Crystal Assembly

Who Initiated This Fight, Anyway?

From the journal of Arjhan

So, suddenly we’re fighting with these gray-skinned, scimitar-wielding creatures who, on second glance, aren’t githzerai after all. As we all piled into the room, Solath took a hell of a hit – I can’t fault his bravery, but he’s not tough like Garth or me. I decided to retaliate, and caught their mage in the face with a blast of acid. He ain’t pretty no more.

The mage and a couple of others chose to engage us in melee, while the others stayed on top of the bookshelves and peppered us with arrows. Very irritating, it was, especially since they could teach Silvio a thing or two about archery (at least that’s what it felt like). They also had some sort of psychic scream attack that left us dazed and reeling.

As the fight continued (the gray guys are surprisingly tough), I learned a few things about the room. For one, the books on the shelves emit whispering sounds – very distracting, they make it hard to walk away from the shelves. For another, the gray bastards are quick learners; they kept dodging my attacks. I finally managed to accomplish something by healing Solath, who was caught out in the open and had an archer giving him a bad day. Kuruk them one-upped me by healing several of us at once with his divine magic. Silvio, meanwhile, was still trying to shake off the effects of the psychic scream.

Our defense finally solidified, and Garth and Uthrag pounded on the enemy mage while Solath’s conjured ball of fire rolled across the bookshelf top in pursuit of an archer. F’lar did his little invisibility trick, stabbed the mage, and almost immediately collapsed in a bloody heap.

The mage finally, finally went down, which marked the turning point as we quickly cleaned up the remaining archers. One tried to flee, but I slowed him with a blast of ice, and Solath teleported next to him and stopped him more permanently. Victory!

The battle over, Vysellis started whining about some damn shinies or other, ordering Solath to dig around in the grass that surrounded the statue. She seemed very upset that some gems were missing, and wouldn’t shut up until I lost my temper and spoke sternly to her. That quieted her for a minute, anyway. For a disembodied severed head in an orb, she sure is uppity.

Having taken a beating, we spiked the doors shut and made camp, discovering that we didn’t feel any real sense of hunger or thirst. Odd. I passed the time by cleaning up the mage’s skull for a trophy. During the night, someone or something rattled the door the gray bastards had been trying to flee by, but nothing else occurred. We did discover some valuable books, and the rather disquieting fact that many of the books in the library were blank. We deduced that the gray gith-like people had been somehow consuming the information from the books, and dubbed them “eaters of knowledge,” or eoks for short.

Next morning we decided to press on to the north and perhaps find the door-rattler. The next room contained a large statue of the god Ioun (I think Solath follows him) and another of the gray guys. As we entered, runes flared to life on the statue and it began emitting and unhealthy-looking energy.

Why do I know it’s not just a really gaudy reading lamp?

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Quit Bleeding All Over Everything and Do Something!

From the journal of Arjhan

Things were already looking fairly “interesting” when a new wrinkle appeared – some of the corpses at the bottom of the worm-, Uthrag- and Kuruk-filled pit began standing up and making moaning sounds. Zombies. And more carrion crawlers appeared. I decided that Garth, F’lar, Solath and Silvio ought to be able to handle one giant among them, even if he did have two heads. So I jumped into the pit – I think I pulled a tendon on that landing – and started showing those invertebrates what dragonborn are good for. Kuruk and Uthrag quickly climbed to safety – followed by one of the worms. Turns out they can climb like spiders.

More zombies crawled moaning from the corpse-pile, and then Solath used his ever-popular visions of avarice spell to draw them all to a central point in the pit. Giving him a thumbs-up, I proceeded to electrify the hell out of them, annihilating the zombies and badly wounding the worms. Point for the wizard-sorcerer tag team!

Meanwhile, things were going less smoothly up top. F’lar had taken a hit from a carrion crawler’s tentacle and could barely move; he was throwing shuriken and daggers at the ettin with little real effect. Garth was holding the two-headed horror back, but couldn’t hit to save his life. Damn, it’s a good thing he’s so tough. Half-orcs must have tough bones.

