The Heroes of Brindol

Battle in the Library

With most of the witch’s allies heavily wounded or dead… and the witch herself bleeding profusely, the battle ended pretty quickly in favor of the Big Damn Heroes. Despite the loud ruckus caused by the heroes in Sarshan’s library, the arguing voices on the other side of the western door did not come to investigate.

Ravavyr quickly donned the bloodied robes of the dead witch and mimicked the voice of the fallen hag with enough accuracy to fool a trio of gloomwrought swordsmen and a dark creeper that had been arguing with them. Rather than jump straight into another fight, the heroes slunk back into the library after being “dismissed” by the dark creeper.

Another door to the northeast let to a small kitchen and a set of stairs up to an alchemist’s laboratory. With no one to stop them, the heroes pressed on and came to an indoor garden of sorts with a massive hole in the center of the room. The hole appeared to lead back down to the area where the dark creeper and the swordsmen were still arguing.

Back in the gardens, a trio of rot scarab swarms poured out of several bushes and enveloped the heroes. A gigantic, shadetouched beetle, appeared to be the smaller scarab swarms progenitor. It trundled out of a large, evergreen bush and was promptly sliced and diced and left for dead without ever having chanced upon giving a wound.

Midway through the battle, the trio of gloomwrought swordsmen levitated up through the hole in the floor from the ground floor. Ravavyr, still in the guise of the witch, managed to convince them to aid her with her “experiment” and disperse the swarms of rot scarabs. After the last swarm was finished, Clarissa turned on the gloomwrought swordsmen… but her attacks were defeated at every turn, leaving Skardreg a choice….

… join with Clarissa and slaughter the shadowtouched swordsmen or try to get Clarissa to heel and stop attacking.

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Into Sarshan's Tower

After recovering from their ordeal in the Dark Foundry, the heroes, led by Skardreg, made their way towards the entrance to Sarshan’s tower, the seat of power in Umbraforge. Hanging from the half-orc’s backpack is the severed head of the dark creeper, Modra.

The secret door leading into the tower however, stymies the warrior and Francis steps up to have a look at it. The warlock tries to finagle the mechanism to open the door, but the complexity is beyond his grasp. Clarissa reaches up to the wall from behind the warlock and flips a hidden lever within the clockwork mechanisms with the tip of her rapier. A quick jab and the door opens, revealing a cluttered library.

The dim light in the library reveals a number of potential enemies. Skardreg lifts the head of Modra and shouts, “We’ve brought proof of Modra’s death and want to see Sarshan!” Whether out of confusion or simply due to orders, the shadowed warriors and their witch leader launch an attack on Skardreg and the rest of the group.

The half-orc warrior barrels into the library, shield leading, and slams one of the shadar-kai into a tall bookshelf. Clarissa weaves between her allies and drives another of the shadar-kai away from the entrance, making room for the others to move in. Both notice something off with the bookshelves and then Clarissa spots the rows of tiny holes in each shelf. The witch in the other room activates the trap and soon, black bolts of shadow are flying through the room in a thick web of pain and suffering.

Clarissa is oddly unaffected by the bolts… Skardreg is nearly pinned as one of the warriors he faces pulls a bookcase over onto the half-orc. The heroes then started toppling bookshelves left and right, trying to pin or daze their targets, but doing little more than spilling books all over the floor and making it difficult to move. This did however, end the threat of the trap for the time being.

Francis blinked through time and space after the death of the first shadow-touched warrior, putting himself into mortal danger as he revealed the presence of several more trapped bookshelves. Clarissa tried to dodge and weave her way through the mass of enemies, but was wounded heavily by the attempt. After she reached the side of the Warlock, she went to work on the trap and disabled it.

Meanwhile, Skardreg and Longbeard had cornered the witch and the remaining shadow-touched warrior while Ravavyr paired off against the Gloomblade. Longbeard leapt up onto a thick oaken table and drove his axe blade deep into the witches shoulder. She looked towards the nearest door, as if to attempt escape, but was blocked by both Skardreg and Longbeard right next… and Francis and Clarissa at the door.

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Battle for the Dark Foundry

As the ominous rumbling continued to shake the foundry and surrounding environs, the Big Damn Heroes continued their assault on Modra and his shadowgoblin allies. The last of the foul liquid drained from the massive vat on the far wall, which Clarissa avoided by rolling beneath the pipe and charging the archers to the south that were peppering her comrades with arrows.

