599 SF, 2 Rotting The undead on the bridge charged at the group, but great tactics (and a little luck) bowled right over them. Though the bone bridge animated and attempted to pull the heroes down into the vast Sea of Corpses, they kept their heads and actually knocked almost all of their enemies off instead. From its hiding place beneath the bridge came a Bodak, a fearsome undead creature whose gaze can kill the living instantly. Once the group had reached the other side of the bridge, the Captain used a well-timed Wall of Fire to isolate and scorch their foes.
Moving along to the entrance of the fortress Hordethrone, the group noticed that both the walls and the gates were made of bones and rotten flesh. The gates themselves attacked the party as they passed and confronted a Bone Naga. Wolwsgard managed to impress the undead Naga with his sharply-worded threats, and the creature allowed the group in, thinking them evil servants of Orcus. The party used this opportunity to backstab and quickly destroy the creature. Two Night Hag sisters joined the fray but were killed as well. The group was beginning to feel very confident about their prospects in Hordethrone.
The heroes finished exploring the northern section of the fortress, finding only a small guardhouse and several ruined buildings. They decided to camp in one of the crumbled structures for the night, using a magical candle to conceal them. Less than an hour in, however, a ghostly warrior detected them and called upon its allies with a chilling wail. Two more Bodaks armed with greataxes and another wraith soon arrived. Already weary from the two previous battles with very powerful undead, the group was hard-pressed to survive. Kol was immediately incapacitated by the gaze of a Bodak, and though he was quickly revived, he spent much of the remaining battle scrambling for his life. The Captain reached into the spellstorm to recover his Wall of Fire, which he soon used to protect the party. Colonel Lobos was knocked unconscious by a wraith who then threatened to kill him if his companions did not surrender. The Captain, invisible to the wraith through his Blur spell, tried a desperate Bigby’s Hand spell to stop the wraith’s coup de grace. He just missed, however, and the tiefling was killed, his animus rising as another hostile spirit. Luckily for the group, they just managed to disrupt the first wraith which also caused the evil Lobos to dissipate.
The heroes fled into the now-empty guardhouse to hole up, and they discovered a long-undisturbed chamber containing three dusty coffins. They took a calculated risk in opening the coffins, and they discovered some very valuable drow treasure along with the remains of three staked vampires and two pieces of a magical brass bell. The group fell to sleep uneasily, hoping that the chamber would continue to be avoided by Deadhold’s inhabitants for whatever reason.
599 SF, 3 Rotting
Now fully rested and feeling plucky, the group crept upstairs to the roof of the guardhouse hoping to spy on any other enemies in the fortress. From their vantage point, they could see a winged, blue-skinned ogre guarding a set of hanging cages and a human priest in platemail atop a ziggurat. Using Blur once again, the Captain ambushed the flying ogre from atop the walls of bone. However, it seemed the group’s luck had finally run out. The ogre proved extremely strong and was joined by several wights of equally impressive mien. Under the punishing whip and sword of the ogre and the life-draining touch of the wights, the group began to fall back. Just at this moment, a cloud of bats flew directly for the Captain and transformed into a drow with gleaming eyes and two magical swords. Zirithian had arrived!
The Captain could feel the brass bell begin to vibrate as Zirithian drew near. Since the group already felt outmatched, he decided to take out the bell and ring it, hoping for a miracle. As he did so, the plaza disappeared and the group found themselves near a sinister looking human with a huge bell on a chain around his neck. This creature introduced himself as the Keeper, the embodiment of Deadhold.
Surprisingly, the Keeper was opposed to both Zirithian (for trying to usurp control of Hordethrone) and Orcus (for neglecting Deadhold for so long). The group asked many questions of the mysterious figure and discovered that Zirithian was in possession of Nightbringer, an intelligent and highly malevolent sword. While the drow held the weapon, he would be invincible, and only a powerful holy sword could be used to disrupt this ward. The Keeper revealed that he was capable of transporting each of them back to the places of their birth. Before he agreed to aid them, however, he made the group promise to plunge Nightbringer into the eye of Orcus. The Dragonslayers were then were whisked away from Deadhold.
599 SF, 16 Rotting The Captain found himself in the Feywild near a swamp hag’s hut. This was the home of his long-estranged mother, Boruba. Feeling magnanimous, he gave to the hag a displacer beast hide he had been saving. This seemed to please the gruff creature greatly, and she somewhat humorously gave the Captain lessons on how to change his shape as the hags do. He was unsuccessful in his attempts, but he could feel the fey blood coarse in his veins as he tried. The Captain then traveled to Shinaelestra for an audience with Ranger Lord Calenon Thray. The Ranger could not commit any additional troops to the Captain’s service, but he did fill the wizard in on much of the latest news and revealed that two weeks had passed while the Dragonslayers were fighting in Deadhold.
Kol appeared in an abandoned fishing village near the Nentir River delta. His long years of experience in swampy terrain allowed him to make excellent time in his trek north to Moonstair. An hour outside of the town, he encountered a lone troll eating the remains of a horse and rider. With two weapons of magical fire, Kol easily slayed the troll. He discovered in the rider’s pack a blood-spattered note from Kelana Dhoram, mayor of Moonstair, addressed to Baron Perenon of Therund. The note spoke of the slaying of Etheran of Therund at the hands of a new troll king and beseeched the Baron to send troops to Moonstair’s defense.
599 SF, Rotting 17 Kol entered Moonstair, casually revealed the note to the Therundi soldiers he found defending the gate, and discovered that the mayor had been withholding this information from them. This outraged the soldiers who quickly overpowered and shackled Kelana, placing the town under martial law. In the meanwhile, Kol visited with his relatives who were hastily packing to flee the town ahead of the troll armies. Some of his relatives had planned to retreat to the Misty Isle to join forces with friends among the pirates, but Kol managed to intimidate them all into heading for Fallcrest instead. Kol also made arrangements for the Dragonslayers’ barge to sail south to help his family escape the town with more of their precious wealth.
The Captain made his way through the Howling Forest and south to Moonstair, the group’s designated rendezvous point. Along the way he met up with a familiar barge piloted by a crew of stalwart warforged. He and Kol reunited and quickly began to plan for Moonstair’s impending invasion. The pair shadowed the frenzied Therundi soldiers and followed them to the town’s dungeon. Inside, they found their old ally Bax, Etheran’s dragonborn steward and second in command. Bax was very badly injured and told a tale of Etheran’s final moments. Skalmad, the returned King of the Trollhaunt, ambushed the Therundi and decapitated Etheran, seizing his family’s sword Sunwrath as a prize. Being thought dead, Bax was the only survivor of the encounter. Bax responded well to the healing ministrations of the Dragonslayers, and he pledged to keep the demoralized Therundi soldiers in Moonstair. The heroes then began to formulate war plans…