Legends of Terramyth

Bearslayer
Chapter 17 (Kerrandi: Ezra Two-leaf)

Northern Kerrandi, Whisperwood,
Spring, 11th Day of Promised Journeys, 4,028th Cycle


The half-elf Warden, Ezra Two-leaf, was awakened in the middle of the night by the sounds of caravan guards yelling.

Ezra looked around and saw caravan guards and Trylos, the half-folk caravan master, moving about with torches in hand yelling for Tomas. Ezra remembered that Tomas was one of three merchants travelling with the caravan back to the capital city.

Ezra walked to where the others had formed a circle around something on the ground they were all looking at.

What Ezra saw was horrifying.

There was blood everywhere near the side of the dirt road, just a few paces from the edge of the treeline. Ezra could see what appeared to be bits and pieces of a man’s body; a torn arm and a large piece of flesh lying in the middle of the pool of blood. A bloodied trail led into the thick woods.

“It’s Tomas,” Trylos said. “I recognize the ring on that finger.”

“This is the work of Wildclaw,” a nearby guard stammered in fear.

“Aye,” another guard added. “It’s said that Wildclaw is the fiercest bear in all the North.”

“And that he’s rabid and has gone mad because of it,” a third guard said.

“Rabid or not, this Wildclaw must be dealt with,” Trylos said. “or, he’ll keep hunting us down as we make our way through the Whisperwood.”

“Perhaps I can help find Wildclaw and hunt him down,” Ezra offered. The others looked at the half elf like he had gone mad.

“We know you’re a Warden and all,” Trylos began to say. “And that you supposedly slew an Owlbear in the Northwoods with a single arrow while running. But even this rabid bear might be a bit more than you can handle. I can double the watch from here on. We should be leaving Whisperwood before sunset tomorrow. I can ask Commander Voors of Northguard Castle to send his best hunters to put an end to Wildclaw once and for all.”

“And risk more lives?” Ezra offered. “Send one of your best guard with me and I—”

“I’ll go with the Warden,” a nearby voice said.

Everybody turned to see a man dressed in steel corselet and a chain hauberk standing nearby. A large greatsword was strapped to his back. He held a loaded crossbow in both hands. His dark brown hair was tied in intricate braids popular with the warriors of Paelas, the kingdom to the south. He looked to be in his late thirties but had the build of a younger man.

“Ah, Javis Storm,” Trylos said. “So good of you to offer your services considering the amount I pay you to help protect this caravan.”

**

“So what’s your story?” Ezra asked in a voice above a whisper as Javis and he followed the bloody trail deeper into the woods. The twins moons offered enough light for Ezra to see by, but he knew Javis would have a tougher time seeing in the dark. “They say you’re a wanted man back in Paelas.”

“What business of it is yours?” Javis asked with a hint of disdain.

“I suppose not much,” Ezra said. “But seeing as I am a Warden, it is my job to know the whereabouts of all the wanted criminals in the Tri-Kingdoms. What, exactly, was your crime?”

“I murdered someone,” Javis said matter-of-factly.

Ezra regarded Javis closely and of how he stated his crime without a hint of remorse in his voice.

“I don’t believe you.”

“Why not?”

“Because murderers don’t go about risking themselves by protecting caravans,” Ezra said as he crouched down to inspect a small game trail. “Murderers would be more willing to protect a fat merchant, or a tyrannical lord against assassins perhaps, but not a caravan. That’s more responsibility than a murderer would want to take on.”

“Are you certain you’re a Warden and not a sage?” Javis asked.

Ezra smiled. He pointed to a large part of the forest which opened up to the blue sky above. The trees were more spread out while thickets dotted spaces in between the trees. The Whisperwood lived up to its namesake here. Ezra suspected enchantments, but he wasn’t certain. The forest seemed to absorb sounds around him. Even at night, a forest is rarely quiet. The constant droning of crickets, wolf howls, and the occasional hoots of a night owl all breathe life into a forest long after the sun has set. But in the Whisperwood, those sounds are but soft murmurings, which gave the forest a haunted quality about it.

The pair made their way through the forest. When Ezra spotted the remains of a large ancient tree which grew into twisted formations around several other smaller pine trees, the half elf decided to climb to get a better vantage view.

Javis stayed on the ground and carefully scanned the dark forest for any sign of the rabid, Wildclaw.

When Ezra reached the top, he readied an arrow and looked around.

Below him, he could see the skeletal remains of what must have been the largest giant to have ever lived. It’s bones were now petrified, but when it lived, the giant must have stood some forty feet in height!

In his youth, Ezra had heard campfire tales about beings taller than giants that once existed on Terramyth, but he thought the stories were simply that, tales used to scare young children like him.

A slight movement on the other side of the giant’s remains caught Ezra’s attention.

From inside a large bush, Ezra spotted Wildclaw. The bear tried to blend into the bushes, but Ezra’s keen eyesight, a gift from his elven side, allowed him to catch sight of the hiding bear.

Suddenly he spotted Javis moving towards the bear’s position. At the same moment, Wildclaw burst out of the bushes and charged straight at the sellblade.

Javis quickly raised his crossbow and fired, but his aim was too high. The bolt flew past the charging bear.

Wildclaw.jpg

Wildclaw came up to Javis and raised itself up to its full height of nearly eight feet!

With a roar that may have sounded like thunder had the forest’s enchantment not quelched it, Wildclaw took a powerful swipe at Javis.

The sellsword barely avoided a deadly rake that would have gutted him.

