Guards and Wards

From Ardrana

This adventure began with the party, currently led by Toshiro, leaving Promise Junction bound for Vamnik Outpost, where they would meet a caravan from Floyk delivering supplies to the village. Their task was to escort the caravan past the Grazhnakh settlement of Blukh Ukh along Onyx Road 46. To that end, two of the humanoid residents of the village -- an orc named Makdad and a gnoll named Lamu -- had joined them along with two members of the now-being-rebuilt temple of Perasin, Stom and Pete.

Alvin received some supplies from his boss Cellani at the Red Dragon Inn, while Solidus Proudfoot provided several newly-created healing potions. After Rin checked the weather, the group set forth.

The road west

Getting underway

On their way, they had also been instructed by Bramus, the head of the village guard, to meet with Tara Goldmoon and possibly Rodney regarding the magical seeds mentioned by Maud Frickert. Passing through Eskalikor, they first met a large man carrying an axe, but could not communicate their desire to be led to Tara's dwelling. Rin then spoke to a weasel, who guided Emi, Makoto and Siege to what turned out to be Rodney's house. They relayed the message, and Rodney warned them about some dangerous creatures on the road ahead.

Fight for shelter

After exiting the forest, the group came across an abandoned fort. Hoping to use it as shelter from the snowy weather, Emi and Makoto attempted to climb the walls of the keep, but they proved too slippery, with Makoto injuring her ankle. They decided to chance entering through an archway on the north side. They discovered several buildings within, and when Toshiro poked his head into one he was nearly hit by a rock. After lighting up the building with fire, arrows followed, and Eckhorn questioned the wisdom of proceeding. After camping outside was dismissed as an option, Stom and Pete went inside, followed closely by Nyla and Lamu. They were confronted by several creatures, and battle commenced.

The party was able to use magic -- primarily hold person from Rin and blinding light from Alvin -- to impair several of the creatures. The enemy proved difficult due to their ability to paralyze their foes, resulting in several party members -- Nyla, Eckhorn, Stom, and Pete -- also becoming incapacitated. Makdad was able to tackle an archer off the balcony, but ended up being killed himself before the party finally finished off their foes.

While a cairn was raised for Makdad, part of the group explored the other buildings, finding the remnants of what appeared to be Onyx Empire heraldry. The party made camp in one of the buildings, then set out again in the morning.

In and around Blukh Ukh

The group passed a small settlement, then after lunch they encountered Ulsi Taligus returning from Sandpit, whom they asked about news from Promise Junction. Toshiro tried to summon an animal for food, but produced a mountain lion, with which no one wanted to mess. A second casting produced a deer, which the group slew and cooked.

The next morning, the party arrived at the outskirts of Blukh Ukh. Toshiro and Makoto scouted ahead, with Makoto in fox form and Toshiro under a camouflage spell, but found no danger before returning. The group carefully made their way through the Gar-bears Orc city, encountering nothing but occasional Orcish voices, before resuming their previous pace.

The group crossed a bridge over a small frozen stream, then passed by what smelled like a garbage dump, but otherwise the day passed uneventfully. That night, the group heard the sound of wolves howling as they had before, but this time it drew closer to the campsite as the night wore on. During the second watch, Klaven spotted two shapes approaching and sounded the alarm. The wolves -- or, rather, worgs -- charged into the camp, causing the party's draft horse to bolt. Other animals set about mauling Pete and Emi, while Toshiro's pony Chiba was also badly injured. Alvin was able to blow one away, literally, and Makoto scared off another while the group rallied to kill two others before the remaining worgs broke and fled.

The next morning, Eckhorn suggested Toshiro talk to Lamu, who had left camp, about not doing so again. The earth priest did so, and arranged for Siege and Klaven to hunt with him at night in the future. The next day passed without incident, but early the next morning a herd of buffalo-like animals came close to the camp. The group's hunters attempted to pick one off to no avail.

At Vamnik

As the group set out, Rin cast cloudview, from which she saw a group approaching the outpost from the north. She described an animal that Toshiro thought could be an elephant, but upon arriving a short time later, they discovered from its handler, a githzerai named Ali that it was instead a creature called a baku, part of a traveling circus that was also staying at the outpost. They soon met another member, a gnomish tumbler named Pikilily -- who picked Siege's pocket only to find she had pilfered a tube of glue -- before being introduced to its ringmaster, Barnaby.

They soon entered the main building of the outpost, hoping to warm up and get a meal. While scouting the common area, Toshiro met some other members of the circus: a pair of tieflings named Ixtala and Lady Maib, and a half-ogre named Biliko. Meanwhile, Lily confirmed her vocation as a thief with Makoto and Emi.

After lunch, Toshiro and Eckhorn visited Barnaby and Maib in one of the wagons. There, they offered to lend their aid to guard the circus, and discovered that the circus was being sponsored by Hest Travel. After some discussion of payment, they returned to the rest of the group to review their options. At that time, they learned that Lamu was missing, sending the scouts and Siege to search for him to no avail. Siege encountered Mrox, the leader of the outpost, but learned little, while Makoto spoke to the guards at the front gate, who had seen a gnoll leave the outpost headed west.

Just after sundown, the caravan proper arrived, led by The Inscrutable Vasnorbid Prossskulogreth Hyi'i'i'i Zq Jomwix, or "Sku" as he asked to be called. As they settled in, Toshiro, Eckhorn, Siege and Alvin returned to the circus leaders. They accepted as payment a potion of elemental form, along with space on the circus wagon for supplies and possibly party members. Toshiro returned to tell Sku of the change to include the circus, which seemed to rile the merchant a bit.

