Shadows of Nerath

A Dark & Stormy Night in Ashenport

The adventurer’s set off on the old king’s road South West of Fallcrest. They travelled through Harkenwold and out of the Nentir Vale. Kerwyn, Andraste, Faelar, Arianna and Valanae the elven mage were on the road for weeks and travelling along the dragondown coast towards Sarthel when they found themselves caught in the worst storm they had ever witnessed. It was difficult to see through the rain and hail and lightning shot down from the sky every so often. Through the rain and darkness the heroes heard a cry for help and came across a caravan with a jeweler named Jandal and his two guardsmen. Jandal was travelling from Sarthel to the dwarven town of Hammerfast in the Nentir Vale when he was caught in the storm and his caravan was destroyed. He told the heroes the only town nearby was the fishing port of Ashenport and that they should try get there quickly to wait out the storm.

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The heroes freezing cold and soaking wet and in danger of dying out in the wilderness agreed to accompany Jandal to Ashenport and they helped the jeweler gather his belongings and set off to the coastal fishing town. As they got into the town, the weather immediately eased off as if it was sheltered in some way from the intense storm. The town had looked ominous indeed from a distance but now up close seemed less sinister and more warm and inviting. The band of adventurers made their way to the town’s inn, the Smooth Sailing Inn and Tavern. There they mingled with some other travelers that had come to Ashenport for a trade fair. Mathias Creel had come for the southern city of Sembar and Terza of the Goldleaf Trading Consortium had travelled from the partially ruined city of Nera. They had both come with a company of guards and were hoping to attend the trade fair which the Alderman of the town told them would occur when the weather improved.

The adventuring group got some food and ale and rested up in a room for the evening. During the night the heroes were awoken by an alien haunting high pitched keening. Kerwyn and Arianna were overcome by the urge to follow the sound towards the sea. The adventuring group followed their charmed companions out of the inn and out onto the muddy streets of Ashenport, other travellers to the town were trudging towards the ocean and some began drowning themselves. Valanae acted quickly casting a spell of domination upon Arianna, forcing the elven rogue back towards the inn. Andraste and Faelar then rushed to aid Kerwyn blasting him with magic that forced him out of the spell of enchantment. The heroes then tried their best to help the rest of the charmed travellers, but they could not save them all from drowning themselves.

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They all regrouped in the inn trying to work out what had happened and drying off as best they could. Terza and Mathias had both lost some guards to the call of the sea and approached the heroes for their aid. The adventurers could find none of the townspeople and everything seemed too quiet. When the heroes left the inn to wander the streets, the noticed that the people of Ashenport had locked their doors and seemed to be hiding away. Faelar and Kerwyn banged at the door to one of the townspeople. Reluctantly the door opened and a nervous local asked what they wanted. The heroes quizzed the man about what was going on and after some intimidation he told them that it had happened before and that the people of Ashenport were planning a ritual that night to rid the town of the horror that was plaguing them. The old man told the heroes they could speak to Alderman Ritter at the town hall if they wanted to know more.

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The heroes were at first denied entrance to the town hall due to the Alderman and Sheriff holding a meeting on how to handle the crisis the town faced. Eventually however the heroes forced their way in demanding to speak with Alderman Ritter. A big bear of a man came rushing down the stairs to meet the intrusion, the man told her heroes he was town sheriff and that he was looking after the problem and that they should just go back to their room and stay there until it was all over. The heroes would not back down until they spoke with the Alderman though and Sheriff Kaern reluctantly let them go on upstairs to the Alderman’s office. Alderman Ritter was a friendly and jovial man who assured the group that their safety of great concern to him and that the ritual tonight would end the horrors the town faced. Valanae insisted they aid with the ritual and the Alderman agreed telling the heroes to head back to the Smooth Sailing Inn and meet them at the Church of the Gleaming Dawn upon the stroke of midnight.

With that the heroes headed off back towards the inn, at it was here that they heard once again the haunting alien cry that seemed to come from the ocean. It was once again Kerwyn and Arianna that were overcome by the call and started to walk towards the ocean and their deaths. Once again some of the other outsiders to the town were also overcome by the cry, this time Jandal was one of them and as the adventurers helped those overcome with the charm of the call Jandal was one would drowned. To make matters even worse, creatures began to crawl out of the ocean with bulging eyes upon fish-like heads with humanlike bodies. The creatures had gills at the side of their heads and the clawed hands were webbed. The fishmen carried rusted spears and scimitars and charged towards the heroes.

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Kerwyn, Arianna, Faelar, Valanae and Andraste had to battle the fishmen while trying their best to save and defend the other outsiders to Ashenport. No help came from the townsfolk and the constant rain made it both hard to see and to move around the muddy streets. Andraste, Faelar and Valanae used large area magical attacks to take down the creatures while Kerwyn charged in to meet the fishmen head on. Verlathion ran in beside them while Arianna fired her bow from afar taking down a fishman with an arrow through it’s bulging eye. When the heroes defeated the creatures that had come out of the sea they went to the aid of the survivors and got them back into the inn. Mathias had stayed inside getting as many of his man to protect him as he could, Terza had commanded her guards to aid the heroes as much as they could and she scowled at Mathias before asking the heroes to help. Mathias added that he would pay the adventurers 200 gold pieces if they got him out of here safely.

