Grayson Vindicators

Dark Omens

19th Day of Mirtul, DR 1479
Location: Castle Dawnspire

The man sat writing in his Journal behind a ancient Oaken desk.
’it should be noted that the species of…" A knock at the door to the castles study caused him to stop writing.

“You may enter.” He commands

The door opens and a young blond lady enters. “Master I am sorry to disturb you. You called for me?”

“Ahh, Haleen, Yes I did. Tell me my dear, do you still long for that childhood friend of yours? That one you cared for in Mithril Hall?”

“Oh Yes Master, I think of him daily.” The girl replies.

“I see.. Well then, you should know my spies have located him in the company of others. It seems they are headed to a small town close to here. If you would like, perhaps you should travel out there and speak with him. You should bring him into our service. While he seems to be a simple oaf, he could never-less be inspired to be your Champion Knight.”

“Really? Do you think he would still want to protect me? Even with how I am now?” The girl exclaims.

“Oh my dear. Once you have pressed upon the importance of who we are. And saw to his shift to our ranks. I am certain he would be a great addition and a Noble Protector for you.”

“Yes Master! I shall leave this very night to his speak with him” She says.

“Very well, Oh and beware of his companions. You need to get him away from them before you speak to this one. I sense danger amongst their ranks. And it would not be wise to talk to the group as a whole.”
The man closes his journal. And almost as a after thought he says to the girl.
“Also make sure you are back before first Light.”

“Yes Master” With that the girl turns and rushes through the door.

As the door closes the man opens a drawer in the desk. He brings forth a bowl filled with a reddish liquid. Speaking some low mumbled words his hands wave over the bowl and the image of the girl appears in it. She is currently at her room gathering her traveling cloak and preparing to depart castle DawnSpire.

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Fall of Graywolf

16th Day of Mirtul, 1479 DR
Location: On the road to DaggerDale

The 3 dark shapes approached in the dead of night. Up ahead their quarry had stopped to rest for the night. The wagon parked by the road side. The Chestnut colored horse tied to a tree. The grey cloaked man sat on the ground leaning his back against a tree.

The dark shapes spread out and formed a triangle around the camp. The only one aware of their approached was the chestnut horse whose eyes shifted about nervously. A hush had settled across the camp. Not a sound was heard. No birds in the trees. No rustling of insects. No sound as the 3 dark shapes moved in upon the camp. Claws drawn, intent on the still form sleeping against the tree.

-

The figure at the tree leapt up. Staff in hand a Booming voice range out.. “JA-KACK-TRAAAAA”

A purple ring of energy flowed out from the staff and passed out through the camp. As it spread across the dark forms moving in, the cloaking darkness fled from their bodies.

3 Tall Gaunt humanoids stood around the camp. Black leathery skin covered their bodies. Behind pointed ears a large curved horn rises out of the skull in which two red eyes sit. Long black claws adorn each hand and foot. One of the creatures face breaks into a jagged toothy grin.

“Ahh, I wondered if we would descend upon yousss unaware.” It hissed.

The now standing grey cloaked man brought his staff to bear on the lead monsters. “Tanar’ri, Leave my camp if you value your cursed lives!” As if on command the 3 creatures charged across the ground.

One of the demons stumbled and fell as it hits an energy barrier. Lightning crackles across its body as it screams in dying pain. Faster than what should be possible, the man moves. “IN-KAAAALL-RATA” The man shouts with his staff pointed in the direction of one intruder. A gout of flame belches forth from the staff engulfing the demon. Screaming the monster grabs its face as the skin burns away.

The final demon closes and rakes its claws across the man’s side. Claws coming away bloody. The monster then tries to strike a second time. The man deflects the strike with his staff and mutters the words of another spell. “Tra-Bigby-Tra-Grak”

A Large imposing hand stops between the demon and the man. Grapping the demon it hoists it into the air. The man reaches out with his fist as starts to tighten his grasp.

“It’sss……… Toooooo….. Late…” Gasps the demon, as the hand starts to crush it. “I……. Have…… Called. For help….” The creature gasps. Looking up a red comet streaks down from the heavens towards the camp site.

With a crash the comet strikes the wagon. Splinters of wood, and debris fly around camp and strike close to the grey robbed man. Standing up from the ruins of the wagon is a massive beast. The head of some sort of Beast glares down. Shaped like the cross between a Bull and a bear, two long curved horns come out on either site. Large powerful bat like wings spread out around the body. Lurid flames dance over the creature’s skin. In one massive clawed hand the creature bears a sword that looks sharp enough to cut even to the soul. In the other a long whip is coiled with tongues of fire.

“I see you have met one of my minions.” The beast says, voice sounding like fire burning though skin.

The wizard calmly tightens his grip. The floating hand crushes down upon the demon in hit. With a scream and a squelch. The demon is crushed. The floating hand disappears as the mangled form drops to the ground. “Yes we met.” Responds the man.

“Ahh. Graywolf, tell me. Have the Celestials forgiven you of your treachery yet? Or do they still put a price on your head?”

“What brings you to my camp tonight Xer’ Antrai? And why do you send your filth after me?”

The Balor’s eyes narrow. “You know what we seek. But Ao’s law says you are not allowed to interfere. Why do you continue? You will be punished for this. Again.”

“I have no idea what you speak of Xer’ Antrai. I was just passing through this place before you destroyed my wagon.” Graywolf says to the Balor.

Chuckling the Balor responds “Hello again Dominak. I am glad you found better uses for this imp than I did. Very well shall we go through this again?” The demon raises his sword as the flames start to flare on the whip.

“Let’s….” says Graywolf. As he steps towards the Tanar’ri Lord, rings of blue and red start to form around him.

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Crane's Fall

12th Day of Mirtul, 1479 DR
Location: Arabel

Cloaked in Darkness 5 creatures stepped out of the shadowy forest. Standing outside the gates of the city of Arabel they hissed at one and another.

“The trail leadsss Hereeee.”
“Yess. But it splits.. One whom has touched that which we seeeksss went further that waaaaysssss.”

“The one in that direction. Old, powerfull. His scent I have felt before.”

The tallest of the dark shapes nodded for a moment. “Yess. You two go into the human town. Recover the item if it is there. Kill any that standsss in you way. We shall follow this other ones. We shall deal with his likessss.”

With a nod two of the shapes melded into the darkness of the city while the other 3 moved down the road.

A lonely house sat along the road. A stained glass Crane window projected out a faint light as Otsura sat at her study. Working in a log book she recorded the day’s events. Flipping back she looked over her notes. Details about a group of adventures who were out on a mission, and that she should be meeting them in a few days. Hopefully they had succeeded.


The Dark shapes entered the house, silent. Deadly black claws drawn the two sneaked up the stairs, following a hidden trail only they could detect.


The light coming from the stained glass Crane flickered for a moment. A shriek was heard from within the home, and then suddenly a body burst through the window. The body fell down to the dusty street in front of the house. Shards of glass from the window rained down, and the broken glass image of a crane landed just beside the body.

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EveningStar

Bryn woke with a start. He didn’t even remember falling asleep. He glanced around to get his bearings, and reached for his sword. He couldn’t find it. He saw Bacca nearby, as well as his new companions that they met just last night. The events of the night before came back to him quickly. Kasha began to stir.

“Everyone okay?” Bryn asked, somewhat still confused. Everyone jerked a bit. It even appeared that Clara was trancing deeper than most elves do.

Bacca rubbed his eyes. “What happened?” he asked, in a tired voice.

“We fell asleep,” Bryn replied, “but I don’t recall doing it.”

“Where is the old man?” Clara asked. Bryn looked towards the front of the cart.

“He’s gone!” Bryn exclaimed. “So is his horse.”

Kasha looked up to the sky. “It’s mid-day.” She announced. Everyone looked surprised. “And it looks like we are in Eveningstar, or some other town.” she continued, waving a hand out the wagon. They were indeed in a town of some sort.

Bryn sighed. He wasn’t sure what happened, but he was ready to find out. Grabbing the pike that he had been using the night prior, he made to get out of the cart, but was stopped by Bacca.

