The Lastlight Chronicles

A world of adventure...
Plot hooks galore!

This summarises the current story threads and side quests gathered to date in this rather sandbox-y campaign. It includes the PCs who’ve learned of these plot hooks, as well as where they heard the bulk of the news relating to the hook.

 

[Carnacki, Erol, Rastus, Taerus: Vandalin]: where is Gundren Hearthhold, missing member of the Forge, and his map to Deepriver Mine?

 

[Carnacki, Erol, Rastus, Taerus: Vandalin]: what happened to Futhir and Thrannir, the two gnomes who knew Gundren Hearthhold?  It’s said that they may be able to narrow down the location of Deepriver Mine. They may be located in a gnome settlement at Widowsreach, a treacherous peak that marks the border between the Heathlands and Sunder.

 

[Carnacki, Erol, Rastus, Taerus: Vandalin]: Who is ‘Blackvale’? He appears to be a bandit lord of particularly ill repute, who’s renowned for his cruelty and may be somewhere in southern Sunder. Carnacki and the others know that Blackvale is a member of the Drakoyiska, an apocalyptic cult that worships the power of the long-extinct dragons. In addition, Elliyas (Necromancer of Vandalin) appears to work for Blackvale.

 

[Erol, Taerus: Redpeak]: An abandoned castle near Redpeak is swarming with goblinoids, and endangering the trade route that runs south from Sunder and out toward the Heathlands. Many merchants are employing mercenaries to protect their wares, or alternatively taking the more treacherous path via Widowsreach. But why was the castle being threatened by zombies?

 

[Carnacki: Vandalin]: where is Deepriver Mine? It is understood that the Hearthhold Dwarves and local gnomes used to operate a mine in the mountains of Sunder called ‘Deepriver’, hundreds of years ago during the time of Dragons. The stories say that Deepriver Mine was where the Magisters used to forge magical artefacts to defend the world against the dark forces from the south. The mine was the site of a battle during the Great War, and it’s believed that in the battle’s final moments the defenders used ancient sorceries to seal it shut rather than let it fall into enemy hands. The location of the mine has been lost for centuries, but many suspect it to be located in the hills near Vandalin or the mountains south of Thunderfell.

 

[Carnacki, Rastus: Dezinry Encampment]: who or what is the Raven King?

 

[Carnacki, Rastus: Vandalin]: Lady Garael of the Church of Marianus advises that a ghost is said to haunt Finneg’s Mire. “She’s harmless, but said to answer any three questions truthfully. I have but one question for the ghost: does Gethaemir of the Golden Glade yet live?”. Garael passes Carnacki a small amulet said to belong to the ghost.

 

[Carnacki: Thunderfell]: A Tiefling lad named Kailen Pavel explains that his mother, Temperance Pavel, was killed in the Dripping Caves. He asks Carnacki and the others whether they’d travel to Byeldrir – a city in the frostbitten southern land of Themgir, not far from where Carnacki grew up – and tell Temperance’s parents that their only daughter has passed away. Kailen isn’t sure whether he will stay in Thunderfell, the only home he’s known, or go to Themgir himself. Temperance’s parents are Tharm and Anguish Pavel, and they run the furriers on Three Towns Lane.

 

[Aerwyn, Dardiana: Thunderfell]: Heyek Meltrum, priest of Thunderfell, recognises Dardiana’s tressym as the pet of Melantha and Lathan Kelbrin. The Kelbrins died in the Cloud Giant attack on Thunderfell. Heyek tells Dardiana and Aerwyn that Kelbrin’s son lives in Gilder in Mittel, and he’d no doubt appreciate it if they visited him there and returned the tressym. The son’s name is Tor Kelbrin.

 

[Tagar: Thunderfell]: Morak the dwarf says that Darthag Goodbrace, who ran the local trading post and was slain by goblins, was a wealthy retiree who’d set up a successful trading company with his ex-wife and daughter, Alara and Lena. Alara is now based out of Thistleton in the Heathlands, and Morak would appreciate it if the adventurers could tell her the sad news.

 

[Aerwyn, Dardiana, Tagar: Road to Athelbray]: the merchant, Gerth Camble, is owed a favour that he may call in at a later stage. Gerth is based in Lastlight but travels throughout Sunder and the Heathlands.

 

[Dardiana: Athelbray]: Galeme Northshield tells Dardiana of a retired adventurer friend of hers, named Lock On An Open Door. Lock has a Giant Slayer Axe that has served him well in the past, but he has no further need of it. Galeme writes a letter of recommendation for Dardiana, and says that Lock can be found at the Weeping Bluff, just outside the town of Thunderfell which sits near the southern edge of Mittel.

 

[Aerwyn, Carnacki, Dardiana, Erol, Tagar: Athelbray]: Dara McThandrel advises the adventurers that if they seek the Forge, their best bet is to seek out Borytris Vel, a wise if eccentric adventurer currently based in Ombrey. With a letter of recommendation from Dara, Borytris may induct them into the Forge and explain the secrets of this organisation.

 

[Aerwyn, Tagar: Athelbray]: Ghelryn Foehammer is thankful to his two battle-brothers for helping him dispatch the enemies of Athelbray. He provides them, and their compatriots, with letters of recommendation to the dwarven kingdoms of Silverhelm and Skyshear, which lay to the south toward the border of Larnarch and Themgir (that is, about two to three weeks’ travel from Athelbray). Ghelryn is a celebrated warrior and smith in both lands, and these letters should grant them protection, shelter and free passage. Ghelryn also informs them that the Fire Giants of old once sought an ancient treasure of the dwarves, known as ‘The Furnace Primordial’. The Giants may go to war against the dwarves once more, in a quest to take this treasure and power their arcane machines of war.  

 

[Erol: Athelbray]: Maz Helgarsson recognises Erol to be a former Altamarian soldier, from his accent and stance. He advises Erol that a foe of the Altamarians passed through some weeks back. His name is Hrothgar and he’s the brother to Harald Redthen the infamous bandit lord of the Heathlands. Maz has little love for these bandits, and says that capturing Hrothgar Redthen would fetch a pretty penny and provide some excellent leverage over the scoundrels that roam the land.

 

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Session 6F: The Siege of Athelbray
Farewell Leonar, we barely knew you.

With two Fire Giants and their minions descending upon the town of Athelbray, Dara McThandrel rallies her troops and townsfolk and sends people to the wall. Leonar Tesrin, adventure-loving shopkeep, and Ghelryn Foehammer, crotchety blacksmith, throw a variety of weapons into the centre of the town for town’s defenders to pick up. Dara and Erol, Ranger of Sunder, take a position on the western-most tower near the town gate, while Maz the groundskeeper flees behind city walls and then (along with many villagers) out the back gate. Galeme and Dardiana set themselves up in the north-western tower, not far from Northshield House.

 

Carnacki and Aerwyn enter the Athelbray Adventurer’s Association and ‘negotiate’ the removal of Parasmus. Aerwyn is convinced that the Giants are looking for the man, so he turns Parasmus invisible and hides him by the city baths.