Javis dropped his crossbow and drew his greatsword. He then swung at Wildclaw, cutting it across its side.

Ezra let loose an arrow that grazed the bloodthirsty bear.

Wildclaw took another swipe at Javis. The sellblade tried to counter the bear’s attack but was raked across his corselet instead. One of bear’s claw tore through the steel armor, drawing blood!

For what seemed like an eternity the three fought on.

At one point, Javis was struck again by the feral bear. Meanwhile, Wildclaw managed to sustain enough damage that would have felled a lesser bear.

Just when it seemed that Wildclaw was about to strike at Javis, Ezra fired an arrow that struck the rabid bear in the back.

The arrow buried itself up to its fletching.

Wildclaw’s legs gave way. With a roar of anguish, Wildclaw, the great rabid bear of Whisperwood fell over and died.

Ezra climbed back down and made his way to the wounded sellblade sitting on the ground next to the slain bear.

The half elf examined Javis’s wounds. “You’ll live to fight another day,” Ezra said.

**

When the two emerged out of the woods, the others from the caravan quickly ran up to them.

Trylos could see the bloodstains on Javis. “Well, what of the bear?” the half-folk caravan master asked.

“Wildclaw is dead.” Ezra said. “Javis here fought bravely. Without his help, Wildclaw would still live to hunt these woods.”

Javis placed his hand on the half elf’s shoulder. “It was Ezra who slew the bear with a shot from his elven bow. He is the bearslayer!”

Suddenly everyone in the caravan began to chant the word, “Bearslayer” as they congratulated both Warden and sellsword for their deed.

As Javis started to walk away to find a place to rest and heal, Ezra stopped him.

“Is it true what they say about you?” Ezra asked.

“What do they say?”

“They say you once served in Shadowhall’s City Watch. But you were caught in bed with the wife of your captain. And because of that you escaped execution and fled to Kerrandi.”

Javis’s silence was answer enough for Ezra.

“Was she worth the risk of dying?” Ezra asked.

Javis stared back at the half elf. His eyes spoke volumes.

“Trust me, she was worth the risk.”


Heroes

Ezra Two-leaf (Half-elf Warden)

Allies

Javis Storm (Human Sellblade)


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Three Orcbanes
Chapter 16 (Kerrandi: Quest for the Orcbane Blades)

Northern Kerrandi,
Northwoods, Ruins of Ianmorn,
Spring, 24th Day of True Omens, 4,028th Cycle


With only Ezra armed with a range weapon, everyone decided to risk their lives by charging down the hall to confront the orcs.

The orcs were caught off guard by the adventurers’ courage. They tried to stand their ground by the exit, but the adventurers easily killed all but one orc who was able to run away into the forest.

The group then opened a set of stone doors that led into a small room that had the look and feel of an outdoor elven shrine. The ceiling was painted to resemble clouds. The artistry was finely rendered that the adventurers swore they could see the clouds moving. The walls, too, were painted in detail and showed a sylvan scene. The room smelled of fresh spring grass.

Overall the room gave off a sense of comfort and tranquility.

Despite the urge to rest, the group decided to press on and open the remaining set of doors to see what lay beyond.

The room they saw was large. A small altar or stone table lay against the opposite wall. A single door hung askewed by the entrance of a hallway to the right. It’s twin door lay broken on the floor.

What surprised the adventurers, however, was the large gaping chasm which dominated the center of the room.

It looked as though half of the room’s floor had collapsed into a twenty-foot deep sinkhole.

Everyone carefully walked to the edge. The bottom and what remained of the floor were visible below.

“That must be about fifteen feet across,” Dorin said. He pointed to the other side where the rest of the room continued.

“I can make that jump,” Xan said confidently. “I have jumped that distance many times back in the monastery as part of my training.”

“Do we have ropes?” Darnok asked.

Everyone shook their heads.

“I could throw all of you dwarves across,” Glint offered.

The dwarves all replied a unanimous, “No”, in unison.

“We need to know if there is a third Orcbane blade beyond that passageway,” Dorin said.

“Without any rope, we may as well jump across,” Xan said with finality.

“I hope all of you still have a potion of healing left,” Ezra said.

Beginning with Xan, everyone ran and made the leap across the fifteen-foot wide expanse.

First, Dorin took the vial sitting on top of the stone table. Then they all made their way to the side passageway. As soon as they stepped foot in front of the long passageway, magical torches in ancient sconces flickered to life. An iron portcullis at the far end blocked the entrance to another burial chamber.

A slightly rusted lever stuck out of the wall nearby.

Ezra pulled down on the lever. The portcullis rose into the ceiling. But before anyone could move, the lever suddenly sprang back up, nearly breaking Ezra’s hand in the process.

The portcullis quickly dropped back down barring the way into the vault once more. The time it took to lower the lever, to the portcullis dropping back down into place took less than several seconds.

Xan wondered about something and took five steps into the passageway. He asked Ezra to pull on the lever.

It wouldn’t budge, no matter how hard he pulled on it.

“The passageway is just far enough for us dwarves to barely make the run to clear that portcullis,” Kaza said.

“And what then?” Dorin asked. “Unless there’s another lever in the chamber, we could find ourselves trapped, to rot like the elves in there.”

“I have an idea,” Brother Silas offered. He then walked to the farthest sconce. He grabbed it with one hand and lifted both of his feet off the stone floor and placed them against the wall. “Pull the lever!”

Ezra did so. The portcullis rose into the ceiling.

All but Ezra went to a sconce and followed Brother Silas’ example. When the portcullis rose, they all jumped down and ran into the chamber.