“Bryn, what do you know about Cormyrian law?” Bacca asked, with an eye on the pike. Bryn had to think, he had read a lot of books on Cormyr.

“Oh yeah!” Bryn said, a bit more sudden than he meant to. “Peace bonding weapons, and adventuring groups.” he finished somewhat in mid thought. “That is, we would need to register as an adventuring group or peace bond our, uh, pike here.” He finished somewhat lamely, lifting the pike. “I guess we will also have what’s left of our coin converted.”

“I still have Cormyrian coins.” Bacca said, jingling his coin pouch. “But yes, I would leave the pike behind for now.” Bryn left it in the wagon as the group got out.

They were standing on the edge of a town, Bryn took a moment to orient himself, he looked what he thought was north, and if he was right, they were on the east edge of town. While Bryn was orienting himself, Bacca found a person who was walking down the road in the town and approached. Bacca had a short conversation with the man, and walked back to the group.

“Well?” Clara asked.

“We are in Eveningstar.” Bacca said. “and” but Bacca never finished this sentence.

“Oh goodness!” Indukala exclaimed. “Look!” she pointed up at one of the nearby houses. Up on the roof of one of the houses was a cat, at least it looked like a cat, but it had large wings sprouting from it’s back.

“It’s a tressym,” Bryn explained, slightly in awe himself. “They are native only to the north forests of Cormyr.” Everyone was looking at him now for information, except Bacca. Bacca had grown up around here, and if Bryn had to guess, already had seen them. “Many wizards use them as familiars, and besides the wings, they act very much like the average cat, but they are also far smarter!” Bryn continued explaining to the rest of his group.

“I wonder if I can get him to come down here!” Indukala whispered to herself. “I love animals!”

Kasha spoke up “I’m sure we can coax it down, if Bryn is right, and they are just like other cats.”

Bacca broke the silence with a smile “Well, we can’t all spend all day trying to get flying cats off of roofs. Why don’t some of you stay here and Bryn and I will go make accommodations for us.” Bryn looked at Bacca disappointed, then gave the tressym a longing glance.

“I’m going to go find a sage, and see if I can learn anything about the surrounding area.” Clara said, and set off before Bryn could explain that he and likely Bacca already knew about the area.

“Oh well, it won’t hurt for someone else to know too.” Bryn said, shrugging.

Kasha and Indukala went off to find scraps of meat to try to coax the tressym down from it’s perch, Bacca and Bryn went off towards a building that Bacca explained was the Lonesome Tankard Inn. Bryn got excited. He had read about the Lonesome Tankard in one of his books.

Clara went Southwest along one path, looking for a place the looked like a library, Kasha and Indukala went west, looking for a butcher and Bacca and Bryn went towards the building that Bacca said was the Lonesome Tankard.

The bar was larger than most bars Bryn had been to, and less dusty. Despite Eveningstar being a small town, “less than 1000 people by last population census” noted Bryn to Bacca, the Lonesome Tankard had a reputation as one of the best bars in the land. Upon entry, any doubt of this fact was wiped from their mind. It was busy. There were many folks. So many that there were not enough chairs. Bryn saw all sorts of folk, though a few stood out in his mind. One was a man dressed all in black, carrying a short sword. He put Bryn immediately on the defensive, until he remembered that they were a few days ride from Harrowdale, and it was probably coincidence. Another was a buxom lass that looked like a bar maid. She had dark brown hair and was dashing between tables quickly, distributing drinks and taking orders like an expert. The last was a man in scale armor who was applying wax to a bow string. Bryn thought it was odd since his quiver didn’t appear to be peace-bonded.

Bacca approached the bar, Bryn following taking in all the people. He suddenly had the itch for a bar fight. He knew this wasn’t the time. Besides, he knew this bar from books. He didn’t want to look bad in front of Dunman Kiriag, the proprietor. At least, he was the proprietor in the book that he read. Bryn realized that Bacca was already at the bar, shook his head and followed.

“… waylaid by bandits, and escaped. Now we are looking for work so we can earn money for arms and armor for traveling.” Bacca was finished.

“What kind of work do you do?” the bartender grunted.

“Well, I’m a priest of Torm, if you need any prayers, I can also strong arm any manual labor task you may have, my friend here can, uh, Bryn?”

“I can do anything.” Bryn answered half paying attention. He was looking around for the bar maid.

“And my friend here can apparently do anything, I’m tempted to challenge that.” Bacca replied with sarcastic tone in his voice.

“This is good to note.” the bartender replied. “However, with a story like yours, I would recommend you hit up Tessar the Ma.., I mean Lady Tessaril Winter. She was an adventurer back in the day, and you have the look and story of one.”

“I, uh, suppose we could do that.” Bacca started. “I was thinking more along the lines of helping with farming or assisting in aiding the sick, but that works.” Bacca turned to Bryn. “Bryn?”

“Eh?” Bryn had found the bar maid.

“Shall we go?” Bacca asked.

“Oh, I guess.” Bryn relented, still gazing at the bar maid. “I wanted to talk with Dunman Kiriag while we were here…” Bryn trailed off.

“You know me?” the bar tender asked Bryn. Bryn looked at him, his dreamy look from looking at the bar maid gone.

“Oh! Yes sir.” Bryn started. "According to “Tavern’s in Cormyr”, a book I’ve read, you practically put Eveningstar on the map!" Bryn said, he could hear the excitement in his voice.

“Eh? Whatever. Flattery will get you no where.” Dunman said gruffly.

“Uh, okay.” Bryn said, somewhat dismayed. “Odd question, can I buy one of your taverns mugs?”

A few minutes later, Bacca and Bryn exited the bar. Bryn was explaining to Bacca why he liked having his own mug, and the short story about the mug he got in Neverwinter, that was left behind in the Freehold. As they walked, Bryn suddenly remembered something. “We should go get Indukala if we are going to visit Tessaril.” Bryn stated.

“Eh?” Bacca asked.

“The old man told us that she might help us with the ring.” Bryn stated. Bacca’s face lit up, and they whirled around to head in the direction where they saw the tressym.

They found Kasha and Indukala on the ground trying to coax the tressym down from the tree. Daegus was no where to be found. As Bryn got close, Kasha stood suddenly. “We almost go it, I think.” she smiled at Bryn, who returned the smile.

“Fun!” Bryn said, then turned to Indukala, and explained the situation. He finished with asking her if she wanted to come with him, or hand him the ring. Indukala agreed to come with them, and with a last longing gaze up at the tressym, she got up and followed them.

Bacca knocked on the door of the house they found to be the residence of Lady Tessaril Winter. A few moments later, an elderly man answered the door. “Can I help you?”

Bacca and Bryn explained what Dunman had told them at the bar. After hearing the story, the old man invited them in, and showed them to a waiting room. “You can wait for my Lady here. Please have a seat, and don’t touch anything.” Bryn raised his eye at him. "I’ve used the term “Make yourself comfortable” in the past when dealing with folks who fight for a living, and it made a mess. I find asking people not to touch anything saves my Lady a great deal of money." Bacca chuckled.

While they waited, Bryn questioned Kasha about Daegus. She had though he might be a burden in the town, so she had him out in the forests hunting. Bacca talked to Indukala about things that she likes to do for fun, and where she learned how to cast magic, referring to the spell that made him fall like a feather in the forest. Indukala was about to tell him, when the doors opened.

“Dunman told me I’d find you here!” A woman entered the room speaking in a commanding voice. She was about 6 feet tall, with long black hair and a curvy build. She wasted no time striding across the room, and sitting down in a chair at the head of the room. Suddenly, a crow flew into the room. At least, it looked like a crow. Bryn knew that crows are black, but this crow was a different shade of red. Bryn thought he had seen that color recently even. The crow flew around the room and cawed loudly twice, then flew out of it. Tessaril didn’t seem to be phased by this. "I didn’t hear the whole story, she continued, something about bandits and a ring.

Bacca and Bryn told the tale, taking it in turn to tell pieces, each adding in details as they went along. Periodically, Kasha would add in a bit. Indukala remained silent the whole time. As Bacca finished the details about the cart ride and waking up, Tessaril looked upon the group with an appriasing eye.