Later in the evening, Toshiro returned to the circus wagon to have his fortune told by Lady Maib. Klaven gamed with Barnaby in the common room while Alvin purchased spices from another of the caravan merchants. Pikilily made the rounds of the merchants, but while she met a pair of Gnomish merchants, Nootbaar and Azneen, she was unable to filch any treasure.

The road east

The next morning, the group gathered with the circus and merchant caravan to begin the journey back to Promise Junction. Siege tried to learn how to shoot his bow from the howdah on Kubo's back, while Alvin tested combining his ride the wind and Murdock's Feathery Flyer spells, but neither met with much success.

The morning passed uneventfully, but in the afternoon they encountered a familiar traveler: the woodsman from Eskalikor. Makoto talked to him for a bit, learning about some of the tactics of the Gar-bears Orcs, before he continued on his way to Floyk. The caravan stopped a few hours later, and discussed with Scu the possibility of using one of the merchant wagons as a sort of Trojan horse.

The next day passed uneventfully and the party set up camp about five miles west of Blukh Ukh, where the group finalized their plans for the next day's expected ambush. Rin set a fire trap on a box to be left in the driver's seat with Eckhorn, who would drive the cart of the book merchant Tupper.

The next morning, Rin's cloudview spell revealed the presence of a dozen Orcs congregated at the bridge. Makoto's observations indicated that they were expecting something, but weren't very concerned about it. Eckhorn drove the cart with Toshiro and Alvin alongside and Klaven, Nyla and Stom within.

Shortly before reaching the bridge, they were waylaid by the Grazhnakh. After Alvin used ride the wind to blow six of them away, Eckhorn noted that one was lighting something at the edge of the bridge. Toshiro used Marthammor's thunderbolts to seriously injure him, but his flare went off, and the remaining foes retreated. The group then tied up a seventh orc who was still under the effects of Alvin's spell, and returned to the caravan to interrogate their prisoner and decide their next move.

Splitting up

After a lengthy discussion, it was decided that the group would split into two. The caravan would return to Vamnik Outpost, then turn north to circumvent the orc city with most of the party. Emi and Pete would accompany the circus wagon would continue toward Promise Junction to meet their transportation with Hest Travel. Rin would send a dream vision to Bramus explaining the situation tomorrow night. Toshiro returned the earth elemental potion to Lady Maib in case the orcs put up too much resistance when they tried to pass through Blukh Ukh, and they went their separate ways.

The circus and Promise Junction

The circus troupe were stopped just outside Blukh Ukh, and Lady Maib was able to convince them to allow the wagon to pass through. In exchange, the circus would give a performance, and pay a small toll. The performance was received well, and the group went on its way. The group arrived in Promise Junction a few days later, where they learned from Solidus that he and Ishmakha had been attacked by a large spider while attempting to replace the continual light stones in the tunnel below the mayor's residence. They also met Solidus' new acolyte, a Desert Elf named Al'Hana.

Later, Rodney arrived with Airlia, and the ranger gave Tara's return message to Sinjamin. The barkeep then asked Emi to take a message to Ocsiban, creator of the formula, who was likely located in Imor. While there, she intended to obtain a magical item to allow her messenger service to perform more effectively. Rodney also conveyed to the half-Elf that a friend of Tara's -- some sort of important barbarian tribesman -- was on his way to town. Solidus wondered if it might be Vulgarda returning, or even Molbo, but Rodney didn't think either of those was his name.

While the circus folk set up their tents for a performance that night, a hedge witch named Tammra arrived in the village along with her dog Shadow, intending to conduct business from her wagon. She acquired a license to set up in the marketplace, and arranged for a room at the Red Dragon. There, she met several members of the party, and Solidus made note of Shadow, intuiting that he might be of a magical nature.

At the circus performance, Pikilily went about her usual routine of stealing items from the audience members. Afterwards, she and Emi were discussing her take when they encountered Oashirt, who invited the Gnome to join them in their attempt to start up a thieves' guild. She agreed to consider it, and the three discussed possibly hiring Pete to be dumb muscle. Late that night, Emi departed for Imor to seek additional information about the formula.

The circus departed the next morning via airship, leaving Pikilily in the village. At lunch, Tammra overheard conversation between Solidus and Shirella regarding the village's library, which piqued her interest. Solidus followed Tammra out to her cart, asking if he could determine which items on her cart were magical, which Tammra declined. Solidus went on to begin preparations for the future temple to Varice and Heironeous, casting continual faerie fire to mark the ground. Lily and Tammra also visited Tammra's cart, as the hedge witch continued gathering information.

The weasel and the pumpkin

Late that afternoon, several goblins came into the Red Dragon looking for Bramus. They told a tale about a mutated giant weasel wreaking havoc on their farms, and the guardsman agreed to check it out. Brozhin, Ishmakha, Mazhik, Solidus and Tammra accompanied him, and they asked Pete to join as they passed the temple of Perasin. Upon reaching the farms, Pete tracked a blood trail between buildings, but he was attacked by a humanoid with a pumpkin head -- perhaps the same creature who had slain Vernon the farmhand. Before anyone could react, the giant weasel jumped onto one of the farmers. The spellcasters chased it off, leaving behind Pete's body staring up at the sky. After he was roused, the wounded farmer was treated by Lennoy, while Mazhik and Ishmakha used a rope trick to watch the scene.

Late that night, Emi returned from Imor accompanied by Lt. Christine Barberry, an officer in the Imorian Army. She insisted on meeting with Bramus, but it was decided to hold off until the morning, when all those on his team were alert. Meanwhile, Lily paid a visit to Blood, Bone and Brew to attempt some picking of pockets. Unfortunately, she was caught by Khrutshar, the bugbear chief priest of Hruggek, and barely escaped with her skin intact.

