xShadows of the Blood Wolf

Part Two - Chapter Two
In which the heroes discover secretes of their past and venture forth to the Goblin Marches
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Part Two - Chapter One
In Which the Heroes set out Seeking New Adventures and End Up Encountering New Enemies
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Part One - Chapter Five
In Which the Heroes make new Allies and Return Home with Treasure and Hope
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Part One - Chapter Four
In Which the Heroes stumble upon a growing army admidst the ruins and the giant troll commanding it
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Part One - Chapter Three
In Which the Heroes make a new ally and travel north to recover the Rod & Ring of Khepras

The party, along with Jonaus, traveled to the estate of Baron Stormmount a two day ride from the Castle. Jonaus thought that the Baron would be a good man to speak with about restoring Khepras since the previous King hated him so much.

When the team arrived at the estate they were given a heroes welcome. News of their exploits had already reached the Baron and he greatly pleased with what that had done. Although he also worried for them, since they were now sure to have provoked the anger of Kal-Turak.

The party and the Baron discussed the future of Khepras and the baron told them of the glories of the past Khepras Kings before a great disaster wiped out the main bloodline 3 centuries ago. he felt that if the historical Kingly artifacts could be recovered then a true, noble King could be found to take the throne, but if it was to be done, then it would have to be done quickly, for it was only a matter of time before the King’s no good son would return and take up the crown for himself.

The Baron told the party about the rise and fall of Ellassa, the previous capitol of Khepras and the legend of the Rod & Ring of Khepras (Rod of Khepras,Ring of Khepras) and the Great Tomb of the Ancestors. the highlights were thus:

• Tradition and lore has it that when a king died, his body was given to the keepers of the Great Tomb of the ancestors where he was laid to rest within for a moon and a day, with all of his kingly possessions. This was to show those who greeted him in the afterlife that he was a king in this world and should be treated as such in the next. After the month and a day was over, loyal servants of the tomb would bring out the Rod & Ring and give them to the new King in a royal ceremony at the steps of the tomb.

• But during the two days after the last true king of Khepras was laid to rest a great disaster befell the capital city. First a giant fire broke out and the city burned for a full week, then the waves rose and the ocean swelled across the lands, putting out the fires, but destroying everything that was left standing. Today the ruins of Ellassa and the wasted lands at its steps are rumored to be overrun with goblins and orcs and monsters of all shapes and sizes. No right thinking man has ever dared venture to far into the wastes or dared dock at the cities old waterfront in the last 300 years.

• The Great Tomb of the Ancestors is built high into a hillside, it was already there when the first men began to settle in Khepras. Who built it, or when is unknown, but the first people considered it a sacred place. A group of monks or “keepers” rose up to guard and maintain the necropolis. No others, not even kings, were allowed inside… at least not while they still lived.

So the party readied themselves and set out for the ruins of Ellassa. The Baron charted them a large boat to make the journey up the coast. For the first few days everything was fine, but then they got close to ancient cities ruined port.

A large storm had rose up and the waves were rocking the ship. The Captain was worried about going further, but he had his orders. Talan was at the bow and noticed figures in the water below he went to warn the captain, but as he got there a massive Water Elemental began rising up over the side of the ship. Things quickly went down hill from there. As the Party readied to fight the creature, a group of Shark-Men began scaling the other side of the ship. The fight was on. The Creatures killed of a lot of the crew and the ship was rudderless and at the mercy of the seas. The party managed to defeat the attacking foes, but seconds after the battle the ship smashed upon the rocks, sending most of the remaining crew and party into the black waters.

Dawn found the party half-drowned and washed ashore at the banks of the ruined city. Now with out any means to return home, they must somehow survive the haunted ruins, finish the mission and find someway to safely return.

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Part One - Chapter Two
In Which the Heroes found a new Kingdom and bring about the end of another

The players returned to the refugee camp with the rescued children and were met with a heroic welcome. This act, and news that there might be a safe haven in the hills, raised the morale of the Ashurna refugees.

The next day the team took a group of refugees with them back to the Keep and set out to fully explore it. The keep was massive, stretching far back into the hillside. A dwarf refugee by the name of Baiden said that he believed that the keep must have been built with the help of dwarves since many of the techniques used in its construction were dwarven in nature. The team also found a way down to a hidden dock at the base of a massive waterfall. This was the head of the Baskaly River that flowed all the way down to the ocean coast bordering Khepras and Shar. They also found two, still useable, river boats of an elvish design docked here. As well they also found a secret way into the keep using the old underground river passages they discovered when fighting the RatKing a few days earlier.