“Can I see the ring?” she asked. Indukala began to go forward. Suddenly, from a window pearched near the top of a room, a tressym flew in. She glided around the room, and finally landed on Tessaril’s shoulder. Indukala hesitated, but finally gave the ring to Tessaril. She watched the tressym with a longing expression on her face.

Tessaril eyed the ring for a moment. “This will need more time.” She said slowly, examining the ring closely. “You said you guys want to work for arms and equipment?” she stood suddenly, the ring clenched in her hand.

“Aye” Bryn and Bacca said at the same time.

Tessaril scratched the head of the tressym that was perched on her shoulders. “My familiar recently had a litter of kittens. One was batting around my teleport sphere the other day and accidently got transported to the Halls of Eveningstar. I need time to analyze this ring. If you go to the halls and recover my youngling, then I’ll pay for your arms and armor, AND I will get you an adventuring pass for Cormyr.”

Bryn sensed that this was more about the ring, and less about her kit, but didn’t say anything. Bacca looked at Bryn as if asking for his approval. Bryn nodded.

“You said you need time to analyze the ring, I assume that us heading out will give you time?” Bacca asked.

“Aye.” Tessaril responded shortly.

Bacca looked down at Indukala “Well, it’s your ring.”

Indukala responded “Of course, I want to know what is going on too!”

“Excellent. I have one more task then. I have invited the son of one of my families out to prove himself to me. Take him with you on this task, and report how he fairs back to me. He will not be a burden.” Lady Tesseril explained. “Look for Max Verandier in the Lonesome tankard.”

A short time later, Bacca and Bryn were walking towards the Lonesome Tankard, this time rearmed and armored. Bryn had been lucky and found a chain shirt that was only slightly too short for him and it only took the blacksmith about an hour to lengthen his armor, and fit Baccas. Bryn took advantage of Tessaril’s generosity and replaced his two handed sword and his backup long sword. Bryn was also lucky that the blacksmith had 3 chackram laying around on an unfinished order that wasn’t supposed to be picked up for over a month. He let Bryn take them. Inside the Lonesome tankard, they asked Dunman about Max. The man who was waxing his bow string ended up being Maximilian, and he accepted their word as truth without much explanation. And quickly got his things to join Bacca and Bryn to the registrar.

Bryn walked up the registrar and explained the situtation. The man, known as Auldo Morim, was expecting them. He finished the paperwork, and handed it to Bryn to fill out the name of the adventuring troop. Bryn looked at the paper for a second. “I think you made a mistake.” Bryn said. “This say’s it’s Mirtul 3rd, but it’s Mirtul 1st.”

“Boy, you must have hit your head. Greengrass was 4 days ago, making today the 3rd.” Auldo responded, tapping the section of the form to fill out the name. Bacca walked up to Bryn with Max, looked down at the paper.

“Greyson Vindicators?” Bacca questioned. Bryn smiled at him and wrote it down. Indukala would probably like it, and the Greyson’s did fight bravely, and their deaths did cause this whole trip to happen in the first place.

Bacca, Bryn and Max found Indukala, Kasha and Clara a few minutes later, and set out north. Bryn felt much better about traveling now that he was armed. Bacca and Bryn discussed the loss of two days heavily. They ended up deciding that the old man was far more than an old man, and that they would need to ask him the next time they saw him.

Suddenly, hooves were heard in the far back. Bryn and Bacca turned quickly, drawing weapons without hesitating. Max soon followed. Indukala, Kasha and Clara hid quickly in the bushes, drawing weapons and getting ready. A was heading towards them on the road. He was riding one horse, and leading 5 other horses, and a pony. He started waving at the figures of Bacca, Bryn and Max as he headed up towards the road. Max narrowed his eyes at the man, and let out a noise that sounded like a swear word.

“Oi! You lot. There should be six of you according to the lady.” the man said, then he noticed Max. “Oh, er, no hard feelings sir. I talk to Sarah about you.”

Max waved his hand dismissively and said “No hard feelings, I’ll learn from that mistake. I guess I should thank you for the lesson Mr.Breckenridge.”

“Er, Right” Mr.Breckenridge said. “Anyways, the Lady sent these horses for your group to use. You should cut down your journey to a few hours with the use of horses.” The rest of the group came out of hiding, stowing weapons and looking happy about the new rides.

Max got additional directions from Mr.Breckenridge and they all set off. Max leading the way towards the Halls.

After another 2 hours ride or so, they arrived at the location. There was a two openings, but one looked like it wasn’t supposed to be an opening into the location.

Bryn hopped off his horse and began to hitch it up. Others followed in suite. Bryn looked down the dark hall that was supposed to be an entrance, and started to rummage around his sack for a torch. Suddenly, Bacca, Kasha, Indukala and Clara all uttered spells of Light, and caused the various objects to light up with a magical light. Bacca was now holding a sword that was bright with magical light. Indukala and Clara was each holding a glowing stone, and Kasha a scimitar. Bryn stopped shuffling in his backpack, and smiled at them.

“I guess it’s time.” Bryn said, turning to face the entrance. He glanced back at the party “Stick together, we don’t know what’s in here.” With a smile, he walked into the darkness.

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Aftermath

1st Day of Mirtul. 1479 DR
Location: Harrowdale

The flames slowly consumed the freeholds lodge. Old beams and giant lodge poles burned brightly, the flames climbing high into the evening sky.

Mullister Viscard stood and watched the fire, watched the flames. And reflected on the days events. They had been close to the ring once again. But it had escaped his grasp, again. As it had done so many years before. This time however it was in the hands of a group that had been his prisoners at one time. His divination’s had told him that much.

They had escaped, and eluded capture. And then somehow found a ancient portal that took them over in Cormyr. How they had stumbled upon the tunnel that took them to the Portal chambers was unknown. It had been lost to the ages, the other side obviously a dead end point. As soon as the portal had been discovered he had sent scouts through it. But there was no sign of his quarry. At this moment he had his scouts passing word to informants in all of the towns in both the Dalelands and Cormy.

Mullister had weapons and items that had been taken from those he sought when they were captured. Perfect items to use to locate their fomor owners. However all scrying attempts were failing. The ones that Mullister sought were being hidden from magical sight. Some sort of power was masking them, thwarting all attempts to scry them.

No matter, there were other ways to find people. Mullister knew where the other side of the portal emptied out at. He also knew his prey was afoot. And the closest town was easily three days ride from the portals drop off point. And even if they somehow managed to elude capture. They would be found! They had to be found. That ring was too important.

A small flickering of shadow caught Mullister’s attention.

“Youu callled Masssssterrrrr.” It Purred out of the darkness.
“Yes, you have the image of the ones I seek?” Mullister said.
“Yeeesssssssss…..”
“Very Good. You will find them. They have a small ring that belongs to me. You may do what you like with them. But I want you and your Kin to spread out in Cormyr and the Dalelands. I must have the ring back.” Mullister said.
“Our Priceeee?” Spoke the shadow
“Doubled if you bring the Ring back quickly. Down payment is the souls in the cage over there. Drain their life and then return my ring!” Mullister pointed to a cage of prisoners.
“Yessssss, Masterssssss”

With a crash the roof of the freehold lodge fell into the flames below. The flames leaping about the skeleton of what had been the Grayson Freehold.

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Attacked in the Night

Byrnjolf Halbjorn polished off his Dwarfhead Stout in 2 gulps and slammed his mug on the table. He shouted and looked around the table at the others participating in the drinking game. Slowly, the others finished their mugs. Two of them looked like they were going to be sick. Bryn smiled at them. “It looks like I win this round,” he indicated at the two men who looked sick “and you two might want to think about not joining the next round.” Bryn let out a hearty laugh, and a few others joined in.