 

Boulders are lazily hurled by the Fire Giants, smashing much of the southern wall and wiping out militia positioned along the towers. A boulder destroys the house of the town Advocate, who Aerwyn had met earlier that morning, while another embeds itself in the square near the northeastern corner of the town. Debris rains down upon Goodbrace Trading Company, the trading post maintained by Leonar. Ghelryn marches toward the gate but is repulsed by Altamarian soldiers who’ve barricaded it against the advancing forces. The dwarf instead finds a new position on the southwestern wall, close to the oncoming enemy. He’s followed by Tagar the Half-Orc, and his trusty giant squirrel companion. Dara and Erol concentrate their arrows on one of the Fire Giants, whilst narrowly avoiding thrown boulders, while Dardiana and Galeme pick off one of the war-rhinos and mortally wound one of the Orogs. A stray boulder smashes through the gatehouse and crushes the Altamarian soldiers, although the gate itself remains secure. Dara and Galeme dash down to reinforce the gate, while Erol remains keeps the high ground. Carnacki positions himself in the Lord Protector’s tower in the centre of town, using his longbow to pick at the Fire Giants and wounded Orog outside the city walls.

 

Leonar, having emptied the (now-collapsing) trading post of anything useful, rallies the locals to prepare a bucket chain in case of fires. Once that’s done, he runs to the front gate. On the walls, Ghelryn leaps down onto a passing Orog. Tagar follows, with Scruffy in tow, and a desperate fight breaks out. The giant squirrel is perhaps the most valuable participant in the battle, attaching itself to the face of the armoured uber-Orc. One of the Giants passes by, but a small horde of magmins look to join the fray. The surviving rhino, having lost its mount, charges onward toward the city gates alongside the female Giant, and together they smash through the gate. Aerwyn inadvertently joins the fray outside the city walls, tripping on a damaged section of the southern battlements and falling down the embankment below. Once he dusts himself out, he uses his Horn of Silent Alarm to attract the second Giant’s attention and tries to engage it in conversation, using the ancient Tharnic language. He learns that they are seeking some form of treasure, but the Giant isn’t in the mood for conversation.

 

With the squirrel-scratched Orog defeated, Tagar, Ghelryn and Scruffy find themselves flanked by magmins. They dispose of their foes, but not before suffering additional wounds as their lava-filled foes explode upon death. Aerwyn throws ice knives into the fray, but the magmins do not seem overly susceptible to such magic. In the sprawl of buildings outside town, a few magmins gleefully begin to set houses and inns alight. Maz, having circled around from the northeastern corner of town, uses his sling to first kill the wounded Orog then to distract down the magmins from their task. At the front gate, the rhino is quickly slain while the Fire Giant kills Leonar with a single blow. Dara, Galeme, and Galeme’s mastiffs swarm the Giant’s legs and manage to successfully trip her. Their massive foe falls prone, and is peppered with blows. Erol, finding himself on the losing end of a fire-breathing mephit, leaps from the tower above onto the Giant’s back but is barely able to penetrate her armour. Mephits pick off some of Galeme’s dogs, while the Giant – bleeding from her copious wounds – gets back to her feet and flees the surprisingly well-defended town gates.

 

As the Giants retreat with surviving mephits and magmins in tow, Ghelryn darts forward and slices deep into the female Giant’s leg. The wound is a fatal one; the titan toppled and fell, almost crushing the Dwarf. The surviving male turned and smashed Ghelryn into the ground with a mighty sweep of his blade, but Aerwyn used his magic to stabilise the dwarf and heal the massive wound. The surviving foes retreated, leaving behind corpses of a Giant, Orogs and rhinos, as well as a bag of possessions and a gigantic metal rod. 

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Downtime: On The Road
It’s Tiefling time again

After successfully freeing the surviving villagers from the Dripping Caves, Carnacki returns to Thunderfell along with the bedraggled villagers. He strikes up conversation with Morak, the dwarven innkeeper. Carnacki talks to Morak about a range of topics, including the Hearthhold family, the Forge, Lantern’s Flame, the necromancer of Vandalin, Blackvale and the Drakoyiska. Morak manages to fill in some gaps, and confirm some things that Carnacki already suspected. About a fortnight ago, Gwendalyn Hearthhold had told him that the missing map had been for a mine overrun hundreds of years ago. The letter found in Vandalin said that Blackvale is looking for the map, and for the mine also. The disappearance of Futhir and Thrannir now seems connected to the disappearance of Gundren Hearthhold (Gwendalyn’s brother, who’d been a member of the Forge). Perhaps the gnomes were a back-up plan if the map went missing, or a loose end that Blackvale wanted tied off? Carnacki now knows the name of the mine – Deepriver – and feels like he can do something with that information.

 

Carnacki decides to leave Thunderfell that afternoon; he’s keen to know more about the Forge, and see whether he can get more information on the gnomes and Deepriver. In addition, he’d like to know what’s happened to his compatriots that he left Lastlight with! A couple of days’ trek later and he’s near Vandalin. He meets Erol on the road, who explains that he’s been down south near Redpeak. Erol had gone there with Taerus and Gwendalyn, and had found a castle that seemed to be the base of operations for swarms of goblins. Erol got separated from the others in a sprawling fight, and was returning to Lastlight to update the Rangers on their exploits. Carnacki suggests that they travel east, both a) to see if they can find Rastus, who went this way, and b) to go to Athelbray, which is several days’ along this road. Morak had told him that Athelbray was ruled by Dara McThandrel, who knows about the Forge and is believed to be sympathetic toward adventurers.

 

So, Erol and Carnacki head east, past the mountain of Widowsreach (where they pause for several hours to fight off some hyena-headed gnolls that lurked along the twisting and treacherous paths), then out of Sunder and down into the craggy Heathlands. After several days they arrive in Athelbray, a fortified town on a popular trade route between Altamar in the north and Larnarch in the distant southeast. They stay at a venue called the Athelbray Adventurer’s Association, a shambolic den of iniquity where adventurers sign up to guard the many caravans that ply their trade through the region – provided a hefty commission is taken by Arlen Stockspool, the Association’s keen-eyed owner.

 

Dara McThandrel was out surveying the town’s nearby ranches the next day, so Erol and Carnacki knock about the town and set to drinking (Carnacki uses his Disguise spell to appear as a human rather than tiefling, and Erol stashes his Sunderian Ranger cloak). They discover that some of their drinking partners are sympathetic to the Heathlander rebellions, and others are familiar with the phrase ‘Lantern’s Flame’. Some subtle questions around Blackvale and the Drakoyiska earn them suspicious looks, although they do discover that there’s a gnome town near Widowsreach – so, looks like they’ve over-shot a potential lead by a few days.

 

The next morning, Carnacki and Erol wake late and a little worse for wear. They’re exploring the market when they hear a strange ‘whooshing’ noise, and see a massive boulder crash into the town’s fortifications…

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Sessions 4 and 5: From the Tree of Stars to Athelbray
All this and a giant squirrel.