The portcullis fell down as the last of them made it into the vault.

None too surprised, the adventurers watched as five sarcophagi opened. As one, the skeletal remains of elven warriors stepped out of their resting places and attacked the party.

One of the skeletons held an orcbane blade!

**

Back in the Shattered Sword the adventurers celebrated their victory, having recovered three orcbane blades without losing any one of their brave members. The entire town of Northpoint had heard about their quest and celebrated along with them.

They also spoke with Erzhu to return the remains of his son and the family heirloom, an enchanted blade called Striker. Erzhu the Elder was happy to be able to give his son a proper burial. He gave the adventurers five hundred silver coins as a reward.

The adventurers also visited Eliana the Apothecary to sell her the ingredients they found inside the tomb.

For the moment, everyone felt safe. They were confident in the knowledge that if orcs were to descend upon the town, a stalwart band of heroes comprising of four dwarves, a half-orc, and a half-elf, armed with three orcbane blades would stand ready to defend the town against any orcish threat.


The quest for the Orcbane blades ends here. Continue reading the adventure logs to discover what happens to the brave heroes and their valiant effort to protect the kingdom of Kerrandi against a possible orc invasion.


Heroes

Brother Silas “The Steadfast” Tomkins (Human Cleric)

Darnok Firestone (Dwarf Mage)

Dorin Thomar (Dwarf Fighter)

Ezra Two-leaf (Half-elf Warden)

Glint “the Axe” Red (Half-Orc Assassin)

Kaza Firestone (Dwarf Fighter)

Xan Warstout (Dwarf Martial Artist)


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Second of the Orcbanes
Chapter 15 (Kerrandi: Quest for the Orcbane Blades)

Northern Kerrandi,
Northwoods, Ruins of Ianmorn,
Spring, 24th Day of True Omens, 4,028th Cycle


The adventurers were quickly learning how to dispatch the skeletal guardians for no one suffered a scratch in the fight to gain a second Orcbane longsword.

The party also found a chest full of silver coins and a ring which they believed may be enchanted although they knew it would take time or trial to discover its properties.

After, they returned to where they first ran into the tomb’s guardians and considered which two other sets of stone doors to open next.

While the group was busy discussing their options, five orcs armed with short bows shot at them from the tomb’s entrance. The adventurers quickly sought cover as Ezra, the half-elf Warden, returned fire with his own bow.


The encounter against the orc ambushers continues in Three Orcbanes.


Heroes

Brother Silas “The Steadfast” Tomkins (Human Cleric)

Darnok Firestone (Dwarf Mage)

Dorin Thomar (Dwarf Fighter)

Ezra Two-leaf (Half-elf Warden)

Glint “the Axe” Red (Half-Orc Assassin)

Kaza Firestone (Dwarf Fighter)

Xan Warstout (Dwarf Martial Artist)


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Reunion
Chapter 14 (Galowen: The Fellowship of the Crown)

Kingdom of Galowen,
Spring, 24th Day of True Omens, 4,028th Cycle


Daleborn threw a small spark of electricity that quickly blossomed into an explosive discharge of lightning at the nearest hill giant who was quickly gaining ground on the elderly wizard.

To be continued…


The Fellowship of the Crown

King Jarred Trueblood of Galowen (Human Fighter)

Lord Arik Silverheart (Human Fighter)

Daleborn the Wanderer (Human Swordmage)

Skyler (Avion Cleric)


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Quest for the Orcbane Blades
Chapter 13 (Kerrandi: Quest for the Orcbane Blades)

Northern Kerrandi,
Northwoods, Ruins of Ianmorn,
Spring, 24th Day of True Omens, 4,028th Cycle


The set of double doors led to a room with most of its floor missing.

A large gap, some fifteen feet wide, divided the room in half. From where they stood, the group saw a stone table against the far wall on the other side of the gap. Instruments, which Xan said resembled those used for embalming, lay on the table. They also saw a small bottle filled with greenish liquid next to the embalming tools.

One half of a set of stone double doors opened into a side passage. It seemed to lead farther into the tomb. The other half of the doors was on the floor and seemed to have fallen inward into the passage beyond.

Everyone looked down into where the floor had fallen in and saw a pit some twenty feet deep. What remained of the floor was at the bottom of the wide pit and lay in strange angles creating deadly sharp pieces that could impale anyone who fell in.

They all agreed that climbing up the sides of the pit would be difficult at best. Besides, not one of them remembered to bring a rope.

So for the moment, the group decided to see what lay behind the other two sets of double doors in the main hallway.

**

The next set of double doors led into a large chamber with a ten-foot ceiling supported by eight columns. Four large holes were visible at the top of each column.

What caught the attention of everyone was what was on the floor.

The entire floor of the chamber was covered in ankle-deep bones. There must have been thousands of bone fragments everywhere! Skulls, pieces of bones, metal shields, rusted longswords, and chain hauberks covered every inch of the floor.

The group also spotted another set of double doors at one end of the chamber.

Equally strange was what appeared to be a waterline running along the length of the room’s walls. The waterline was about chest high from the floor for an average human. For the dwarves, the waterline could reach up to their necks. Everyone agreed that the room could be trapped to fill with water, but the source of the water intrigued them since they were not aware of any nearby river, lake, or stream.

When the last of them entered the room, the stone doors quickly slammed shut behind them. Water began to fill the room. Bone pieces started floating, but many remained beneath the water.