It was the evening of Greengrass, an extra day after Tarsahk 30 and before Mirtul 1 that celebrated the coming warm weather. Brynjolf had been on a journey, and he and his traveling companion, Bacca Yarro, had stopped by this Freehold in Harrowdale to celebrate. They were originally not planning on stopping, but Bryn insisted that Greengrass only comes once a year, and convinced Bacca to stop at the next town or Freehold to celebrate with the inhabitants. They happened by the Greyson Freehold, a small farming freehold in the Harrowdale. The men of the freehold were excited to have more people, and since Bryn had an entire bottle of Silver Wolf Spirits that he was willing to share, they let them join in the celebration.

The celebration was fantastic. Bryn, taking notice that people were loosing interest in the drinking game, got up to join in other festivities. He looked around the room. Greyson hold was mostly farmers, though many of the boys and men had swords at their sides. There was a pretty halfling girl, who was between serving drinks, dancing with other people at the party, and sharing flowers with folks. She was instructing them to throw the flowers on the ground, to encourage the deities to usher in summer. There was also a young half-elf girl who looked sturdy. Bryn guessed she was a farmer of some sort, as many of the farmers were actively speaking to her. There was a wild cat laying at her feet, and was enjoing the attention that it was getting from the children of the freehold. They animations the farmers and half elven girl made with their hands left Bryn to guess that they were talking about farming, or growing plants. One other person at the party caught Bryn’s eye as being a guest. A tall skinny elven woman with long white hair was sitting by herself. She didn’t even take a flower when offered.

Bryn walked over to his traveling companion, Bacca. Bacca was a man in his early thirties, but his hair was prematurely whitening. He was a priest of Torm, god of law, and had been traveling with Bryn for about a month, when they met up on traders road by freak accident. Bacca was speaking to some of the youths about the dangers of the roads west, as that was the direction that Bryn and he were heading. Bryn trusted Bacca to hear what they needed to know, and proceeded to join in the dancing going on with some of the Greyson girls.

“Bryn, you stand out like an orc!” Bryn heard Bacca’s booming, yet jovial voice call out to him from across the room. It was true, standing at 6 foot 9 inches, Bryn dwarfed everyone in the room. Dwarfed is a curious expression, considering Bryn was raised in Mithril Hall by his father but mostly by many dwarves.

The entire lodge burst into laughter from Bacca’s comment. Suddenly, during the laughter, a bell rang from outside, loud and clear. The laughter stopped as quickly as it started. A second bell sounded from outside. Many of the children looked frightened, but the men all stopped what they were doing. Solemn faced, they all started to head outside in an almost practiced manner. The lass that Bryn was dancing with looked fearful. “That’s the warning bell.” she exclaimed.

“Trouble?” Bryn asked looking for Bacca.

“Most likely, I can’t imagine Uncle Aldo pulling a joke on us durring Greengrass, at least not like this.” she replied. Bryn had caught sight of Bacca. Bacca was hauling Bryn’s scabbard, which contained his two handed sword, and a baldric with a backup sword and a few chackram. Bacca tossed it to Bryn, and started to mess with the buckle on his own long sword.

“You know what we have to do, right?” Bacca asked Bryn, already knowing his answer.

“I haven’t had enough to drink with these fine people, nor have I had a chance to bed any lasses,” Bryn answered, hitching his equipment to his body. “Let’s sort this mess out and be get back to this fantastic party.”

While Bacca was strapping his body-sized tower shield to his arm, Bryn noticed that none of the men had addressed the frightened women, children and elderly. It didn’t take much for him to get the attention of the crowd. “Unless given another order from one of the elder Greyson’s, stay in here, barricade the doors.”

As Bacca and Bryn left to head outside, Bryn heard that the small halfling girl began to organize the people who stayed in the lodge. Bryn smiled, the fact that someone took command made things easier.

When he got outside, he noticed that most of the men had exited the lodge, as did the elven woman he saw earlier. He also saw the half-elven farmer, and her large cat, which he noticed as a black leopard. There was just under twenty of them. He looked out at the farmland. He saw the giant bonfire that was lit shortly before they headed into the lodge. He also saw that the watch-post had been lit on fire, and was knocked over. Finally, he started to count the black, humanoid, shapes he saw. They were easily outnumbered.

In the two fires that lit the dimming sky he made out that some of the black shapes appeared to be ill-equipped soldiers. Wearing black leather and carrying short swords. However, there was one man who, Bryn guessed, was their leader. He had scale mail armor on, and carried two swords. It was this man who spoke. “Where is the ring?”

All of the men, ready to guard the freehold looked at each other, confusion on their faces. The eldest Greyson spoke up. “What is this nonsense?”

“You know what I’m talking about!” the well armed man barked, almost madly. “Hold me from the duty no longer, where is it!”

“You sir, come to my farmland, torch my watch tower, and I’m assuming killing one of my sons, and brother, and then you demand something we don’t have. That don’t sit well with…” The eldest Greyson had started to speak, but while he was attempting to talk with the other man, he interrupted.

“You have one chance to surrender, and give the ring. If I need to repeat myself, you will die.”

All the Greysons looked at each other, the same confused look on their face. The eldest began to talk again “Now see here…”

ATTACK!” the well armed man barked out before Greyson finished.

The melee broke out quickly. The all of the armed men on the Greyson side began to rush forth. Bacca looked back at Bryn and gave a sort of smile, then rushed towards the well armed man. Bryn took a moment to see where he was needed most. He made out that they had archers, but they were not firing.

As Bacca and four of the Greyson farmhands closed in on the well armed man, he quickly cut two of them down, without blinking. Bryn had seen that kind of skill from the elite guard back home.

“Bacca!” He yelled, “Get out of there!” He knew ahead of time that Bacca wouldn’t listen to him, but he hoped that he would this time. Suddenly, an archer let loose an arrow. Bryn saw one of the Greyson boys get hit by it. Without pausing to think, he grabbed one of his chackram and threw it at the archer. The archer started to knock another arrow, but the chackram splintered his bow in half, and embedded into his throat. The arrow he was holding dropped lamely to the ground as the archer grabbed at the disk lodged into his throat, dropping down.

A massive melee had broken out near the burning watch tower. Most of the Greyson boys were fighting and doing well enough, but outnumbered. Bryn saw Bacca still fighting with the well armed man, but several soldiers were coming in for a flank. Bryn drew his two-handed sword and rushed to Bacca’s aid. He charged forth and intercepted the soldiers running towards Bacca, taking one of them down. They other two were surprised at this interruption, and their attacks at Bryn were feeble, and easily parried.

Bryn heard howling and chanced a look back. He saw that the half-elven girl he thought was a farmer had pulled a scimitar out and her leopard had began to ravage one of the attackers. Bryn had to stop paying attention as he needed his head back in the game. He was taking on two attackers, after all.

The man Bacca was facing jabbed his long sword at Bacca, splintering a chuck of his tower shield and delivering a blow to his side, as Bacca’s guard falter, the man slapped him upside the head with his other blade, knocking Bacca off balance. Bacca coughed a little and tried to shake off the pain. Bryn feared for his friend.

Noticing they had gotten close to the bon-fire, Bryn threw caution to the wind. He pushed the two soldiers he was fighting back with a mighty, yet wild swing, then turned to charge the well-armed man. One of the soldiers took a swipe at Bryn as he turned, and caught his arm with his short sword. Bryn ignored the pain, and charged at the man Bacca was fighting, hoping to catch him off-guard.

His plan succeeded. The man had raised his swords for another assault on the injured Bacca, but before he could swing them, Bryn crashed into him. He practically threw the man into the bon fire, close to ten feet away with the force of his charge. “We need to get out of here, NOW!” Bryn demanded at Bacca. “That man, he is no common foot soldier. He’s seen more battles than either of us, more than my father. I’ve never seen a swordsman move like…”

Bryn didn’t finish his sentence. The man had stood up inside the fire. “That was the biggest mistake you will make in your life, BOY!” he barked. He drew a long dagger, and threw it at Bryn. It caught Bryn’s shoulder where he had already been hit.

“Let’s go!” Bacca finally relented. They turned to run, but more soldiers blocked their way. Looking back, they saw that the Greysons where very few now.