They began moving the Ashurna refugees up to the keep, and gave it the name of Fort Phoenix. Not all the refugees came, many preferred to keep moving south, so in the end about 600 people moved into the keep and began setting up their new home.

At this time the Players meet Flynn, a young would be adventurer, looking for a team that would take him on as a squire. He also mentioned another party of adventures, called Zelatar’s Blades, that had passed through the camp a few days before the heroes. These adventurers though were a mean lot. They bragged about how many people they had killed, and violent act they had committed. They also stole the only boat the refugees had and set sail down the river.

Suspicious that these adventurers might have been the ones that murdered his clan, talan got the team to agree to follow them down river and find out for sure. So the team took one of the river boats and with the help of ‘Cappy (and ex-sailor and now Fort Phoenix resident) set off down river. Just before they left a local wise woman named Hepiena gifted the team with mystical badges that she said may help them in the future.

The journey was a long one, almost 13 days, and during that time they came across a few small fishing villages that had had run ins with Zelatar’s Blades. From talking to some of the locals Keats learned that the Blades were bragging about a big score they had just completed and were on their way to the capital of Khepras to meet with the King and get their reward.

The team pressed on, before eventually coming to the river city of Worthara where they found a massive army camped out along its banks. It seems that the Empire of Vashkhor was in the process of marching upon the capital of Khepras in order to dispose of the King who they believe had aligned himself with the forces of evil and may in fact be working with Kal-Turak. They also learned that many of the citizens of Khepras were almost happy with this, since many dark and strange rumors had been floating about the King had gone insane and had taken to hiring Goblins and Orcs to act as his personal guards.

Rather than attempting to travel across land to get to the capital, Gova Deshvan, the players kept to the river and eventually reached the coast where they took passage on a merchant ship heading up the coast to the capital city. By doing this they believe that they may have gained a few days on Zelatar’s Blades and beat them to the city. They were right. They took up lodging at an inn near the city gates and waited for the Blade’s to arrive. When the Baldes showed up the part spied on them, learning that they were indeed a powerful group of evil bastards. They had numerous magic items on them and when they got to drinking they bragged of horrendous deeds.

Not sure they could take them in a straight on fight the team decided to join up with the castle guards and attempt to get close to the exchange point, possibly finding a chance to learn more and recover the artifact stolen from the Ulronai clan.

Getting jobs was easy. Word had reached the capital of the approaching Vashkhor army and any able person was in high demand. What also was working in the teams favor was that the castle guards were a lazy, untrained & undisciplined lot, made up of goblins, orcs and human bandits. The players covertly mapped out the castle and when the time came they were able to set up in advantages positions in the throne room.

First the King entered with his guards and seneschal, Jonaus. Here he met with Zelatar’s Blades and paid them a hefty sum for a small wooden box that they gave to him. After the Blades left his seneschal rang a small gong set off to the side of the throne room and a few minutes later a black robed wizard appeared. The wizard and King talked about how in exchange for this item, Kal-Turak would provide protection to the King against the approaching Vashkhor army.

Before more could be said, or the mage could escape with the artifact, the team sprang into action. Talan, using a distraction created by Kern, leaped down upon the wizard and stabbed him from behind. The fight was on. The rest of the part jumped into the fray, not letting up on the wizard until they were sure he was dead, all the while fighting off the Kings guards. Kern was able to lead the King out into a back hallway then he proceeded to strangle him to death for the crimes he had committed against Ashurna. He then chopped off the kings head.

Rather then fleeing with the recovered artifact, the party decided to stay on and see what would happen. They talked Jonaus into helping them loot the King’s treasury, but found it lacking, since so much money had been rewarded to Zelatar’s Blades for the artifact that the King was going to trade to Kal-Turak for protection and power.

The team then took the severed head of the King to the general of the approaching Vashkhor army and told him the threat was over. The General agreed and thanked the players for helping prevent the massive loss of life that would have occurred if the army had to lay siege to the capital city. The Vashkhor Empire had no interest in occupying Khepras and the army turned back for its long march home.

The players now had to decide what to do next. Some of them we uncomfortable with leaving Khepras without any leader since whoever would eventually gain power may once again turn his attention on Ashurna. So with the help of Jonaus they set out to locate one of the Barron’s of Khepras and see about how to make peace with whoever would rule Khepras next.

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Part One - Chapter One
In which the Heroes meet and forge an alliance based on blood and steel (and rats)

The Players have been making their way south with a group of about 30 other refugees, mostly woman and children. The early spring days have been wet and cold, making the journey a muddy and tiring trek. During the trek the players have met each other and gotten along in a fairly friendly manner, taking turns scouting, hunting for food and guarding the weaker refugees around them.