After a failed attempt to escape the town which was impossible to to the unnatural weather that forced them back toward Ashenport. Terza told the heroes she had see the townsfolk setting out up the hill to the church, and so that was were the adventuring band went. They told Terza, Mathias and the remainder of their company to stay at the inn and bar the doors.

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The adventuring band climbed up the slippery steps to the Church of the Gleaming Dawn. Inside the church they found it was empty, not a soul to be found. Candles were lit though and someone had just been there. Faelar looked around and felt a draft coming up from a hidden stairwell beneath a pew. The heroes descended the rickety old staircase down into a small chamber covered in carvings of horrific monsters of the sea with giant tentacles. Arianna then unlocked the doors to another set of stairs, and two fishmen attacked. After slaying one of the fishmen, the remaining creature escaped through doors that lead into another much larger chamber with a circular pool in the centre. Some cultists from the town joined in the attack, one of whom was Alderman Ritter himself. The priestess of the church, the cultists and their horrific fishmen allies fought fiercely indeed, with the alderman warning the heroes that they knew not the powers that they faced. He warned them that Dagon would feast on their souls and that this town would be their demise. The adventurers won out though, defeating their enemies and cutting down the alderman. They then turned to face the next set of doors, but not before they quickly bandaged their wounds.

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The Deck of Many Things

Sir Oakley chanted and said words of prayer as his knelt before the altar to Bahamut in the temple of Gardmore Abbey. Dark shadows emerged from the walls and were sent crawling up and out through where the mighty roof once stood. Phantoms and darkness left the temple and after a few minutes the temple felt warmer and looked much brighter. Sir Oakley turned to Andraste the eladrin hexblade, Kerwyn the human paladin, Faelar the elven shaman and Arianna the elven rogue. He bowed before them and thanked them with all his heart. He told them he intended to restore the abbey to it’s former glory and asked them one more favour that was not without reward. He told them they could have the very armour that Gadrin the Hammer, founder of the abbey once wore. He asked the heroes if they could travel to the city of Sarthel south of the Nentir Vale and ask his grandson to bring the Knights of the Silver Hand to aid in the rebuilding of the abbey. Sir Oakley’s grandson Kalas kept on his mantelpiece the shining armour of Gadrin in his manor within the city walls.

The band of adventurers agreed to seek out Kalas Oakley in Sarthel, but first they would return to Winterhaven to speak with some patrons. Upon entering Wrafton’s Inn the heroes found both Valthrun and Kharas at the bar enjoying some ale and good conversation. The adventurers approached them and told them of their adventures within Gardmore Abbey. The gave the winterbole codex to Valthrun and an ancient minotaur artifact to Kharas the Just. They also found Alira at a table eating by herself and Arianna handed her the two items she had sent her to get in exhange for gold. Alira was not much interesting in exchanging pleasantries and asked the heroes to leave her.

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The group then set out for Lord Ernest Padraig’s manor to inform him about the orc numbers within the abbey and bring him news of the chieftain’s death. The guards at the gate to the manor let them pass after a lengthy wait when the heroes informed them of what it was in relation to. When they entered into Lord Padraig’s quarters they found the leader of the village surrounded by many of his guards and possibly hired militia. Things began innocently enough until Lord Padraig made mention of the cards. He sought the completion of the deck to defend the village and the whole of the vale from the orcs and other beasts that threatened the goodly folk. He wished to become a baron or king of the Nentir Vale so that he could better protect the commoners. He saw the deck as a weapon that could be used against the vile creatures that threatened the civilized world.

The heroes could see the power crazed look in Padraig’s eyes and refused to hand over their cards. This did not go down well with the lord who claimed they were his by right as he had sent them on a quest to the abbey. Battle soon broke out as negotiations failed to materialise. Andraste launched a wave of cold water at a large group of the militia and sent them sprawling. Kerwyn charged valiantly into the fray channeling the divine might of Bahamut through his sword, moonbane. Arianna tumbled to safety and fired arrows into the melee. Faelar summoned his spirit bear and channeled his primal energies though his totemic warclub and sending a barrage of shamanistic magic at the enemies before him.

Lord Padraig was no novice to battle and proved a difficult foe indeed, though Kerwyn made sure to keep the dangerous fighter lord away from his allies. The Winterhaven ruler though used the magic of the cards to frightening effect causing havoc upon the battle area and giving Kerwyn some nasty wounds for his efforts. With the rest of his men dead or out of the battle the lord lay bleeding and groaning on the ground begging to be finished off. When no killing blow came, Lord Padraig broke down crying telling the heroes he had been a fool and was ashamed of himself. He wanted only to protect his people and the surrounding lands but he had become obsessed with the power of the deck of many things.

The heroes let him live, but took his cards and completed the deck at long last. They told Lord Padraig the deck would be kept safe, and as an instrument of chaos it should not be drawn from. They left Winterhaven then to return instead to the warm welcome of Fallcrest, which was fast becoming their home. The heroes met with Nimozaren the Green and found out what little more they could about the Deck of Many Things.

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The adventuring party then met with Grundlemar and Colt in the Temple of the Sun. Here they found out that Keldrath and Ghost had not returned from the home of Armos Kamroth who had turned out to be the one dealing with the dark artifacts on behalf of the mysterious Lord Vynnek. Colt was still interrogating the self stylised Lord Kamroth within the temple and asked for assistance from the heroes. They found that Amros had dealings with the agents of Lord Vynnek, but knew nothing of their plans with the skull artifact. He also knew when pushed futher with threats and pain that it had something to do with the Emperor of Nerath, of which their had not been for more than 150 years.