The eighth and ninth week of Autumn were, in retrospect, a bit of a blur for our travelling companions. Having left Carnacki to accompany the rescued villagers from the Dripping Caves to Thunderfell, our fearless crew went to the Tree of Stars to meet an ancient druid named Verreban. The Tree was located a few short hours from the (mostly human) settlement, and as the adventurers travelled through the wilderness they realised that an old elven city had once stood here. After dispatching some vine blights in the ruins, they found a small hut near the edge of the ruins. Rather than Verreban, they met Granny Greyteeth – an annis hag who they knew dwelled in the region. Granny gave them some information and didn’t eat them, in exchange for some of Tagar’s guilt and an indecipherable map that Dardiana had carried with her for some months.

 

Following their unsettling experience with the hag, the adventurers travelled back through the town until they found Verreban. Verreban was a weary old elf, from an ancient lineage that had all but perished in the great wars. Verreban couldn’t recall Parasmus in any detail, but provided the group with the opportunity to lay under the Tree and bathe in its visions.

 

Between the hag and Verreban, the group learned the following:

  • The All-Father, lord of the Giants, has either passed or gone missing. The Compact of Tharn, an age-old agreement which kept the ‘Six High’ (the Giant races) cooperating, has been broken.
  • The Cloud Giants seek fragments of an ancient artefact that was forged hundreds of years ago. This artefact, called the ‘Vonindod’, malfunctioned and banished them to their semi-material form that they have now. The Cloud Giants now phase in and out of this reality and other planes; by putting this artefact back together again, they hope to regain their old form. The only problem is, they may destroy this world in the process.
  • The other Giant races are Storm, Stone, Hill, Frost and Fire. Fire Giants helped construct the Vonindod along with the Cloud Giants
  • Dragons may be returning to the world. It’s unclear whether the characters saw a vision of the past or future under the Tree of Stars, but Verreban seemed to indicate that it was the latter.

 

Returning to Thunderfell, the adventurers met with a feast and were gifted some artefacts by Morak, the dwarf innkeeper who had seen himself become the default town leader. These included a Horn of Silent Alarm, a Driftglobe and a shortsword that was imbued with moonlight. The adventurers left the following day, after helping the villagers repair the damaged bridge to the keep, and ventured back to Vandalin.

 

It was Shadow’s Day, a fortnight to the day that they’d met in Lastlight to accept a mission from Gillam Sucain, that they returned to this mysterious town in southern Sunder. Vandalin was weirdly welcoming, with a festival atmosphere to celebrate the appointment of a new townmaster and provide a wake for those that had died by undead hands a week before. After being unceremoniously tooted at by Aerwyn with the Horn of Silent Alarm, the adventurers found Talia Thornton (the new townmaster) to be suspicious and angry. While not physically aggressive, she clearly felt that adventurers had ruined the town and suspected Parasmus to be a spy. She cheerfully told them that she’d sent him along the eastern road, to Widowsreach and the Heathlands, and had seemingly little care for his fate. The adventurers agreed to leave in peace, but let Talia know that if she ever threatened them or sent ruffians after them, they’d come back for her head.

 

The next morning, the adventurers headed east along the Widow’s Road. It was a long and slow trek, with the treacherous path around Widowsreach was littered with what looks like rope and broken carriages amongst the tree tops – perhaps the sign of a strange battle, or a merchant caravan that ran off the track? The air was heavy with the scent of gnolls, but thankfully there were no ill encounters. Coming down the other side of the mountain, the track became clearer but the weather turned foul. As they moved from Sunder into the edge of the Heathlands, the adventurers found themselves rained on and sought shelter in a forest. They spot some firbolgs in the distance, but were not assaulted. Tagar, communing with nature, met a giant squirrel that he called ‘Scruffy’, who followed them on their adventures from her on. 

 

After the forest, the travellers moved into the heath itself – patchy thickets over broken ground, ranging from knee- to waist-height. Tagar finds small game in the undergrowth to avoid dipping too deeply into the rations, and the group notice the signs of old battles here; disguised trenches, sharpened stakes in artificial creeks, and low bridges rigged to collapse, to slow invading armies. Along the road they meet Gerth Camble, a dwarf merchant from Lastlight. Camble agrees to carry a letter from them back to Gillaim Sucain and the Rangers of Sunder, in exchange for a future favour.

 

Their destination is Athelbray, a prosperous town at the juncture of Widow’s Road and a booming trade route between Altamar in the north and Larnach in the south. Athelbray is best said to be in, rather than of, the Heathlands; its enviable position means it’s a richer and more cosmopolitan than other settlements in the area. The adventurers meet Maz Helgarsson, a groundskeeper, who provides them with a run-down of better and worse locales for a few coin. On Maz’s recommendation, they go to Northshield House, a well-kept inn operated by a no-nonsense former adventurer Galeme Northshield.

 

The next day, the group explore the town and meet a range of locals. They spend the most time with Ghelryn Foehammer, an elderly dwarf who runs a celebrated armoury; Silas McAlisker, an innkeeper of a run-down establishment named The Talking Troll who has a love for musical theatre; and Dara McThandrel, local townmaster who protects Athelbray following the death of their last lord a few decades ago.

 

Dardiana decides to perform a number in the square, and for her troubles manages to draw out both Leonar Tesrin, a shopkeep with dreams of glory, and Arlen Stockspool, owner of the Athelbray Adventurer’s Association. They discover that Stockspool had Parasmus delivered to him a couple of days previously. Stockspool doesn’t believe Parasmus to be a spy, but wants some coin for his trouble. In exchange for a future performance and some secrets regarding Othovir Dessrin, a Septeme-born harness-maker, Stockspool agrees to hand Parasmus over.  Aerwyn uses his spell of invisibility to sneak into the harness-maker’s personal quarters and finds a lockbox embossed with a boar-headed seal, but Tagar, Dardiana and Scruffy have little luck extracting secrets from Othovir.

 

As the troupe decide to climb the rock-hewn stairs that lead to the abbey overlooking Athelbray, they survey the land and see that two Fire Giants, accompanied by rhino-born Orogs and a small gang of fiery creatures. The Giants both hold massive metal rods in their hand, perhaps five foot long, and they move them as they walk as if sensing the presence of something. Casually, one of them picks up a massive boulder from the ground and hurls it toward the walls of Athelbray…

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Session 3E: The Dripping Caves
The parties meet for the first time

It’s midday on a mid-Autumn day in the mountains of Sunder, in the small town of Thunderfell. Bodies of goblins and worgs remain strewn about the town, and the bodies of some unfortunate villagers can be seen under massive boulders that appear to have rained down upon the town, destroying several buildings along the way.

