Shields of the Vale

A letter of some import
The Lord of Fallcrest requests a favour

Several days have passed since the Medusa was vanquished, and Thrax was freed from “protective custody”.
The Shields had spent 1000gp to buy supplies and delivered them with Nesh to the Academy. Xinto was grateful and has engaged the students on a project to build an appropriate airdock for the skyship. Xinto loves the idea of a student course in skysailing and will develop a course outline then accept applications from the student body for said course. It should only take a few weeks to organise.

Late in the afternoon of the Shields fifth day in Hammerfast five warriors arrive at the Red Carpet Tavern, all wearing surcoats and sigils marking them as members of the Fallcrest militia. They have come looking for the Shields at their renowned base of operations. They have come looking for Victoria and Grik in particular. They offer a scroll bearing the wax seal of Xander Corvassian, Lord Warden of Fallcrest.

It reads as the following:

Shields of the Vale
I have a matter of some urgency that I wish to bring to your attention.
My son’s new governess will be requiring an escort to Fallcrest from Hammerfast and I wish to request your services on this matter. You will of course be remunerated quite handsomely for fulfilling this task in the manner to which we have become accustomed of your exploits.
The Vale has become more dangerous, as more humanoids move here for whatever purpose they have in mind. I will consider it a personal favour if you will ensure that Selindrea Matterhorn is delivered to my manor house hale and hearty.