A brutal bite from her wolfen maw left one archer reeling in pain. He lost his footing and tumbled over the edge of the bridge he had been using to get a clear view of the combat along the eastern wall of the foundry. Skardreg and Longbeard leapt into the fray, their axes hewing shadowgoblin heads from necks and cleaving bodies in twain.

Francis and Reniss ducked under the pipes to follow a few of the shadow-touched goblins when Modra made his appearance finally, hurling a dagger at the warlock. Wired remained atop of the pipes, risking being out in the open and a target for the archers or Modra’s hurled knives to be able to aid all his allies.

Clarissa finished off one of the archers that had drawn a heavy mace from his belt. She growled and nudged the burnt and stinking corpse back into the lava to be disposed of and then charged across the bridge to deal with the other archer. Rather than risk its precarious position on top of a stack of crates, the shadowgoblin archer hopped down to try and put them between him and the black-furred, golden-eyed wolf bearing down on him.

Skardreg and the others pursued Modra, but were temporarily blinded by a thick cloud of midnight black magic that left them stumbling around, avoiding the lava only by the heat it was putting off. The other archer fell to the gleaming rapier, stolen from Aramis of the Diamond League by Clarissa. The thief then joined her allies in the pursuit of Modra, but was frustrated by the shadow magic the dark creeper used to bar their sight.

A scrape of stone, barely heard over the tectonic rumblings and the clank and grinding roar of gears and chains in the foundry, was Clarissa’s only clue when her all out assault met no resistance. The foul Modra had fled. After calling on the aid of the Longbeard and relying on his knowledge of earth and stone and the working of both, Clarissa and the others were able to open the secret door Reniss had told them about and gave chase to Modra.

The crafty creeper had almost given them the slip when Reniss pointed out the tracks doubled back and vanished at a point halfway down the seldom used secret tunnel that led from the foundry to Sarshan’s tower. After a long while, the heroes were able to open a second secret door and confront Modra for the final time. The blood from his corpse stained the dust covered flagstones of the hidden sanctuary.

Weary and wary of pushing into the tower to find Sarshan, the heroes opted to seal the sanctuary and take an extended rest to recover from the tortuous ordeal of fighting in the foundry, where the fumes and heat from the lava flowing through had taken its toll.

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Into Umbraforge...

The heroes quickly decided to leave the obsidian shrine, lest whomever fled so quickly returns with greater numbers. From the mouth of the cavern, they traveled a road that ran in a curving line to the north. Less than half a mile away, a military camp spread out with a few buildings scattered amongst a field of canvas tents and cook fires.

Above it all, looms a mountainous rise of black rock and flowing magma shot through with black as night energy. The magma flows ’neath a massive stone bridge and through a low building set in the shadow of a tall tower. The camps and markets of Umbraforge are bustling with activity.

Halfway to the camps, the heroes take refuge in an old, abandoned tower… but it is for naught as a keen eyed drow able to hear the heartbeat of a field mouse at a hundred paces calls out to the group. “I hear you there and you should know sellswords, there’s nothing for you to scrounge up in that ruined tower. Get back to the camps or be shot.”

Skardreg and the others quickly leave the ruins of the tower and knuckle their foreheads in mimed subservience, glad to be mistaken for some of the many mercenaries that have been hired for some great task. Once inside the perimeter of the camp, all but Wired breathe a little easier. The anonymity of the virtual city of tents and open air taverns and markets around the tower will make it easier to blend in with the crowd and seek out information on Modra.

Clarissa and Ravavyr quickly slink off into the markets and wander the slave bazaar to pry information from the crowds and the merchants that fleece the unwary of their coin and wealth. They gather a little information about Sarshan and the weapons trades, but little else.

Skardreg, Longbeard, and Francis head over to the training grounds and find a pair of ogres and a rather large beetle eager for a fight. After one of the ogres is slain and the beetles shell cracked and split open, the remaining ogre yields and provides the three with information about Modra and the bounty on his head.

They are then approached by a slender elven woman who names herself, Reniss. She has noticed that Skardreg and the others don’t seem to share the same motivation as the rest of the mercenaries in the camps of Umbraforge. She quietly asks that Skardreg and the others meet her at a Hobberts Tavern later that evening.