The heroes tied up other loose ends in Fallcrest, Kerwyn been given the Markelhay heirloom, the sword moonbane and the adventures set to the task of rebuilding and restoring the Tower of Waiting with the aid of the stonemasons of Fallcrest. Colt had suggested the heroes seek out Tiathavin in Sarthel, the city of silver and help her find this Lord Vynnek. They also introduced them to another member of the Ravens, Valanae the elven wizard. Colt told Valanae to accompany the heroes to Sarthel to seek out the leader of their organisation.

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The Vaults of Gardmore Abbey

One item remained to be found before Sir Oakley could carry out the ritual to cleanse the temple. Sir Oakley stayed in the temple to prepare for the ritual whilst the adventurers went to the vaults in search of the chalice of the dragon. The heroes entered into the barracks which Sir Oakley had told them should lead to the vaults beneath. A fierce battle was going on before the heroes upon entering the barracks. A male drow rogue, a female human wizard, a male dwarf cleric, a male half-orc barbarian and finally a female human fighter who called to the newcomers for their aid.

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The groups joined together to battle a bullette and two carrion crawlers. The heroes managed to turn the tide of battle in their favour as things had looked bleak before they joined. The heroes battled on as those they had saved retreated down their stairwell and presumably into the vaults. This irritated the heroes and they redoubled their efforts to finish the battle quickly.

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The heroes needed a short respite after which they descended the stairs into the vaults. Inside this large vaulted chamber with a pool in the centre sat the group of strangers. They had just dispatched a group of gnolls and were recuperating themselves.

The leader of the rival adventurers introduced herself as Tam and tried greeting the heroes. Kerwyn, Andraste, Faelar and Arianna were having none of the niceties though. They wanted the rivals to explain why they had abandoned them in the barracks. Tam was honest with the heroes though, she explained they did not want to be beaten to the treasure that should be lying in wait for someone to discover. She wished that they get their hands on it first. When mention of the deck and the magical cards arose tensions grew quickly and conversation quickly turned to insults and then the inevitable, swords were drawn.

The heroes battled to the end and with the drow rogue running off, the human wizard who was revealed to be Lenna from the Cairn of the Winter King being imprisoned by the donjon card and the dwarf cleric being slain… only two remained. Tam and Grok the barbarian half-orc. She pleaded with the heroes to let them go and after agreeing to hand over the cards, they set them free on their word they would leave and not return.

The adventurers with three more cards added to the deck continued on through the vaults battling gnolls and minotaurs alike and finally entering into a huge chamber filled with statues of knights and a large dragon statue of Bahamut. Inside the massive chamber slept a red dragon and between it and the heroes were dozens of it’s kobold worshipers. The dragon did not immediately wake and this allowed the heroes to dispatch a few kobolds before things got much more difficult indeed.

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Kerwyn charged into meet the dragon’s mighty claws and fiery breath. He thrust moonblade into the dragon while deflecting it’s razor sharp claws with his shield. Faelar picked off more kolbolds while Andraste flung her spells at the dragon and Arianna fired her arrows, searching for vunerable spots in the dragon’s ruby scales. Kerwyn almost found himself in the belly of the dragon, but for his plate armour as it grasped him in it’s mighty jaws and swung him around the huge hall. But with the kolbolds dead and the onslaught of the heroes, the dragon finally succumbed and fell to their might.

The dragon had been sleeping on a bed of gold and silver and amongst the treasure the heroes founds some bracers, a helm and also the chalice of the dragon, the final item needed to cleanse the temple.

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Cult of the Chained God

The adventurers accompanied by the knight Sir Oakley ventured down into the dark catacombs beneath the temple upon dragon’s roost. There they were met with undead creatures when Faelar opened not one, but two doors to different rooms. The heroes found themselves hard pressed by mummies, a flameskull and swarms of scarabs from one room and a horde of skeletons from another. This was an intense battle made much harder but the actions of the elven shaman, one his companions would not let him forget in a hurry. However the heroes managed to overcome the undead hordes and continued on further into the catacombs.

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Sir Oakley found himself awestruck being in the resting place of his ancestors and some of the most honoured knights of their time. He was however also appalled by the infestation of undead within. They soon came to a room with a puzzle. The adventuring party had to decipher which three positions to turn a metal cog to. Their were images of a boat, river, flames and more with three clues written in draconic, presumably by the knights of Bahamut to keep the treasures within the room safe from thieves. The adventuring party solved the three riddles and guessed correctly as the door opened before them and revealed the second of the items needed by Sir Oakley, the bowl Io.

The adventuring band continued onward into the final room of the catacombs and came into a huge chamber filled with sarcophagi of the honoured knights of the abbey. Gadrin the Hammer himself rested here in an ornate sarcophagus at the far end of the room. As the adventuring band surveyed the room they noticed a huge basillisk as well as several vampires hiding in the shadows. A bald man with a mace in one hand and a vial of strange red liquid in another looked up at the heroes with madness in his eyes and told his minions to kill the intruders.

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The band of adventurers defeated the warped man and his vile minions and cleansed the evil from the scared ground and returned to the temple above.

