(I’m not finished yet, but it may be a while before I get the last little bit done. So I thought I would go ahead and post it.)
After charging out of the wizards lair and back into the crypt filled with skeleton the group made easy work of the feeble skeletons. They then took the time to search the body of the fallen wizard, but not being trained in the arcane arts they are unable to determine if any of his possessions were magical in nature and so decide to take them all to the halfling wizard for a thorough inspection.
As they exit the crypt and enter back into the destroyed church they notice movement in the outer bailey. They quickly take cover and then observe before making a move. They see a group of five humans moving cautiously about about. All of them are dressed in hides and carry rather primitive looking arms and armor. Their leader wears a wolf headdress, clearly he is no warrior but the tribes shaman or a druid. Thorfin sees that the group is nervous and out of place, clearly unfamiliar with their surroundings and figures they have no connection with the hobgoblins of Castle Rivenroar. So he decides to come out of hiding, he hails the group, then tells them “By Moradin’s Hammer, we wish only to fight hobgoblins this day my friends”. The shaman smiles, and replies “it is fine weather for killing hobgoblins longbeard”, and after a brief pause he adds “we come for the same, and to find our people the hobgoblins took during a raid on our village a few days back”.
Thorfin suggests that the two groups take shelter from the cold in one of the towers and discuss matters further. The group catches the Shaman and his warriors up on the events of the day, and the fact that many of the prisoners have been sent on to other locations to be sacrificed. After this, the group returns to the main tower where Reverre and “Ruckus” are still guarding the portal room.
The others learn that while they were in the crypt the Halfling wizard, Reverre, has been busy copying the circles into his book. He tells the group that he has a plan to capture Sinruth. To do so means that he will have to return to Brindol with the guards and the towns people. “Given that we do not know when Sinruth will return we must act quickly” he tells them. “For when you return from rescuing the other prisoners you must destroy the return portal. Meanwhile I will be in Brindol, in the local prison recreating the circle with the help of friends. Once you have returned we will activate this new circle, an exact replica of the original. This way, when Sinruth returns he will teleport into the prison cell, and If we act quickly enough, we might be able to destroy the circle and trap him, then capture him alive.”
Everyone agrees that this plan sounds like a good one, but rescuing the prisoners from two different locations will take time and the group has been pushed to their limits, and besides no one know when Sinruth will return, it could be in two minutes or in two days. The plan is sound they all agree, but complications could arise.
Hellarr tells the rest of the group that while there is not enough time to go after all the prisoners as a single group, it might be possible if they split up. He suggests that it might be best if he went to the goblin camp alone. He could infiltrate easily enough and attempt to locate and rescue the prisoners and return with them to Brindol on foot. “It will not be an easy task, but it is one I feel I must do, to save both the people of Brindol and my own people from he lies and evil plans of Sinruth. If you do not trust me after all I have done this day, then I do not know what will convince you of my honorable intentions, and I will not set out on this task” he tells them.
The group asks Hellarr to step outside while they discuss his plan, as clearly not everyone present trusts the goblin. After he leaves the group discusses his proposal and their options. They then speak with the shaman Ulthgar. They ask him if he would be willing to send some or all of his warriors after Hellarr, they could watch from a distance, hiding in the woods while Hellarr attempts to rescue the prisoners. If he betrays the group or warns the goblins, the warriors could flee back to Castle Rivenroar and then send a messenger to Brindol for reinforcements and of his treachery. Meanwhile, the group will lose the services of Hellarr and Reverre, and could use someone skilled in the art of magic. Ulthgar reluctantly agrees, after all his men are all warriors of the tribe and capable of taking care of themselves. Also, he knows that some of his own people are likely to be at both locations, based on what the group has already told him about the hobgoblins.
Hellarr returns and the group tells him that they agree with his plan, and they send him through the portal alone. They wait nearly a half an hour after he leaves and then send the warriors of the Ulthgar’s clan after him to wait and watch.
The rest of the group beaten and tired from the days fighting agree to take a rest as it is already late in the evening. They return back downstairs after posting a guard in the circle room and find food and drink before getting some sleep. The night is uneventful and they all wake early in the morning, ready their gear and eat. They watch the portal for the first signs of dawn, and when the first rays of the sun break over the horizon they make the jump through the portal to the ancient ruins in an unknown land.
As they step through the teleportation circle the group finds themselves in what remains of an ancient temple. A fierce, unseasonably warm wind whips wildly through their hair and clothes. The force of the wind forces them back a half step before they regain their balance. It is a good thing too, because as they recover, they take the chance to look around and can see that the temple is located on the edge of a sheer cliff that plummets over a 1000 ft. straight down. A quick scan of the horizon reveals that they are at the highest point for as far as anyone can see. There is nothing below them other than what appears to be piles of rubble and sparse areas of vegetation. They realize that they can only be in one place, the Stonehome Chasm. So they quickly move ahead and down the worn and broken steps that lead up to the temple into the grass below before another strong wind can knock them off the cliff. They still have the advantage of height in this facing as well, and judging from the view in this direction, the splinter they are on is probably about 3 to 5 miles in diameter. The hill slopes downward into thick jungle, beyone that lies a steep ridge, and beyond that another jungle covered hill with overgrown ruins.