Over a meal and some mead, the heroes meet with this archer and she tells them that she too is hunting the dark creeper, Modra, for having slain her sister. Reniss also passes on information that Morda is planning to sabotage the foundry at the center of Umbraforge the next day. After a bit of discussion, the heroes agree to let Reniss accompany them to the foundry.

Once there, the archer provides valuable information about a secret entrance into the foundry, which gives them the chance to ambush the creepers inside. A fierce battle erupts as the heroes interrupt the creepers, which are gathered around key points within the foundry, breaking valves, twisting pipes, and loosening fittings and attachments.

An ominous rumble and tremor that shakes the foundry and all within foretells of doom and disaster.

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Portals, Portals, and more Portals

Though the battle looked somewhat grim for the Big Damn Heroes… the table was soon turned on the shadar-kai witch and her dark creeper allies. Clarissa bounded to the floor and back to the top of the wagon with the caged shadow hound, preventing the dark creepers or the shadar-kai witch from releasing the second hound.

Skardreg shook off the shadowed curse cast upon him by the witch and with the aid of Ravavyr and Longbeard, battered two the creepers into submission and left to bleed out. Francis and Clarissa hounded the witch, and after the creepers were taken care of… Longbeard joined the fray, sending the shadar-kai spellcaster fleeing into an adjoining room.

She ran towards a free-standing arch in the center of white marbled room, one corner of the room partially collapsed. “Claws of shadow! Defend me!” she cried out. Dark shapes began to appear along the walls, as if fading shadows were darkening in reverse. The shadar-kai witch took a familiar key from her robes and activated the portal in the center of the white marbled room.

The heroes charged in after the witch, Longbeard leading the way. He quickly knocked the heavily wounded witch unconscious with his overwhelming “power of seduction”. Skardreg leapt through the original portal, seeking to discover its destination, hoping his allies would follow, though it closed very shortly after. They weren’t able to follow… and they very nearly left him behind as they charged through a gauntlet of life draining wraiths to leap through portal opened by the witch.

Francis, Ravavyr, and Longbeard were the first to flee the wraiths through the portal, leaving Wired and Clarissa back in the other room. Wired was quickly beset upon by numerous wraiths and caught within the maddening whispers of a particularly violent wraith leading the pack. Clarissa decided to take her chances and nimbly threaded her way through the pack of wraiths and tumbled through the portal to join the others.

Despite the wraiths surrounding him and the maddening whispers in his mind, Wired was able to flee and meet up with Skardreg, who was returning from the warehouse in Overlook that the portal had taken him to. Skardreg rallied the shaken Wired from his fearful stupor and together they waited to see what the wraiths would do. The half-orc’s sunrod seemed to drive the wraiths back from the door, but the dim glow of the portal showed they were merely waiting in ambush for them.

Wired realized the astral guardian he had summoned was still waiting for him to command it and sent it into the room to clear a path with the powerful radiant aura it emanated. This so angered several of the wraiths that they broke through wards holding them within the portal room and struck at the deva cleric. His innate protection against the dark energy of the Shadowfell kept him safe as he ran through the gauntlet of wraiths, followed by Skardreg.

Once through the portal, the room was black obsidian and the corner that had collapsed was entirely open to the outside world, though the scene before the Big Damn Heroes was rather disconcerting. An active volcano poured magma down the side towards a large encampment the size of a small town. The feel of the world was off to all but the shadow-born thief, Clarissa, whose kindred had once traveled the dark mirror of the mortal realms, the Shadowfell.

After much discussion with the witch, Ravavyr ended the shadar-kai’s life with a single thrust of a dagger through the heart. The heroes began debating which course to take from here.

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Happy Beggars and Batwing Crunchies

Having gained a lead from the Hag on where to find information regarding the Shadowtouched Key, the Heroes return to Overlook and head straight for the Happy Beggar tavern. It seemed to be run down place and few in the district favored it, since the owners carried little more than a weak ale.

Prashan and his wife, Osmyn, were retired paladins that had taken over the Happy Beggar almost a decade prior. They are known for their charity and aid to the poor and needy in Overlook. Clarissa curled her lips in derision as she glanced at the patrons. If any of them had any information regarding the Shadowfell and portals to that curses plane… they were well in disguise.

Ravavyr and Skardreg took spent some time speaking with Prashan while Clarissa sipped on an elven tea, since the Happy Beggar didn’t carry any of her favorite delicacy, cinnamon spiced hot chocolate. Prashan himself declared that he had no knowledge of portals or the Shadowfell beyond what was commonly known amongst adventurers in the realms. His wife knew little more, but would prove to have valuable knowledge a short while later.