Bryn pulled the dagger out of his shoulder and dropped it. He tumbled through the guards, careful to keep his bad arm out of harms way, and put himself back between all the attackers and the lodge where all the children and elderly where. He noticed that half-elven farmer was trying to drag the elven sorceress back into the house. She had an arrow sticking out of her stomach and looked on the verge of unconsciousness.

Bacca had plowed through the other soldiers, and stood next to Bryn. Bacca’s hands glowed brightly behind his vast tower shield as he channeled the divine energies that Torm grants his priests.

Bryn’s wounds didn’t hurt as bad after being bathed in that light, and even started to close up. However, Bacca’s prayer was not strong enough to seal up all the wounds either of them had taken. But perhaps it could buy them enough time to get the innocents out.

As Bryn was thinking of a plan, two of the Greysons, the eldest and one of the elder sons were pushed towards them. Bacca, Bryn and the two Greysons were all that were left. Unless you counted the fierce farm girl and her leopard trying to get the elf to safety. They were easily outnumbered 5 to 1.

“Last chance, surrender now, and I’ll forget past transgressions.” the well-armed man spoke, wiping ash off his armor. Bryn noticed he wasn’t burnt from his time spent in the bon-fire. His armor had to be magical.

Bacca stepped forward, and asked with a defiant tone in his voice. “Will you spare the others? The children and elderly, and those who can’t fight?” Bryn stepped up next to him, mostly to show that he was in agreement.

“If you surrender now, you have my word,” the man replied. “resist me any longer, and I will make sure they all burn slowly and die horribly.” A smile flinted across his greying face.

Bacca eyed the man warily. “Your word then.” he said, with a hint of distrust in his voice. Bacca threw down his long sword, and cast off his shield.

Bryn didn’t like this, but he didn’t like the alternative either. Bryn heaved a heavy sigh, and tossed his great sword down into the ground, so it stuck up like a lightning rod. He then unbuckled his baldric and tossed his backup long sword on the ground as well as a few more chackram that hung on his belt.

The solders all pushed them out of reach of their weapons. And rounded them up. Some of the soldiers went back into the forest. They came out with many large, 10 foot long pikes and some rope. They arranged the pikes in a cage like formation, and put some of the remaining people, Bryn and Bacca included. The soldiers began to tear through everyone’s belongings and each of the houses surrounding the freehold. The eldest Greyson was holding the halfling girl in his arms while trying to comfort her, but he looked as if he was holding back tears himself.

Bryn and Bacca looked at each other with silent resolve. Both of them were soldiers, but neither of them had been in a situation like this. They both scooted around the crowd in the cage and meet with each other off in a corner of it. They began discussing what to do, drawing battle plans in the sand. Bryn looked around. He had the two eldest Greysons, the halfling girl, the half-elven farmer, the white-haird elf in with him. He assumed the others were back at the lodge.

Shortly after they were coraled into the cage, a hippogryph swooped out of the sky. A man was riding it. As soon as the soldiers noticed it, they all began to form ranks. The hippogryph landed, and a plump man jumped off of it. “WHERE IS IT?!” the plump man barked in a shrill, almost paniked voice. “WHERE IS THE RING! WHERE IS MASKULL!” He shouted.

The well armed man came hustling up from the lodge. “My lord.” he bowed.

“Ah, Maskull, deliver me good news.”

“I… uh…” Maskull was obviously caught off guard by this question. “Well, my lord, we’ve taken over this freehold, as instructed. But we have found no sign of the ring. These prisoners are ignorant of the ring’s whereabouts.”

“Why do we have prisoners?” The plump man asked. “Kill them one by one until someone remembers where the ring is.” He sneered. “Let me show you how.” He indicated the two eldest Greysons.

Two soldiers pulled one of the pikes out and hopped into the cage. They looked solemnly at the two eldest Greysons. “No trouble.” one of them exclaimed as they prodded the two eldest out of the cage. The wails of the halfling girl echoed through the night sky.

“Shut up if you know what’s good for you.” The plump man barked at the girl inside the cage, as the bars were replaced.

The two elder Greysons were placed on their knees at the feet of the plump man. The plump man reached into his robes and pulled out a sinister looking wand. The wand was jet black with a skull motif at the bottom. He pointed it at the eldest Greyson. “Tell me where the gods-damned ring is.”

“I don’t…” the eldest Greyson started, but he never got a chance to finish. The plump man flourished the wand and with a jet of blackish purple beamed out of the wand like a flash of light. It struck the eldest Greyson in the chest, and he disintegrated into ash in less than a second.

The wails and screams of the other Greyson and the halfling girl pierced the air as their patron died. “SHUT UP!” screamed the man in black, spit flying from his mouth, he pointed his wand at the next prisoner. “WHERE IS MY RING!” his scream penetrated the air and overpowered the sobs and screams. Bryn gritted his teeth. The boy didn’t even get a chance to answer when the same blackish purple beam hit in, and disintegrated him.

The halfling girls sobs got louder. The plump man barked out orders. “Bring me one of the visitors to the Greyson freehold, I bet one of them have the ring.”

The same two soldiers unearthed the pike and jumped into the cage. “No trouble.” they stated while brandishing their swords. They picked Bacca from the back of the cage, and brought him forth. Bacca and Bryn gave each other a meaningful look, both knowing there wasn’t much they could do while unarmed, and outnumbered. They both knew their best bet was to obey and hope that most of the innocents will get away. Bryn was still starting to feel a lump in his throat. Bacca and him had become good friends in the last month that they came to know each other.

Bacca was put kneeling in front of the plump wizard. “Does anyone else want to tell me where the ring is?” He asked. Bryn couldn’t take it.

WHAT RING!?” Bryn’s voice boomed through the night. “How do you know it is here? Why are you killing these people? Nobody knows what you are talking about!”

The man pointed the wand at Bacca, but turned his head to Bryn. “Shut up boy, if you know what’s good for you.” He turned to Bacca, who stared at him defiantly.

“Fine then,” Bacca said. " I go to meet Torm." The man flicked his wrist.

Nothing came out of the wand.

Bryn sighed a sign of relief. Bacca kept his defiant stare at the man. The plump man threw the wand aside and swore loudly. He turned to Maskull. “I must rest, I can prepare spells to help us get information from these people. Lead me to an area that I can rest comfortably. We will deal with this rabble in the morning.”

Maskull, the plump man, and many of the guards took off towards the lodge. The two guards who had been gathering people out of the cage looked at each other, shrugged, put Bacca back in the cage, and sat down to guard duty.

About an hour later, Bryn and Bacca finally came up with a plan. The area that the prisoners were taking the pike out to use as a door was not tied well, and they were near the forest behind the freehold. Bryn could easily take out one of the guards with the pike he removed from the ground, but what to do of the other guard. This question was answered by the half-elven farmer girl. She indicated towards her leopard and whispered “Daegus can be sneaky too, and can take out the other.”

The only downside was how to cut the ropes. However, the halfling girl had the answer to that. Eyes red with tears, she whispered to Bacca “I can help get the ropes off.” she said shakily, holding out a rat to him. “He can chew through the ropes.”

Bacca said a prayer to Torm to heal everyones wounds, allowing the elven girl to fully recover from her arrow wound.

With a plan formed, the halfling girl allowed the rat to chew the ropes. After the ropes were chewed through, Bryn waited for the next patrol, then as silent as he could, pulled the pike from the ground. He checked, and neither guard noticed. He crept up on them, the panther called Daegus on his side, raised the pike to strike…

A flash of light indicated a torch was on the way over. Bryn quickly and quietly moved back to the cage, waited for Daegus to get back in, then messily jamed the pike back in the ground. Just as he did so, a patrol rounded the corner from one of the freehold houses.

“You two should be watching the prisoners, not playing cards.” The new guard barked at the two guards who where indeed playing cards. He looked over at the captives, and the new guard began to stare at the pike behind Bryn. “Something is up here…” he mumbled as he slowly approached the cage. He drew his short sword, while staring at the pike, as if trying to figure out if it out of place or not.