The grass is thick and obscures the hobs passage but after of bit of searching the Shaman spots the trail. The group then makes its way through the dense jungle for about an half hour following the trail of the hobgoblins. Finally the thick jungle gives way to a small clearing at the base of the ridge they spotted when they arrived. The group stops and takes a short rest, as they sit on an old log they see that at the far end of the clearing there is a old tunnel, it is partially obscured by hanging vines, but clearly visible. The hobgoblin tracks lead toward the tunnel. As they approach the tunnel Ulthgar and Erik both spot a second set of tracks coming in from the right side of the clearing. These tracks head toward the tunnel as well. After a bit of further observation, Erik and Ulthgar determine that the tracks of the 5 humanoids are newer than the hobgoblin tracks, as they overlay the hob tracks in many spots. Ulthgar also spots a set of tracks of a four legged creature with claws, but he and Erik have never seen these type of tracks before and do not know what type of creature made them. These tracks follow the previous set of tracks into the tunnel, but the trail is more sparodic, as if the creature were alternating between walking and leaping, or possibly flying. It appears that this creature is stalking the second group of humanoids.
The group is now quite wary about entering the tunnel, but as they stand in front of the 10ft. wide tunnel they can see daylight on the other end, indicating that it is a straight shot through to the other side of the ridge. The tunnel looks to be several hundred feet long with no debris in the way. The group contemplates climbing over the ridge but after looking up and seeing again how steep it is they decide to go ahead and go through the tunnel, time constraints being what they are.
The group passes through to the tunnel with no problems until they reach the far end. About 50 ft. from the exit they find that a portion of the tunnel looks to have partially collapsed and was shored up at some point. Timbers criss-cross the passageway at awkward angles and in order to move any further down the tunnel the group must pick their way carefully through the timbers. To make matters worse these timbers are rotted and look to be structurally unsound, touching one of them could bring the whole tunnel collapsing down on top of them. Jason takes the lead as he is the smallest and most agile of the group. He attempts to find the easiest way through using his skills as a keen observer and a cat burgler. The dwarves follow behind, using their knowledge of construction to point out to him which beams are load bearing and those which can be moved without causing problems. As they come closer to the end of the tunnel the light of day and the dust on the floor allows them to simply follow the tracks of the two groups who came before them.
The jungle on this side of the tunnel proves to be slightly more hospitable and easier to traverse. The trail is easy to follow and visibility is much greater. After walking a short distance the ground ahead rises slightly and they see, perched on a rock outcropping, with his back to them a red dragon wyrmling. Everyone in the group stops immediately and scans the area to see if there is anything else here, or if the wyrmling is alone as they suspect. The group notices that the wyrmling is watching something or someone rather intently, presumably the group of humanoids it was stalking. With a set of quick hand motions the group communicates with each other that they need to attack before they lose the element of surprise. Thorfin, “Ruckus”, and Jason all charge ahead while Erik covers their charge with several arrows from his bow. Ulthgar begins a chant to summon the spirits of his ancestors to help aid his allies. The group catches the wyrmling off guard and land several blows wounding him. The dragon manages to take flight but does not flee, instead he circles around and as he does, he envelopes the two dwarves and the halfling in a gout of flame. He then uses both of his claws to rake Jason, wounding the halfling badly. Thorfin and “Ruckus” are quick to recover and both land blows on the wyrm. “Ruckus” surprises the dragon by hitting it with his shield and knocking it out of the air. The wrym now desperate, again uses its breath in attempt to kill the group but does not succeed. It is then beaten down by several more blows and killed before it can take to the air again.
After slaying the wyrmling the group catch the sounds of combat off in the distance ahead. The ringing crash of steel on steel, the grunts, groans, curses and the screams of the dying fill the air. When they reach the edge of the cliff in front of them, they can clearly see the combatants below fighting on what appears to be the ruins of an ancient paved road or pathway. To there left is a trail and a barely discernable set of stairs that winds it way down to the far left portion of the old road. A large crack, no doubt caused by the great cataclysm that created the Stonehome chasm, splits the road in two. A rope bridge spans the divide providing access to the other side. To the right, a shorter section of road leads a crumbling set of stone stairs flanked by long destroyed statues. The group to the left is composed of four humans and a dwarf, opposite them are eight goblins and behind them are eight flying drakes. The drakes are tied to various bits stone rubble; saddles, packs, and gear indicate that they are the goblins mounts. Between the two groups lie four dead hobgoblins and six cowering prisoners. The two groups are conversing at sword point in a mix of common and goblin.