Eventually, Uthrag closed with the ettin and began whittling him away, and then we arcane spellcasters got involved. Solath made the ettin go in the pit, and Garth chased after him. The ettin ended up knocked prone, slowed, and immobilized at the bottom of a pit, with an angry half-orc in his face…well, one of his faces. He didn’t last much longer.

After the battle, and after Garth gave up digging in the corpse-pit for treasure (rather quickly, I thought) I heard a female voice coming from a small bag hanging on the wall. After some cautious prodding (and some harsh words), the source of the voice proved to be a magical obsidian orb, inhabited by the spirit of an eladrin woman named Vyrellis. Solath claimed this orb, after some very careful examination, and began interrogating the spirit. She knew the general layout of the pyramid, so after some consideration we decided to head north to the library.

The library is…large. Also spooky, what with the large, headless statue in the middle of the room. And Vyrellis admonishing us to “heed not the whispers,” with no real explanation. It’s also inhabited: a bunch of grayish, skinny humanoids – githzerai, I think – are scattered around the room. I’m not sure what happened exactly, but Silvio shot at one of them, and suddenly we’re in the middle of a battle.

Works for me.

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I Seem To Be In A Pile of Dead Bodies

From the journal of Arjhan

After a bit of rest and relaxation, we were called before Crystal for a new mission. A human scholar with the unlikely name of Billingsley wished to hire us to explore some sort of “Pyramid of Shadows.” It seems he had been having dreams about it, and wanted us to seek out this pyramid, investigate the source of his nightmares, and deal with it. After a bit of haggling – the man seemed to have no concept of what a band of highly-skilled adventurers was worth – we came to an agreement. Crystal also mentioned that the Guild might be interested in interesting specimens retrieved in our travels, and on that note, away we portaled.

We found ourselves in the jungle. After traveling for a bit, we encountered a large clearing, where we were promptly jumped by several humans and dwarves, one riding on a magnificent specimen of a rage drake. We spread out to do battle, slowing the rage drake with magical cold and assaulting the humans and dwarves with whatever we had handy. Uthrag, Silvio and F’lar tied up one side of the battlefield, while Kuruk, Solath, Garth and I dealt with the rage drake and the other attackers. The drake eventually reached melee range, only to be harassed by Solath, Kuruk and myself; nearby, Garth engaged in an epic duel with a single bandit who ended up knocking him on his ass.

I tried to lure the rage drake across a nearby stream, away from Solath, but the stupid beast turned on Kuruk instead. Eventually Solath brought it down with minimal damage to the carcass – psychic attacks are useful that way. On the other side of the battle, Silvio had been surrounded by bandits and had resorted to his longsword – I tend to forget he even has the thing. He dropped it as soon as possible and reverted back to archery. Elves; no stomach for close combat.

The last surviving bandits tried to flee, but Solath, F’lar and myself chased one down and taught him the error of his ways. Dragging his unconscious form back to the clearing, we were alarmed to witness a pyramid rise from the ground in the center of the clearing, and a ghostly tiefling asking Silvio: “What are you seeking?” Silvio answered something about baklava, and the next thing I knew we were somewhere else. Damn teleporting ghosts. I barely had time to stuff my rage drake carcass into the bag of holding.

We found ourselves at the bottom of a ten-foot-deep, fifteen-foot-square pit carpeted with corpses. Lovely, indeed. A two-headed giant with a sword in each hand peered down at us from above. Obviously the bellboy at this fine hotel; I must remember not to tip him.

We all decided that a corpse-filled pit was not the most tactically useful position to be in, so we swarmed up the sides just as something beneath the corpses began rumbling upwards. This proved to be a pair of enormous green worm-creatures with many tentacles – carrion crawlers. Even better, Kuruk missed a foothold halfway up the pit and fell back in, landing prone before the crawlers. Uthrag. Who is no coward whatever else he might be, elected to stay behind and protect our unfortunate comrade.

