The group took a much needed rest at the bequest of Governor Nighthill. The raiders retreated to the southeast and their trail burned a scar into the pristine fields below. Looking down from a perch on the keep’s wall, a wide swath of grassland is crushed and broken marking the prairie like a well worn game trail. As the new dawn breaks upon Greenest, the reality of what just transpired begins to sink in. Lazy columns of smoke billow up from the town below. Bodies can be seen strewn about in the streets; both friend and foe. Those who did not find refuge in the keep lay either smote upon the ground or on a death march to the raiders lair. The devastation is soul crushing. The moans of wounded and those mourning the loss of their homes and families can be heard within the courtyard below.
A familiar voice rises from behind them, “A small, stealthy group could easily follow that trail.” Turning the group sees Governor Nighthill approaching with the stout Escobert the Red at his side. Both look haggard, but determined. “Aye, we need information,” Escobert interjects. “Yes, Red, we do,” answers the Governor as he looks to his side. “I want to know where their camp is located, how many raiders remain…” With each point his voice tenses, frustration building, “…what has motivated this Godsforsaken attack…” He slams his fist into the palm of his hand for emphasis. “…WHO their leaders are, and WHERE they plan to strike next.” Huffing deeply he strides forward parting the group and stopping at the wall. Placing his outstretched arms upon the crenelated spire and scanning the horizon he catches his breath. With clenched teeth he seethes, “They must pay for this.” From behind, the gravelly, brogue of the the dwarf breaks in, “We must send word, my Lord.” Looking over his shoulder slightly the Governor answers quickly, “Yes, send riders…to Berdusk and Iriaebor. The Flaming FIst must be notified.” With a slight bow, the dwarf turns quickly and descends down the stairs to the courtyard below. Escobert’s voice rises in commanding fashion, “Riders! Riders!”
Turning, Governor NIghthill considers the group before him. With his hands clasped behind his back he begins pacing back and forth looking down at the ground. “You have proven your mettle this night. Admittedly, I wasn’t confident in your qualities, but at each turn you seemed a step ahead of our enemies. First and foremost, I thank you for your efforts and I wish to reward you. Our healers and Brolin our quartermaster will be at your service. Please heal up, get your rest, and restock as you see need.”
Stopping abruptly he turns and meets the gaze of the group. “Our coffers have been severely diminished by the raiders, but I have put together a reward of 250 gold for each man willing to track these bastards to their lair. Time is of the essence, so you must move quickly. I fear our people are in grave danger and I will not see another soul lost. Are you in?”
The group agrees and sets about to tending to their wounds and gearing up. It is decided that they would depart at midday giving them a few short hours of rest and recuperation. Killkax is able to requisition a suit of fine scale mail which is fitted for his frame by the Quartermaster Brolin. It will take three days to make the adjustments for Killkax.
Bernardrick is practicing at the archery range in the courtyard when the doors to the lower storage area burst open. Two guards emerge dragging with heavy hand a prisoner, bound, with a sackcloth hood upon his head. He doesn’t seem to resist their efforts despite their rough treatment. A fine wolf skin cloak hangs from the lithe frame of what looks to be an elf. Governor Nighthill and Escobert approach from the other side of the courtyard meeting the guards in the middle. The guards remove the hood. Dreadlocks dangle around a tanned wood elf’s face. He is marked by facial tattoos and piercings that hint at his tribal heritage. His expression is emotionless as he seems resigned to his fate.
It seems the elf was captured in the night but put down his arms willingly and without a fight. After some questioning by the Governor he tells the guards to release him saying, “The elf is no threat to us. In fact, he may be able to help us.” Turning to the group he proposes, “I think you will need all the help you can get.” He then offers the elf the same deal as the rest of the group.
A young man approached the group, limping heavily on his bandaged left leg, “I hear that you intend to follow the raiders and see where they’ve gone. I’d like nothing better than to come with you, but in this condition, I’d slow you down. In the midst of all this tragedy, there’s no reason you would have heard about the fate of my master, Leosin Erlanthor, but its important you know.”