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Arianna's Tale

Keldrath stood over the body of his companion, the half orc fighter Guzlak. He needed to get to Colt and tell him what had occurred during the night. Guzlak was supposed to be on watch over the camp, Keldrath had taken the first watch before handing over to his companion. When the human wizard arose he found Guzlak dead, his throat cut by some assassin who had also taken the skull of power they carried. Not having time to bury his friend he used magical fire to burn his remains and then turned his attention to the tracks left by the killer thief.

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Whoever had taken the skull had not bothered to cover their tracks, even the wizard could work out quickly the path the assassin had taken. Keldrath followed the tracks to an abandoned farmstead, a perfect hideout for bandits and assassins. He could make out multiple figures, perhaps seven or eight of the bandits could be seen through broken windows. The human wizard wished he had Guzlak beside him, together they could take down the bandits. He was however alone and he did not like the odds. Instead he thought to another former companion, a flame haired elven rogue who had battled alongside the evil deathpriest Kalarel. His employer Colt had set her on a similar mission not too far away in Harkenwold. Arianna the thief would be a welcome ally to battle alongside against the bandits.

Israfen saw the goblin drop dead before him, an arrow in it’s chest. He had not seen the danger coming from his side. Once again the elf scout found himself impressed with the skill of his new hunting partner. The daggerburg goblins had become more bold of late, leading ambushes. into the woodsinger elves’ woods. Eriyel had sent him out with Arianna to lead an offensive on the goblins in the hopes they would withdraw from the area. Arianna had taken down more goblins with her shortbow crafted by a fletcher in the woodsinger camp, than the rest of the hunting party combined. The white wolf from the elemental chaos known as Ghost, aided the elven rogue in combat and kept her warm at night.

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Eriyel watched the hunting party return. She tried to smile but knew that the human had come to take the elven thief from them. It saddened the woodsinger clan leader even though she could see that In Arianna’s heart was a fire that cried out for adventure and could not settle in one place for too long. As Israfen, Arianna and the others approached they looked at the stranger dressed in cloth robes. It took a moment for the red haired elf to recognise the man before her, but when he pulled back his hood a smile came to her face. Keldrath the wizard. After an embrace between the old companions Arianna heard from the young wizard of the fate of Guzlak and the bandit hideout. The elven rogue was deeply disturbed by the news, Guzlak was a good friend and an even better fighter. Not an honourable way to die. She grabbed her things as quickly as she could and set off with Keldrath. She thanked Eriyel and the other woodsinger elves for everything, they had welcomed her into their clan with such warmth. She was forever grateful to them for that.

Keldrath, Arianna and Ghost waited outside the abandoned farm where the bandits made their lair. They slipped inside using both stealth and magic to pass unnoticed. The elven thief felt it only fitting to end the bandit’s lives in the same way they had slain Guzlak, and so she slit each one of their throats but it did little to soften the loss of her companion. Just as she went to the final bandit, Keldrath grabbed her hand and shook his head. He told her they needed one to question. Arianna tied up the bandit after knocking him unconscious. When the bandit awoke Keldrath questioned him about their employer and the whereabouts of the skull of power. The bandit would not say at first but when he was shown his dead allies, he quickly realised what his fate would be should he remain silent. He told them they had been hired by a Lord of Sarthel, the city of silver. He swore he did not know the name, but the bandit heard that this Lord was arranging for the sale of the skull to a collector of dark artifacts in Fallcrest. Arianna and Keldrath could not let the bandit leave and so quickly ended his life.

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As Arianna cleaned her blade, Keldrath mulled over the information gathered from the bandit. The elven rogue told Keldrath then of the Iron Circle and the note from Nazin Redthorn to a mysterious Lord Vynnek speaking of the sale of an artifact to Fallcrest. It could be that the Iron Circle have been acquiring the skulls for someone in the town. Since both their employer and the recipient of the skulls were in Fallcrest they both agreed to set off to the town at first light to deliver the disturbing news to Colt.

Tiathavin approached the temple doors with caution. The doors were wide open and it was well after dark. When inside the temple of the sun she saw Grundlemar hunched over Colt trying to stop the flow of blood. The dwarf priest looked up to her and told her the ranger would live. He had saved both his and his acolyte Sister Marla’s life, through his timely arrival. However as Colt sat up he told the eladrin paladin that the attackers had taken the skull of power. As Colt described in what little detail he could remember the attack and theft, there was a loud knock at the temple doors. Grundlemar went to see who was there and opened the door to Arianna and Keldrath. They all shared their stories with each other and were silent for a few moments.

It was Tiathavin who broke the silence, she suggested a plan of action. She told Arianna to travel to Winterhaven to ensure the security of the skull given to Kharas the Just by Kerwyn, Andraste and Faelar. Colt, Keldrath and Ghost would remain to track the attackers and find who the mysterious collector in Fallcrest was and confront them. Tiathavin was going to set out for Sarthel to see what she could find out about this Lord Vynnek. Grundlemar then spoke to Arianna about recurrent dark dreams he was having. His god Pelor warned him in these visions that a former cult leader was dabbling with forces beyond mortal understanding. He wanted her to travel to Gardmore Abbey and into the catacombs beneath the temple there and rid them of the evil that infested the dark halls. Something truly disturbing was occurring there and it was not far from Winterhaven. Tiathavin and Colt told her to seek out Kerywn, Andraste and Faelar if she could to get aid with Grundlemar’s quest.