Looks like another one of those days.

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So You're Planning to Taxidermy a God?

From the journal of Arjhan

The battle raged on as Solath’s illusion dragged most of the unfortunate human barbarians into the fissure in the middle of the room – their fault for having a gaping chasm in their fortress. I stepped forward and filled the fissure with lighting, taking a few axe-blows in return. This proved the turning point, as it was largely clean-up after that. However, before the battle was quite finished, Captain Eyeballs – I mean, Solath – noticed a figure on the other side of the room, watching us fight. Jaryn himself, atop a dais, standing beside some sort of firepit..

Jaryn made no move as we wiped out his warriors, bound our wounds, and strode across the room to meet him. He greeted us cordially, offering us all wine which he claimed would heal our injuries. Solath, Garth and I decided that accepting magical drinks from fallen paladins who had turned to serving evil deities of tyranny wasn’t necessarily the best course of action. Of course, Silvio, F’lar, Uthrag and Kuruk thought it was a great idea and guzzled away merrily. Their continued survival amazes me.

Jaryn proved to be morose and fatalistic, rambling on that Pelor was dead, goodness was pointless, there was no justice, and similar gloom and doom. One of the more depressive villains we’ve faced, actually. We eventually grew tired of this and gave him our standard “surrender or die” offer, which he predictably turned down.

The fight with Jaryn was oddly disappointing, since he refused to so much as swing a blade at us; instead, he focused on defense. Still more worrisome was the fact that the shadow he cast was large and misshapen…and there was a firepit between Jaryn and his shadow. Sure enough, as Jaryn fell, the shadow animated into a very large and quite hideous ape-demon…thing. This was Naraash himself, the self-proclaimed god: in reality, merely a demon.

Naraash first offered us the position of his Right Hand, sad position being recently vacated by Jaryn. We gave that offer the answer it deserved, in the form of blasts of fire and cold, axes, hammers, and shuriken. The battle was fierce – even though he was no god, Naraash was tough – but teamwork paid off. Eventually Kuruk went face-to-face with the demon, raining blows on him with his craghammer, and Naraash finally expired.

We cut off his head for a trophy – it’ll look dandy mounted over the fireplace – and quickly looted the place. Treasure in hand, we also discovered a secret escape tunnel in the wall behind the late Jaryn’s dais. Slipping quietly out the back door, we beheld a town in chaos, as the people of the Banite community below dealt with the sudden loss of their god and most of his church. We later learned that, upon Naraash’s death, the red stones in the amulets worn by the Death Squads all crumbled to dust. In the general chaos we were able to sip away fairly easily.

Another job well done.

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We Always Knew Solath Was a Flamer

From the journal of Arjhan

The giant suits of armor proved annoying, but not particularly dangerous. Solath hindered them with grasping shadows, I battered them with dragonfrost, and Garth and Uthrag methodically took them apart. One managed to prevent Kuruk and F’lar from moving for quite a while, much to F’lar’s annoyance. He broke free at the very end of the battle, and was able to destroy the final suit of armor.

Solath noticed a hidden door in the wall in mid battle – I don’t know how he keeps track of everything – so we immediately set about getting through it. This led to a hallway, collapsed at one end, and with a pair of double doors at the other. As the rest of us examined the double doors, Garth wandered off because he saw something shiny. Seriously, that was his explanation. He’d be dead long ago if he weren’t as tough as old boots.

Garth’s prize proved to be five purple amethysts set in the wall, surrounding what appeared to be another secret door. Fortunately for us, F’lar noticed tiny runes inscribed around the gems, and we deduced that they were the trigger for some sort of magical trap. After Silvio carefully triggered the trap from a distance, we collected the gems and tried to open the door, but with no luck. We turned our attention to the double doors and, not wanting to waste time on subtlety, promptly broke them down.