At the mention of Leosin, Kage looks up intently and steps closer to the group. The young man notices the attention of the group and says, “You know him, yes?” Kage responds from behind the rest of the group, “Yes, we were to meet him here.” Nodding, the young man continues, “He is a monk from Bedusk. He disappeared last night, after we fought a particularly savage battle against raiders. A few others and I fought our way to the keep, barely. Leosin didn’t make it at all. We went back this morning to look for him, but all we found was his broken staff and this choker, which he always wore.” He tosses the items at the feet of the group. Pushing through the group Kage kneels down and inspects the items. Standing, a look of concern stretches across his face as he holds out the choker to the rest of the group, it’s tattered, ragged ends torn as if it was roughly torn off his neck.
“I know of the Half-elf you speak of,” Governor Nighthill interjects. “He arrived here several days ago and was asking many questions. I was concerned that he may be unnecessarily alarming the townsfolk, but it turns out he may have known something we didn’t. He is a good soul.”
The young man introduces himself as Nesim Waladra, a disciple of Leosin and a fellow monk. He explains that the monks were returning to Berdusk from the great library at Candlekeep. Leosin was consulting the librarians and researching ancient writings on dragon folklore. Dragon Cults are his special interest. Nesim seems to have a high sense of urgency and encourages the group to move quickly.
With that Kage can be seen kneeling and packing his travelpack. With quarterstaff in hand he rises and begins making his way at a brisk pace to the front gate of the keep as the rest of the group discusses their next move. Kage shouts over his shoulder, “Every minute longer we wait could mean the life of an innocent lost.” After several failed attempts by Killkax to hail Kage the group begins to reluctantly follow.
After half a days travel the sun begins to set. The topography has changed from rolling grasslands to a more rugged region of steep-sided, rocky plateaus. The land between the plateaus is largely flat , broken only by outcroppings and wandering streams in steep sided gullies. The plateaus jut fifty to one hundred feet above the surroundings and are difficult to climb except where rock falls and subsistence created natural ramps. The crumbling sides of the plateaus are dotted with caves and tumbled boulder fields.
The rising plume of a cooking fire catches the interest of the group several miles off. They use stealth to get closer where they spot of group of 4 cultists and 8 kobolds making camp and attempting to prepare a meal of game hens. The cutists and kobolds seem disjointed and at odds. A pile of weapons are just out of reach of the cultists against a rock. They are bickering about how to prepare their meal while the Kobolds have separated off to create their own camp.
Siezing on the opportunity the group strikes and quickly dispatches the group. Two kobolds do escape, but the group manages to capture one of the cultists alive. Zoroc, after revealing his drow nature, rattles the cultist into begging for his life. He freely shares details about the camps location and the “Rear Guard”. He gives the group the Rear Guards location so as to either gain an upper hand or avoid all together. He also reveals that a half-elf monk was among the prisoners. He also tells them that their primary mission was to find gold, gems , and other valuables to help prepare the great hoard to honor the Dragon Queen.
United we Stand, Divided we Fall
As the prisoner begged for his life, he promised to leave and never return if they agreed to let him go. He thought the cult would give his life purpose, but it has only brought heartache. Kage encouraged him to work to overthrow such tyranny, not join forces with such evil. Killkax, Kage, and Bernardrick want to let the man go, but are met with heavy resistance from Zoroc, Eos, Ervan, and Raiden.
Unable to compromise the group erupts in a scuffle. After nearly killing the prisoner and each other they came to their senses and forged a truce. Raiden and Eos shrewdly recognized that despite their prideful scuffle they could use this to their advantage by pretending to be initiate cultists who are trickling in to the camp from the raid on Greenest. It is agreed that the group would proceed to Greenest under this guise avoiding the Rear Guard with the intel they learned.
We left off at this point and will pick up next time at The Camp.