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Arianna was exhausted by the time she reached Winterhaven and she spent the night in the inn at the village, Wrafton’s Inn. She recalled the night she had met Guzlak and Keldrath for the first time. It had been this very place. She swallowed her grief and washed it down with some strong ale, there was no sense to grief, people died and that was life. Guzlak was best honoured in battle anyway, not mourning into her drink. During the evening the elven thief was approached by a dark haired brown skinned woman dressed in merchants garb. She bowed and introduced herself as a woman from far south who sought two relics taken from her lands by the overzealous crusaders of Gardmore Abbey. She told Arianna she would pay her well should she recover the items, a silver dagger with a large amethyst set into the pommel and a scepter crafted of adamantine. She promised 1,000 gold pieces upon delivery, and she explained the items would most likely be within the vaults of the abbey with the rest of the knights plundered riches. Arianna got the sense that the woman was withholding something, but Arianna was used to that. Being a thief you dealt with all sorts of people and almost all of them had ulterior motives. However why should Arianna not profit from this task, if she declined the southern woman would just hire someone else for the job. She accepted the job and told the woman who named herself Alira, she was setting off at dawn.

After checking in with Kharas the Just, Arianna found the skull of power to be safely stowed inside an altar to Moradin. She left the dwarf priest promising to return and set off to the abbey. Upon her departure she was approached by Lord Padraig, ruler of the village. She had seen him before but had not spoken with him. The former adventurer turned Lord told the thief he heard she was travelling to the abbey. He explained he had hired a group of adventurers to scout the abbey but that he had not had contact with them for many days now. When he described the band of adventurers to Arianna, she smiled knowing well it was her former companions Padraig spoke of. She told him she would seek them out and return with them and she rode out of the frontier village towards the Gardmore Downs where the knights’ ruined abbey rested. It was not hard for the elven rogue to find the temple nor was it difficult to notice the trail of destruction left by her former adventuring companions. She saw Kerwyn and Andraste standing within the temple speaking with an elderly paladin, the elf shaman with them must have been Faelar. She decided to creep up to her old friends to surprise them…..

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Dragon's Roost

The adventuring trio snuck through gardmore village avoiding the orc hordes, keeping to the shadows of the buildings there. They passed through the gate that lead to dragon’s roost where they saw a battle had taken place. A dead drake, some gargoyles and two rust monsters lay defeated inside the gate. The group passed through Heroes Gate and out to the hilltop known as dragon’s roost. Here they saw a recently used campsite, still warm but with no-one in sight. As the heroes contiuned further onward an elderly white haired paladin approached in glimmering shiny armour with the crest of Bahamut upon his chest and shield.

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The paladin addressed the heroes asking their business in Gardmore Abbey. When Faelar withdrew the orc chieftain’s severed head from his magical handy haversack the old paladin was both impressed and disgusted at the same time. The adventurers explained that they were allies and were in the abbey to help and the elderly human announced himself as Sir Oakley a descendant of Gadrin the Hammer, founder of the abbey. He told them he was here to cleanse the temple on dragon’s roost and he had ascended the secret staircase to get directly up to the hilltop. The adventurers agreed to help the paladin as their destination was beneath the temple in the catacombs, they sought the lost ancestral sword of Lord Markelhay of Fallcrest, Moonbane.

When the group entered into the half collapsed temple it’s former ancient grandeur was still evident. Mighty columns rose into the shadows beneath the crumbling roof, lifting the eye towards the heavens. Smaller pillars of graceful shape and elegant decoration hinted at the temple’s lost beauty. Altars to several different gods surrounded a towering statue of Bahamut, depicted as a human knight in armour. The adventurers were soon disturbed by a croaking from overhead. Two hideous women with wings and talons draped in bloodied holy vestments told the intruders to bow and pray to Bahamut.

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Sir Oakley was confused by the harpies worship of the goodly platinum dragon, they were usually evil creatures. After the heroes and the elderly paladin tried to make conversation with the harpies it was evident they were insane, and they attacked the adventuring group. Also joining the battle were three Angels of Valor originally intended to protect the temple from evil, also maddened by whatever catastrophic event had taken place here.

Kerwyn and Verlathion quickly rushed in to meet the charge of the angels with Sir Oakley coming to their side hesitantly, at first not wishing to attack the guardians of the temple. Andraste and Faelar flung their spells at the opponents before Andraste also joined the melee with the others, using her magically summoned blade of frost to strike her foes. Faelar summoned his spirit bear to aid the companions and also took out the head of Bakrosh, the orc chieftain. He dipped the severed head into a fountain of freezing cold magical water which froze it solid, the elf shaman then launched the orc head through the air to hit one of the angels killing it when the head exploded into the mad divine creature’s chest. The angels and the harpies proved difficult opponents, but the heroes prevailed.

After finding some gold and a magical belt within the harpies lair inside the temple, Sir Oakley tried to begin his purifying ritual. It was soon apparent that he could not complete the ritual to cleanse the temple of evil without three vital artifacts. He needed the Brazier of Silver Fire which the group of adventurers had with them, the Bowl of Io’s Blood and the Chalice of the Dragon. Sir Oakley was not sure where these other relics could be found, but he was sure they would still be in the abbey somewhere.