Inside was a stairway leading up, and we heard the sounds of footsteps and hushed movement. At the top of the stairs was a very large room, split in two by a fissure in the rock. Solath lead the attack, using magic to drop a stinkpot sling stone (taken from my midget hillbilly cousins a while ago), which produced the sound of coughing. Solath then lead the attack more literally, rushing up the stairs to engage the enemy. The enemy ended up being several wild-looking human warriors, a couple of hobgoblins, and some skeletons wreathed in flames. One of these firey undead managed to set Solath on fire before the rest of us could come to his aid, but Kuruk was kind enough to throw a mug of beer on him to help douse the blaze. Where he got the beer, I don’t know. I assume it’s a dwarf thing.

The battle continued, and our defense solidified, with Uthrag and Garth getting to the front line and Solath using magic to lure two of the enemy into the rock fissure. A human spellcaster appeared and blasted us all with some sort of hellish power, only to fall under our combined counterattack. At one point, F’lar threw a dagger between Uthrag’s legs and took out a human – it made me wince to see. Uthrag and F’lar are both lucky that little gnome’s such a good shot.

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No Demonic Frenchy For Me, Thanks

From the journal of Arjhan

The tiefling proved an annoying opponent, striking out with his twin short swords and then becoming invisible. Fortunately, our keen-eared wizard Solath noticed footprints appearing amongst the rubble, and we proceeded to blast the hell out of the area. There was a brief uncomfortable moment after the tiefling reappeared when F’lar attacked him and received some sort of “demonic Frenchy” attack that left us all feeling queasy. Fortunately, we managed to take him alive, remembering that Jaryn was said to have a tiefling companion.

The tiefling (after being tied up and persuaded to speak) proved, in fact, to be Dajani, a companion of Jaryn. From him we learned that Jaryn made it to the Pillars of Night, but there our captive’s information became…less useful. He seemed very vague and disoriented, and gave no clear answers. We eventually deduced that Jaryn had sworn himself to Bane and become “the Right Hand of Bane.” Dajani, likewise, seemed to have dedicated himself to the Dark God.

After some consultation between Solath, Kuruk and myself, we came to the conclusion that Dajani’s conversion was natural, not the product of enchantment; as such, magic could not cure him. Since he had willingly surrendered himself to Bane, there was no help for it. Although there was talk of tying him to a stone, or to Uthrag, and dropping him in the river, we ultimately gave him a warrior’s death in honor of the heroic adventurer he had once been. With this grim reminder or our enemies’ power, we continued on.

Glasur the moonboat captain informed us that we had come as far north as the river could take us. He promised to wait for us for a week, and so we struck out overland, heading north. A couple days travel brought is in sight of the infamous Pillars of Night – and a town, built into the mountainside. We estimated about 5oo warriors and twice that many noncombatants; mostly human, but some dwarves and dragonborn as well. We saw no elves or gnomes. The symbol of Bane was displayed prominently.

Since the town itself was not heavily guarded, we covered any obvious holy symbols and such, and simply strolled in. By joining in work gangs, weapons training classes, and the occasional religious sermon, we picked up a fair bit of information as we maneuvered towards the far side of town. In particular, we learned that the talismans with red stones that we had been collecting were carried by the Death Squads…fitting, perhaps, that we had acquired a hefty number. We also confirmed that Jaryn was the Right Hand of Bane, which post he apparently won by decapitating the previous cult leader, Larkazh the hobgoblin. Unnerving.

This seemed too easy, as indeed it was. As we reached the doors of the stronghold, carved into the side of the mountain, a doppleganger on horseback rode up out of nowhere and denounced us. Thinking quickly, we rushed inside and slammed the doors behind us, which activated some sort of triggered magical effect. Although the outer doors sealed firmly, all of the interior doors did as well.

With some effort on F’lar’s part, and some assistance from the rest of us, we managed to get one of the two other doors in the room open. Beyond lay some sort of storage chamber, lined with giant-sized suits of armor. A quick blast of arcane ice toppled one to the floor, lifeless, so we strode in with confidence…at which point the remaining suits of armor animated and attacked us.