Bryn waited for a few, tense moments. The guard showed no sign in relenting. It was now or never. “DAMN!” Bryn yelled, and in one motion he unearthed the pike again, and threw it at the new guard. He accidently threw it blunt end first, but he threw it with enough force the it struck the man square in the nose and Bryn heard the sickening crunch of broken bones. Suddenly, he was happy he threw the wrong end, the pike had bounced back into the cage. Bryn picked up the pike and yelled “RUN!” to everyone in the cage. Bacca was out first, but then stood a sort of guard as he helped others out.

The two guards began yelling “JAILBREAK!” but Bryn ignored them, they had to move while they had the chance.

“I’ll bring up the rear!” Bacca yelled after Bryn, let’s get a move on!" Bryn didn’t have a chance to argue. He began to run and got out in front of everyone.

“Follow me.” Bryn barked in his commanding, soldier voice. “Leave nobody behind.”

They ran into the forest. As they ran Bryn led them deep into the forest, listening for the soldiers following them. Someone cast a spell of light, but Bryn shouted “Shut the light out, it will lead them strait to us.” and the light was extinguished seconds later.

Bryn continued to lead the small crew through the forest. He knew he should go back to save the remaining, but he couldn’t unarmed.

After evading a few patrols, Bryn changed directions and lead them in a different direction. As he was running, he suddenly heard the scream of one of the girls following, followed by a quick spell. He turned to figure out what was going on. Apparently, the white haired elf had fallen down what looked to be a forgotten mine shaft. The halfling girl had muttered a spell of safety and her fall was gentle.

The white haired elf picked up a rock and cast a spell of light upon it, lighting up the bottom of the 30 foot deep cave. “There is an exit down here, if we want to chance it!” she exclaimed from the bottom. Bacca and Bryn looked at each other and seemed to decide the same thing.

“Can you cause my fall to be safe as well?” he asked the halfling girl.

She looked at him, her red face shinning with tears. “Yes, I think so.” she squeaked.

Bacca looked at her, he looked like he wanted to say more, but all that came out was “Good, I’ll take you down with me, Bryn can help lower the other girl and we can try that tunnel.”

Bacca picked up the small girl, asked if she was ready, then leaped down the hold. She uttered the spell again, and he floated gently down to the floor. Bryn layed on the ground and lowered the pike he had kept. The half-elven farmer girl climbed over him and lowered herself down on the pike. Bacca helped her down near the bottom. Bryn gave one last look around, then lowered himself down and lept to the bottom. Daegus, the leopard, half climbed and half stumbled the pit.

“Bacca, you go first, take the pike,” Bryn began to explain. “I’ll take up the rear, we don’t know where this will head, so be careful, keep your eyes peeled.” Bryn finished, somewhat unceremoniously.

Bacca lead the way down the tunnel. It looked like it had been dug out as a mine shaft. It was reinforced in some places. They trudged down it in silence. After several hours, Bryn heard a disturbance up front. He tried to see what was going on, but it was difficult. The tunnel was small and there were several people going along. Finally, he heard one of the girls say “It’s okay, they won’t harm us, leave them alone and they will leave us alone.”

They started on again, and Bryn shortly figured out what they were talking about. There were two giant rats on either side of the tunnel, gnashing their teeth at the passers by, but not attacking.

More time passed, and passed in silence. The pit in Bryn’s stomach grew. If they didn’t find an end soon, then they would have to head back, and who knows if the mysterious soldiers had found this tunnel yet. However, Bacca let out a loud “What is this?” from up front. Bryn looked up and found that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

They moved towards it, and when they came out into a large, circular, well lit room with a dais in the middle. Upon the dais was an upright ring of stone with runes carved all around it. Bryn looked at it for a minute, then recalled what it is. “I know what this is.” he said aloud, more meaning to think it than speak it. “This is a travel stone.”

“A what?” Bacca asked.

“A travel stone. It’s a… portal of some sort.” Bryn explained. “We can’t tell where it goes, but if we use it we can get out of here.”

Comprehension had dawned on Bacca. “But will we know where we will be?”

“No.” Bryn said simplistically. “But we know what is behind us. I’m willing to take the gamble.” Bryn started to step up to the stone. Bacca wasn’t sure still.

Bryn marched up to it, and the center of the circle let out a bright blue light. Bryn steadied himself to go through, not sure where he would end up. As he took a deep breath, he noticed the little halfling girl next to him. He looked down at her, and she looked up at him. He smiled, sadly at her and she at him. He nodded at her and they stepped through the blue light together.

They ended up on the side of a well traveled road with deep wagon tracks. Shortly after they appeared, the half-elven farmer appeared, followed by the white-haired elf. Finally Bacca appeared. They all looked at the sky in disbelief. It was morning.

Bacca spoke first. “We can’t rest yet, we are not sure where we are, or if we are being followed.” Everyone murmured an agreement.

Bryn spoke up about a direction first. “I’m unsure where we are, but Bacca and I were heading towards Daggerdale, which was west of where we were. I vote we go west until we find out where we are.” Nobody disagreed.

So, they headed west along the path. The half-elven farmer had strayed off the path to gather something to eat for breakfast, Daegus the leopard went with her. After about an hour on the road, Bryn stopped dead in his tracks. He could hear the hoofbeats of a horse on the trail, and the tell-tale creak of a cart being pulled. “We aren’t sure if this is friend or foe, everyone hide and I’ll handle this.” Everyone followed his instructions.

Bryn sat down on a log, and looked as if he was taking a break. Around the bend, a horse drawn cart rounded the road. Atop the cart was an elderly man, and the horse drawing the cart was an unnatural red color. Bryn waved as the old man passed, but the old man stopped the cart.

“Hail traveler!” He greeted kindly. “How fares your day?”

“Oh,” Bryn started, realizing that he was unarmed and in no way ready for a fight, “beset by brigands this morning, and recovering after a deft escape, but I’m alive, so the day is good.”

The old man looked nonplussed. “A story like this… how do I know you aren’t a brigand yourself?” His grip tighted on the reigns, and the horse looked uneasy.

“My apologies,” Byrn started “I am no brigand, and so you are not surprised, I have many of my companions hiding now, as we thought you were a bandit yourself. Come on out guys!” Bacca, the half-elven and elven girls as well as the halfling all came out of the woods on either side of the road and approached the old man.

“My my, and you all look so tired and beaten, what a night you’ve all had!” The old man looked around sympathetically.

“Aye,” Bacca said. “I uh… hesitate to ask, but where are we?”

The old man looked supprised, and slowly began talking. “Well, you are on the road between the Thunder Peaks and Eveningstar, which is where I am heading.”

“We are in Cormyr?” both Bacca and Bryn exclaimed together.

“Uh… aye, you are.” The old man said, somewhat cautiously.

“Sorry, sir, it’s been a long night.” Bryn apologized for the group.

“Sounds like quite the story! Why don’t I give you guys a ride to Eveningstar and you can tell me the story on the way!” The old man spoke, in a sudden jovial tone. With that everyone piled into the back of his wagon, which looked larger on the inside than on the out. Bryn and Bacca sat near the front.

“Everyone in? Wonderful! Forward Dominak.” The old man spoke and gave the horse a prod with his staff. The end of the staff sparked and the horse brayed, it sounded almost angry.

Bryn began telling him the story, with Bacca, the halfling and the half-elven farmer adding their own parts into the story. The old man was a great audience, gasping and awing at the right times.

“Fantastic story!” he exclaimed when Bryn got to the part where they met up with him. “I wonder what kind of ring they would kill that many people for?” The halfling girl let out a whimper. “I’m sorry about your family.” the man added solemnly.

A few moments of silence was suddenly punctuated by “What is this?” It was the halfling girl, and without warning, she pulled out a small ring. Everyone gaped at her.

“Oh! I picked this up in the lake earlier, and had completely forgotten about it.” Suddenly, the realization dawned on her. This all could have been avoided if she had remembered. She looked at it for a second, sadly. Bacca muttered something that sounded like a complaint about a wand in his face.

“Well, if they were willing to kill for it, it’s probably best they didn’t get it, isn’t’ it.” The old man stated, with a hint of wisdom. This seemed to make the halfling feel better.