Ravavyr inquired about the private room. Prashan noted it was for more private matters or people that needed a quiet place to rest for a time. Ravavyr decided to introduce himself to the people in the room… and was surprised to see Bronx, one of the pair of hapless thugs that had attempted to mug the Heroes for their gold shortly after the Heroes had returned to Overlook after sealing the Nexus.

“Bronx!” Rav called out. The thug paled and shrunk back away from Ravavyr. A brief conversation ensued and Bronx tried to get around Rav, to escape the uncomfortable brewing confrontation. Fortunately for Bronx however, Prashan was more than willing to step up and defend him and the other person in the room. Which turned out to be one of those dark creeper folk from the Shadowfell.

Skardreg remembered his kind from the Rivenroar Ruins north of Brindol many months ago. It took a bit of a bribe and a threat of violence to get the information out of him, but the Heroes discovered that Morda, the same one Rufus Crowley threatened the Heroes with, may have a portal to the Shadowfell somewhere in or around the city of Overlook and was stirring up problems between various factions.

Meanwhile, Clarissa snuck past Osmyn in the cellar after Skardreg mentioned seeing someone vanish down the steps. She quickly discovered a bolt hole that lead into the depths below the city of Overlook. Closing the door behind her, she ventured into a dank cavern filled with fungus covered stalagmites and stalactites dripping fetid water onto the floor below. The leathery rustle of wings warned the worgen thief of an impending attack, but it was the sudden blast of spores from the fungus that caught her off guard.

Fortunately, the spores were little more than a nuisance. It was the bats that proved to be a threat. With wings spans a pace and half again across, they swooped out of the shadows above and clawed at Clarissa time and time again after she caught the first one in her jaws and ripped its wings from its body.

Rather than continue to offer the bats an easy target, Clarissa retreated down another tunnel and took a few moments to catch her breath and recover from her injuries. The blood of the remaining bats soon matted the fur around her maw and stained her fangs crimson. Clarissa then decided to return to the Happy Beggar and promptly informed the Osmyn and Prashant about the problem beneath their tavern and urged her allies to follow her.

After a short discussion, and a brief interrogation of Clarissa by Osmyn, the Heroes descended into the secret tunnel beneath the Happy Beggar and followed it to a small room. In the center of the room, a shimmering portal swirled in shadow and darkness. The faint light emanating from it doing little to illuminate the room. More dark creepers waited for the Heroes, along with a sinister figure cloaked in shadow. Two black furred hounds the size of small horses were caged next to the portal and one of the creepers freed the wolf to attack the heroes.

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Rufus and the Hag

The sickening crunch of bone and meaty sound of flesh hitting stone left little to the Heroes imaginations of what Rufus Crawley was doing with the corpses he purchased from the downtrodden of Overlook. The lack of stairs to the upper levels of Crawley’s tower forced the Heroes to retreat from what might have been an devastating encounter. Clarissa slammed the thick oak doors shut and spiked them in place as Longbeard and Francis fled form the interior of the necromancer’s tower.

Sounds of thick bars being dropped into place resonated through the wood from the inside of the tower. Rufus than shouted at the retreating Heroes, “I’ll have Modra bring me your heads.”

Clarissa paused long enough to shout back,“Send ‘em our way and we’ll give you his head back as a warning.” The Heroes, always ready for battle, always ready to travel, spoke briefly to the guards at the outermost gate and had word sent to Captain Gravel that they would be leaving Overlook for a few days to discover more information about traveling to the Shadowfell from the Hag at the Fist in the Stonehome Mountains. They also sent word about their disagreement with Rufus in the slums of Overlook… hoping to head off any rumors that could lead to a misunderstanding between the Heroes and the government in Overlook.

On the way to the Fist, the Heroes decided to take the same path they had taken to the Monastery of the Sundered Chain. Recent orc kills along the path were evidence of either Darian the hunter’s passage through or perhaps Lord Kalad’s. The Heroes reached the Monastery shortly after nightfall and were disconcerted to hear the sounds of crunching bones.