The next day, the group met with Lt. Barberry. After Bramus told Solidus to remove the faerie fire, they discussed the goings-on in Promise Junction. Barberry requested that Maud Frickert be brought to the meeting before things could proceed, and Emi, Gilbert and Lily went to fetch her. Finding Maud not wanting to leave her farm, they convinced her by agreeing to help sell her preserves in the market. Leaving Pikilily to watch her barrow, the others returned to the meeting room. Barberry asked after Maud's husband Ukiah, and mentioned that the sample he'd been given by Ocsiban had mutating effects on animals. It was theorized that this might be the source of the giant weasel, and that word should be sent to Rodney about tracking it while Solidus coordinated the search for the sample in the village.

Late that night, Emi received Rin's dream vision, which she shared with Bramus and Quellit. Lily tried to join them in the meeting room, and Emi convinced Bramus that she could be helpful, so she was admitted. After everything was shared, Gilbert suggested that perhaps the Gar-bears Orcs could be negotiated with. Pete was summoned to provide insight, and he confirmed that the purpose of their attacks was likely simple intimidation, but that it was possible they might also just be in need of the provisions being carried by merchants. Not having the opportunity to do anything about it immediately, Bramus sent Solidus out, alnogh with Mazhik and Brozhin, to search Frickert's farm.

After the meeting, as everyone was having breakfast, Lily met with a mysterious man named Levi, with whom she'd spoken the previous night. The encounter piqued the curiosity of Tammra and Shadow, who learned that Levi was here seeking an apprentice. Shortly afterward, Lily and Emi went out to the market to sell the Frickert preserves, where they met with Rodney on his way into the village.

Solidus' team headed to the farm, and cast detect magic on the shed where Ukiah Frickert worked. Seeing a glow from within, they entered, only to discover that someone had broken into Ukiah's work area and dug up a magical box which they presumed had once contained the seed sample. They brought it back to the RDI, where Gilbert suggested casting know history to learn what had happened. Several members of the group then accompanied Rodney out to the site of the giant weasel attack, but the trails of both it and pumpkinhead had gone cold.

Back at the RDI, Rodney remembered that Tara was intending to visit tomorrow along with a friend of hers -- some kind of barbarian chieftain with a large retinue. He then went out with Bramus on evening patrol of the village, during which a scream was heard from the kobold settlement. When the group arrived, they found a kobold cowering in fear near a pumpkin, which she claimed had attacked her.

The next morning, Bramus asked everyone to keep watch for panic over the pumpkinhead business. Quellit added that due to the rising tensions, he wanted someone to accompany him on night-time patrols. After breakfast, Solidus visited the administration building to examine the box from Frickert's farm. He discovered that it had been made by one Nelson Firestone, then owned by Ocsiban before it had been broken into by a kobold, apparently named Bokbok. Bramus had not heard the name, so suggested that someone ask Jikjik, the kobold spokesperson, or perhaps Gilbert if they knew who that was. Later that morning, Emi and Lily asked Pete about joining them in Oashirt's prospective thieves' guild. He said he'd think about it.

Barbarians at the gates?

Around mid-morning, Shadow told Tammra that he was hearing drumbeats from somewhere. Tammra listened, hearing them as well, and went to the RDI to report, also relaying that she'd been asked for amulets to protect against scarecrows. As the drumbeats grew louder, everyone in the village began lining the streets to see a procession of several barbarian riders, along with one very large fellow carried by four hobgoblins on a palanquin. The parade halted in front of Gruumsh's temple and the man on the palanquin stood up. He announced himself as Turgan, chief of the Tribe of the North Star, and demanded that Nyla be brought before him. After being informed that Nyla was not present, Turgan, along with Tara and Moglar, the tribal shaman, joined Bramus in the Red Dragon. Many other interested parties followed them.

Bramus, with occasional input from Emi, told Turgan what they knew of Nyla's demise, and that her body was returning to the village. Turgan stated that it was a better death than she deserved, but agreed to allow one of the local priests to cast speak with dead on her corpse, noting that if she repented of her crimes against the tribe, she might be given a proper death ritual. Solidus later spoke with the chief, discussing their journey and other matters before Bramus shooed him out. The captain of the guard then consulted with Tara about the possibility of sending a message back to the group guarding the caravan. The druid agreed, and Emi would provide the message to be sent the next morning.

Tammra, meanwhile, adjourned to the village library, where she met with Shirella. They learned that they each were seeking a legendary drow library somewhere beneath the village, and what methods they might use to locate it. To that end, the hedge witch began spreading rumors around the marketplace, talking rather loudly to Oashelf about all the strange occurrences in the village recently.

Solidus asked Bramus about sending a message to Lt. Barberry about seed-related developments, but Bramus suggested waiting at least until they had spoken to Jikjik. The Halfling then set out to send a message to the kobold, and consulted Chalcedony, the village arbiter, who agreed to request his presence later that evening.

As the afternoon wore on, tensions in the village began to escalate. A skirmish in the marketplace required the intervention of the town guards, and as night fell one of the local hobgoblins stormed into the inn demanding something be done about all the recent disturbances. Bramus asked him to tell his brethren that if they were willing, they should report to the compound for training for patrols.

Later that evening, Jikjik arrived and was brought to the Red Dragon's meeting room with Bramus, Solidus and Emi. After discussing the rampant rumors and making the same offer they'd made to the hobgoblin regarding training, they asked the kobold about Bokbok. He told them that he had been exiled from their village for being a troublemaker, but he would ask if anyone knew his current whereabouts.