Bacca sighed. “Yeah, I guess that’s right.” He said, a smile broadening across his face. “Well, we are all now kind of in this together. If Bryn will distract from his quest more, I would see this young halfling girl to safety. I have a big interest in this ring too.” Bryn nodded in agreement.

The white haired elf finally spoke up. “I am also interested to see the power of a ring that people would kill for, especially one that doesn’t detect as magical.” The half-elven farm girl nodded as well.

“Then it’s settled!” The old man exclaimed. “I’ll take you to Eveningstar, you can meet with Lady Tesseril Winter about this ring and figure out what to do. No doubt you will have pursuers, and I have a feeling this young halfling will feel much better with the company of soldiers and spellslingers like yourselves.” He added “And I’ll feel better for her too…”

“I’m Bacca, Bacca Yarro.” Bacca explained to his new traveling companions. “I server Torm on the battlefield, though I must admit I feel a bit drafty with only this poor wooden pike as a weapon.”

“I’m Kasha, and this is Deagus” the farmer piped up. “I’m a druid from the Dales, and Daegus and I are on a sort of… coming of age journey. The experience we get looking for why people would kill over a ring would be perfect in the eyes of Silvanus.”

“She’s a druid!” Bryn thought. “That explains a lot!”

“I am Clara.” The white haired elf explained. “I’ve been on a journey ever since I left the Shaeradim, but had found myself with no current goal. I think I’ve found one…” she trailed off.

“I’m Brynjolf, but most call my Bryn.” Bryn explained, stretching out in the back of the wagon. “I’ll put my current quest on hold, I couldn’t leave you guys to solve this all on your own.”

“I’m Indukala.” the halfling girl explained, but didn’t offer much more after that besides a “and you’re very tall.” to Bryn. She was just over 3 feet tall, and Bryn was exceptionally tall, taller than most humans.

Byrn smiled down at her, “And what should we call you, old timer?” he said, indicating to the driver.

“Oh, call me what you wish, old timer works just fine, but I’m afraid names just don’t mean anything to me like they use to.”

“How mysterious.” Bacca said with a hearty laugh.

“It is indeed.” the old man laughed back without explanation. “Well, it sounds like you all had a rough night, get some rest, we should be in Eveningstar in about 4 hours time, Dominak depending.” he said, giving the horse another prod.

Indukala curled up near Karsha, and layed down using Daegus as a pillow. Kasha smiled down and didn’t seem to mind much. Clara began her elven trance, a kind of elven rest that takes the place since they don’t sleep. Bacca and Bryn began going over the events of the last night, trying to figure out who their attackers where as they bumbled down the road.

View
Grayson Freehold

24th Day of Tarsakh. 1479 DR
Location: Outside of Grayson Freehold, Harrowdale

Indukala was out doing one of the things she loved. Wandering through the thick woods that jutted up against the north side of the Freehold where she lived. She had managed to dodge working in the kitchen to escape out here itto the woods. She could spend hours exploring through the brush in search of new places and new animals to befriend.

Indukala was a young halfling who had found her way into the Grayson’s hands many years ago. Only one of her kind here, she found it more enjoyable to be out by her self as everyone still treated her as a child. Which makes some sense, as halflings are small compared to normal humans, even more so when compared to the burly Graysons of Grayson Freehold. Having been orphaned at a very young age, all she remembered of her youth was being with the Graysons. And they did treat her very well, including her into their family as a adoptive child. But there was always so much work to do out here. And while she loved working with the animals on the farmland, she kept getting stuck with kitchen chores. Boring kitchen chores.

Also things were changing in her life as she got older. The boys she used to play with were out working the farmland a lot. Also she had found she could do this trick…. Stopping for a moment Indukala concentrated. Out of now where appeared a Very Large Rat which proceeded to scurry up to her. It was last year that Indukala had learned she could summon creatures to her. She had been in the kitchen daydreaming about a Furry Rat she had seen the other day and then one popped in front of her. The rat had created all sorts of a ruckus in the kitchen. With some of the kitchen workers chasing it around with brooms. After the animal had disappeared Indukala figured it was probably best to not be summoning furry friends in the kitchen anymore.

Taking a handful of dried corn out of her pocket she held it down to the Rat who took a few kernels from her hand and started to munch happily.

Walking deeper into the woods with her pet rat, Indukala came to a stream bed she had been sailing leafs down just yesterday. As she set about gathering some leafs to race down the stream her rat went over and started digging into the cool water. Suddenly something in the water caught her eye. Something sparkling in the sunlight, something the rat had found. Moving the rat aside she saw a sparkling ring. Reaching down into the cold mountain stream she picked up her new treasure. Turning it over in her hand she thought about how pretty it looked and what a nice ring it was. And it looked like it was just the right size for her finger.

Hearing squeaking she saw her rat headed off into the woods without her. “Come back here Ratty!” She yelled chasing after her rat. The ring she dropped into one of her many pockets, forgetting about it for now as she pursued her Rat on to some new adventure.


24th Day of Tarsakh. 1479 DR
Location: Zhent controlled city of Teshwave, in Teshendale

Mullister Viscard, Skymage of the mighty Zhentarim, was not even expecting it. He had given up hope long ago of finding the new hiding place of the lost ring. The ring on his finger picked up the pulse of magic as it rippled through the room. ‘It had been found again!’ Jumping up Mullister cast a couple of spells he had memorized just in case this happened. Moving over to a map on the wall he placed his finger on it. Removing the finger he looked at the spot he had pointed to.

A forest location in Harrowdale. Odd that the ring would turn up there. But it had to be there, and he could not, would not risk loosing the ring again. He could have his agents to that location within a few days at the most. Taking a quill Mullister circled the area where he had placed his finger on the map. Forming a sending spell in his mind with the image of the Map included Mullister thought simply, “Maskull, There it is.. Do not fail me again!”


Festival of GreenGrass 1479 DR
Location: Grayson Freehold, Harrowdale

Raymon Grayson climbed up the ladder of the small lookout post. As he reached the platform he nodded to the older Grayson sitting on the bench.

“Watch duty for you again tonight Raymon?”, Aldo Grayson said? “That’s the third time this week? I would have thought you would have joined everyone else in the lodge celebrating the coming of spring? I hear we have a couple of soldiers what were traveling through here as guests tonight. I am sure they have some stories to tell.”

“Naw, Paw caught me slacking again. Said this was punishment.” Raymon looked wistfully at the lights dancing from inside the lodge. The music of pipes easily heard out at the watch tower.

“Ahh, well lad. I am glad you are here to join me. Gotta Keep watch for all sorts of nasties out here” Aldo laughed.

“Bah, It’s always quiet out here. Nothing happens not even so much as a wolf after the sheep. Heck Jaffre was caught sleeping at his post two nights ago. He caught quite a whipping for that” Remarked Raymon.

“Ha! Serves Jaffre right. But you never know when a sprite of ghost will come out of the woods. In fact I remember when 10 massive Orcs came out of the woods bent on rampage and destruction.” Laughed Aldo.

“Are you sure it was orcs? Last time you told that story I thought it was goblins. and before that warebeasts. I swear you could at least keep your tall tales straight uncle” Raymond said with a laugh. Stopping quickly he looked at his uncle. “Uncle Aldo? Whats wrong?”

Aldo did not speak. He was clutching his throat, a black feathered shaft of a arrow sticking out of it. Gurgling he started to step forward as two more black feathered shaft embedded themselves into his chest. Lurching forward Aldo fell off the platform to the ground below.

“Gods above!” Said Raymon.. "We are being attacked. He turned and moved to the bell handing on the post. Hitting it squarely with a hammer it rang out a couple of time. The bell then fell silent as Raymon pitched forward. 3 black feathered arrows sticking out from his still form.


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Prologue

_11th Day of Hammer. 1464 DR
Location: Small mining Camp, set against the ThunderPeaks. Deepingdale.
_
Chip, Chip, Chip.

Under the dim illumination of the lantern, The pick axe chipped against the hard mountain stone. Rager Diggerhand had always been a good digger. All of the Diggerhands were. A long noble line of Dwarf miners were the Diggerhands. Too bad Rager was the last of them.