Yours in Sincerity

The Lord Warden of Fallcrest

Xander Corvassian

Heartless in Hammerfast
Torog makes a move

‘Droth has decided to stay on the citadel with his ultimate grandfather Dargrim Shatterhand. The Shields leave the landed citadel to fly the 10 miles to Hammerfast, on the way discussing what their next move is to be.
They dock at the Gate Wards watchtower where Saran departs for her own business. Nesh plans to stop by the Academy with some resupplies, and heads off to acquire provisions. Grik headed for the Red Carpet Tavern to “see” Halva.
The circus CarniVale has set up in town in the market area outside the Red Carpet Tavern.
Still on board the Gleaming Endeavour, Shanna suddenly doubled over in pain as something horribly unnatural appeared within Hammerfast, somewhere within the main living area of Hammerfast.
Victoria and Berradin ran towards where Berradin sensed the disturbance. Shanna went to the tavern to get Grik.
Victoria ended up outside the Shatterhand ruins and waited for Berradin to catch up. A ghost custodian of the main concourse pointed out where a cloaked figure headed from the ruins.
Shanna arrives, then Victoria cracks a sunrod and enters the ruins with Berradin and Shanna. They find a blood circle, pretty fresh blood, which is coated in brimstone, and outside the circle a dwarven statue whose face is locked in a rictus of horror.
Berradin determines that something, most likely a Medusa, has been transported in from deep underground.
The shields exited the tomb and Shanna spotted a guard several hundred feet up the concourse acting suspiciously outside a laneway. Shanna snuck up on the dwarf and made her way into the alleyway where a watch-cleric was investigating the corpse of an Eladrin.
Berradin sent an arcane message to Mourn for reinforcements, who alerted Grik. Grik was shadowed by a brightly dressed boy, whom under closer inspection was a Halfling circus performer. He offered his assistance to Grik and followed him to the rest of the group.
The deceased Eladrin had been drained of his blood and his heart had been removed, most likely while he was still alive. The body had been dumped in the alleyway behind several bins and was lucky to have been discovered so quickly.
The ghost of the Eladrin, Thalanen, entered the alleyway through a wall and was interrogated by Victoria and Berradin. He had met a fellow Eladrin with bright Green bloodshot eyes, in the Red Carpet tavern, whom had bought him drinks and then he had blacked out. Thalanen had woken up in an underground area where the other Eladrin had changed shape back into a changeling/doppelganger and then made a new form, a tiefling with bright green bloodshot eyes. The “tiefling” had then cut the Eladrin and began to drain him of his blood. His last sight was the tiefling using some sort of instrument to crack open his ribcage to reach his still beating heart.
The Shields sent Shanna through Hammerfast on a grid search to find any green-eyed tiefling while the rest of the group headed back to the Red Carpet Tavern. Dinnan, the flamboyant halfling, searched through the tavern crowd and found a green eyed tiefling in a discussion with a heavily bearded, arcane armour wearing, magic tome carrying dwarf. He bluffed them into thinking that he had overheard their conversation and the dwarf offered him 10 Platinum [1000gp] to keep his mouth shut.
Meanwhile, Berradin questioned Mourn about any Eladrin customers from the previous night. He also mentioned that Mourn was a Dwarf, who became rather confused.
Grik had a conversation with Halva about her regular bouts of sickness. He had sought Rhianna’s advice and she had informed him that Halva was under a blood curse which would not harm her as long as she kept away from Grik. Grik questioned Halva about any potential enemies but Halva muttered something about “He wouldn’t, I thought he was joking” and refused to name names for Grik. Grik stormed downstairs in a foul mood. Halva then slipped down the stairs after him and snuck out of the tavern. Grik returned upstairs to find Halva and her equipment gone and raced downstairs to find out where she had went.
Grik saw Dinnan with the tiefling and dwarf and purposefully approached their table. He asked Ptolemus Ambershard if he knew who would have the knowledge to make a blood curse. Ptolemus said his wife Citrionna would have a better idea.
Victoria noticed Rhianna acting strange as Rhianna watched Grik running crazily around the tavern. Rhianna eventually fell to the floor, rolling around and laughing uproariously. When Victoria asked what was wrong Rhianna could barely brethe out “I can’t believe he fell for it” and then collapsed laughing again. Grik came over and Rhianna got off the floor, moving behind Victoria. Rhianna then told Grik that she had made up the story about a blood curse and that Halva was actually pregnant. She thought it was a marvellous prank to play, especially since Grik always picked on her sweety.
Grik headed for Ambershard Manor.
Grik sought an audience with Citrionna who informed him that the Mages of Saruun are masters of curses, particularly Aveed Zaar who was better known as the Squid king.
Grik thanked her and headed towards the main gates.
Meanwhile Shanna ‘s search led her to the Gate Ward and she found that a tiefling in a wagon had departed the city 30 minutes previously. She picked up the other Shields and they headed for the gate, running into Grik as he left the city.
Shanna roamed ahead of the group to follow the wagon and soon caught up with the old, creaking, arcane symbol covered conveyance. Between Shanna and the wagon was another traveller, Halva. Shanna got her attention and stopped her, they then waited for the rest of the group.
Grik told her of her pregnancy, to which she responded "who’s the father?" she then began laughing and embraced Grik while the rest of the party laughed at Grik’s hurt expression and reaction.
Unfortunately they had not moderated their sounds and Shanna noticed the cart had stopped ahead.
Shanna moved close and spotted someone in the fields some 300 feet away heading away from the wagon. Shanna gave chase.
The rest of the Shields approached the wagon and Grik opened the door. There was a magical darkness inside obscuring everything. He called out and then the darkness dropped. There was a cloaked figure with it’s head covered at the front of the wagon compartment holding a Longbow which had an arrow half-cocked dripping acidic venom.
Victoria called for the figures surrender but was rebuked. Berradin cast a flaming storm on the wagon front blowing up most of the wagon’s walls. The creature fired an arrow at Berradin in response, which invaded him with an hallucinogenic toxin which made him believe that his weapons/implements were covered in snakes, and he dropped them.
Grik began an avenging charge as the cloaked figures hood came loose and fell back revealing a Medusa. Grik froze in place and began a transformation into stone. Dinnan threw daggers and Victoria teleported behind the monster, stabbing it repeatedly, but she too began to succumb to the medusa’s horrific gaze power.
Dinnan acted quickly and blinded the monster giving the team a temporary respite.
Meanwhile Shanna had caught the “tiefling” and was marching him back to the wagon, on threat of painful death. Shanna began firing when within 200’ of the wagon as her companions fought off petrification and finally killed the medusa, her parting words were "Torog is not finished with you. He will get you algurgle gurgle splutter, as Dinnan threw a dagger into her throat. She then turned to stone.
They interrogated the tiefling , who returned to his changeling form, who informed them that he was on a mission to take the medusa to the fell court as a gift and infiltrate the, to get them to make a dimension sphere, a purple-blue artifact. The eladrin heart he had taken was in a strongbox which had melted in the battle.
The Shields discussed the threat and Berradin muttered Torog’s name many times, Berradin then collapsed and saw through Torog’s eyes, into a dark chamber filled with demonoids. Torog stated " The key, I have found them at last, now I know how to break this lock" and Berradin returned from his vision.
The Shields took the changeling to Hammerfast and turned him over to the guards, the sergeant on duty pointed out that they had a second one in protective custody, one they had found badly injured in an alleyway a day ago.
The Shields went with Dongal, a very dull guard, to the cells and found Thrax in a secure cell. Thrax had been discovered as an infiltrator of Torog’s cult by the other changeling, who could recognise his consciuos thoughts. The changeling had left him for dead, luckily Thrax had put his heart on the other side of his body.
The shields got Thrax out, went back to the red carpet tavern, and debated what to do next.
A flamboyant tiefling entered the tavern and approached them, sitting down amongst them, drawing a cup of ale and putting his feet up. he introduced himself as Danoffrio, the owner of CarniVale, and the person who had sent Dinnan to help them tonight. He was a friend of Mal and had become aware that the Fell Court had plans to kill her and the Shields. He had assigned Dinnan to help protect them, after he did his opening night’s performance. He invited all of them to see the show.
Dinnan put on a breathtaking acrobatic/knife-throwing performance while the Shields drank ale and shared sweetmeats with Danoffrio. He seemed to have his fingers in many pies and suggested that they seek out the court in Fallcrest with Dinnan’s help. They considered going to Fallcrest where the fell court’s main operation is located and try to draw out the fell court using Grik and some of the better known Shields as bait, to deal with their threat.