A quick reconnaissance by Clarissa and Ravavyr showed a pair of mated trolls snacking on the corpses of the orcs left behind by the Heroes. They weren’t picky about eating the rotted meat of the long dead dwarf monks either. Rather than face them in the night with little light to see by, the Heroes hunkered down in the rocks outside the monastery for the night and returned in the morning.

Clarissa opened the doors of the monastery and was able to keep the trolls from noticing. Skardreg and Longbeard used the opportunity to ambush the sleeping troll as the other troll was piling bodies near the altar. Ravavyr and Clarissa joined the half-orc and dwarf, surrounding the beleaguered troll. It’s tough hide and natural regenerative ability made it a difficult foe to topple. It didn’t help that its mate was a practiced spellcaster.

Ghostly claws tormented the Heroes time and time again, leaving them dazed and vulnerable to the male trolls powerful strikes. Reckless charges across the blood slicked flagstones of the Monastery proved to be too much for the trolls to handle and they were soon dispatched and burned by Francis’ witchfire and eldritch blasts.

The Heroes then sealed the Monastery and continued on to the Fist to find and speak with the Hag… who turned out to be a real Hag. Rather than threaten and intimidate as was their usual wont, the Heroes offered up their own blood for any information the Hag might have concerning the Shadowtouched Key and how they might journey to the Shadowfell.

After a series of disappointing answers to incompetently vague questions, the Hag took pity on the Heroes and told them that if they found the Happy Beggar, they would have the answers to their questions.

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Heroes of Overlook

Skardreg, Longbeard, and Francis left the corpse of the would-be mugger, Yerts, in the dark alleyway while Ravavyr and Clarissa trailed after Yerts’ partner in crime, Bronx. The trail of blood and scent of burnt flesh made it rather easy for Clarissa, in wolf form, to follow the injured thug. Deeper and deeper into the narrow paths of the city they followed him until they finally reached a filthy, run down dive of a tavern called the Pig and Bucket.

“An imaginative name for sure,” Clarissa muttered as she and Ravavyr stood across the street and took appraisal of the situation. The thief turned to the brutal thug. “Rough up your face, get a little dirty. We don’t need Bronx recognizing either of us.” Ravavyr nodded and Clarissa shifted back into wolf form. A rising cloud of shadows and smoke enveloped the thief and when it dissipated, a golden-eyed wolf was in her place. Together, they made their way across the street and entered the Pig and Bucket.

Inside, a collection of thieves and would-be adventurers plotting and planning sat or stood around a number of crudely crafted tables. The tops and sides had been worn down by years of patrons rubbing up against them or sliding wooden mugs and dirty plates across the top. Ravavyr quickly spotted Bronx sitting at a table with a few other ruffians, far back in the darkest corner of the poorly lit common room.

Ravavyr nonchalantly wandered around the tavern, before finally reaching the bar. Clarissa sniffed around and then curled up at the end of the bar, close to Bronx and the gambling ruffians. Clarissa was unable to hear their speech however. They were murmuring very quietly amongst themselves and the backdrop of sound from the others in the tavern masked what little she could hear.

Ravavyr met with little success, trying to edge his way into the game and eventually left the Pig and Bucket. Clarissa peeled off and hung out across the street, waiting for Bronx to leave. Much later that night, Bronx left the tavern and headed towards the eastern side of the city, bypassing the locked and guarded main gates, instead using a hidden passageway through the city wall.

Cautious about getting stuck outside the walls, Clarissa took a few moments to secure the outer door to prevent it from closing fully. By the time she turned around to hurry about Bronx, the thug had disappeared into the slums outside of Overlook. Despite her best efforts, she was unable to locate Bronx, but did learn that Yerts had run with the local thieves guild.

Back at Durkan’s… Longbeard, Francis, and Skardreg were sampling the many ales and beers available at the dwarven establishment. In the morning, the assembled Heroes of Brindol return to the High Hall after a week of high adventure and are honored as Heroes of Overlook for their part in vanquishing the orcs from the monastery and the sealing of the Nexus.

After a lengthy spending spree in the trade district of Overlook, the heroes were dragged off into the slums outside the walls to seek out Rufus Crumley, a gruesome man known for purchasing dead bodies from any and all. Despite the understanding between the guards and Crumley, Skardreg was intent on speaking with Crumley.

Rufus himself opened the door but quickly slammed it shut after Skardreg bluntly asked what he bought the bodies for. Skardreg knocked again and kicked open the door when Rufus tried to slam it shut again. A brief scuffle ensued, leaving most of the heroes weakened and barely able to stand. Only Longbeard avoided the worst of the effects. Rufus then levitated up into his tower… and called out to his ‘children’.