When Emi went upstairs, she spotted Oashirt and canted to him to meet with her and Lily. Tammra observed them leaving the inn in a suspicious manner and followed them. Oashirt caught her and postponed the meeting, but Tammra slipped a note to Lily, saying if she didn't want their secret exposed to meet with her the next day. When the three rogues gathered in the wee hours, they discussed the need to find a safe house, and the possibility of recruiting Tammra.

The next morning, Chalcedony mentioned to Solidus that Al'Hana had been trading her healing arts for food in the village. This led Solidus to ask Emi to draw a poster for a similar purpose for himself, hoping to trade his skills for labor or materials for his temple. Bramus then asked Solidus to check on Turgan, where he learned that Tara had dispatched the avian messenger that morning. Emi and Lily met Tammra at lunchtime, where they cleared the air and agreed to help each other out with their respective quandaries.

After lunch, Lily asked about places to practice her bow, and decided to register for guard training so that she could use the compound behind the inn. Several locals also approached Bramus to register. Meanwhile, Tammra learned that Jengpo, the gnollish rug merchant, had a room for rent, and relayed this to the other prospective thieves' guild members.

During dinner, a familiar face appeared at the inn: Bardo. When Emi recognized her, the rogue approached her and heard her tale of feeling lost at the University Al Maneera and wanting to rejoin her friends. The two talked to Oashute about whether the invitation to work for the town was still open, and Bramus said that she would be debriefed on what's been happening in the morning.

Turgan and the other barbarians arrived for Gilbert's performance, which was well-received. Gilbert had sung about some of Nyla's deeds, and Turgan was impressed enough that he would consider allowing her to return to being his concubine. When Lily asked what he would do if she refused, he said that if she were alive, his first instinct would be to execute her. He went on to mention that if one of her admirers were to defeat him, he would consider giving her to them.

After the performance, Gilbert prepared to visit Blood, Bone and Brew, having heard about a new performer there. Solidus agreed to go with him, and Gilbert invited Emi and Lily as well. Pete joined them, and they made their way there. They watched the performance of a female Orcish bard named Duper, whom they learned had observed some of the events in Blukh Ukh. Emi dozed off long enough to receive Rin's message, while Gilbert convinced Duper to come to the Red Dragon the next day.

The next morning, Bramus filled Bardo in on what she needed to know about what happened during her absence while most of the rest slept. Everyone but Gilbert was awake by lunch, when more familiar faces appeared. Shale, Rakeor, Isu, and a fourth person -- Stan, an aasimar with green skin and one eye -- came through the RDI's connecting passage. Everyone was introduced to one another, and Shale announced that she was here to see the temple, which she had apparently been assigned to take over. Gilbert came down just in time to mention that it wasn't exactly in top condition, and led the newcomers out into the village. On their way, they encountered Tammra returning from arranging to rent the room from Jengpo, carrying the carcass of a giant magpie to the Jeks. She left it at the decaying mill before returning to her stall.

Upon seeing the status of the temple of Perasin, Shale reacted with anger and dismay. She called out Sato, who told her of the progress on the rebuild. Just then, the Dwarf spotted a demon roach, which spoke to her. It said the temple belonged to Kiaransalee, and everyone was doomed. Shale tried to stomp it but tripped on a hole in the floor while Sato chased it off. Shale, Gilbert, Bramus and Sato discussed the temple's history. Bramus suggested she talk to Solidus about dealing with the Chipmunk Orcs, while Gilbert told her about the Halfling's bond with them, which upset the priestess. He then quickly returned to the RDI to warn Solidus of the situation.

Later that afternoon, Duper came to the inn, having arranged a meeting with Mayor Labeese the next morning. Gilbert told her that she would be able to play that night, and she agreed to play a song about Tiamat for the kobolds. Bramus gave Lily a warning about stealing from fellow RDI patrons.

The caravan and the long road

The caravan arrived at Vamnik after a couple of uneventful days. At the main building, Toshiro spotted another traveler and introduced himself. She said that she was Dax, a priestess of Sedric, who was on her way to Promise Junction. After conferring with her Halfling traveling companion Marcanto, they decided that it would be too risky to use Road 46, so they would instead accompany the party.

From Vamnik, the caravan traveled north via Onyx Road 62, then turned east onto a marked path. Dax cast easy road to speed the journey, but it was still slow going. That afternoon, Makoto spotted two large figures approaching from the south, and when they were identified as arctic owlbears the party went out to intercept them. After Alvin blinded one, the rest of the group chased them off, and they traveled a bit further before making camp.

The next day passed uneventfully, but that night, while Makoto was out befriending a stray dog summoned by Toshiro, the group heard sounds from south of the camp, and Siege spotted some kind of floating objects approaching. Klaven, Nyla and Stom went out to meet them, and they turned out to be bird-like creatures with metallic legs, one of which kicked Siege. Battle was joined, and after taking major damage, Klaven fled, while Siege positioned himself to attack from a distance. Nyla, left to fend for herself, was killed after taking several hits. Alvin had little better luck with spells, and was also knocked unconscious, as was Stom. Finally, Rin used mind read to determine that the creatures were after food. The group and the merchants unloaded all the edibles on the carts, and the creatures eventually left quietly. Once the wounded were stabilized, the party took up watches. Rin went out in search of Makoto, eventually finding her and the dog and bringing them back to camp.