They all agreed the best place to begin their search was beneath the temple in the catacombs and so the descending the stairs into the darkness below…

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The Orc Chieftain's Lair

After leaving behind the wizard’s tower, the heroes set off towards Gardmore Keep. It seemed that this was the most likely place the orc leader would be dwelling and also Berrian had seen the orcs regularly going both in and out of the partially ruined building. As the adventuring party approached the keep, they saw a large two headed humanoid like creature standing guard lazily by the keep’s large doors. The simple minded creature known as an ettin asked the heroes for the password. One head then told the other to give them the hint which was a riddle of sorts. Andraste quickly gave the answer to both the riddle and thus the password without hesitation or even a glance to her companions. The ettin stood aside and told them they may enter and then it went back to it’s dozing.

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The doors opened into a great chamber hall with a large feast table in the center, a group of orcs and their dire wolf pets approached the intruders as an orc shaman barked orders at those on ground level from a balcony up above. The heroes found themselves quickly surrounded by the orcs and their pet wolves. Faelar recognised the danger posed by the orc shaman above them and summoned his spirit bear companion to appear beside it on the balcony. The elf focused his attacks upon the shaman while Kerwyn, Andraste and Verlathion battled with the orcs and dire wolves on the ground level.

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The adventuring party prevailed and upon the walls of the great hall Kerwyn found a magical shield with the crest of Bahamut, a fitting shield for a paladin of the platinum dragon god. They ascended the spiral staircase up to the balcony and passed through a doorway there. The heroes opened the doors into a dark hall. In the centre of the hall a gaping hole opened up to the lower level of the keep, the adventurer’s were expected. Upon a great throne bearing savage ornamentation of bone, fur and horn sat a fierce-looking male orc his yellow eyes fixed upon the adventurers.

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The orc announced himself as Bakrosh, chieftain of the Vile Rune Clan and ruler of Gardmore Village. Bakrosh was a mighty warrior, rippling with muscles beneath grey hide that was as much scar as it is skin. A shimmering black pelt of a displacer beast formed his cloak, with it’s two long tentacles hanging down over his chest. The orc cheiftain congratulated the adventuring group and told them he felt they could be of use to his clan. They could help him claim the whole of the abbey and he would reward them greatly for their assistance. The heroes would have none of these negotiations with evil creature instead charging into battle. Bakrosh commanded his warriors to slay the adventurers and a fierce battle began in the keep’s upper hall.

The adventuring party picked off the orcs one by one with Kerwyn keeping the attention of the chieftain locked upon him. At one point in the epic battle Kerwyn charged into the chieftain’s consort and lieutenant Khavra, slamming her with his shield and sending her falling to her death through the gaping hole that lead to a 30 foot drop to the lower hall. Bakrosh quickly found himself without allies and surrounded by the heroes as they took him down and then cut off his head under Faelar’s suggestion. The elven shaman thought it best to carry the chieftain’s head should they need to prove their might to the remaining orcs beyond the keep.

The heroes decided that they would now head to dragon’s roost to the highest point of Gardmore Abbey, and so they set off.

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The Tower of Vandomar

When the heroes awoke and had eaten they approached Berrian’s tent to speak with him. Faelar told the eladrin noble that they planned to try to wrest the orc’s hold over the abbey’s village. The elven shaman requested aid from the eladrin, but he had to decline. Berrian newly united with his father and sister would not leave them again, nor send them into harms way. As soon as Zandrian was well again, they planned to return to Mithrendain in the Feywild their home. Berrian did suggest that if they cut off the head of the serpent that the body would wither. He suggested gaining entrance to the keep and slaying the orc chieftain, sending the orc clan into disarray. After speaking once again with Analastra and the weakened Zandrian, the heroes set off but first Kerwyn and Andraste wished to visit the wizard’s tower to seek out the knowledge that Valthrun had requested. Faelar was not in agreement, but finding himself out-voted he followed his companions lead.

The wizard’s tower was surrounded in a foreboding grey fog with the only sounds being that of the raucous calls of the ravens roosting on its spire. The tower door leaned off their hinges, the old wood charred and splintered, yet also frosted with rime. Two dragon-headed statues stood to either side of the doorway, streaked with the droppings of the ravens. Faelar shouted a warning to the group as he noticed the statues come to life. The adventurers quickly drew their weapons as the gargoyles readied themselves to attack.

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As the heroes battled the gargoyles and Faelar found himself inside chasing a fleeing gargoyle he saw a room filled with wild magic. Bolts of lightning, fire and other arcane energy were flung about the room. In the centre of the room a bloodstained sheet covered a large recumbent form atop a large fallen obelisk. A scroll sat above the sheet and Faelar snatched both the scroll and removed the sheet. Much to the heroes horror was the form of a large human shaped abomination made from the body parts of dead human and orcish flesh. The head of which was that of the knight Lady Elaida, who fell to the spear of Nightbringer.

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The last the heroes had seen of either Lady Elaida or her fiancee the archmage Vandomar was when he had carried her off with the aid of his gargoyles, swearing to use all his power to bring her back. The adventuring band now found themselves in a much tougher fight than they were. Kerwyn swore under his breath as he charged in to meet the new threat of the flesh golem, leaving Andraste to take care of the gargoyle outside. Verlathion also charged in to rake the golem with his sharp claws while Faelar summoned the spirit of the bear behind the huge construct. Lightning darted about energising the flesh golem and hitting the heroes, soon the heroes found themselves beaten down and with Andraste standing alone surrounded by the one remaining gargoyle and the giant abomination.