They also plan to go to the Academy and offer to use the skyship as a training boat for the academy, using some of it’s students as crew and giving them real world experience.

Message from Mal
Mal gets the word out ?

After arriving at Hammerfast, Berradin receive a sending spell from Mallendathor [Mal]

‘Watch your backs. Trouble might be coming for you. If you run into a hornface called Danoffrio, you can trust him. As long as you-’ Message terminates.

Berradin then receives a second sending spell from Mal

‘You mean I got cut off? Well, send another one! What – oh, right. Um, say this. It’s very important that you just make sure that-’ Message terminates.

Message to Mal
Thoughts between friends

Mal woke up from a deep sleep suddenly. She had a disquieting feeling that someone was in her head.

“Sorry for the unexpected sending my lady. You have stirred up trouble once more. Stay out of the vale, I will warn your friends. Danoffrio”


Memories surfaced of a serious tiefling face with smiling eyes placing a key and a three-headed flail through her cell bars, a jaunty wave, and then the thief was gone out of the arena.


Spoken of by the arena’s masters in hushed tones, an enemy that was against their holy cause. A laughing jackal who plundered their customers and who seemingly led his own organisation, dedicated to breaking the devilsworn.

Torog muses
Thoughts from Below!

I tire of this imprisonment. Trapped by trickery, some fey weaving that holds ME down.
Gathering power is not enough. MY enemies are on the move, gathering weapons and knowledge that could conceivably threaten even ME.
One of them even has the audacity to link with ME, to see through MY eyes. A little conniving spy. Oh his grandfather suffers for that!
MY minions are at the DawnForge. The hidden treasures and secrets will be MINE.

The Demon Prince’s servant plans to acquire a bronze golem from some petty mages, then he will be ready to lead one of the legions.

There will be a reckoning.