Back again to Vamnik

After conferring the next morning, and Rin's omen from Losyera indicating going forward would be a bad idea, the group decided to return to Vamnik Outpost. Nyla's body was loaded in Nootbaar's empty wagon, and the caravan set off. When the group stopped for lunch, Eckhorn suggested buying the empty wagon to use for firewood. After some hemming and hawing, Eckhorn went ahead and bought it himself, and Siege began taking it apart that evening.

The group made camp alongside a hill, and early the next morning Siege spotted several creatures approaching around the side of the hill. Makoto came to check them out, and saw they were some sort of giant ants. The battle was short, ending when Makoto blasted the last four with her wand of cold -- unfortunately, she also hit Siege and Eckhorn, rendering the former unconscious. After healing was performed, Rin cast speak with dead on Nyla, learning that she wished to be raised if possible. The group reached Onyx Road 62, and that night Rin used a dream vision to relay their situation to Emi.

The caravan reached Vamnik the next evening, arriving to find a bit of a disturbance. Guards were on the alert after a reported attack by a pack of pig-cats, and the healers were brought into the outpost to treat its victim, a man named Karresh. Once he was able to speak, he confirmed that he was a necromancer. The possibility of him traveling with the group came up, but tabled for the time being.

After conferring with Dax, Rin and Alvin to form a plan, Toshiro went back to convince the merchants to accompany the group for one more attempt at passing through Blukh Ukh. To that end, he cast impenetrable falsehood to sound more convincing, and indeed most of the merchants agreed, with only Nootbaar and Azneen declining. Talk then turned to the prisoner, Xenzak, who Toshiro suggested be put into hibernation for the journey. When this was presented to him, Xenzak reacted angrily, and said that he would rather be killed now. Toshiro seemed prepared to oblige, but things were defused before anything came of it, and the prisoner was brought to the stable for questioning. After learning input Xenzak that the bridge guards had specifically been ordered not to let wagons pass through the city, the group set about finalizing its strategy for bypassing the Blukh Ukh bridge.

As things wrapped up, Stom signaled that people were approaching. As the party tried to act casual, Eckhorn identified the livery of Floyk on the two men entering the stable. Eckhorn, Toshiro and Klaven chatted with the two -- a Dwarf named Izbin and a Human named Rez -- and brought up their troubles on the road. After learning they had never heard of Promise Junction, they brought up the possibility of trade, and the two agreed to make a report to their superiors. After further conferring with the merchants and with Karresh -- who agreed to preserve Nyla's body -- the party determined to once more set off down Onyx Road 46 the next morning.

Third time's the charm?

The next morning, Makoto left her canine friend in the charge of a local stable hand. Rin and Toshiro probed Karresh with personal reading and detect evil respectively. However, when Rin fixed his cloak without warning him, Karresh reacted with some hostility. Still, Toshiro found no evil on him, and officially invited him to join them on the road. As he was bound for Rogariel, he agreed.

Karresh cast preserve dead on Nyla, and after Toshiro and Dax read omens from Gaiya and Sedric respectively, the group departed. The day's travel was uneventful until lunch time, when Alvin tested his part of the group's plan by casting wall of fog to conceal the caravan. Most of the pack animals bore it well, with only the mule pulling the wagon of Rirka, the half-Orcish fur trader, being troublesome. The group made camp that evening, preparing to execute their plan the following afternoon.

The next morning, after Rin determined there would be minimal wind and Toshiro learned that their planned dragon illusion was likely to succeed, the group set off, reaching the bridge around midday. Makoto hid near the bridge while Marcanto and Toshiro approached from the west. The Halfling, who had told the group he thought he could get past the Orcs, had a brief conversation with the guards and was allowed through. He gave a signal to Toshiro while Makoto summoned the illusory dragon. Toshiro blasted the two on the west bank with Makoto's wand of cold and used stormvoice to make it seem that the dragon was threatening them. He then proceeded to use the wand to take out most of the Orcs across the bridge, with only a few escaping back to the city.

As the caravan approached the city, Toshiro spotted a black bird circling the group. Taking it for a possible spy, Alvin used his wall of fog to attempt to block it from watching, but once it wore off it descended and perched near Rin. The priestess spoke to it, learning that it was carrying a message. It was from Emi, discussing Turgan's arrival and designs on Nyla. It was decided that the group would again speak with Nyla the next day after sending Emi a dream vision with an update on their progress.

The next morning, Nyla told Rin that Turgan was a jerk, and that she knew he considered her his possession. She further told Toshiro that she'd like to be raised so she could kick his ass. The group proceeded to discuss how to get Nyla into Promise Junction and through the Red Dragon to be raised in another city without Turgan knowing, deciding to hide the body at the temple of Perasin while Klaven retrieved Nyla's possessions from her room at the RDI, before at last making their way back to Promise Junction.


Just before dinner that evening, Marcanto arrived at the RDI asking to see Emi. After a brief discussion, Bramus decided to ask both Marcanto and Duper to join him in the meeting room to discuss what they saw in Blukh Ukh. Marcanto discussed the beginning of the second encounter at the bridge, while Duper told the tale of the Gar-bears Orcs' reaction to the first, how the fire-trapped box was opened by lizard man slaves, and the Orcs bragged about killing the group if they ever returned. After that, Bramus brought up Gilbert and Lily's conversation with Turgan. Brozhin then related his discussion with Nyla prior to their encounter with the tren at Lake Shen.

After the meeting, Duper, Gilbert and Lily practiced for that evening's performance. Shale confronted Solidus over what she'd heard regarding his relationship with the temple of Gruumsh, about which Chalcedony also expressed some concern. As Bramus tried to put out the fire, Reckem, one of the Dwarves from the road crew came in to sign up for the patrols. He made an offhand comment about having seen a giant ram with six legs earlier, prompting Shale, Rakeor and Bardo to accompany him to join the night shift guards and investigate. Unfortunately, this proved fruitless.