The adventurers – Tagar, Aerwyn and Dardiana – are just about to talk to a travelling monk named Kella when a tiefling, clad in wolfskin cloak, arrives at the open drawbridge. He introduces himself as a Ranger of Sunder and member of the Six Swords Society, and explains that he’s come from Vandalin after overhearing conversations between Talia Thornton and some ne’er-do-wells. It seems the acting Townmaster has sent men to search the western road to Mittel and take care of the adventurers. The tiefling has travelled by foot, and believes he’s just beaten these would-be-assassins to Thunderfell – but they are not far behind. Dardiana and Aerwyn talk to Kella to understand what may have happened, but her answers are unconvincing and don’t appear to line up with information provided by Talia. Then, the sound of horses spurs the group into action – Aerwyn and Tagar close the drawbridge, while Dardiana entreats Kella to hide in the inn.

On the far side of the moat are seven men on horseback, cloaked and armed. Carnacki, the tiefling, recognises one of them as a thug-for-hire from Lastlight, named Kenric. The leader of the group entreats them to open the gate, but when the party don’t cooperate they wheel their horses around and turn back toward Vandalin. When the adventurers climb down from the watchtowers, they find that Kella is gone. Her tracks lead to the palisade wall and then vanish; Tagar spots some handholds that she could have used if she was particularly good at climbing, and an empty flask at the foot of the wall, but there are otherwise no signs of how she made her escape.

Using a combination of elbow grease, teamwork and sorcery, the adventurers bridge the smashed walkway to the damaged keep and enter to discover four guards and the body of Lady Nandar, the ruler of Thunderfell. The guards explain that, a few days ago, a strange cloud appeared over the skies of Thunderfell, and the sky began to rain massive boulders. Lady Nandar was one of the first victims, with the keep’s upper floors taking the brunt of the damage. With the keep cut off, the villagers and guards in town fled west, led by a dwarf innkeeper named Morak. Once the town was clear, gigantic figures – humanoid in shape, but impossibly tall – effortlessly floated down and took an obisidian obelisk that has sat within the town square for time immemorial. Aerwyn sketches the Old Tharnic runes he’d seen previously at the Valley of the Fallen Magisters, and one of the guards recognises the rune that could represent wind, cloud or spirit. When Carnacki asks about what happened to Lord Nandar, the guards explain that he was killed some years back in a hunting expedition in the nearby forest by elves. It appears that relationships between the local wood elves and humans are somewhat frosty; the wood elves feel the land to be theirs, as Thunderfell belonged to the elven kingdom that was all but destroyed in the Great War.

The adventurers return to the town itself with the guards, and take a short rest to rejuvenate themselves. As the party restock their quivers from the ruins of the general store, the guards explain that the surviving villagers most likely fled to the Dripping Caves. These are a series of caverns known to locals that are about a mile up the road, not far from where the track branches out to the Tree of Stars. The Tree, they say, is protected by an ancient druid named Verreban, who is old enough to have lived through the Great War that destroyed the old empires, killed the dragons and sheared the mountains of Sunder. He hasn’t been seen much lately, and it’s said that an old hag lurks up near the Tree. The guards also identify the tressym cat that has befriended Dardiana as ‘Rellix’, who belongs to the Kelbrin family.

As they rest, Carnacki explains to them about the battles against the Redcloaks and necromancer of Vandalin. He also passes on news from Rosie Thurn, bartender at Stonehill’s Inn, that the elderly man that the adventurers brought into town has been abducted by Talia Thornton’s men and sent along the eastern road, a treacherous track leading past Widowsreach and from there to the hills of the Heathlands. Carnacki’s travelling companion, a half-orc wizard named Rastus, is in pursuit. 

In mid-afternoon, as the adventurers prepare to visit the Dripping Caves, a band of twenty orcs comes through the woods. Some appear wounded, and a number have elf-arrows protruding from their backs. The guards and adventurers climb the watchtowers and use their spells and bows to ward off the attackers. Aerwyn picks off a number of orcs exploring the western wall, but the orcs spot a gap in the eastern palisade near the keep’s walkway, and make their way through the moat. Many are slain along the way, and between Carnacki’s swordplay and Dardiana’s thunderwave spell they manage to fight back the assault. Tagar positions himself on the eastern-most tower, and concentrates his fire on the already-wounded orc boss. The orcs sense themselves to be in trouble and try to leave the moat, only for a band of elves to emerge from the southern woods. They kill the surviving orcs with a volley of arrows and then turn and disappear back into the forest.

When dawn breaks the next day, the adventurers leave and track the villagers’ footsteps to the Dripping Caves. As they enter the massive cavern, the darkvision of Aerwyn, Tagar and Carnacki spot three goblin sentries and an ogre having a mud-bath. Carnacki’s skills allow him to sneak forward unobserved, and he attacks the ogre in its bath. Tagar mystically marks the ogre as his quarry and makes his attack, but Aerwyn’s fire bolt goes wide. In the moment that the mystical fire illuminates the cavern, Dardiana spots another ogre lurking behind the stalagmites. Using her vicious mockery, she causes it to flee. Seeing the chaos, two of the goblins flee – one in the same direction as the ogre, another down a tunnel on the far side of the main cavern. After the two rangers down the ogre and Aerwyn slays the remaining goblin sentry, the adventurers venture down the tunnel where the lone goblin disappeared. It’s slain by Tagar, and the party discovers a half-dozen villagers in a pit, covered in guano. They rescue them by throwing down ropes. One of them, Morak, explains that they’d fled here but were ambushed by goblins. Some villagers have been slain, and they’re not sure how many are left.

At this point, the surviving ogre and a number of goblins emerge from one of the tunnels. Their leader – a wizened goblin named ‘Boss Hark’ who wears a ridiculous headdress – offers to parlay (he’s seen what these adventurers can do as has little interest in a fight to the death, after all). After some negotiation, which includes slaying a ‘black blob’ or paying for taking his ‘larder’, Dardiana and Carnacki pay 200 gold between them as a bribe for the surviving villagers – 30 in all, including those that they’d already found.

As the party lead the bedraggled survivors from the Dripping Caves, the villagers thank the adventurers and make some entreaties of the group:

  • A Tiefling lad named Kailen Pavel explains that his mother, Temperance Pavel, was killed in the caves. He asks Carnacki and the others whether they’d travel to Byeldrir – a city in the frostbitten southern land of Themgir, not far from where Carnacki grew up – and tell Temperance’s parents that their only daughter has passed away. Kailen isn’t sure whether he will stay in Thunderfell, the only home he’s known, or go to Themgir himself. Temperance’s parents are Tharm and Anguish Pavel, and they run the furriers on Three Towns Lane.
  • The priest, Heyek Meltrum, recognises the tressym as the pet of Melantha and Lathan Kelbrin, both of whom died in the initial attack on the town. Heyek tells Dardiana and Aerwyn that Kelbrin’s son lives in Gilder, and he’d no doubt appreciate it if they visited him there and returned the tressym. The son’s name is Tor Kelbrin.
  • Morak the dwarf recognises Tagar’s Heathlander accent. He says that Darthag Goodbrace, who ran the local trading post and was slain by goblins, was a wealthy retiree who’d set up a successful trading company with his ex-wife and daughter, Alara and Lena. Alara is now based out of Thistleton, and Morak would appreciate it if the adventurers could tell her the sad news.