Typical.

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At Least It Wasn't a Gay Buggerbear

From the journal of Arjhan

The four dragonborn clad in the tunics of the Hand of Naarash quickly fell prey to Solath’s arcane trickery, which grouped them nicely for my own magical attacks. They were blinded, immobilized, and otherwise inconvenienced, leaving them with little strategy save to lash out blindly with their axes. I can only guess that following such filth as the Naarashites saps the mind and will; these fools barely deserved to be called dragonborn.

They were not alone, however; a pair of bugbears and a spellcasting human soon emerged from the town to support them. They quickly found themselves outmatched, although one bugbear managed to get the upper hand on Silvio for a bit and attempt to choke the life out of him. Uthrag came to the rescue, declaring “I’m going to heal you with my axe, bugbear!” Typical Uthrag logic, although I can’t fault his efficiency.

Having dealt with the Naarash scum, we immediately rescued what humans we could from the burning buildings; several had become trapped inside, but my sorcerous training provides me with a measure of protection against heat, so I was able to free several. The locals were naturally grateful, but their town proved to be a near-total loss. Fortunately, Glasur the moonboat captain offered to transport them back to Adakmi after dropping us off at the agreed-upon location.

The locals offered us what information they could. The Pillars of Night, they said, were about three days travel north. They also spoke of a pair of outlanders who had come through not long before, a human and a tiefling. They did not remember the pair’s names, but their descriptions matched those of Jaryn and his tiefling compatriot. The villagers described these two as being completely mad; apparently they were intent on wreaking vengeance on Larkazh, the leader of the Naarash cult. At least we’re still on the right path, although our chances of retrieving Jaryn are looking dimmer.

Without much ado we continued sailing north (is “sailing” the proper term to use on a boat drawn by giant fish?). Our pace was slower, what with the weight of another several dozen people, and the quarters were becoming a bit cramped. I have only sympathy for these human refugees, but I’ll be glad to get off this Blacksnake.

We eventually put in for the night. The villagers decided to sleep aboard the ship, for safety; we on the other hand decided to camp on shore. Solath made quite a fuss about the exact location, and Silvio and F’lar virtually ringed the camp with small deadfalls, tripwires, and noise-maker traps. I took the opportunity to curl up near the fire.

I was awakened most rudely buy a dagger in my side. It seems a tiefling – crazed-looking fellow – has somehow bypassed all of the traps and entered the camp to stab me in my sleep. To arms!

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Figures a gay dwarf would have a boat named Blacksnake_

From the journal of Arjhan

We cleaned up the shadow hounds quickly; they proved no match for the combined spells of Solath and myself. After the battle it was decided that a shadow-hound pelt would make a nice rug, so with a bit of aid I skinned the least-damaged of the bodies. A nice bit of work if I do say so myself. We also discovered the pelt retained the living hound’s quality of slightly darkening the ambient light. There was some talk of making a shadow-hound-pelt codpiece for F’lar, but it was decided that this would be counterproductive. Just as well, as I certainly wasn’t going to be assisting on that one.

As we were engaged in our taxidermy, Uthrag came wandering by. It seems he had finished his business with the Windrider Tribe and caught back up by unknown means. His explanation was somewhat incoherent – something about the chief’s daughter, who apparently outweighed Uthrag and had a face like a shovel, and being kicked out of the clan.

We continued north, and after several days of sleeping under bushes and eating whatever Uthrag and Silvio could convince us was edible, we came to – of all things – a citadel. There were a number of human corpses hanging from the walls, all wearing the black tunics of the Hand of Naarash. F’lar and Silvio volunteered to sneak in and spy on the townsfolk in order to learn if they were Naarashites or potential allies. Solath offered to “help” F’lar by triggering F’lar’s invisibility power with a whack from Solath’s quarterstaff, but F’lar refused.