Shortly after the performance began, Turgan and his retinue abruptly got up and left the inn. Later on, Emi and Lily met Oashirt in the room above the rug shop and determined it would suffice for now.

The next morning, Quellit reported that a goblin who had been working to locate the giant ram never reported back in. Duper queried Bramus on why the barbarians left the performance. Not knowing the answer, Bramus sent Ishmakha up to fetch Gilbert. Marcanto came downstairs at that time, and Emi noted that he seemed interested in the Karis warrior. When Gilbert and Bramus returned, they reported that the Khan had been offended at having an orc perform. Lily suggested that she and Duper could perform back at the Blood, Bone and Brew that night.

Later that morning, Duper met the mayor, telling him that she had the ability to magically construct buildings and the like. Offering a demonstration, it was agreed that she would rebuild the mill on the south side of town the following day. The bard asked that she not be interrupted during her performance, and Bramus promised to at least attempt to prevent such things, but it would have to happen during the day due to the presence of Jeks at night. He then asked Gilbert to round up help in clearing the compound so that the incoming caravan could use it, since the open field was still occupied by Turgan's people.

Before lunch, Shale also went to see Mayor Labeese along with Rakeor, leaving Isu to talk to Tammra. The wizard chatted with the witch regarding their shared interest in fortune-telling and danced around what they might or might not know, then discussed a time-share on the room above the rug merchant. Meanwhile, on the way to the mayor's residence, the Dwarves heard shouts from the wood on the east side of the road, followed by Mazhik and a hobgoblin emerging and making a beeline for the RDI. Shale decided to investigate, discovering the body of the goblin who had gone missing. Presuming the others would report it, they went on to meet with the mayor. He encouraged them to speak with Bramus about delving into the tunnels.

At the compound, Lennoy examined the goblin's body, confirming that it had been killed by some large animal. Bardo found no magical residue on the body, and Mazhik asked if she could use her connections in Rogariel to augment the village's library.

Finally, late in the afternoon, the caravan arrived in town. Stom and Karresh brought Nyla's body to the temple of Perasin, but Sato refused to accept it without Shale's leave. The remaining party members went to the RDI, and Bramus ordered a meeting as soon as possible. Klaven went to Nyla's room and moved her valuables into his room, leaving behind some clothing and a few small items. Meanwhile, Stom brought Shale back with him, and she agreed to hide the body for now.

At the meeting, Toshiro told all present that they had buried Nyla in Eskalikor, but he couldn't say exactly where. Gilbert suggested that Tara might be able to find it. Makoto suggested that the Gnomish airship that picked up the circus might at least temporarily help the caravan situation, and Bramus agreed to send a message to their base of operations in Hanmer. Toshiro then brought up the presence of Xenzac, who was left in the stockade, and that he wanted to join the Promise Junction community.

The meeting broke up, and Bramus and Toshiro entered the common room to give the Khan the news about Nyla. Turgan seemed nonplussed, commenting that burying her was a fitting way to dishonor her as a traitor. However, he demanded weregild for his property in the form of one thousand pieces of gold. When Bramus blanched, Turgan proposed an alternative: that Toshiro replace Nyla and become a member of his court. Toshiro appeared to be insulted, turned on his heel and left the Red Dragon. Bramus excused himself to inform the mayor of the situation.

As Emi, Rin, Makoto and Stom went with Duper to the Blood, Bone and Brew, Emi updated Rin and Makoto on the status with the putative thieves' guild. Rin filled Emi in on the plan for Nyla's body, and after Emi calmed down she let slip that she had two pieces of the Crystal of Ix from their previous adventure at the temple of the cult of Hades that could be used to raise Nyla. Makoto left to talk to Eckhorn and Isu about ways to get Nyla's body through the RDI while Emi went to Toshiro's grove to update him, and Rin went into the BB&B to watch Duper perform.

In his grove, Toshiro asked Gaiya for guidance, and was told that his first duty is to the land that he has chosen. When he came out of reverie, Emi was there, and he was angered to hear that she had been told of the plan, as now she was no longer protected. Back at the Inn, Isu suggested that she could reduce Nyla to help hide her, while Eckhorn told Makoto what Turgan had said, and suggested that they needed to discuss these developments. Meanwhile, a brawl broke out during Duper's performance at the BBB, where Stom was stabbed in the leg, and was healed by Shmo.

That night, everyone gathered in the RDI meeting room, where Toshiro revealed their deception regarding Nyla's body. Bramus was upset, but eventually was convinced that Toshiro meant well. Arrangements were made to bring Nyla to Nazivonema after the barbarians had left for the night. Siege and Stom were chosen to make the trip, since Stom was familiar with the town.

Challenging Turgan

Meanwhile, also on the day after the caravan's arrival, Bramus, Toshiro and Gilbert met with Turgan to present their proposal: Toshiro agreed to become a member of his court, but immediately challenged the Khan to fight for his freedom, with Klaven set to be his proxy. Turgan accepted, agreeing to a duel that afternoon. Toshiro attempted to magically discern Turgan's fighting ability, but learned nothing. The two combatants settled on Sato as an impartial judge of their fight, which would last until one of them was declared unable to continue. Gilbert departed to start spreading the word about the fight, while Klaven invited Turgan to share a Dwarven ale with him beforehand. He then asked Rakeor to second him.