 

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Session 2: The Bells of Thunderfell
Goblin-slaying aplenty

The weather becomes overcast as the adventurers leave the Valley of the Fallen Magisters and turn south to Vandalin. As they rejoin the main road, an uncomfortable drizzle begins. Strange clouds mass above the mountains to the west, near the border with Mittel, and for a moment they catch the scent of incense upon the wind.

Their travelling companion, the eccentric Septeminian man named Parasmus, has settled down a little now that he’s away from the Fallen Magisters. Indeed, it seems the further away he gets from it, the better he is. He doesn’t have a strong recollection of how he got to the Valley, but he recalls that his sextant, found in either the market or library of Vindabona and now either lost or destroyed, whispered to him and lead him there. Tagar mutters under his breath that the sextant is likely cursed, and the adventurers all agree that it’s best the mysterious device isn’t coming along for this trip.

Aerwyn and Dardiana ask Parasmus questions about his childhood and the Six High, both of which he’d mentioned earlier. Parasmus explains that the Six High are a term he uses to describe the races of Giants that pre-date the dragons and humanoid races, and who ruled this land long ago before there were any human empires. The Giants were very different from one another, and were bound by a compact. He doesn’t know what happened to them, but knows that they retreated from the world long ago. That said, when he was a child on a beach near Vindabona, he saw one of the Six High rising from the sea. He recalls she approached him and smiled, but she was then ushered back under the waves by a distant figure. Parasmus hopes that a druid named Verreban, who lives in this region, may be able to help understand the mystery of the rune-carved obsidian hidden by the Fallen Magisters.

Vandalin is a small town on a gentle hill. Behind the town, to the south, they can see a group of perhaps 30 or more people packing up tents and possessions. The town itself looks quiet, but the adventurers quickly identify that the remains of an old manor house has been recently set alight, as it still has smoke balefully rising from the ruins. When they enter the town proper, Tagar gets directions from a man named Tobias. He leads them to the Miner’s Exchange, where they meet a woman named Talia. Talia explains that a group of brigands, named the Redcloaks, have been run out of town within the past few days, and that the (unnamed) necromancer who led these brigands has recently fled on horseback. The Redcloaks’ time in Vandalin coincided with a series of disappearances; the manor has been the base of operations for these enemies for some months, and the villagers have now extracted their revenge by burning the remains of the headquarters. Questions around the Rangers of Sunder and Altamarian garrison don’t get the adventurers far; the members of the garrison appear to have vanished some months back (before the arrival of the Redcloaks), while the Rangers have hit the road to the south to defeat some goblins near Redpeak and see if they can find any sign of the necromancer. Talia does ask some questions around the ‘Six Swords Society’, but the adventurers say they’ve never heard the term before.

Following Talia’s recommendation, the adventurers head back around to Stonehill’s Inn, which is run by Tobias. Dardiana playing a fine song on her mandolin that guarantees both free food and drink, and also lodging for Parasmus. Aerwyn chats to the waitstaff, Rosie, and discovers that

  • Verreban is a druid who protects the Tree of Stars, which is located a few miles past Thunderfell.
  • Thunderfell is a village built near the elven ruins that mark the old border between Mittel and Sunder.
  • The village has recently become more built-up (i.e., within the past twenty or thirty years).

From previous information, the adventurers also know that a Hag has been seen near the Tree of Stars.

 

As the adventurers travel through the town, they see the remains of the battles that had been fought here. A tavern is closed up, and stinks of death. A fine building, once the Townmaster’s Residence, has been burned to the ground – and at least two charred sets of bones can be found amongst the rubble. Dardiana also chats to a man by the apple orchard near the town gates, while Aerwyn explores the half-built church and meets Sister Garael, a Mittelian elf who worships Marianus. The adventurers speak again with Talia at the Miner’s Exchange. She says that the recently-deceased townmaster was offering to pay for scalps for the gnolls and orcs harassing Widowsreach, or the goblins down near Redpeak, and she’s willing to honour that. She also asks them for help in passing on news to a travelling monk named Kella that there’s been a death in the family. Kella left a few days ago on the road to Mittel, which would pass through Thunderfell, and was travelling slowly on foot. They may be able to catch up with her if she’s tarried along the way. Talia does warn them that orcs have been seen near Thunderfell, coming up from the south.

The next morning, the adventurers leave for Thunderfell. The weather remains poor, and the road is quieter than that leading to Vandalin. The air gets cooler on the second day as they climb up into the mountain pass. The land here bears the scars of battles past – as the road twists and turns, they catch sight of a cleft mountain, where the phenomenon known as the Shear has sliced deeply into the rocky peak. The trees here are tall and grow close to the road. Filigreed ruins, covered in moss and ivy, can be seen amongst the thick, untamed undergrowth.

The group hear Thunderfell before they see it, due to the continuous ringing of church bells. The adventurers identify several dozen tracks leading north, and 14 smaller sets – goblins! – coming back. There are also two large wolf-like prints. Inside is a mess; several buildings have been haphazardly smashed by gigantic rocks, as has the bridge to the similarly damaged keep. The remains of several townsfolk are found in the rubble, both in the fields and the collapsed homes. 

The battle for Thunderfell is brutal. Two worgs almost kill the adventurers within the first few minutes, and the adventurers go house-by-house, building-by-building to rid the place of goblins. In all, the adventurers slay all 14 foes, but they’re exhausted and their magical resources are much diminished. Soon after Dardiana discovers a tressym (winged cat) in one of the residences (who she promptly names ‘Priscilla’), Tagar and Aerwyn search the square and identify that a statue or something similar has been removed from the town. Tagar then leads them to the partially-destroyed inn, where he’d previously spotted a goblin killed by a crossbow bolt. They help a woman down from the wreckage of the top floor, who introduces herself as Kella.

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Session D: Death in Vandalin
In which the town catches fire

Two days have passed since the adventurers eliminated the Redcloak threat in the abandoned manor at Vandalin. When we last left our intrepid group (who are known to the townsfolk as the ‘Six Swords Society’), there were a number of leads that they were chasing down. Gwendalyn, who has searched the town in vain for news of her brother Gundren, sets out to Redpeak Mountain in the southeast, where some goblins have been sighted. Gwendalyn suspects that these goblins may be connected to those that kidnapped her and Gundren. Erol and Taerus decide to accompany Gwendalyn; both have keen eyes, and may be able to stop the impetuous dwarf from getting herself killed. Carnacki continues to rest at the old Altamarian garrison and heal from his many  wounds, while Rastus spends long hours copying spells into his spellbook from the library found below the manor.

 

When the day breaks on a new day, Rastus and Carnacki decide to explore Vandalin to close off a number of leads that they’d been chasing down. They first visit Barthen’s Provisions, a general store operated by the gossipy Erin Barthen. Then, they head to Muckel’s Farm to meet Alder Muckel, purveyor of the finest ham in Sunder. They discover that the secret to his ‘muck’ is unsuspicious and, after being gifted half a pig for their services to the town, venture to the shantytown that has been set up to the south of Vandalin.

