shouted as he gestured wildly at the other for confirmation.
Revelations: Encountered Theodriel, a cursed elf, in a ruined tower. He is cursed to turn into a beautiful golden stag if he leaves the entrance to the tower. He has tried leaving several times, but local hunters have seen him and prize him for his golden coat. He is terrified to leave for fear he will be killed by the hunters.
Tasks Completed: None
New Tasks: Escort Theodriel (as a stag) to the town of Elturel safely so that he may have his curse removed.
Mysteries Solved: Yes, it is clear now that Alkolis is cursed as a werewolf.
Mysteries: Who cursed Theodriel and why?
Rewards: 450 XP
SESSION 12: ALL THAT REMAINS
Fhezik sat on an old wooden bench staring into the passing crowd as its figures shifted and swayed liked the grasses on the plains outside of Oakburn. The blue light from Elturel’s protective beacon cast a light on them not unlike that of a full moon.
“All these lives passing by and no knowledge of the horrors that wait fer ‘em just outside their borders,” he said knowingly as he looked over to the man beside him.
“No doubt ‘bout that”, came Fhezik’s reply to the man’s unspoken comment. “We were damn near killed by those shadow demons outside of town, but the evil that lurks in men’s hearts be more dangerous by far. Jus’ look what happened the moment we passed through those gates there,” he said as he motioned towards the fortified gates of Elturel. “Ambushed by dark men seeking to profit from killin’ the golden stag.”
“We beat ‘em back sure, but seems to be no respite these days.” Unwittingly, his hand clasp around the glistening Shell of Yam hanging from around his neck. “It gives one pause, …it surely does,” he murmured as the city guards hoisted the last of the thug’s bodies from the street before heaving it onto a wagon already stacked with the corpses of his accomplices.
“Is there any good left in anybody out there,” Fhezik asked as he scanned the passing crowd, “or is everyone just out fer themselves these days?” His meek inquiry was quickly lost to the hustling noise of the busy street.
“Perhaps in yer days things weren’t quite so complicated. Maybe they were simpler,” he posited while casting a glance beside him.
“Probably not,” he answered himself. “A hell of a lot went down in yer lifetime if me dad’s stories are to be believed. I cannot say I’d like to have been there to see it.”
“But seems to me that you’ve seen too little for a fella yer age,” Fhezik went on, motioning to the man beside him. “Ye missed most of it, I imagine, livin’ in that run down keep fer all those years. Doesn’t seem rightly fair to me.”
He paused for a moment, thinking to himself. “Maybe one day I can remedy that fer ye.”
With that, he reached over beside him, scooped up the pouch containing Theodriel’s dusty remains, and tucked them into his pocket.
Revelations: Theodriel was ancient and well-past even the elongated lifespans of the elves.
Things We Did: Escorted Theodriel to the Tower of the Mages where Madame Bethel broke his curse. In parting, he gave us his Bag of Holding and all its contents as a reward for getting him safely to Elturel. He then quickly deteriorated to ashes and dust due to his extreme age. Everyone cursed with lycanthrope was given a potion to cure them. Everyone took theirs except for Alkolis, who seems to be toying with the idea of being a werewolf.
Tasks Completed: Safely escorted Theodriel to Elturel and had his curse lifted.
New Tasks: Find Leosin and secure passage to Baldur’s Gate.
Mysteries Solved: None.
New Mysteries: None
Rewards: 2500 cp, 500 s, 110 g; Bag of Holding, 4 pieces of ancient jewelry (25 gold each), 2 Potions of Healing, 3 arcane scrolls (Rope Trick, Poison Spray, Witchbolt), Potion of Climbing; 900 XP; Pouch of Theodriel’s ash/dust remains (Fhezik)