Back at the RDI, Marcanto prepared to leave Promise Junction, but decided to stay after learning of the coming challenge. He agreed to send word about anything he learned about Blukh Ukh upon his return to Floyk. Solidus went to the compound with Emi to speak to the dead goblin, learning that he had been attacked in the woods by some kind of rodent. While they were gone, Duper told Al'Hana, who was filling in for Emi as messenger, to let the mayor know she was postponing her demonstration, then left to spread the word about the coming fight to the Chipmunk orcs.

Shale and Rakeor went to Rackem, the blacksmith working with the road crew, to get Rakeor's axe prepared in case it was needed at the duel. Afterwards, they returned to the RDI, where Rakeor joined Klaven and Turgan for their ale. As they drank, Klaven endeavored to get under the Khan's skin and throw him off his game during their duel, seemingly able to do so after calling him cowardly. Meanwhile, Duper went to the temple of Gruumsh to try and stir things up, but only Second Priest Domjot and one other Orc were there. Makoto began setting up a betting pool, and the fight was on.

As the crowd gathered in the empty lot between the temple of Perasin and the boarding house, a slim hooded figure was noted standing near Oashirt. Makoto and Lily worked the crowd, but the kitsune was caught when she tried to lift Embrodak's purse, and Brozhin escorted her back to the RDI. Rather than put her in the stockade, he decided that just letting the pool winners come for her was punishment enough.

Sato called for the fight to begin, and at first it seemed that Turgan would rout Klaven. The Khan landed several heavy blows, causing Klaven to drop his shield and then tumble over the rock wall. The Dwarf rallied with several smaller hits, and Turgan attempted to charge and finish things. However, Klaven dodged, causing the barbarian to go tumbling and lose his grip on his mace. This seemed to turn the tide, as Turgan was unable to land a solid hit, allowing Klaven to muster one mighty swing and fell his opponent. After healing was dealt out on both sides, Turgan accepted defeat gracefully, and declared his intention to depart the next day. Meanwhile, Oashirt told Emi to inform the other conspirators that someone had arrived from Floyk to inquire about their activities.

Once everyone had returned to the inn, Shirella reported that Mazhik was overdue for an appointment to help catalog the new books acquired from Tupper. Bardo agreed to assist her while Toshiro and Ishmakha left to try and find the Karis mage. The conjurer spent several hours at the library, learning a new spell and feeling out the witch regarding forming a mages' guild in the village. Makoto was also missing, which everyone attributed to her not wanting to pay out for her pool. Several party members searched for the rogue, but knocking at her door found nothing, and Shadow declined to sniff her out.

After a brief search, Toshiro and Ishmakha discovered Mazhik's body near the edge of the wood to the north. The Karis warrior found what appeared to be a Dark Elven crossbow bolt protruding from his neck. The two informed Bramus, with Ishmakha revealing that Mazhik had been investigating some sort of building deeper in the wood. The guard captain ordered an investigation, while Solidus and Rin planned to speak with dead the next morning. Emi remembered Marcanto asking questions about the Karis, and wondered if he might have something to do with Mazhik's death, and proceeded to warn Brozhin. Meanwhile, Shale and Rakeor auditioned with Quaithan, officially becoming members of the town guard.

After Gilbert's performance, Emi, Makoto, and Lily met in the room above the rug shop. Tammra was asked to leave, and Makoto somehow managed to convince Shadow to leave as well. Oashirt arrived with the hooded figure from the duel and introduced him as Nege, a Dark Elven thief from the Floyk guild. Asked about Mazhik and the crossbow bolt, he said that the Dark Elves only provided the weapon, but that it was Marcanto, actually a bounty hunter, who killed him. He went on to lay out the terms for their operations under that guild's authority, which included not revealing Marcanto's identity. Emi gave him a brooch of shielding she'd acquired in the hoard of the dragon's lair in the desert to seal the pact. Nege promised safety for the next three caravans in return.

The next morning, Turgan came into the Red Dragon once more to take his leave, and then went to the general store to get supplies from Drusank. When he heard Turgan was departing, Alvin sent a message to Siege to inform him. When Bardo came downstairs, she discussed the mages' guild idea with Alvin. She did the same with Karresh, who agreed to check in when he returned from Sandpit. Dax overheard the discussions, and said the idea would be a great draw for travelers. She later spoke to Stan, who also approved of the idea and said they would remain in town a bit longer. Bardo warned the incanter about the dangers of exploring the town, and Stan said they would ask Pete to guard them.

During his prayers, Solidus received word from Varice's staff that he needed to light up the temple site today. He mentioned speaking with dead, and was told that he would be allowed both spells, but that he would have a lesser complement that day. Upon coming downstairs, he stepped up preparations, telling Rin he needed the banner done and planning to spread word about the faerie fire around town after his session with Mazhik.

Bramus, Toshiro, Solidus, Rin, Bardo and Ishmakha gathered in the utility building to make their inquiries of Mazhik's spirit. Toshiro asked Ishmakha to give details of his and the other Karis' status as fugitives. Ishmakha told the story of his and Brozhin's time serving The Black Knight, a high-ranking servant of Morjec, the power behind the throne in Floyk, but that he knew little of Mazhik's past. They proceeded to the clinic to speak with Mazhik, but learned little about the incident: the wizard was gathering herbs in the wood and did not see his assailant. However, upon asking who might want to kill him, The Black Knight was one of the names he gave among those he enumerated.

Later, Solidus tasked Rin with preparing his banner, and she further went to Chalcedony to gain her input. He then asked Shale to prepare the iron rods to hold the banner. During lunch, Makoto appeared and began paying out from the betting pool. Duper asked about rescheduling her building demonstration, and Bramus decided it would happen later that afternoon. Solidus returned, and he and the bard went out together to spread the word about their respective intentions, calling out from in front of the RDI, the temple of Gruumsh, and the future temple site. Duper claimed that she would be channeling Gruumsh as well as Raskill, the goddess of agriculture. When Duper returned to the inn, a gnoll confronted her, asking why she mentioned the Orc god and not Yeenoghu, but the bard spoke in enough platitudes to calm him down.