Suddenly, several skeletons rose out of the water and began to attack everyone. The water was about chest deep for most of the adventurers except the dwarves. For them, the water nearly reached to their chin, making movement and fighting in the water difficult.

The skeletons didn’t seem to be hampered by the water at all; the water simply flowing through their bony frames.

The battle against the skeletons seemed to last for an eternity, for they fought just as deadly in death as they did in life.

Fortunately, the luck of the gods was with the heroes as they destroyed the last of the skeletal elves. The water receded after.

“There’s a secret door here,” Glint said pointing to a part of a wall in the room opposite the other set of doors.

“How do you know?” Xan asked.

“I spotted it before the room started filling up with water,” the half-orc said as he began to feel along the wall for the means of opening the door. After a few seconds, Glint found a small hole near where he knew the door was. The hole was just large enough for his smallest finger to fit into it. He stuck his finger in as far as he could. He felt something give, and with a barely audible click, a part of the wall opened to reveal a burial chamber beyond.

The rest moved up to the opening and peered inside. A small flight of steps lead up and into a chamber large enough to accommodate several sarcophagi. An iron chest was just visible behind the sarcophagus in the middle of the room.

“Before we go in there we should first see where the other set of doors lead to,” Kaza offered.

Everyone agreed.

They then walked across the room and opened the doors.

Beyond lay a chamber similar to the burial chamber behind the secret door, except there was no iron chest in the room.

As they entered the room, the sarcophagi all began to open. Skeletal hands pushed stone lids aside with ease.

Out of each emerged armored dead elves armed with rusted longswords. Each held and iron shield.

One of the skeletons held a blade that resembled the ones the carved elven warriors on the doors held in their hands.

Everyone knew they were looking at an elven orcbane blade. It’s slim blade remained free of rust despite having been buried with its owner for over two millenniums.

The battle against the skeletons was fierce but the heroes prevailed.

After, they caught their breaths and decided to return to the secret door they found.


The search for more Orcbane blades continues in Second of the Orcbanes.


Heroes

Brother Silas “The Steadfast” Tomkins (Human Cleric)

Darnok Firestone (Dwarf Mage)

Dorin Thomar (Dwarf Fighter)

Ezra Two-leaf (Half-elf Warden)

Glint “the Axe” Red (Half-Orc Assassin)

Kaza Firestone (Dwarf Fighter)

Xan Warstout (Dwarf Martial Artist)


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Ruins of Ianmorn
Chapter 12 (Kerrandi: Quest for the Orcbane Blades)

Northern Kerrandi,
Town of Northpoint,
Spring, 24th Day of True Omens, 4,028th Cycle


The Shattered Sword was under new management and the townsfolk liked it that way.

For the most part, the three new owners of The Shattered Sword—Brother Silas, Dorin, and Glint—were happy enough letting Gristle run the day-to-day affairs of running a tavern and inn. Besides, Brother Silas was not particularly interested in being part owner of a tavern. He was far too devoted to serving Laerra, the goddess of healing instead. However, the two other owners suggested he use his part of the profits to help bolster the temple’s coffers.

For the past two weeks since the Shattered Sword came under new management, business had been fair. Travelers and adventurers came through the town of Northpoint either to head south to the lakeside village of Waterhaven, brave the dangers of Northwoods and the Ridgeline Mountains beyond, or continue to on to other parts of the kingdom of Kerrandi.

So on a particularly warm spring day, everyone was involved in discussing the latest news while enjoying a noon meal. Word of a recent battle near Waterhaven against the orcs of the Iron Legion and the King’s army had reached everyone in Northpoint. Fortunately, the King’s army had prevailed and routed the orcs back to the forest and mountains.

Ezra told everyone about his latest adventures and how the dwarves had found and rescued him from being sacrificed to the orc god, Grummsh. The dwarves, too, told of their recent journey from the northern Ridgeline Mountains, running into a small band of goblins, and coming upon the orc stronghold where they found Ezra. Upon mentioning their harrowing encounter with General Norgrug, everyone raised a toast to Otis Steallock, their fallen kinsdwarf and fellow adventurer. Ezra also offered a toast to Aspen Thistledown and Lyda Cusswell, friends he had recently lost.

Gristle then mentioned that he had heard from Chapel, who had heard about it from Clipwing the dragon, about an ancient elven ruin in the Northwoods not far from Northpoint. Legend had it that the place was once an elven temple. Beneath the temple lay elven catacombs where their greatest warriors were laid to rest. It was said that among the elven warriors were fighters known as Orcbanes, named so for the enchanted blades they bore into battle.

Orcbane.jpg

As the legend went, the Orcbane Blades were forged by the greatest of elven smiths during the Rift War, when the orcs entered Terramyth in great numbers from their homeworld. How many of the blades exists is not known, but wielded by select elven fighters, the blades were said to be able to cut down orcs with a single stroke.

When the orcs were defeated by the elves and forced back into the mountains and desolate hills, the elves then destroyed the Rift forever cutting the orcs from their homeworld.

After hearing Gristle, Ezra said he had been to the elven ruin and could lead anyone who wished to go there.

Not wanting to miss a chance for adventure, everyone agreed to go. Soon a formidable adventuring party of seven was formed.

Before leaving on their quest, Gristle said they should first speak to Erzhu, a man who had lost his son a year ago when his son—also named Erzhu—joined up with two adventurers who came into town. Erzhu the Elder gave his son a family heirloom, an enchanted blade called Striker, which was said to grant the wielder the ability to strike first in battle when a foe attacks. Before leaving on his adventure, Erzhu the Young swore he would return home after they had cleared the elven catacombs and found the legendary elven blades.