After several hours, F’lar returned alone and reported that Silvio had been captured by the townsfolk. There was talk of “recovering our companion over the heaped corpses of our foes,” but ultimately we decided to try diplomacy. Come dawn, we approached the citadel and, after showing our collection of looted talismans and loudly denouncing “those Hand bastards,” we were shown to the constable’s office. There was some talk about “that tiny Hand bastard,” at which F’lar seemed quite twitchy for some odd reason.

The constable proved a reasonable human, although he initially wanted to kill one of us as a “doppleganger test.” After that was smoothed out and Silvio was released unharmed, we learned that the name of the town was Adakmi. The locals claimed that the land to the north was crawling with foes: hobgoblins and bugbears of the Hand, as well as survivors of wrecked communities who turned on their fellows to save their own lives. The Pillars of Night, our goal, lay to the north. Despite the constable’s pessimism, we decided to press on.

This proved difficult, as literally everyone we spoke with insisted that following the road was suicide. We were considering following the river when Kuruk noticed another dwarf eying him. This friendly fellow proved to be Glasur, a moonboat captain who offered to take us north, and seemed greatly interested in Kuruk. I know nothing of the mating rituals of dwarves, but I know interest when I see it. Eventually, despite Kuruk’s obstinacy, Galsur agreed to ferry us north.

The moonboat was drawn by a pair of giant gar chained to the prow – fascinating. We passed several burnt-out villages, but nothing of interest until the fourth day, when we encountered one that was still burning. Hoping to find survivors or information, we disembarked, to discover Hand agents still present. Dragonborn, to be precise. We wasted no time in attacking these vile cowards; their fanaticism will be no match for our skill and courage.

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Hey Garth: I Love You, You Love Me...

From the journal of Arjhan:

The battle with the dopplegangers was tough, but after the initial surprise our defense solidified and we managed to hold our own. Solath’s visions of avarice spell was quite effective, holding several of the false paladins in place and allowing us to maneuver around them.

Eventually, through team effort and a little luck, we managed to kill them all. Upon death they resumed their natural forms, including their clothing and gear: cultist robes and those peculiar talismans, but nothing of any real value. These talismans were also missing their red stones, but Solath, Silvio and F’lar managed to somehow dye some clay red with blood and some sort of mashed berries, and make some serviceable fake stones for the talismans. We decided to wear them and the dopplegangers’ distinctive daggers; perhaps we can convince any Hand of Naarash cultists that we encounter that we are, in fact, the very dopplegangers sent to kill us. Worth a shot, anyway.

Oh, we also found a map. Pretty crude, and it doesn’t have much detail, but it matches the one that human girl gave us in Erstlin. Confirmation is good.

Continuing north, we’ve been catching sight of hobgoblin bands – twenty or thirty at a time. One would be a tough fight unless they’re all rookies, but I have a feeling they’re not. This place is infested with Naarashians…Naarashites? Naarashies?

The others keep pestering me about Bhaar’nei, so I shared a few fragments of the Exiled One’s songs with them From the Mouth of Arjhan the Bard (review last entry called Bhaar’nei the Purple). That shut them up for a while. I do wish Silvio would stop with the threats, though; my singing isn’t that bad.

Then, as we’re walking through a foresty area, F’lar starts flapping his hands and shouting something. Nothing unusual about that, but it turns out he spotted an ambush – one we walked right into. Some sort of black, wolflike creatures; shadow hounds, I think they’re called. A bunch of them, eight or ten, bound out of the trees around us and start making this bloodcurdling howling sound. Very distracting; makes it hard to concentrate or defend yourself adequately.

Anyway, we fan out and start doing what we do best. I see a perfect opportunity to hit a number of shadow hounds with my fire breath, and – oops – hit Garth as well. It’s not like it did any real harm to him; I don’t know why he was so upset. Anyway, I made up for it later when I shouted for him to get out of the way and hit seven hounds with my lightning breath. Good times. I love that big half-orc.