When the time came for Duper to restore the mill, Klaven and Rakeor served as guards to keep the crowd of about 25-30 people away during her performance. Duper had also asked Gilbert and Lily to enhance the scene, and Lily took the opportunity to filch a pouch from High Priest Shazbot. However, when she checked inside later, she found only a worthless red stone. Makoto, however, was again nicked as she tried to filch from a Dwarf, and Ishmakha gave her a second warning. Finally, Duper's performance went off, and the mill building was restored, drawing approving sounds from those gathered. The crowd dispersed as Shazbot noted his missing purse and reported it to Bramus, saying it contained an Eye of Gruumsh.

Shale started toward Solidus' temple site, but met Solidus coming the other way, as he was looking for help driving the stakes to hold the announcement banner into the ground. The Dwarf told the Halfling that she would bring up his transgressions with the town arbiter the next day. Solidus continued toward the Dwarven settlement, but encountered Rakeor and Klaven outside the mill. He asked them for help, and Klaven agreed to carry the poles, but Rakeor refused. Shazbot offered to bring a team of Chipmunk Orcs instead. Indeed, they arrived at the site shortly after Solidus, Al'Hana and Chalcedony, and with the help of the fire priest's flamefinger were able to put the banner in place. However, almost immediately four demon roaches appeared from the ground, threatening doom on all present.

Back at the Red Dragon, Bramus considered the town's next move, and called for a meeting the next morning. He later received word that Nyla would return with Stom and Siege sometime the next day. Just before Gilbert's performance, Solidus announced a reward for the return of Shazbot's pouch. Lily snuck out and dropped the pouch on the ground outside the RDI and signaled Emi where it was, but Oashelf was sitting next to her and retrieved it instead, collecting the reward.

Before dawn, Duper left the Blood, Bone and Brew, intending to turn herself invisible to avoid notice. Before she could do so, however, she encountered a kobold named Mukmuk who offered her fifty gold to build him a new home, which she agreed to do in one week. A bit later, Shale and Quellit encountered three wagons coming from the north. The lead wagon, driven by a duergar named Okemah, told them they intended to sell goods in the village, having been directed here by Yejoz. He also mentioned they had heard Promise Junction had a jek problem. Quellit fetched Toshiro, who set about inspecting the carts. The third driver, a derro named Nubal, would not allow his cart to be inspected, and after attempting to bribe the earth priest with a gem was turned away.

After breakfast, the meeting took place, and the party discussed preparations for a foray underground. Afterwards, Shale and Solidus visited Chalcedony at the arbiter's office, where the Dwarf asked the Halfling to swear a magical oath not to aid the temple of Gruumsh in any attack on the temple of Perasin, in return for her not holding him responsible for such an attack. Solidus agreed, and Chalcedony drew up the binding contract.

In preparation for going underground, Klaven was able to borrow a map of part of the tunnels from Okemah, while also purchasing several fire beetle lights. He brought the map for Rin to copy, which she did, onto Klaven's breastplate. Toshiro asked Dax to accompany them, but the priestess demurred, saying she would consult Sedric. However, she did agree to prepare a create water scroll in the event she did not go. Shale and Rakeor went back to the temple of Perasin to fill in their staff on the coming mission. Bardo asked Shirella about water creation, but the witch mentioned that she did not have that ability, and suggested she stick to asking divine spellcasters. She expressed interest in joining the expedition, though. Bardo went on to speak to Tammra, who was also interested, and offered to make some protective amulets for free in exchange for being allowed to come along.

Raising Nyla

Upon arriving in Nazh, Siege and Stom recruited the aid of Ennes, a friend of Stom's from the thieves' guild, to bring the body to The Great Waystation, but when Stom told the attendant of his connection to the temple of Perasin, she demanded a premium, as Great Priest Molbo still owed money. They left, proceeding instead to the temple of Laurent, where they made arrangements with the priest on duty, an Elf named WindCarrier, to have her raised in two days.

The next day, Siege holed up in the inn while Stom worked at the temple of Perasin. The next morning, Siege received a message from Alvin that Turgan had departed Promise Junction. Stom came by after breakfast, and the two went to the back to the temple of Laurent. After High Priest Kojan performed the raising, and WindCarrier healed Nyla enough so that she could walk with aid, she was brought back to Perasin's temple. They were greeted by Bludjon, the head trainer, and he brought them inside, where Lesser Priest Muenster healed Nyla further. Siege then helped her back to the inn. While they were having lunch, Siege filled Nyla in on the events since her death. While mentioning Stom, they were approached by a woman named Simry, who said she was looking for the half-Orc. She asked them if they were for hire, letting them know that she was an organizer for a local caravan. Nyla asked if she might bring them to Promise Junction, and she said she'd look into it before inviting them to join her for dinner.

While Nyla rested, Stom again performed duties at the temple of Perasin. Siege did some shopping, purchasing two magical arrows at Deezen's bow shop. The three met up again with Simry for dinner, where they discussed the possibility of her family's caravan coming to Promise Junction someday. The next morning, Siege, Stom and Nyla returned to the village, where they learned about Turgan's defeat, and about the forthcoming venture into the tunnels.

Cast of characters

This adventure was primarily run by Shelley Proulx. Below is a list of characters who were involved at one point or another:

Adventure timeline

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