It appears that both groups seemed to have surprised the hobs and been surprised by their presence, as if they were unexpected. Each group is accusing the other of working with the hobs in order to ambush the other, but each group seems baffled by the presence of the wimpering crying prisoners. This is probably the only thing keeping them from attacking each other. Jason notices that the humans have a fair sized chest behind them, and that the strange looking goblins have several crude crates with them. He tells the rest of the group “this has all the hallmarks of a shady deal gone bad”, and “I should know” he smiles wrily.
Erik suggests that the group wait and observe for a while, “maybe they’ll kill each other off” he shrugs. The others agree and the group finds better cover to observe the unfolding scene undetected.
After a short while the lead human swordsman grabs one of the prisoners and begins to interrogate her. The group is too far away to overhear the conversation, but after a minute the man smiles and puts his weapon away. His men and the goblins follow suit and they begin to conduct their business. The chest and the crates are brought forward, and each group, in turn, starts to inspects the goods the other brought.
Thorfin and “Ruckus” mutter profanities and tell the rest of the group to get ready to charge in.
Erik and Jason pull the dwarves back down, telling them that they may still have a chance to get these two groups to do their work for them. The others listen to their plan and the group smiles as they move quickly but silently down the old stairs and across the cobble stone road to the jungle beyond. Once there the ranger Erik moves up closer to the edge of the cliff, followed by Jason. Erik checks the angle again and sees that when he fires his arrow at the goblins it should look as though it came from the human archer, who still holds his bow in his hand. Jason hands him one of the goblin arrows he took the day before, “irony” he tells the ranger. Erik lines up the shot again and releases the arrow. It sails across the chasm, past the human archers right shoulder, over the goblin leaders head and strikes the goblin on the stairs just behind him between the eyes. The shaft of the arrow penetrates through the skull and into his brain,the goblin falls forward hitting the goblin leader in the back as he dies. Confused and surprised the goblin leader draws his sword and gives the order to attack, his soldiers are on the humans in an instant. The dwarf with the group is hacked to pieces by three goblins before he can pull his weapon. His companions, being a little further back are able to defend themselves better and after the shock and surprise has worn off, they payback the goblins by killing several of them.
As the two groups fight one another, Erik and Jason both shoot the human archer in the back. The man drops his bow as he flails about trying to pull the arrows from his back. Thorfin joins in and fires several shots from his crossbow as well but ranged combat is not one of his better skills. The leader of the humans covers his second, as the other man grabs the chest and drags it backwards. The goblins likewise retrieve their crates and begin to drag them up the stairs while the other cover them. Quite suddenly the din of combat is drowned out by a loud and ominous roar originating from up the hill directly behind the goblins. The sound gives everyone a moment of pause as they steal a look in that direction to evaluate a possible new threat. In the trees above hundred of birds take flight in a great flock adding to the noise and confusion. The source of the roar is easily spotted though, four red dragon wyrmling come screaming full speed down the hill. Followed by a swarm of winged kobolds flying clumsily in pursuit of their wards. In this moment everything changes, the goblins flee to their drakes and the airship crew across the bridge.
After crossing over the rope bridge the leader of the airship crew cuts the supporting ropes of the bridge. Hoping that the six screaming prisoners would provide an ample distraction to the dragons and delay their pursuit of his crew. Hayden Blackstone, smiled to himself as he turned his back on the helpless, screaming prisoners. So engrossed in congratulating himself on his own brilliant plan, that he was unable to do anything more than stare, as a wild looking man dressed in hide armor ran past him and jumped the span of the chasm. Nor in that instant of confusion, was he able to make sense of the fact that a strange dwarf was now standing over the dead body of his best swordsman, Flint Audeley, clutching a bloody petrified arm? Or that to his right charging out of the jungle was a second dwarf, axe swinging overhead, that was about to end his life.
Ulthgar jumped with all his might, but realized as soon as he was in the air that he would not make the distance. Instead of landing safely on the other side, he hit the edge of the far cliff, knocking the wind out of his lungs. He did manage to grab hold and pull himself up to safety. The pain in his ribs was excruciating though, probably broken, or at the very least cracked. He winced in pain as tried to stand straight.
Jason moved deftly past “Ruckus” who was working his axe back and forth trying to pull it out of the skull of the man who cut the rope bridge. Wasting no time he dropped his pack and pulled out his grappling hook and rope. He threw it down to the bridge below, which had come to rest on a tangle of vines and pulled it back up as far as he could. Soon Erik was beside him with his own rope and hook, using it to pull up the other side of the bridge.