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A pig skull works so much better than a horse skull

As the combat continued, the Brotherhood found that the hobgoblin troops of the Hand were tougher than the normal garden variety. However with, the benefit of in battle first-aid provided by Kuruk and Arjhan, the fight was won by the good guys. As Garth charged out one door to chase down the last remaining hobgoblin archer, Silvio went out the back to drop the remaining bugbear, which was fleeing by horseback. Silvio brought it down when one of the four arrows he fired, took it in the back and the other three brought down the horse he was mounted on. Totally planned that one – Elven efficiency, never waste and arrow….” says Silvio.

After concluding the fight the group revived the unconscious Perren Auldwyl, and though he was somewhat thankful, they had to listen to the man’s opposition to any change brought on by the presence of the group, as he explained the current situation in Erstlin, “The Hand is running weapons north,” Perren says quietly. “Erstlin’s a stop-off point, last town short of the wilds. We give their smugglers free run of the town, the Hand leaves us alone. Unless you’re planning to stick around to take on the group that comes looking for this one, you ain’t done us no favors.” Auldwyl pulls aside the curtain to the bedroom, showing the crates stacked there. He opens one, revealing a brace of black-fletched arrows. Another crate contains longswords, and a third is packed with steel helmets. This group of cultists arrived yesterday to take delivery of the arms and armor. I met you all in an attempt to keep you out of sight, but I guess that did not work so well.”

The group spent some time reviewing the smuggled arms in the crates and barrels hidden in the cottages in town. In addition found that the arms and armor worn and used by the cultists was superior to what they would normally have. It was determined at that time that the smuggled arms should be destroyed after suitable pieces were set aside for disguises. Additionally, the townsfolk should be sent off to the southeast to the refugee camps for there own safety.

As a number of townsfolk had gathered outside, the group chose to have Arjhan address them, as he had done in the past with others assisting him. With the existing goodwill from the recent combat, and first-aid by Kuruk, the group won over the crowd, finding what they had been seeking for some time. At the edge of the crowd, a young woman stepped forward. “Name’s Shandra. Hobgoblins killed my pa when they first came. Said it was a warning. I followed them, meant to take revenge but I couldn’t keep up. But I saw where they went. I can make you a map for finding their Black March.”

There was a period of time where Arjhan considered attacking his comrades, as Uthrag touched upon a sore spot in his racial background by confusing the scale color of his heritage as purple instead of red, and invoking the ultimate dragonkin insult of referencing the ever great Barney wrym.

After that the group harshly convinced the townsfolk to hastily clear out of town with the refugee camps to the southeast as their destination. The group set themselves to burning the arms and armor stores. During this period Uthrag’s crystal ring started flashing and humming alerting him of and incoming message from Crystal. Uthrag soon understood that Crystal was summoning him away for an urgent guild mission, to help maintain peace amongst his adoptive tribe the Windriders, where Chief Nytok was being challenged by the warrior Jarlok, and where Nytok has chosen Uthrag as his champion.

With parting words for Uthrag and the fleeing townsfolk of Erstlin, The Brotherhood set off into the wilds, continuing their northwest path, looking to locate the beginning of this Black March. The lands beyond Erstlin turn to hilled forest, offering better shelter, but increasing the difficulty of travel.

Three days out, as dusk approached, the group stumbled upon an ancient ruin shrouded by stunted spruce—a shrine or temple reduced to a foundation pit and half a dozen pillars among the trees. As the group approached a cry rang out. A crashing of branches precedes a male human with the sun of Pelor on his cloak, blond hair hanging ragged, lurching into the light. As he stumbled toward the group, they saw a prominent scar on his left cheek, and Garth and Silvio believed they heard the name Jaryn as they called for the stranger to identify himself.

At that point F’Lar jumped forward and yelling at the man as he grabbed his cloak, and slapped him across the face saying, “Make since, man! Speak clearly!” – True F’Lar fashion.

At this point the paladin’s mouth widened into a leer, and a short sword whipped out from under his cloak as he buried it in F’Lar’s belly. The group soon found that they fought not one but five, and as one fell they realized that these were not paladins at all, but doppelganger assassins.

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