Do you hear me Kundrothgrobathechstumpler?

things we learnt between sessions
time passed and secrets were revealed

Rhianna was cursed into being a hag after being taken by a cyclops raiding party while out picking flowers near the river.
Shadrach has gifted the Red Carpet Tavern to Mourn.
Shadrach and Cerulathillian have recruited new members for their Highborn heroes.
Stasi has returned to Harrigan Keep to get back to his inventions.
Halva has been regularly ill, especially mornings.
Rhianna has chosen to help out at the Red Carpet Tavern in exchange for room and board.
Rhianna still plans to have Berradin keep his promise :)

Mike Sims questions And my Cerulathillian question to Darren is…
…wasn’t he demon possessed? And the party was aware of this? Yes and Yes. (You met him at Gardmore Abbey at the tower of madness – plus an appearance inside Makkathran the Red Dragon’s chamber)
You said a while ago:
“Mourn is now chief bartender/manager of the Red Carpet Tavern, whilst Shadrach and Halva (with Rezzhine in tow) now seek out Cerulathillian’s demon possessed body.”
Didn’t want to raise it unless it is so… because it’s a pretty big deal if it is so.
How did the Highborn Heroes free him from this possession? That is their story to tell :)

And I second Ivan’s query… why were people upset? You’d be upset too if someone that was known to be demon possessed was in your bar, and if Mourn was now the bar owner :) Seriously though, most people would be suspicious and superstitious if someone that had been known to be controlled by a demon was in their presence. The Highborn Heroes were so happy to have their friend back that they didn’t care. Shadrach could tell this made people uncomfortable so he traded the bar to Mourn. The HH will now get back to what they love doing.

Prologue - Anvil of War
The group rest and recover.

Halva interrupted Mourn’s story “You tell them that we are back first, then tell them that we were captured”, she informed him in exasperation.
She shook her head [and smiled at Grik, then winked], “The demons were expecting intruders so put up a hell of a fight. But we got them all and returned another tower to Myth Drannor’s inventory. Plus we got an awesome reward.” Halva gestured towards the back rooms. Shadrach came through the saloon style doors leading a smiling, armoured Eladrin. “We got back our lost friend
The Eladrin turned his head your way smiling. “I have heard so much about all of you. Pleased to meet you.”

Giant Sized Man-Thing
Our heroes attempt to have Jonas's transformation curse reversed and leave the Darkwild before their pursuers reach them.

The party moved as fast as they could, through the thickly forested mangrove swamp, away from the tree prison where they had rescued Jonas. Sounds of alarm and pursuit could be heard all around them as they followed Lumus [the blazing skull] through the Darkwild to reach the home of the hag who had cursed Jonas.
They were caught by a bunch of Quicklings[superfast halfing-like grey skinned creatures] armed with razor-sharp short swords who made lightning-fast passing strike attacks on the group. The group dispatched many of the little horrors, and the survivors turned tail when their leader, Xixxit, was killed.
The Shields made their way to the hag’s home and found her perched on a high branch of an ancient, massively built tree. The tree had branches and vines trailing through the bog around it.
Berradin chose to parley with the hag, who offered to help remove Jonas’s curse in exchange for time spent [sic] with Berradin, alone. Another condition, was that the party would take her with them. Berradin agreed to the deal as he did not mind discussing magic with her :)
The hag then explained that she was a prisoner of the tree, a Hangman tree, and that the local flora and fauna would need to be defeated before she could leave. At that point the swamp came alive with enemies.
Three fey-tree spiders and a shambling mound of swamp moss attacked the party while the hangman tree attempted to grab people with its vines. The spiders sprayed acidic venom while the hag’s “son” laid about him with his tree trunk fists. Grik was taken by the tree and “swallowed” to be digested within its interior.
The Shields fought mightily and started to take out the spiders, as Lumus cheered for the swamp things. Shanna was not pleased by his attitude and made it known to the flaming head. Lumus then chose to act and began to fire gouts of flame from his eye sockets at the nimble elf.
The tree was unable to begin the digestion process on Grik and so “spat” him out.
Shanna sighted many red caps weaving their way through the high scrub towards the party’s location. She could also spot some giant fomorians and a black dragon also closing in on their position.
The Shields managed to mop up the enemy and then began to prepare to leave the feywild using the Purple-Blue travel sphere in ’Droth’s possession. With Berradin’s help, ‘Droth managed to activate the dimension-warping property of the device and the group materialised back on the prime material plane. The hag’s personal curse ended and she was once more a beautiful, tragic eladrin maiden. This also ended the curse of horrific transformation on Jonas.
They found that they were on a very small island in the Wailing Sea, about 10 miles from the mainland. Off in the distance, to the west, could be seen a large mountain range, the Mithral Mountains, and beyond them lay the Dawnforge Mountains and the Nentir Vale.
Using their magical sea-snake figurine of wondrous power, six of the party went to the mainland depositing four of the Shields, and the remaining two returned to the island to pick up their stranded members.
Grik, Jonas, Rhianna [the ex-hag] and Serina waited on the mainland for the rest of their party but soon realised they were close to a village. They went to investigate, and found the flag of Grik’s previous mercenary company hoisted at the town’s front gates. There were several young men standing on guard, they were not very professional and were happy to let the party know that most of the mercenaries were dead but one of the survivors was now mayor of the town.
Grik and co. made their way to the town square and were directed by a merchant to the mayor’s house. A mercenary there welcomed them and directed Grik to the mayor’s chambers, after he had removed his weaponry and left them under Jonas’s care.
The mayor was in actuality Grik’s mother but she didn’t react much to the presence of her only kin appearing in this backwater. She matter-of-factly told of her mercenary company’s battle with Sahuagin, to protect this area, which resulted in the almost complete destruction of her group. She said that she had decided to become mayor because she had a map to a large undersea grotto nearby, which legend said contained a fortune in plundered treasures. She was waiting for the seasons to change and the grotto to become accessible. She offered to bring Grik in on this “opportunity”.
While Grik met his mother the rest of the group arrived and were all given the town’s hospitality.
The next morning most of the part left to return to the Nentir Vale. Grik, Jonas and Mal stayed in the town. Grik promised to catch up once he had some more time with his mother.
It was a good week and a half’s travel but they were not challenged on their journey back. They returned through an old mountain trail in the Dawnforge Mountains which came out in the Talon Pass, near the old Nerathi prison.
It was almost two weeks since they had last seen Hammerfast and the group eagerly entered the Red Carpet Tavern with a well-earned thirst. The tavern was full of people but they were not revelling, they were all upset. Mourn mournfully told the party that the Highborn Heroes had been captured in the Myth Drannor lair assault that they had undertaken.