 

At the shantytown, they meet a number of people called the Dezinry (also referred to as ‘Mayflies’ or ‘Underfolk’ by a couple of Vandaliners – it’s not clear which is a formal name versus an insult). The people who live here belong to the same short, quasi-human race as the girl, Aadara, that the group met several days beforehand near the bugbear’s den.

  • The camp has been here for a few weeks, but the Dezinry claim the land as their own: “We have been in this place you call Sunder for generations, hundreds upon hundreds of years. It is our land – the tall folk came later.”
  • They’ve moved here from the south, due to the waking of a long-defeated villain: “We are here because this land is here, and all land belongs to Alahalyn. The lands to the south have become poisoned. The sound of raven wings drowns out all else. The Raven King is centuries old. Generations ago, a champion fought him and he slumbered. Now he is arisen. He stretches out his fingers like autumn’s rot upon a flower. Where you hear the sound of his birds, you know that your lands have become his. And in his land, the dead belong to him.”
  • The Dezinry haven’t entered the town of Vandalin as it appears to run against their religious beliefs: “this town erects a shrine to falseness. Alahalyn is the light and truth, and we would not disrespect Her by stepping upon unhallowed ground.”
  • Their religion is oddly monotheistic, and gives them hope, even in dark times: “She is the One True. False gods have failed before, and will fail again.”
  • Some of their people have gone missing at night, ever since they’ve arrived, and it’s coming time to move on. The Dezinry will continue moving north, away from the Raven King.

 

Having shared some of their pig from Muckel’s with the Dezinry – including their leader Aandras, and a young woman named Aabertha – the half-orc and tiefling decide to check in again with the manor. They realise that it’s been a couple of days since they were last there, and want to find out what’s happened with the undead. They discover that the necromancer (‘Boss Blackstaff’, as their captive Redcloak had once referred to him as, or ‘E.’, as he’d been referred to in a letter they found) must have returned: the two ghouls have been deliberately freed, and the zombies from the cell are gone. In the only room the adventurers didn’t originally search, they discover a dead goblin in a cage, its throat slit. 

 

Returning to town, they discover that the undead have been let loose on Vandalin. Mara, proprietor of the Sleeping Giant, is dead, as are Townmaster Daril and his son. The zombies are dispatched through spells and bow, then the Townmaster’s Residence is burned to the ground to prevent the ghouls from escaping. In the chaos, Carnacki bumps into an old nemesis – an elf named Kenric, last seen in Lastlight. Kenric is travelling with another Lastlighter named Reza Bridgeman, and it seems that they’re working for Draeg Walshlin – a Lastlight noble with an interest in pit fighters. It seems they came in with three horses – of which two are now dead, and the third has gone missing. The adventurers swing by their garrison to find their Redcloak captive is dead, and a figure is disappearing from Vandalin via horseback, taking the southward road. The necromancer has escaped again!

 

The adventurers rest for lunch, and meet with Talia Thornton from the Miner’s Exchange. They assuage any fears they may indeed be ruffians. She seems interested on whether Lastlight or Altamar sent them; they skirt around the former, and outright deny the latter (which is largely the truth). Later, Carnacki and Rastus visit the Church of Marianus across the village green. There they meet the gruff Father Wintersson and an elf, Lady Garael. Garael confirms that the Church had nothing to do with the recent chaos, and asks for their assistance: “There’s a ghost who’s said to haunt Finneg’s Mire, maybe six days north from here. She’s harmless, I think, but is said to answer any three questions truthfully. I have but one question for her: does Gethaemir of the Golden Glade yet live?”. Even though they don’t automatically agree, Garael passes them a small amulet said to belong to the ghost.

 

The following mysteries remain:

  • What happened to the missing villagers and Dezinry? Both men and children were taken – so, where are they?
  • The Altamar garrison vanished soon before the Redcloaks appeared. Is there a connection there, or did the Redcloaks simply take advantage of an unprotected town?
  • What happened to the gnomes that the missing dwarf was supposed to meet? Futhir and Thrannir were last seen two weeks ago, buying canvas. Were they working for Elliyas and the Redcloaks, or are they victims in this along with Gundren Hearthhold?
  • What’s ‘Lantern’s Flame’?
  • Who is ‘Blackvale’, who Elliyas works for? He seems to know about the map and dwarf, to want ‘more bodies to continue the exploration’, and belong to a group called the Drakoyiska.
  • What are the other Lastlighters doing in Vandalin? And where did Kenric, Reza and Draeg go after the chaos?

 

In addition, there are the following adventure hooks:

  • Track down Elliyas the Necromancer, former head of the Redcloaks (last seen heading south from Vandalin, on a stolen horse)
  • Gnolls or orcs, seen near Widowsreach (a mountain two days’ east of Vandalin; this is the same area as some gnome villages)
  • Goblins harrying the road near Redpeak Mountain, two to three days to the south.
  • The ghost of Finneg’s Mire (six days’ north – close to Lastlight, and near the lake that the original Six Swords Society were heading to)
  • The Raven King, probably some weeks’ south of Vandalin
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Session 1: The Fallen Magisters
The Halfling's Quest

It’s about six weeks into Autumn, and bugbears and goblins are raiding the countryside. Orcs and gnolls are on the move in the south. Rangers of Sunder are thinly stretched protecting farms and trade routes, and two of the Rangers left several days ago to pursue the bugbear across the countryside and destroy the problem at its root.

 

The story starts at The Cauldron, a tavern in ‘downhill’ Lastlight. Like many taverns, it’s a claustrophobic affair, poorly lit and filled with noise. Torches hang on the wall and simple iron candlebras hang from the low ceiling, flaring and guttering whenever the front door is opened to let in the chill Autumn breeze. Miners and workers from the nearby warehouse district come in and clap their hands in front of the fireplace, before moving to the bar and grabbing one of Klausimir Bale’s homebrewed Old Peculiar. There’s a clear spot between the fireplace and the bar where Dardiana the Bard has often performed, earning coin for her songs and storytelling. It’s here that Gillam Sucain and Bevan Goodbrook meet with three adventurers – Dardiana, Aerwyn the god-favoured sorcerer, and Tagar the Heathlander Ranger – to pass on a mission.

 

Word came to the Rangers of a disturbance down at the Fallen Magisters. Gillam describes it as “a small valley filled with old statues, from the beginning of the war. It’s well off the main road, and there’s been a few people who’ve ventured there before and not come back. Some old-timers say that there’s old magic there, in the earth. Lately, there’s been rumours of weird lights, something… off… about the valley. Birds fly around it, and the wind feels different.” The valley is around four or five days south from here, and they’re looking for someone gifted with magic to perform reconnaissance, as well as a ranger to help navigate the potentially dangerous terrain. With the path to the Fallen Magisters skirting by the unsettling Finneg’s Mire, and past what they call the Lake of Graves, a keen set of eyes and strong sword-arm is important. Gillam also explains that, if any extra muscle is needed, that the adventurers are best heading further south to the garrisons of Thunderfell or Vandalin, only two or three days south from the valley, rather than returning to Lastlight.