That was a year ago. Erzhu the Young had not been heard been heard from since. Erzhu the Elder offered to reward the adventurers for the safe return of the family heirloom. He also offered a reward if the adventurers found his son’s remains and returned it to him so he can give his brave son a proper burial.

Gristle also recommended the group meet with Eliana the Apothecary. She is always asking people to look for ingredients she could use to mix potions. Dorin and Glint went to see the elven woman who gave them a list of ingredients they would most likely find in a tomb or inside caves.

With everyone ready, the adventurers set off on their quest to enter the elven catacombs and claim the Orcbane Blades to use against the orcs plaguing their land. Gristle stayed behind to tend to the affairs of running the tavern/inn.

On the way to Northwoods, the group came upon a pack of starving, feral Black Wolves which attacked them with ferocity.

When the last of the wolves was killed, only Xan had been injured by a wolf’s bite. Brother Silas quickly healed the dwarven martial artist.

The group of seven traveled onward and reached the elven ruin by the middle of the afternoon.

Ezra guided the group to the entrance he found. Behind a pile of fallen rocks, the group saw a pair of stone doors.

After nearly two hours of clearing away the rubble, the group was able to completely see the double doors. The doors were carved in relief with elven warriors holding longswords—which everyone assumed may be the Orcbane Blades.

They found the doors to be unlocked. The doors were then carefully opened. What little light was left of the day revealed what lay behind the doors.

Inside, they found an antechamber. Four stone statues of elven fighters decorated the chamber. They also spotted another set of stone doors, with similar carvings on the opposite side from where they stood.

Worried that the antechamber may be trapped, the group carefully looked the antechamber over before entering it. Satisfied the room was not trapped, they entered and walked to the other set of doors.

They opened the doors which led into a ten-foot wide passageway. Magical torches suddenly flared to life revealing a passageway stretching for fifty feet and ending at yet another set of double doors similarly carved.

The walls of the passageway were painted to resemble a sylvan forest setting. The arching ceiling, some ten feet high, was painted to resemble a sunny sky. The adventurers were impressed by the details of the murals.

“I have never understood the elves’ passion for bringing the outdoors indoors,” Kaza the dwarven fighter said. “What’s wrong with simply leaving stone walls be?”

Cautious, the adventurers carefully searched the passageway for any sign of a trap.

Luck was with them when they noticed how differently the floor appeared to be some ten paces from the doors at the end of the passageway.

The group carefully made their way down; careful about every step they took.

When they reached the spot they noticed was different, the group assumed that the floor might be a trigger for a trap. They considered that enough weight would trigger the trap.

Glint went outside to retrieve a heavy rock, returned, then dropped it on the floor in front of him.

Suddenly, five foot wide parts of the walls down the passage where they came from quickly slid across and slammed against the opposite side. Fortunately those who were in the path of the traps were able to quickly jump forward or back to avoid being crushed.

After realizing the traps had not reset, the adventurers went up to the stone doors and opened them.

Sconces flared brightly to reveal passageways branching off in three different directions. Each led to a set of stone double doors. They were also similarly carved with the elven warriors holding longswords.

Down each passageway, the group spotted niches filled with standing stone sarcophagi.

What stole the group’s attention, however, were the three sets of mummified remains on the stone floor. One seemed small, clearly belonging to a half-folk. The other two were human in size. Each remain was wearing leather armor, and carried the usual adventuring gear. The half-folk seemed to have been equipped with a buckler and armed with a short sword, now rusted, while the other two were armed with a great axe, also rusted, and a longsword, which the group noticed resembled the description Erzhu the Elder gave of the heirloom, Striker.

“If those three made it past the trap, what killed them?” Xan wondered.

Suddenly, each sarcophagus opened. In total, six skeletal warriors dressed in ancient mail shirts stepped out of their resting place to face the intruders. Each held a well-worn metal shield shaped like a large leaf, and was armed with an ancient long sword.

“Does that answer your question?” Kaza said as he, along with the others charged in to engage the skeletons.

The encounter against the skeletal guardians was won, but the group was surprised at how long the battle took. Each skeleton proved to be a skilled foe and were hard to destroy. Fortunately, no one was injured in the encounter which could have proven deadly.

As the group looked at the amount of bones littering the floor, the group realized how easily Erzhu the Young’s group of three could have been slaughtered.

The adventurers took the remains of Erzhu the Young, picked up Striker, and went about searching through the previous adventurers’ gear for anything useful.

The group then considered which of the three sets of double doors to go through next.

To be continued in Chapter 13…


Heroes

Brother Silas “The Steadfast” Tomkins (Human Cleric)

Darnok Firestone (Dwarf Mage)

Dorin Thomar (Dwarf Fighter)

Ezra Two-leaf (Half-elf Warden)

Glint “the Axe” Red (Half-Orc Assassin)

Kaza Firestone (Dwarf Fighter)

Xan Warstout (Dwarf Martial Artist)


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General Norgrug
Chapter 11 (Kerrandi: Against the Orcs)

Northern Kerrandi,
Northwoods,
Spring, 13th Day of True Omens, 4,028th Cycle


The voices of his brother and cousins brought Kaza out of his spell-induced sense of horrific fear.

The last few breaths were a blur as Kaza regained his composure and looked back down the passageway where his other kinsdwarves were busy fighting against General Norgrug, the orc shaman, and one other remaining orc armed with a spear.

