- Adrienne as Arden Silva, Human Rogue and Wilderness Guide
- Jay as Petrov Merrin, Human Wizard and Scholar
- Joe as Joryn Redstar, Human Cleric, Blacksmith, and Devoted Follower of Moradin
- Travis as Daxil “Dax” Loren, Human Rogue, Agent of the Librarians of Caleborn
- Wesley as Theran Lantadal (Treeskin), Wood Elf Druid, Healer, and Follower of the Spirits
The Ancient Hobgoblin Tower
The road eventually climbed its way slowly out of the Whitewood valley and up into the jagged foothills of the Northwall Mountains. There, the party discovered the place where the elven warband had been slaughtered, but the corpses had been dragged up the road. Soon enough, the party located them.
As a cold, driving rain cut at them, the party discovered an ancient black watchtower, covered with spiked battlements. There, impaled on the barbed iron spikes that protected the stout doors from being forced open from the outside, they found an elvish warrior woman. Her left hand had been removed and her left eye had been gouged out.
The party decided to enter the tower.
The tower itself was filled with the corpses of elven warriors, all with left hands removed and left eyes gouged out. In the lower level of the tower, though, they found someone else. A human corpse, dressed in black, unmarked soldier’s garb over chain mail. The human corpse had been gruesomely propped up as if sitting against the wall and a scroll case had been tied into his hand as if he were offering it to the party. Opening the scroll case, the party had no time to read the letter. The elven corpses were moving!
The party battled the shambling horde of elven zombies and, after they were dispatched, they read the note that had been left in the scroll case.
My Dear Vander,
I trust you are following me like a faithful little puppy, snapping at my heels. Good dog. To continue our little game, I have left you this subtle little hint of my passing. I hope a near score of elves is not too subtle for you to notice. We did not have to mutilate them (nor even to kill them), but I wanted to leave a trail even you couldn’t miss. So, you can add fifteen more innocents to the tally of lives that would not have been lost if you would just leave me alone.
However, I am not alone this time. I have powerful allies and I warn you that we may be too much for you this time. If you are wise, you will turn back from your foolish pursuit. By the time you manage to stumble upon me, we will be more dangerous than you can imagine. I hope you do not heed this warning. I relish the chance to have your corpse serve me for eternity.
If you insist on following (and you will), it is only fair I give you a sporting chance. After all, in the end, I so very much want you to find me. I owe you a great deal. So, consider this:
“What is it that disappears the moment you say its name?”
Muddle over that. If you are diligent in your pursuit, perhaps you will find more answers.
In the meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the little diversion my friends and I have planned for you.
Zyrant, Enigmatic of the Lord of Liches
After muddling over the note, the party explored the rest of the tower. In the cellar, they discovered that an ancient shrine to Bane had been walled up, but someone had recently broken through the wall and exposed it. In the shrine, apart from an ancient greatsword that had been left as an offering to the dark god of violent war and conquest, the party found a pile of hands and eyeballs surrounded by a magical circle. No doubt, this was the source of the zombies. Daxil and Petrov carefully unmade the magical circle while the rest of the party cleared the tower of the elven corpses and laid them to rest at Theran’s direction. Joryn, meanwhile, cleansed Bane’s shrine and offered the god a prayer, consecrating the holy site once more.
The Goblin Army
The party decided to shelter from the torrential rain of the evening in the tower. But as the night came on, the baying of wolves and sight of distant campfires lead them to realize the tower was being surrounded. As the party watched campfires spring up around the tower, staying just far enough to avoid any bowfire from the tower, they realized someone was digging in for a siege.
A goblin warlord and his honor guard approached the tower slowly. The party explored the tower, searching for a way out. As thunder and lightning rent the sky, Joryn discovered that the sword in the shrine of Bane was an enchanted blade that had once – ages ago – belonged to a hobgoblin commander. When grasped, the wielder could make his booming voice audible to all within several hundred feet.
Meanwhile, the party discovered an ancient secret passage beneath the tower that lead to a network of caves. However, instead of fleeing, they chanced negotiating with the goblins. They realized that the goblins were a downtrodden race, often enslaved by other races, and driven from their lands as a savage nuisance by the civilized races. If these goblins were offered respect and legitimacy, they might be willing to enter into a useful alliance.
Negotiating with the Goblin Chieftain, Gazrit the Bloodrinker, the party entered into an agreement with the goblin nation. The goblins would reclaim the tower and also have the right to impose a minor, fair tax on all trade passing along the road as agents of Baroness Aralayne. However, the goblins would then be responsible for keeping the road south of the Northwall Mountains safe for travellers and traders. In the end, Gazrit attempted to demand the ancient greatsword, but Joryn refused. However, the goblins still entered into a blood pact with him and the rest of the party on Baroness Aralayne’s behalf.
However, rather than simply abandoning the tower to the goblins, the party wanted a chance to search the caves beneath the tower. For the moment, they decided to keep the secret passage a secret from the goblins, intending to use it if the goblins ever became too much trouble and they needed a way to retake the tower.
The party explored the mazelike caves and discovered a passage marked with torch sconces, but they were unable to follow it completely as a bridge crossing a sizeable underground lake had collapsed. Finding an ancient skeleton and a ring bearing a Nerathi crest, the party conjectured that the caves were not used by the hobgoblins who built the tower, but rather by the Nerathi humans who adopted it about three or four hundred years prior. The explorers also turned up an untapped vein of copper ore which might be useful to mine. However, their explorations were cut short when Arden and Joryn were lost down a treacherous passage. The party was unable to recover their bodies, or the ancient magical sword, and retreated to the surface by way of a ravine hidden in a copse of trees. Theran memorized the location and Dax kept detailed notes in his journal so the party could find their way back if they ever wanted to.
Returning to the road and making camp for the night, the party encountered other travelers. Oreithyia “Thyia” Burke was a monk devoted to the Four Winds path and Ugarth was a half-orc mercenary. Both had been hired by Baroness Corianna Aralayne, but had come late to meet her and were sent along behind the main party. They were accompanied by an elvish guide, Valendil Thialaran (Dawnglow) who had helped them find their way through the forest to a ford across the river and into the hills. The party told Thyia and Ugarth everything that had happened while Valendil sat silently and listened. In the end, somewhat abruptly, Valendil excused himself to return to his allies now that the the pair had found their allies. He seemed a bit put off by the story of the goblins in the tower.
At one point, the party heard a bellowing roar and, looking overhead, they saw a mighty blue dragon winging off in the direction of the mountain pass. Dragons are fearsome creatures, as old as the world itself. Greedy, savage, egotistical, and quite powerful. This beast likely had a lair somewhere in the mountains.