 

The adventurers head off the next day. They pass by Finneg’s Mire without incident on the first day, and skirt by the still waters of the Lake of Graves on the second. They think they hear the sound of church-bells tolling close to dawn, but with no settlement in sight it may have been a trick of the wind. On the second evening Dardiana thinks she sees a dark, shadowy shape cross the moon, but nothing more is known of it. The third day sees the group cross into rough farmland. After seeing a few abandoned farmhouses and settlements in the distance, they come across the homestead of Lukin Longbarrow. Lukin is a gruff but amiable dwarf, and fills them in on stories of the local countryside: a hag has taken up residence near the Tree of Stars, orcs are apparently on the move toward Thunderfell, goblins have been harrying the road near Redpeak and gnolls or orcs have been spotted up at Widowsreach. In addition, he passes on a tale that ‘local lads’ have been employed by someone from The Septeme to do a ‘dig’ down near the Fallen Magisters. He hands them a cut of Muckel’s finest ham and sends them on their way.

 

Soon after dawn on the fourth morning, the adventurers come across a wagon belonging to the Goodbrace Trading Company. It’s been ambushed by goblins the previous day, and a small number of these creatures have stayed behind to harass travellers. One is slain by Aerwyn’s Chill Touch, while Dardiana’s spellcraft disposes another. Tagar’s archery skills are lacklustre, but he successfully slays a third of the foul creatures, who was put into a magical slumber by the half-elf’s sorcery. The fourth escapes into the woods, potentially to gather reinforcements, so the troupe quickly moves on.

 

The trio arrive at the valley at dusk. Dardiana explores the vine-covered statues and is set upon by three twig blights, who tear at her face and almost kill her. Tagar disposes of the creatures while Aerwyn heals their companion. The group is then set upon gain at nightfall by a flock of stirges, who attach themselves to Tagar and Aerwyn. Both adventurers are nearly killed by these foul spawn, before Dardiana and her daggers come to the rescue. The rest of the night is spent resting; Tagar hears a dragging, shuffling noise in the distance, but it stops at the limits of his darkvision.

 

The next morning, the adventurers explore behind a waterfall, where lights were spotted the previous night. They find a dig site in a natural cavern. Aerwyn explores the hole and finds a massive block of smooth obsidian, into which are carved large, ancient runes. Aerwyn recognises the language as Tharnic, although the script is older and slightly different than what he’s seen in his studies. One of the runes appears to represent fire, life or heat, while another represents something that could be interpreted as wind, cloud or spirit. While he’s trying to manoeuvre himself out of the hole, a slightly crazed man named Parasmus Erasando emerges from a nearby tent. After some negotiation and calming words, the group manage to make some sense from Parasmus;

  • He is from Vindabona, a city in The Septeme. It’s unclear whether anyone sent him here, but it seems unlikely.
  • He was guided here by a magical sextant, which has since been broken or gone missing. The ground here is imbued with old magic, something “older than dragons”.
  • He employed some locals to assist him in digging. They’ve vanished or been killed by forces unknown. Whatever is out there in the valley hasn’t come into this cavern, yet.
  • The ‘Six High’ were once here, or two of them were. “One fell, one faded, four disappeared deep below.”
  • He once saw ‘one of them’ when he was younger, “rising from the ocean. She waved at me, then turned back and disappeared into the waves.”
  • He seems torn as to whether uncover the artefact and remove it, or keep it where it is.
  • There’s a druid who may be able to help him, but he’s not sure exactly where he is.

 

As the disturbance of this half-buried thing appears to coincide with the disturbances emanating from the valley, the adventurers determine that it may be best to cover it again. Parasmus’ erratic behaviour means that they’re unlikely to get much help from him, so instead they suggest that he travels with them to nearby Vandalin to locate the mysterious druid.

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Dardiana's first ballad

"Stay away you stupid ugly goblins",

said Fennig as he marched into his mire

Under the shiny stars of olde Sunder

But sadly it became his funeral pyre

 

The lake of graves is creepy and it's misty

Don't listen to the noisy, freaky bells

Tagar is out getting near the water

But we aint buying what that forest sells

 

Did something fly across the moon on day two?

Is it wise to go and poke around a farm?

That crossbow looks all big and tough and pointy

I hope it doesn't do us all some harm!

 

Lucan shared some Muckles it was tasty

And sent us some because he liked my prose

Poor horsies all got deaded by the wayside

and Aerwyn was distracted by arrows

 

Goblins gonna wish they hadn't stayed near

Ears bleeding and a throat of icy cold

Running like a bunch of little bitches

Their mother if she knew would surely scold

 

It's time to see what's in the turned up carriage

But the goblins stripped it of all decent fare

So it's onward to the fallen magister's statues

and they seem to be just scattered everywhere

 

A freaky creature flies at me, twigs outstretched

Brings its friends and hits me in the face

Collapsing to the ground I'm sure I'll die here

oh why did we come into this stupid place?

 

There's a hole inside a cave inside a mountain

A crazy dude who's digging up some runes

Oh I don't know what our next adventure brings us

But maybe it wil inspire more awesome tunes

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Backstory: Tagar
I'm not crying, you are

Tagar was born to one of the mixed clans of the Heathlands.  He never knew his  father, and his mother died when he was 3.  He was passed onto another clan, as was the custom, but adoption isn’t the right term for what happens there in the Heathlands.  Slavery is too far but closer to the truth.  Adopted children can be traded for others and are expected to earn their keep.  It’s a hard life but better than none.

 

So after being moved from one family to another for his unruly behaviour he found himself with Clan McBrae.  They had once ruled this land long ago, so he was told but they have been closer to the time of the Great War than now.  Now the land was ruled by Baron Raethorn and has been for at least as long as Tagar knows.  While the McBrae clan did their duties as peasants and servants on the Raethorn land and castle they also are the major backers of the local rebellion.  

 

Tagar was taken in by Connor and Gilda and while Connor was a capable blacksmith and hoped that Tagar’s strength would lend him to the craft it was not something that Tagar had much interest in or knack for.  So during the days he was helpful in the manual labour he was not good at the instruction for metallurgy.  Gilda’s cousin Gretta was an accomplished huntswoman though, and when she visited Tagar was always captivated by her stories of hunting and tracking game and beasts.  Gretta took Tagar along for a hunt after he followed her as she left one morning and was surprised when he managed to not only keep up but looked for tracks and signs of where she went once she snuck ahead and concealed her self, waiting for him to catch up.