Kaza stood his ground and told the others to let the orcs advance into the room by the stairs. There the dwarves would have more room to fight.

The others did so.

General Norgrug along with the last orc charged into the room after the dwarves. The dwarves quickly surround the general who turned the situation into his advantage by swinging his greatsword into a wide deadly arc that threatened to slay everyone around him, including the spear-wielding orc next to him. Added to their horror was how Norgrug was somehow able to double his attacks with each breath. Somehow, the general was under the influence of an enchantment that allowed him to double his actions.

The general’s surprising counterattack ended Otis’s life as well as the remaining orc’s, and left Xan nearly dead. Only Kaza, his skin hardened as tough as stone by Xan’s psionic power, remained unscathed.

Meanwhile, in a different part of the outpost, Darknok was busy fighting against the shaman who had fled into a ritual chamber where a half-elf was being held hostage in a wooden cage.

The shaman tried to cast the same spell against the dwarven mage that caused Kaza to flee in fear, but Darnok steeled himself against the orc’s spell.

Seeing the battle going nowhere with the mage, the shaman tried to flee towards where his general was busy fighting.

However, before the shaman could reach General Norgrug, the general rather than keep fighting Kaza whom he couldn’t injure, decided to flee up the stairs. Kaza tried to stop him before he reached the veil of energy but the general, still under the enchantment placed upon him, was able to outrun the dwarf and escape pass the veil which the general was able to deactivate and activate again with a command word.

By the time Kaza reached the top of the stairs, the veil had blocked his way and the general had escaped.

His blood boiling, Kaza went back down and faced the shaman who was taken aback by his general abandoning him to his own fate.

Kaza didn’t give the shaman time to reflect on his fate.

**

With the entire outpost cleared, Darknok tended to Xan who regained consciousness. Unfortunately, there was very little he could do for Otis.

The half-elf Darknok found was freed.

He introduced himself as Ezra Two-leaf, a Bladerunner Warden in the service of King Garreth Greenwood and the kingdom of Kerrandi. Ezra told the surviving dwarves about how he ended up as a prisoner and thanked them for rescuing him.

Everyone searched the outpost and found an iron-bound chest they couldn’t force open. Fearing General Norgrug may return with reinforcement, the adventurers took what treasure they found, as well as their fallen kinsdwarf, to the town of Northpoint.

In Northpoint, they could bury Otis, share the spoils, and determine what future adventurers awaited the three dwarves and the half-elf.


Heroes

Darnok Firestone (Dwarf Mage)

Ezra Two-leaf (Half-elf Warden)

Kaza Firestone (Dwarf Fighter)

Otis Steallock (Dwarf Rogue)

Xan Warstout (Dwarf Martial Artist)


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Norgrug's Outpost
Chapter 10 (Kerrandi: Against the Orcs)

Northern Kerrandi,
Northwoods,
Spring, 13th Day of True Omens, 4,028th Cycle


The secret door the four dwarven adventurers found led into a passageway lit by a flickering torch on a wall sconce.

The sounds of orcs snoring echoed from one side of the passageway. All was quiet the other way, which turned sharply around a corner.

Darnok and Otis quietly made their way towards the sounds of snoring orcs. What they found were two orcs lying on beds of straw in a room large enough to accommodate a dozen more.

While Kaza and Xan guarded the passageway, Darnok and Otis crept up to the two sleeping orcs and killed them while they slept.

After, the four continued down the passageway.

Kaza tried to sneak up to a corner for a peak when he accidentally brushed against the wall. The sound of his metal armor scraping against rock was loud enough to alert two orcs who were guarding a set of stairs leading up to a bluish veil of crackling energy which blocked the top of the stairs.

A battle ensued as the two orc guards raised the alarm alerting the rest of the outpost to the dwarves’ presence.

General_Norgrug.jpg
Blood coated the passageway as orcs fell to the dwarves’ onslaught. However, one of the most fearsome orcs the dwarves had ever seen joined in the battle. He was armored in metal chestplate while his arms and legs were covered completely in chain mail. His sole weapon was a greatsword; its blade covered in blood-red runes.

Speaking in the tongue of man, the orc leader said he was General Norgrug of the Iron Legion and he vowed to slaughter each and every one of the intruders.

To make matters worse, an orc shaman joined in the fight as well.

For what seemed like an eternity Kaza kept pressing on, doing his best to kill Norgrug and possibly end the encounter.

But just as suddenly as the dwarves felt their god, Moradin, was on their side the shaman cast a spell that rattled every dwarf to the bone. The group saw Kaza, who was otherwise fearless in battle, suddenly running away in fear from the general and the shaman who stood nearby with a lone surviving orc armed with a spear.

With Kaza having ran away, the other dwarves feared for their own lives.

Continued in General Norgrug.


Heroes

Darnok Firestone (Dwarf Mage)

Kaza Firestone (Dwarf Fighter)

Otis Steallock (Dwarf Rogue)

Xan Warstout (Dwarf Martial Artist)


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A Band of Brothers...and Cousins
Chapter 9 (Kerrandi: Against the Orcs)

Northern Kerrandi,
Northwoods,
Spring, 13th Day of True Omens, 4,028th Cycle


The four dwarves saw two orcs busy sparring off with one another while three others watched unaware of the dwarves’ presence.

Each of the orcs was equipped with a shortsword, short bow, and protected by leather armor. They were all in front of cave entrance which was flanked by the remains of an ancient ruins, possibly built by elves or humans though the dwarves were certain that dwarves had no part in its construction.