A bolt of arcane magic flew forth striking the gargoyle and turning it into rubble and as Andraste tried desperately to decipher the scroll that Faelar had passed to her Kerwyn managed to regain consciousness and quickly aided Faelar to his feet with his healing virtue. Andraste finally read aloud the scroll and released its magic, which dispersed the wild magic within the room. With just the golem left before them the heroes concentrated their efforts and finished the abomination off.

After a brief respite, the heroes ascended the stairway to the next level of the tower. Upon cracking the door open, the heroes were hit by freezing cold air. Inside were both humans, orcs and demons cast in ice as if frozen in time. Also in the room were four sarcophagi of former paladins of the abbey. Standing over one of the sarcophagi was the wizard himself, Vandomar. His beard was coated with frozen icicles and there was madness in his unliving eyes. He looked at the adventuring band and welcomed them in. He was no longer a living wizard, turned instead into an undead mockery of who he had once been. After speaking with the archmage for a few moments the creature’s insanity became apparent. When the undead wizard demanded they stay with him forever encased in ice the heroes had no other choice than to put Vandomar out of his misery.

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The archmage summoned forth the mummified corpses of the fallen paladins and they surrounded the adventurers. Faelar with the aid of his spirit companion and Verlathion held two of the mummies at bay while Kerwyn held off the other two. Andraste focused her attacks on the insane wizard killing him quickly as his magic was deadly indeed. After they finished off the mummies, the trio of heroes and their companions were victorious and inside one of the frozen blocks of ice they found another card from the deck, the jester.

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The Thing from The Far Realm

After rescuing Analastra and returning to the eladrin camp by the Font of Ioun, Berrian asked of the heroes another favour. The eladrin noble asked if they would seek out their father in the watchtower. Analastra insisted that she accompany the adventuring band, which they agreed upon.

First though Faelar, Andraste and Kerwyn wished to visit the ruined garrison as they wanted to search for the treasure that could be opened by the sword they had found. Upon reaching the garrison they found it completely void of orcs, none dared to come near the haunted building and it was the warning of a mad wraith that made this clear. The wraith dressed in the old armour of a knight of gardmore that warned the adventurers that this place could not be opened, except by the bearer of the lonely sword and that Vandomar must open the seal. The heroes did not comprehend the meaning behind this seemingly mad babbling, instead choosing to just open the doors to the garrison. As the large doors were pushed open a magical seal of warding exploded and blast Analastra, Verlathion and the trio of adventurers hitting them with powerful arcane energy.

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As soon as the group had recovered they were set upon by three angry sword wraiths and a
Balurga demon. The battle was intense but the heroes proved strongest as they fought back both the demon and the undead paladins, freeing their tormented souls. They then approached an altar with beautiful carvings of the dragon god Bahamut adorned upon it. There were slots in which to place four swords. Three swords could be found within the garrison itself and the fourth they carried with them from the feygrove. Upon inserting the final sword a bright light of divine godly energy filled the hall, the adventurers could feel the raw power flow through them and Kerwyn sensed that this would be a bane to undead and demonic abominations. A chalice within was found as was an amulet carved in the likeness of the platinum dragon. Kerwyn claimed the amulet and the group took the chalice with them along with some other pieces of treasure from the holy altar. And so the adventurers set out with Analastra to seek her father in the corrupted watchtower.

As the band of adventurers approached the watchtower they saw it wink in and out of existence. Switching between its true form and a dark twisted mirror of itself. No door could be seen and Andraste stepped forward to study the anomaly with her knowledge of all things arcane. The eladrin warlock deduced that by touching one of the magical cards she carried up against the unstable form of the watchtower a portal opened through which entrance could be gained. Kerwyn entered first followed by Faelar and then Andraste. After the Hexblade passed through the temporary doorway closed, leaving Analastra left outside.

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Inside the heroes studied there strange and hideous surroundings. A river of black fluid oozed in the centre of the room and the floor felt sticky and membranous beneath their feet. A card shaped doorway could be seen floating above them. Parts of black ooze broke off from the river of slime and floated upward passing through the portal high above the heroes heads. Faelar noticed with his keen senses that the river of slime was actually a black pudding and they thought the sooner they could pass through the portal the better off they would all be. Andraste teleported up to the doorway using her innate eladrin power, fey step. When up at the portal the warlock threw down a rope on which Kerwyn and Faelar could climb up.

When the heroes passed through the card shaped portal, they left behind all semblance of their world and instead walked through the plane of the far realm. It was a dark and twisted version of the world and one that would weigh heavily on the heart of anyone. Unspeakable creatures, deformed and with madness in their eyes poured forth from gaping holes in the fabric of reality. The heroes rushed on toward a light at the end of the sticky and murky path they tread. They passed through a final door and a burst of energy exploded as seemingly thousands of stars above them erupted. The stars became cards and the darkness was no more the heroes of nerath found themselves thrust back through another portal and they had returned to the watchtower, but they were not alone.

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As the room slowly came into view, the heroes could hear and unearthly roar erupted from the darkness and a floating horror of eyes loomed up before them. The beholder, a creature from the far realm spoke in a maddening tongue and as it shot out attacks from it’s many eyes the heroes scrambled to retaliate. Four wretched creatures, twisted forms of the paladins that once protected the abbey were enslaved by the beholders will and the heroes were quick to take them out of the battle, but without slaying them. Morphic zones of corrupted wild magic sprouted up from various spots in the circular room ever shifting the battlefield throughout the encounter.