Moments later… four zombies fell and splattered bits of rotted flesh across the flagstones. Clarissa frowned and said…

“Well, that answers your question…. doesn’t it Skardreg?”

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Return to Overlook

continued from last week

Following the death of the shadar-kai witch, the Heroes pushed ever upwards into the Nexus, driving back Tusk and his forces. The battle was swiftly ended with the fierce leader, after Clarissa sent the heavily armored orog plummeting into the scalding water. Despite the burns, Tusk surged through the water and stripped off as much armor as he could reach. As Tusk pulled himself out of the water, the half-orc, Skardreg, ended the orog’s life with a sudden charge down the steps.

Realizing the orog leader of the orcish army might have important information upon his person, Skardreg then accepted the pain and injury of being immersed in the water as he labored under the heavy weight of Tusk and what was left of his armor. Meanwhile, Clarissa tried to figure out the levers and controls of the Nexus at the top of the room.

Her efforts, mostly unsuccessful, caused the water to start draining from the room and released several of the bulkhead doors. Orcish guards and bolters poured through these tunnels and into the Nexus. Skardreg, Francis, Wired, and Longbeard charged back and forth across the walkways to meet each group of orcs as they tried to push into the Nexus. Through much trial and error and finally with the aid of Ravavyr, she managed to stop the rise and fall of the water and seal all but one of the doors.

The thief leapt away from the infernal device, leaving it to Ravavyr as she dashed up the ladder to inspect the hatch. “Be ready to seal that last door Ser Rav. We shant have much time once the water reaches these heights.” Ravavyr nodded and waited as the water reached to top of the last set of steps, hoping the last steel bulkhead would shut, triggered by the rising water. Unfortunately, the mechanism must have been damaged by Clarissa’s unintended machinations.

The changeling rogue, waiting on the ladder, leapt down and slammed a final lever into place and the resonating thud of the last bulkhead crashing into stone reassured the Heroes of Brindol. Ravavyr then sped up the ladder as quick as he could. Clarissa pulled a hidden lever in some kind of stone well and solid chunks of stone and metal sealed the hatch. Climbing out of the Nexus and into the daylight invigorated the heroes after their long ordeal beneath the fields of the Stonehome Mountains region.

After a much needed rest, Skardreg urged his comrades back towards Overlook to report the events that had transpired since that fateful moment when they had discovered the monastery had fallen to the orcs. Despite the late hour, but with some difficulty, the Heroes of Brindol made their way into Overlook and convinced one of the dwarf guards at the gate to rouse the War Council to hear what had happened.

To pass the time until then, Skardreg and the others made their way to Durreg’s to have a warm meal for the first time in almost a week. An unpleasant duo decided to test their mettle against the Heroes… but were soon sent fleeing after Clarissa and Wired disassembled a foul-smelling cutthroat wielding a battered crossbow in the blink of an eye.

To further confuse the heroes… upon the dead thief’s body, they found a list of names and a payout for the death of each one. Upon that list were three of the heroes of Brindol… Longbeard, a recent addition to the Heroes, Wired, a deva of some renown and the changeling Ravavyr, whose bounty might even tempt Clarissa just out of spite for her name not being included on the list.

After reading the list, Clarissa frowned and vanished down the alleyway in the black-furred wolven form she wears like a second skin, to follow the hapless back-alley thief and find out who was hunting her allies.

… to be continued…

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Storming the Nexus

Lord Kalad shoves the last orc in the ransacked dwarven quarters deep in the vents towards the recently rescued Longbeard. Savagely, Longbeard finishes off the orc. The Heroes of Brindol take a moment to discuss their plan of action and eventually decide to clear out the dwarven shrine to Moradin to the east, leaving the exploration of the Nexus to the north for later.

The Heroes charge into the shrine, forewarned about the presence of a troll… but unaware of the great number of orcs in the shrine with the troll. The troll sniffs the air as the heroes approach and growls, “Fresh meat.” It tossed aside a half-chewed haunch of half-orc. Most in the party, after finding the corpse of Miss Suzie, figured this new corpse to be that of Two-Teeth of the Diamond League.