Ulthgar’s spirit helper, if he could be really called a “helper”, chided him for being a weakling. “Shut up you lying old bastard, you said I could easily make that jump with your help” he said to Golgor, before remembering that openly speaking to the spirit of his former mentor and friend tended to make the uninitiated uncomfortable. His priority was to get these people to safety. So he stood up as straight as possible and shouted sternly “come with me, if you want to live”. It wasn’t often that he got to play the role of hero being a tribal shaman he thought to himself, he kind of liked it. He was about to give his best macho pose, but the six, panicked prisoners fled past him onto the rope bridge. As they did so, one of them bumped into his cracked rib and he doubled over in pain instead.
Jason and Erik were just searching for somewhere to tie off their ropes when the six panicked people fled across it with no thought of anything but reaching the other side. The two braced themselves as best they could but six people was to much weight on the bridge at once, and far more than they could hold. The rope burned as it slipped through their fingers but the two dug deep, ignoring the pain as best they could. They were both drug across the old cobble stone road to the edge of the cliff as the bridge and the people on it fell. “Ruckus” and Thorfin each grabbed hold of the ropes and helped stop the momentum of the falling bridge. Then the four heaved up the bridge and its six occupants, bidding them to exit quickly. The shaman, Ulthgar stood up as best he could and ran across the bridge quickly after the others had made it across.
The group seeing that the wyrmlings were almost on them, dropped the ropes and fled into the jungle with the six rescued prisoners. Erik took point to make sure that the group followed the correct trail back, time was of the essence and any mistake could cost them all their lives. Behind him came Jason who kept Erik in sight, but stayed just off the main trail and under cover, and bid those behind him to do the same. “Ruckus” came behind him, followed by the six prisoners. Thorfin, who had stopped only long enough to pick up the airship crews chest and throw it up on one shoulder, was behind them. Ulthgar followed behind them all, using a tree branch to obscure their tracks.
The wyrmlings criss-crossed over the trail looking for what only moments ago had been easy prey. Their shadows giving the group cause for alarm, but the groups measures prevented them from being spotted to easily and they were able to get close to the old tunnel before the wyrms spotted and zeroed in on them.
As they neared the tunnel “Ruckus” remembered that this end of the tunnel was supported by rotted beams and on the verge of collapse. There was no way they could make it through without collapsing the tunnel, not with the dragons on their tails at any rate. In that instant he had an idea, it was crazy he thought to himself, but it just might save them all. He slowed his pace, letting the others pass him by until his was running next to Thorfin. Soon the two dwarves were running with the chest between them. “Slow your pace Erik”, he yelled out. “Let us run through the tunnel first. Then rest of you laggards come in right behind us. Don’t look up…don’t look behind you, just run like the Nine Hells just opened up behind you!” he shouted.
The two dwarves entered the tunnel, chest between them and their shields on the opposite arm. Heads turned to the side, they put the full weight of their shoulders behind their shields and began battering their way through the supporting beams of the tunnel. Suddenly the ceiling began to rumble and shake,dust and small bits of debris began to fall. This was followed shortly by a low rumble that built up to a deafening roar as large peices of stone and debris began to fill the passage under were the support beams had just been. As the lead dragon flew into the opening of the tunnel a thousand tons of stone began to rain down. Not being able to change his course quickly enough he was buried and smashed below the weight of the falling rubble. The other wyrms turned up in time and exploded out of the dust cloud created by the collapsing tunnel. Spotting the goblins just as they were about to clear the ridge, the dragons sped after them in search of easier, less cunning prey.
Covered inside and out with fine gray dust the group exited the tunnel, and alternated between gasping for breath and hacking to get the dust out. When they finished the two dwarves fell to the ground and rolled over onto their backs and both let out a whoop. They lay on ground laughing like insane idiots until Erik and Jason spotted the dragons overhead tearing into the flock of fleeing goblins and their drakes, ripping one then another asunder. While it was a breath taking spectacle aerial prowess to behold, they decided their time would be better spent running to the temple at the top of the hill, instead of watching dragons make sport of goblins.
The group makes it’s way back through the jungle to the ruined temple where they arrived. Just as they break from the cover of the jungle a large shadow crosses their path. The look up and see an airship bearing down on them. The crew of the airship is armed with crossbows and begins to fire at the group. The PC’s flee under the airship and out of harms way. While under the airship Ruckus uses his Blunderbuss to put a large hole in the airships baloon, and Ulthgar the Shaman calls upon vengeful spirits that further damage the ship. The airship out paces the group and as it reaches the top of the hill it slows to a hover and drops off a dozen cut-throats, the begins to circle back around, losing altitude.
The group charges into the airship pirates. As combat ensues the airships captain circles the ship around, trying to bring his cannons to bear before being forced to land. The Raiders of Rivenroar manage to get themselves into position and teleport away before the airship fires it’s cannons. As the PC’s dissapear, the airship lands and dozens of men disembark. One crew sets to repairing the balloon while the other heads up the hill to investigate the teleporation circle.