The fight with the beholder was the hardest challenge the heroes had ever faced. Between the beholder’s multiple debilitating eye ray attacks and tentacles, paralytic jelly, dimensional holes and rocky spurs and pits forming from the unstable morphic zones of magic the heroes were hard pressed indeed. Kerwyn and Verlathion both found it excruciatingly difficult to keep in melee with the beholder getting grappled and blasted back by the chaotic zones of magic. Faelar and Andraste had the advantage of using their spells to fling at the abomination. The fight drained the adventuring heroes of all their power and energy, as it took all of their combined might to slay the foul beast. But slay the beholder they did and with it’s demise the heroes found three more of the magical cards. After the watchtower returned to it’s earthly form Analastra rushed up to find the heroes victorious, but to also find her father’s broken and twisted form upon the stone floor. The group quickly realised that the paladins of Gardmore Abbey where not dead, however the three human forms quickly faded and passed away having been enslaved by the beholder for almost 150 years and well beyond their lifetimes. However Zandrian Velfarren still lived, and the party aided him with healing as best they could and hurried back to the eladrin camp.

With the magical healing properties of the font of Ioun and with a ritual of remove affliction, Zandrian returned to his true form, weakened but alive. Berrian thanked the heroes, embracing the group as tears welled up in his silver eyes. The adventurers exhausted from their recent exertion decided that a long rest was needed and the eladrin set up room in their tents.

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The Feygrove

After scouting the ruined abbey’s perimeter the adventure’s decided to avoid the front gates that were crawling with orcs. Instead they decided to venture into the groves and gardens of the abbey, long overgrown and teeming with life and greenery. As the heroes progressed through the wild gardens they fought themselves swarmed by giant spiders. After defeating the deathjump spiders the adventuring group headed towards a clearing with a pond in the middle of it. A group of nymphs stood beside the pond singing and playing. When they saw the adventurers enter the clearing they called them over and asked them to play a game with them.

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Secrets were revealed about the adventurers, things unknown to their travelling companions. Kerwyn had abandoned a life of entitlement to make a name for himself on his own without aid or influence from family connections. Andraste had slipped away from a feast to kill a prisoner beneath Harken Keep. Although sure that she was doing the right thing she was afraid of what her companions might think so she buried this dark secret within her heart. Faelar who could still not recall much of his past was told of a primal omen that heralded his birth. The omen was said to point to the primal spirits favour and it was no surprise when he mastered the shamanistic arts. However just before his mother’s death she tried to tell him of something more sinister regarding the omen, but she never got to tell Faelar what it was.

The heroes also obtained some information about the abbey. The were told that the watchtower was tainted by an intrusion from the far realm, that the leader of the orcs held two more magical cards from the deck and that the eladrin who dwelt by the font of Ioun could find his father in the watchtower.

After leaving behind the singing nymphs the heroes headed towards this font of Ioun the nymphs had mentioned. A group of eladrin surrounded the adventurers and their leader, a tale and graceful eladrin knight with pale gold hair demanded to know their business. When the heroes discovered that this was Berrian Velfarren one of the eladrin that Eryiel of the Woodsinger elves had asked Kerwyn and Andraste to look out for swords were lowered. Berrian explained that both himself and his sister Analastra were seeking their father who left Mithrendain in the feywild when they were young. Their path had led them here to the gardens within Gardmore Abbey.

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Faelar told Berrian about the groups meeting with the nymphs and of what they had said about his father being within the watchtower. Berrian was lifted by this news but quickly became more solemn again. He asked the heroes if they could seek out his missing sister Analastra. She had gone missing during a recent scouting of the feygrove. The adventurers agreed to help Berrian find his sister and set off after sipping from the font of Ioun and each receiving a gift of the god’s knowledge and power.

When the heroes approached a ruined bell tower in the overgrown gardens of the abbey they saw two displacer beasts circling a fallen eladrin woman. Also approaching from the tower were a trio of dire stirges most likely lured to the battle by the scent of blood. The paladin, warlock and shaman rushed to aid the maiden. Andraste cast a blast of a frigid winter storm at the stirges that were latching on and sucking the blood of the fallen eladrin, knocking them away from her. Kerwyn and Verlathion rushed in to fight the displacer beasts to draw them away from the injured eladrin while Faelar aided with his primal magic channeled through his spirit companion.

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It was not easy for the heroes to fight the feline fey beasts as they would sometimes disappear just as a blow was about to land. Kerwyn cursed more than once as he swung into thin air with his giantslayer longsword. Eventually the stirges and displacer beasts were defeated and Faelar lended his healing powers to the fallen eladrin and Kerwyn helped him in getting her back to her feet. She thanked the adventuring party for saving her, but she seemed embarrassed that she had needed the help. She told them she was Analastra and the heroes, who had assumed as much told the eladrin that her brother Berrian was looking for her. The heroes in need of rest escorted Analastra back to her brother’s camp by the font of Ioun.

Berrian embraced his sister and thanked the adventurers for coming to her aid. He took the adventurers to one side to give them a token of his thanks. He told them he knew there to be great power within the seemingly mundane looking card. He was not sure of the full extent of it’s power but he felt it may be of some benefit to the heroes. Andraste took the card and could instantly sense the arcane power flowing within it. The image on the front of the card was that of the fates. Berrian told her it was a fitting card as he felt that fate had brought the adventuring party to him to help reunite the Velfarren family.

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