But now they have come to the banks of the Baskaly River. Here, in the foothills of the Skyclaw Mountains, a massive number of refugees have been forced to halt their southward journey because the river is too wide, deep and rapid to safely cross.

A large camp has arisen with the people living out of makeshift tents and shelters. Everyone is poor and on the edge of starving. With not enough fish in the river to feed everyone and most game scared away by the large number of people in the area things are very rough. People are living on whatever they can scavenge. Mostly rat. There seems to thankfully be a huge number of rats in the area and everywhere the smell of roasting rat hangs in the air.

They arrived just a couple of hours before nightfall and were rushed to set up whatever tents and bedrolls they had to fend off the chilly night air.

The next morning the players were alerted by the sounds of a woman yelling hysterically. It seems her young son had gone missing during the night. Before they could investigate this disappearance other cries went up around the campsite. Two other young children were also gone. Barch The Magnificent began to search for clues or tracks while Kern attempted to calm the refugees.

There were numerous tracks around the campsite, including dozens of rat tracks, but other animal tracks were also discovered. Large animal tracks. The team gathered their gear and suited up, before heading off to follow these tracks and attempt to rescue the missing children.

The tracks led up into the foothills of the Skyclaw Mountains, thickly forested, the going was tough and visibility poor, but Barch was able to keep tracking the unusual animals. The keen ears of Talan and Keats allowed them to get the drop on an massive, bluberous Frog, capable of swallowing a grown man whole, that was stalking the party. The team made quick work of slaying the giant beast and a quick check of it’s stomach contents and tracks made certain that this was not the creature they were looking for.

They pressed on and in short time came into a large clearing on a flat area of the hillside. The ruins of an ancient, long toppled, guard tower were strewn about the clearing. Kern judged that when it was still standing the tower would have offered an impressive view down into the plains below and along the Baskalay River. Unfortunately, Barch lost the tracks of the creatures they were hunting amongst the fallen stones and ruins so the part split up to seek out any clues as to the children’s location.

At the steep hillside that rose up sharply at the back of the clearing Talan made a discovery. It seems that once upon a time a keep had been built here, right at the side of the hill, but a massive landslide years ago must have buried it under tons of mud and rock. He also discovered a narrow gap in the side of the buried keep from which a foul smell emanating. Taking a deep breath, Talan slid into the black gap in search of what hid with in.

After a few feet the gap opened up inside the ancient keep. The inside of the keep was actually in very good condition. It’s strong walls had held during the mudslide, and only a few, partially overgrown, holes in the roof let in the day light. The other team members joined him and a very quick scouting of the keep showed that it was much larger then expected. In fact it seemed to have been built right into the hillside and its long corridors stretched far back into the hill. But the party didn’t spend time searching the keep, for the found the location of the horrid smell near the entrance. A set of steps, leading down into inky darkness below.

The party lit some torches and descended into the darkness. The stairs were covered in rat droppings and filth and the corridor they eventually reached was even worse. As they explored the lower levels of the keep they came across numerous storage rooms, all long since emptied or their contents ruined with age. They also came across a deserted dungeon with holding cells and a torture chamber, but no missing children.

At the end of the long corridor them came to a large room whose back wall had collapsed, leading into a large natural underground chamber. In this chamber small campfire burned but the people or things around them were obscured in the darkness.

Talan went scouting along the edge of the cavern and spotted some very large rat nests and a small group of Ratlings, upright walking, intelligent, tool-using rats. He returned to others and reported in. The group decided to attack the creatures and attempt to located the missing children.

The battle was on. The team faced vicious Giant Rats, The Ratlings and a large Wererat, who was King of all the Rats below the keep. The Wererat was furious at the humans invading his home and he thought it was only just that his Ratlings had taken the young children to eat, since the humans in refugee village at the base of the hill had been eating so many of “his children” over the last few weeks.

It was a dangerous battle, but in the end the party prevailed and slew the Wererat and his minions and recovered the children safely.

The party set out to return the children to the village, but a few questions remained. Who had built this massive Keep originally and why had they abandoned it? Also, Talan saw Two Thrones in the rat kingdom, but they only fought the one Wererat. Who, if anyone, sat upon the other throne? And finally, what were they going to do with all of the refugees at the camp? Was there anyplace where they could find safety?

These questions weighed heavily on their minds as they slowly made their way back to the refugee camp.

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