to be continued …

Darkoak Prison [interlude 3]
The Mastermind?

Plans are for the weak, he decided.
“Cerulathillian” surveyed the scene of battle and was not pleased.
The frozen, lifeless remains of Old One-eye mocked him. He angrily swung his fist into the statue and shattered it into flying pieces of ice-cold shrapnel.
“My plan should have worked”, he ruminated. “All the pieces had been put in place”
The half-fey had been easy to abduct. The mother was easily directed at “The Eldest” to seek help for her son. Adventurers had been present. They knew the Bard. They took the bait. They raided the prison.
And yet, the potion in his pocket would not be able to reignite the spark in the ancient fomorian, not now that he had been made into nothing more than a frozen treat.
“Wizards, Orcus how I hate them.” This was one of the worst he had the displeasure of ever meeting. An enemy of his current master, in a band of his master’s sworn enemies.
The delicious irony it would have been for them to procure him a fresh, new, more powerful form to use when he lead his battalion to the surface.
Now he would have to hope that he could acquire something a little more battle-friendly before the great push.
His real master would not reward him with portions of the Queen of the Dead, if he did not fully assist the crypt-crawler.
He stepped into the circle of blood he had drawn and disappeared from the Darkwild.

Darkoak Prison [interlude 2]
Enemies begin their chase to kill the adventurers first

Spriggan watched as his son dipped his cap into the blood of the dead Centaur laying before them.
A good hunt, and his son was now a warrior of the clan.
It did not get much better than this.
Then he heard the tree alarms from the Leafcage.
Spriggan eyed his pack, nodding his head to them.
The seasoned warriors pulled spiked iron nails over their boots.
Spriggan focused and the wind began to blow around him, a hot wind.
The trees whispered to him and he looked towards the center of the swamp.
“They’re headin fer the hag, curse-breaking be my guess. Let’s get movin, these elves won’t kill themselves.
Spriggan cracked his knuckles and patted his son on the shoulder.
“Lucky day for ye, not everyone gets to kill adventurers”


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