“We can try getting the drop on them, and catch them by surprise” Kaza, the fighter suggested.

Everyone agreed it was worth a try. With Moradin’s blessings, they hoped to surprise the orcs and end the encounter without anyone getting hurt.

One orc who was sitting on a low wall turned when he heard the dwarves stepped through the thick bushes.

Realizing they could no longer surprise the alert orcs, the four dwarves called out their battle cry and charged the orcs who were readying themselves for the impending battle.

The battle was fierce as both sides tried to get the upper hand. Orcs shot at the dwarves with bows while dwarves returned the attacks with dwarven-forged steel blades that cut through orcish bones and sinews alike.

The battle was won and not one brave dwarf was injured. Meanwhile, half a dozen orcs lay dead upon the bloodied grass.

Otis, the group’s rogue, searched the orcs and found eighty-eight silver coins of various minting on them along with their armor and crude weapons. There were dwarven coins among the other coins that Otis suggested may have been taken from the orcs’ past victims.

After, the four decided to explore the cave which they wondered if the orcs were guarding.

After their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they found themselves in a tunnel extending deeper into the earth. The tunnel was cooler than the outside temperature, which although it was still considered spring, the season was definitely beginning its annual journeys towards summer and the start of a new year.

Deeper inside the cave, the dwarves came upon the remains of hundreds of small game animals and a scattering of tools and rusty, broken weapons left behind by a hapless adventurer.

“Look above,” Kaza warned. The others all looked up and noticed large patches of spider webs, thick as ropes in some places, covered the ceiling.

“It may explain the amount of bones littering the cave floor,” Darnok the mage said.

The group also noticed several large silken cocoons spread throughout the cave. Some looked like they held nothing larger than a small game, while others were large enough to contain a humanoid or two. Kaza walked up to one of the larger cocoons and cut it in half with his sword. He jumped back as the dried husk of an orc fell out of its silken tomb.

Suddenly a sticky net of spider silk shot across the tunnel and completely enveloped Kaza. Another silk net struck Darnok and Xan who managed to avoid being trapped. Two spiders emerged from out of the thick webs on the ceiling, climbed down the walls, and quickly made their way towards Kaza who was desperately trying to free himself from the sticky mess he was in.

Fate was with Kaza that day as both spiders were unable to bite their way through his plate corselet.

The dwarves fought against the two spiders which were later joined by two more. In the end, four spiders lay dead. Like the battle against the orcs, the encounter with the spiders ended well for the band of brothers and cousins from the Ridgeline Mountains.

Not wanting to spend too much time searching through thick spider webs, the four dwarves pressed on. Minutes later, the dwarves found themselves at the end of a short tunnel. A wooden door was clearly visible against a cave wall at the end of the tunnel.

What lay behind the wooden door the dwarves could only guess, but they were determined to find out.


Heroes

Darnok Firestone (Dwarf Mage)

Kaza Firestone (Dwarf Fighter)

Otis Steallock (Dwarf Rogue)

Xan Warstout (Dwarf Martial Artist)


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Showdown
Chapter 8 (Kerrandi: A Keg for Dragon)

Northern Kerrandi,
Northwoods,
Spring, 7th Day of True Omens, 4,028th Cycle


The heroes, reeling from Rexx’s death, wondered how the deadly encounter with the orcs was going to end.

Gristle entered the battle after he saw the saurian, Rexx, killed by the orc leader. Along with the other heroes, the tide of battle quickly changed.

Within moments all of the ors, including their leader lay dead amidst a slick pool of orcish and saurian blood. The heroes then took Rexx’s body and laid it in the larger cave. They then contemplated their next action.

Gristle said he was impressed by the heroes’ bravery and called them all battle brothers and offered to help them in any way. He produced a map leading to Clipwing’s lair. He said the map belonged to Chapel but was obviously a copy since he knows Chapel’s writing and he could not recognize the work of whoever drew the map. Whoever had drawn the map, Gristle said, clearly knew the location of the dragon’s lair. As far as he knew, only the dragon’s wards knew how to get to there.

**

The heroes followed the map leading to Clipwing’s lair. Gristle accompanied them, wanting to know the fate of Chapel.

Along the way, they smelled smoke as if from a camp. They chose not to investigate for fear of losing precious time and possibly getting lost.

When they reached the dragon’s lair, they all entered with caution.

Inside a large cavern located near a large stream, sat Clipwing. The great coppery-green dragon rested in the cave upon a small pile of gold, his head resting on an empty dwarven keg, which was the size of a large cask. His heavy- lidded eyes kept a careful watch on the cave entrance. His right wing was slightly bent, as though it had healed poorly from a bad break. He also had an old war wound running down the length of the same wing.

Clipwing.jpg
Taken aback by the presence of the imposing dragon—despite its wound—the heroes entered the cave and approached Clipwing. They spotted Chapel sitting on a large carved wooden chair nearby busy eating.

The boy was surprised to see the heroes.

Clipwing asked what brought the heroes to risk their lives by coming to his lair. Ser Derrick spoke for the group and told Clipwing about how Northpoint’s magistrate was concerned about the disappearance of Chapel along with Clipwing’s breaking of the Clipwing Compact he had agreed to nearly a century ago.

The dragon said Chapel was safe but was being kept in his lair for attempting to fool him with a keg of whiskey that was clearly not filled with Ridgeline Whiskey.