 

So between labouring work and hunting trips Tagar entered into his teens and when one of the rebellion recruiters passed his hamlet they thought they had a perfect fighter on their hands.  Talon was the rebels name and he filled Tagar with tales of fighting oppression and rescuing the downtrodden.  Tagar went back to Connor and Gilda to ask if he could join.  He was 14 and in another year would be considered a freeperson to take a craft or make his own way.  They told him no and to join the rebellion would get him killed.  They didn’t tell him about how many swords or armours that they had supplied the rebels with or food hampers they supplied them with from the farm.  They told him no and that was it.

 

He left that night with Talon and a few other rebellious kids and a few older ones who had lost something or someone due to the taxes and brutality of the Raethorn soldiers. When they got to the rebel camp in the woods they were sorted out into squads and given weapons and told to make camp.  For some it was the first time they hadn’t been sleeping near the hearth but for Tagar his trips with his Aunt he found a good spot.  

 

The rebels were not quite the freedom fighters they made out to be, Tagar learned after a time.  They did raid the baron's caravans and storehouses from time to time but it was just as often travelling merchants.  That was often explained away as funding the rebellion.  Recruiters like Talon turned up now and again with some recruits sometime and left with most of the plunder to take elsewhere.  The leader of the band, a human by the name of Griff, while a bit of a bully and braggart did try and keep most of the rebels safe. Griff was, Tagar found out, part of a larger group of bandits run through a man named Harald Redthen, although he never saw Redthen and no one had ever met him.

 

They moved camp from time to time and sorted out which of the new recruits were able to make it.  He pushed other hard  to make them into the bandits that they were.  The more agile were trained to be sneaks and thieves to get into store houses and caravans and cut loose the coin and supplies.  Others were trained in weapons and how to fight the guards.  Although direct confrontation was mostly avoided.  Ambushes and illusion of numbers usually had the guards and soldiers disarmed and they didn’t want to die for a chest of gold.

From time to time Aunt Gretta would stop by the camps, much like a lot of hunters and rangers did.  Pass on news and teach a few things, some even helped on raids.  She would always check on Tagar and let him know how Connor and Gilda are doing.  Tagar felt bad for leaving them but always hoped they were doing well as they didn’t treat him badly.  

 

The night it changed was supposed to be another caravan to raid, on the road between Brocklund and Thistleton. The plan was like most they would obstruct the carriage, have rebels covering both sides and quick smash and grab the cargo.  Tagar barely listened to the plans any more, they were mostly the same and mostly the same thing happened each time.  Griff wanted him up the front to charge at the caravan from the hiding spots on the side of the road once they had the caravan stopped.  Being a big intimidating half orc this had become the usual plan in the last year or so.  It usually served its purpose.  Dragging a coach driver off his seat with one hand and throwing him to the ground does that.  So that is what happened this time much like the last half a dozen.  The tree was knocked over in front of the caravan and from his hiding spot he saw the carriage pull up in front of him as usual.  As he launched from his concealment he noticed that there was another carriage behind the first.  He reached up and pulled down the driver and pulled him down and slammed him to the ground.  The noise from around him seemed louder than usual more shouting and the carriage door swung open and someone leaped out .  It was then he felt the sting of steel across his back and he staggered forward from the slash to his back.  He turned with his short sword and saw a young male human not much different in age to himself.  He had a sneer on his lips as he slashed with his rapier again drawing blood across Tagar’s left arm as he held it up to block. The shouting and noise of the battle was deafening.  The guards were not surrendering they were fighting back.  The youth made a feint to the right and Tagar fell for it and felt the lunge as it hit him in the chest.  Textbook finishing stike that would be.  But text book strikes don’t always allow for chance or the stubbornness of orc blood in battle.  Tagar’s eyes went red and he gripped the youths sword arm with his bloody left arm and struck back with all his strength with his right. His thrust of his short sword exploded violently out the back of the youths neck almost decapitating him.  Another scream, but this one higher pitched.  A girl had been in the carriage too and she had climbed to the horse and cut it free.  She road off.  A retreat horn was sounded and the rebels ran for the trees and escaped from the guards.

 

Back at the camp the rebels bandaged wounds and the leaders argued loudly.  Talks about mis-information and that there was more guards than expected and it was only supposed to be the Baron's daughter not one of his sons as well.  Tagar didn’t listen too closely more concerned about applying the poltice correctly to his wounds with the help of Meg, one of the archers.  It wasn’t till he heard his name being used that he tried to focus on what was being said.  The argument starting talking about handing Tagar in to try and appease the baron.  Tagar wasn’t going any where in his condition and fell asleep to the noise of the argument.

 

Things were different after that.  The rebels had to move camp more frequently and the risks started to out weigh the rewards.  The baron increased the bounties on all rebels and came down harder on the peasants the supported them.  To make things worse the bands of orcs and goblins that sometimes trickled out of the mountains and caves seemed to be getting worse.  Tagar followed his orders but the rebels had to adapt to the harsher regime above them.  It was no longer take store houses by stealth and silence, it was rampage and pillage.  Caravans were less given quarter and more times than not they were all killed.  Less recruits arrived with each season and the ones left were hard and cold.  Gretta came by again in the Autumn and spoke with Griff.  They argued for a while and when she left his tent she came to Tagar.  “Your coming with me if you want to live.”

He did.

 

They travelled east and Gretta finished teaching him what she could about woodcraft and ranger trade.  She still captivated him with tales of hunts and adventures and even tales of the old war and rangers from it.  She eventually explained to him after a time why they could not go back to the cities or villages of Hearthland.  The boy he killed during that raid was son to the baron.  Connor and Gilda were identified as raising Tagar and the baron had taken them as punishment when I could not be found.  This weighed heavy on Tagar’s heart.  He never thought about the consequences of his action so much.  They lived in the wild for a few years, living off the land, occasionally they went into smaller villages that Gretta knew to be friendly to the cause and not likely to turn them over to the barons men.  Nights Tagar thought about the tales of the heroic rangers and heroes from those stories.  He wanted to be one but then felt the flash of rage when he killed Vincent Raethorn (the name of the son) he often felt unworthy of it.  

One day Tagar woke to find Gretta talking with another person.  They spoke quickly in a language he didn’t recognise.  It may have been elvish as the other person was an elf Tagar thought.  They turned to him and Gretta asked him to come and sit on a stone just out from where they were.  He sat and looked at the land stretched out from where they were.  Gretta told him he would be going with her friend Kaeril Rrywynd to Sunder and Lastlight.  It has gotten too dangerous to stay here any longer.  Tagar opened his mouth to argue but the look in her eyes told him all that he need to know.  He hugged his Aunt, wiped away his tears, grabbed his belongings and left her on in the highlands with tears in her eyes too.

 

Kaeril, a wood elf, set the half-orc up in Lastlight, and even got him an audience with Gillam Sucain. He's been there since – but is still enough of an outsider that they’re not calling him a Ranger of Sunder yet. That's a matter of time; he's not the only one  who is running from something. But Gillam trusts him, and wants to do right. Tagar hopes that one day he can use his strength and skills again, but that this time it will be to do some good in the world instead of spilling some idiot boy’s blood.

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