Ravavyr dashes forward and buries a crossbow bolt in the neck of the nearest orc and shouts something at the troll. Clarissa follows the eager rogue and ducks behind one of the stone pews lining the room like rows of soldiers in formation. She tosses a cinder bomb towards a large dwarf statue which has a number of orcs surrounding it. The flames and shrapnel from the orcish alchemical device blasts three of them clean off their feat. Burning fragments of clay and orc flash cause the flesh of the troll to sizzle. Clarissa then darts from out of her hiding spot with a sudden burst of speed to try and finish off the orc struck by Ravavyr, but it weaves to the side, reeling in pain and throws off her aim.

The troll then lumbered forward and pulled Clarissa into its grasp with filthy claws, covered in half-orc bone shards, flesh, and blood. The rest of the heroes charge in and surround the troll as it flails at them with the golden-eyes thief. Ravavyr snags a cinder bomb from the nearly dead orc bomber and holds it up high, catching Clarissa’s eye as she swings by. A moment later she vanishes from the trolls grasp and appears next to the rogue. She grins and takes the cinder bomb and hurls it at the remaining orcs and troll. The flash of smoke, fire, and flames causes the nearly dead orc bomber to slump to the ground, which causes his remaining cinder bomb to explode amongst the heroes and the troll.

The battle ends swiftly as the dwarves, Lord Kalad and Longbeard, take turns hewing into its meaty flesh and then chopping its head off. The residue of the alchemical bombs continues to sizzle into the troll flesh long after its dead. Lord Kalad then chooses to remain behind and sanctify the shrine while the heroes press onward.

Skardreg is momentarily confused by the hot, metal doors that bar their way into the Nexus, but he decides to kick them open in true orcish fashion. A flood of scalding hot water washes over most of the party. Wired is spared the burning water and Clarissa dances backwards, avoiding the ebb and flow of the steaming fluid. A vast room opens up before them. A giant screw of some kind spins slowly in the center of the room, surrounded by platforms and walkways around the room at various heights… all leading up towards the top of the machine.

The heroes decide to throw caution to the wind and hurry inside, rushing up the stairs along the walkway to the west of the doors. Clarissa nimbly avoids the scalding water by running along the wall and then swinging through the door with an acrobatic twist. A series of handholds and a narrow ledge allow her to reach the top of the second set of stairs along the rising walkway. Wired hitches a ride on top of the shoulders of Longbeard, allowing the deva cleric to avoid the worst of the water.

Ravavyr and Clarissa leapfrog their way up the walkway, taking out orcs here and there with blade and bow. Others charge up and cleave the orcs in two. Francis sacrifices his fey companion, allowing her to be banished back to the Feywild to rest and recover, to keep two orcish crossbow bolters from flanking the party. The running battle is swift and fierce. Skardreg charges into the midst of a bloody scrum at the top of the fourth landing, washing over the Shadar Kai from the shadowfell like a tide of iron. A follow up slam with his shield sends the shadowfell witch over the edge of the walkway and into the water to be boiled alive.

Tusk, a heavily armored orog, rushes ahead of the party to try and get to the Nexus control panel before them, to take control of the Nexus and prevent the heroes from sealing the vast network of tunnels and preventing an orc invasion by that route. Longbeard charges forward, catching the orog with a devastating blow from his great axe, but the armor turns aside the worst of the damage. The orog spits at the half-orc warrior, Skardreg, and shouts, “You should be supporting out cause!”

A fearsome chop of the orogs own great axe swings wide and catches both Longbeard and Skardreg in its path. Clarissa dances beneath the clumsy swing and uses the opportunity to slip past Tusk to try and prevent the orc and ogre bastard offspring from escaping. Tusk chances a trio of attacks against his exposed back to join with the only other remaining orog in the Nexus.

Longbeard, full of rage, charged forward and up the steps to try and shove Tusk from his perch, but a swift kick ends his chance. The orog soldier next to Tusk pushes forward and slams into Longbeard. The dwarf barbarian’s arms pinwheel as he is caught off-balance by the orog’s relentless attack. Longbeard barely catches himself as he slips towards the edge of the walkway.

Clarissa dashes forward and pushes off the wall at the orog with a piercing strike that shoves the orog back, but the mongrel bastard falls on his back instead of tumbling over the edge. Tusk howls in fury as the rest of the Heroes of Brindol eye the rising water with some trepidation, but turn back to the battle at hand with grim determination on their features.

… to be continued…

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