When Chapel was asked about his attempting to fool the dragon, Chapel told of how he panicked when he found the real keg of Ridgeline Whiskey he had brought empty of its valuable content. Not wanting to anger Clipwing, he hurried back to town, took three small kegs of whiskey from Templeton’s store and tried then poured them into the keg that was meant for the dragon. But when Clipwing tasted the whiskey, the dragon immediately knew that Chapel was trying to dupe him.

The group then asked who else would have known about the location of Clipwing’s lair. The dragon said that only the current and former wards knew how to find his lair.

When asked if the dragon knew of any former ward still living in the area, Clipwing told the group that he had heard that one of his former ward had stayed in Northpoint despite the fact that most had become adventurers and had left the small town.

Clipwing told the heroes that Sebastian Shaw once served as his ward when Sebastian was about sixteen years old.

Chapel added that he remembered seeing Shaw in the woods nearby late one afternoon. Chapel couldn’t be certain but it looked as though Shaw was talking to two orcs. After their brief meeting, the orcs handed Shaw a handful of coins. Unsure of what he was seeing, Chapel ran back to the dragon’s lair.

The group realized that it was the owner of the Shattered Sword who had motive to steal the valuable whiskey and end the agreement between the town of Northpoint and its guardian dragon, Clipwing.

They also were keenly aware that Sebastian Shaw was skilled in the arts of magic having served as Clipwing’s ward for some time.

The heroes offered to correct the wrong done against the dragon by Sebastian Shaw. They then immediately left, without Chapel, to return to Northpoint to confront the traitorous Shaw.

Along the way, they came upon the same place where they smelled smoke earlier. This time, they decided to investigate knowing that it may be a camp of orcs in the area.

After making their way through the thick forest, the group came upon an orc camp which looked as though it had been hastily set up. In the camp were a detachment of half a dozen orcs armed with short sword, short bows, and dressed in leather armor. They also spotted two large black-furred wolves playing in the middle of the camp.

Not having much skills in stealth, the group chose to charge the camp.

A bloody battle ensued in which Ser Derrick was slain after being surrounded by most of the orcs and their leader. Moments after the brave knight’s death, the heroes were able to kill all of the orcs and the wolves and avenge their friend’s death.

They searched the camp after and found provisions and about a hundred silver coins.

The heroes decided to take Ser Derrick’s body back to Chapel and Gristle’s bolt hole where Rexx’s body was also being kept for the meantime.

They then continued on to Northpoint.

**

When the heroes arrived in town, they decided to find and tell the town’s magistrate, Hiram Mirth, about everything they had learned. Hiram asked the group to confront Sebastian Shaw and arrest him for his crimes against the people of Northpoint.

The group entered the Shattered Sword and found Sebastian Shaw alone, busily cleaning several wooden mugs. They also noticed the stuffed Owlbear standing in the nearby corner.

“Sebastian Shaw!” Hiram Mirth yelled as he stood behind the adventurers. “You are under arrest for your traitorous acts against the people of Northpoint.”

Sebastian Shaw, dressed only in a simple woolen shirt and breeches eyed everyone with disdain. “I was wondering if you would ever figure out what happened, Hiram. If it weren’t for these meddling heroes, I would have gotten away with it too!”

With a wave of his hand, Hiram sent a wave of magic hurtling towards the stuffed Owlbear. Suddenly, the large creature began to move as if it were alive! It then turned to face off against the half-orc, Glint.

The heroes rushed the proprietor who with another wave of his hand produced a pair of stone-skinned warriors armed with longswords to fight for him.

The encounter against Sebastian Shaw did not last long.

In the end, Shaw’s summoned warriors, along with the stuffed owlbear were defeated. Sebastian Shaw was defeated but not killed. Instead the group tied him securely while he was incapacitated and handed over to the town guards, Samuel and Elijah who took him away to be locked up until Hiram and the town’s citizens can put him on trial for his crimes.

After several hours of searching through the Shattered Sword, the missing keg of Northridge Whiskey was found. The group then immediately traveled back to Clipwing’s lair to hand the keg over.

Pleased with the heroes’ courage and dedication to saving the people of Northpoint, Clipwing offered the group a rare gift. Once a year, the dragon said, he could bestow the gift of magic by shedding a dragon’s tear, a tear formed of pure blood and magic. He who drank the dragon’s tear would gain the ability to cast magic or enhance their arcane power if they were already killed in the arcane arts. Only Brother Silas was willing to accept the dragon’s precious gift.

Clipwing also used his dragon ways to reassert his superiority over The Iron Legion and ensure Northpoint’s safety under his guard.

Back in town, Hiram Mirth asked to meet with the heroes. He thanked them for delivering the whiskey and returning with Chapel. He said the town would give the adventurers a hero’s celebration for averting disaster. The magistrate also offered to have Ser Derrick and Rexx buried with honors in the town’s cemetery where they would be remembered for their sacrifice.

As a final reward, Hiram Mirth offered the heroes the deed to the Shattered Sword. He explained that Sebastian Shaw had no relatives and the town would be happy to have the heroes remain in town as honorary citizens and new owners of the tavern and inn.

Sebastian Shaw was days later hanged on the town’s gallows after a quick trial. His body was then burned and his ashes scattered in the forest.

For the moment, with Clipwing guarding the town and a brave band of adventurers having taken ownership of the Shattered Sword, a quiet welcomed peace settled upon the small town of Northpoint.


Heroes

Brother Silas “The Steadfast” Tomkins (Human Cleric)

Dorin Thomar (Dwarf Fighter)

Glint “the Axe” Red (Half-Orc Assassin)

Ser Derrick Williams, Knight of the Golden Valley

Allies

Gristle of Northpoint


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