Another hit of the pick axe, chip, chip. This was what Rager lived for. The simple tunneling that only a dwarf could do. This is what brought him from up north, to the dale lands. Him and the rest of the miners that had been hired to dig out here against the Thunderpeaks. All they knew is they were digging a shaft down into the mountain side, and should they hit something.. unusual, the foreman needed to be called. For over 9 tendays they had been digging in 12 hour shifts. But the promised pay was worth it. And besides, it was digging. That was always good for the soul. Chip, Chip. Plink. Crack.

Rager stopped. That was interesting. The last hit had pierced a hole in the wall, and the stone below it was cracked. Moving out of the Lantern light Rager looked close at the hole. There was a room beyond. The hole was too small to see much beyond. But Rager could open it wider. Turning down back up the tunnel Rager yelled, “Send the Foreman!! Now!!” Turning back to the small hole, Rager went back to work. Maybe the Foreman would give him a Bonus for finding whatever it was that he wanted.


It had taken 6 hours, but under the watchful eye of the Foreman, Rager had opened the hole into the chamber big enough that they both could move through it. It would have been faster if other miners had been able to help. But the Foreman had insisted that Rager have the sole honor of unearthing the chamber. The other miners had been allowed to retire early to their tents. The long project out here against the Thunder peaks was at end.

Rager held the torch as he moved into the room. The light bouncing off the walls illuminated a small room. A couple of old tables stood in the room, with what looked like a stone platform between them. The dust was thick here, this place had not seen traffic in many years. The Foreman was right behind him. “What is this place?” Asked Rager. “A old wizards Lab” Replied the Foreman.

“You did very well Rager, You will be well rewarded for this find.” Said the Foreman. “Oh look over there. There is what we seek.” Rager turned the torch towards the small stone platform. On top of it sat a small Mithril ring, twinkling brightly in the torch light. Strange runes danced along the rings band.

Rager stood staring at the finely crafted ring. Transfixed by the thoughts of how much he would be paid for finding this item, he barley felt the dagger slip between his ribs.


Maskull Darkhope wiped the dagger clean of blood and slid it back into the sheaf on his belt. Stepping over the body of the dwarf he approached the stone platform. It had taken years of research to find the lost lab. Then another full year to plan just how to reach it. Over 90 days he had spent out here at this Cyric forsaken mountain side working to have shafts dug down into the earth. So many of the shafts missed their target. But this time, they hit true. The dwarf digger they had hired had done his job well.

Looking at the object on the platform that had been his focus for the last few years, it seemed so small compared to the time. This small thing had taken him from his warm home and forced him to spend the last 90 days of a harsh winter holed up in a camp on the side of a mountain. It was always cold up here, and half the time he had to be below ground. Damnation he hated the cold, and he hated the dark of the mine tunnels. He would be so glad to return to his comfortable home in Zhentil Keep. Soon he would be there filling his belly with warm Ale watching the remaining winter pass.

guardianRing.png
Maskull reached out and picked up the small Mithral Ring. As his bare flesh touched the ring, something that had been dormant awakened inside the ring. A small undetectable pulse of magic rippled out from the ring. Like a stone dropped into a pond, the ripples of magic spread out from the ring moving steadily away from the source. After the first pulse of magic, the ring went dormant again.

Maskull studied the ring, he had thought he had seen something when he first picked up the right. Did it glow for a brief moment? No matter. Soon he would leave this place and take the ring back to his master. And then he would be done with the mountain tunnels, done with the cold, done with the Dales. First however, there was the matter of cleaning up the loose ends here in the camp.


12th Day of Hammer. 1464 DR
Location: Commander’s Quarters, Daggerfalls in Daggerdell.

Mullister Viscard, Skymage of the mighty Zhentarim, was steadily thumping his fingers against the table at which he sat for his evening meal. “They should have found it by now.” Mullister said out loud. “I wonder what type of excuse Maskull will give me this time?”

No one else was in the room where Mullister dinned. But he found that talking to himself helped. Maskull had been running that camp of diggers trying to get down to the Labatory for over 9 Tendays now. If the delays continued he might suggest Maskull start drawing and quartering diggers to get everyone working faster. He needed them to reach the room and find the object before the snows started to melt and traffic started up on the roads. It would not do to have people start to ask questions about the ‘Mining’ camp.

As Mullister finished eating, a faint pulse of energy passed through the room. The pulse would have passed Mullister Unseen and Undetected had it not been for a small Mitral Ring that encircled a finger on his left hand. Ancient runes on the ring flashed as the pulse of magic passed through the room. With a start Mullister leapt up, knocking over a wine goblet and spilling its contents. “It’s Mine!” He shouted, “They have found it!”

Mullister turned and rushed down the Hallway. As he encountered a servant in the hallway, He shouted “You, Boy! I need my hippogryph mount readied to fly now!” With a start the youth bowed and ran for the stables as Mullister went to fetch a warm cloak.


12th Day of Hammer. 1464 DR
Location: Bunkhouse in a small mining Camp, set against the ThunderPeaks. Deepingdale.

Aidon Farsong was nervous. He lay in his bunk running this thumb and finger over a small silver pin shaped like a harp. Turning it between his fingers he tried to make sense of what had him uneasy. Looking over at the empty bunk beside him, he wondered where Rager was. All of the other miners like Aidon had been sent out of the mine early and given the evening off. All except for Rager who had not been sent out with the others. Rager was not at evening meal either.

In fact that was part of what had Aidon uneasy. Evening meal was different than normal. Sure the food was the same, Meat and Potatoes and Bread. But instead of water, tonight they had Mead and Ale. And not in small amounts either. They were told it was in celebration, for the mine had struck what they had sought. And that tonight everyone was to celebrate and drink their fill. In the morning they would be allowed to leave with a large bonus in their pay.

It did not make sense.
Aidon had stumbled upon this mining camp about 3 tendays ago. He had been following a shipment of goods of what he had thought to be Zhentarim in origin. But it had worked over snow covered roads to this lonely mining camp. Taking on the disguise of a miner, Aidon had entered the camp looking for work. He was put to work rather quickly digging tunnels into the mountainside looking for.. something.. None of the miners knew what they were after, just that they had all been promised a good pay for their work here. Aidon had befriended a Dwarven miner named Rager, through him he learned that the camp was run by a man known only as the Foreman. The Foreman never interacted with the Miners other than to tell them where to dig, and to inspect the tunnels now and then. Every other person, from the Cooks to the Miners had been hired since this Mine was started. The Foreman seemed to be the only one who knew what they were after. But he was also the one who promised great pay for their efforts. In fact the pay promised would be more than these miners would make in 2 years of hard work. What ever the foreman was after, it had to be very valuable. So it would make sense he wanted to be as discrete as possible.

Still, something seemed sinister about this place. That’s why Aidon stayed, playing the part of a miner. He hoped to learn what it was, and if there truly was Zhentarim involvement he would report back to his superiors. Tonight it seemed what ever underlying plots were happening in this place, they were coming together. And unfortunately his friend was in the middle of it. With a sigh Aidon sat up. Everywhere else in the bunk house, everyone was sound asleep. Most of this lot would be heavily hung over in the morning, It’s probably a good thing their work was done after all. But still, something felt wrong, and Aidon had learned long ago to trust when things felt wrong.

Muttering the symbols of a spell, Aidon turned invisible. He moved silently out of his bunk. After moving the pillows under the blanket to appear like a still sleeping form, Aidon gathered his cloak, sword, and a small hand crossbow from the chest by his bunk. He moved to the back of the bunkhouse to sit by the back door. Quietly he settled down to watch for the night. Hoping he was wrong and he would just miss out on sleep. Aidon settled down into a somber night watch.


13th Day of Hammer. 1464 DR
Location: Bunkhouse in a small mining Camp, set against the ThunderPeaks. Deepingdale.

Aidon did not have long to wait. Shortly after midnight the doors to the bunkhouse opened and four figures cloaked in black entered. Looking about the room, they would have seen Aidon, had he not been invisible. The four figures spread about the room each moving to a bunk. They all drew long daggers and silently each on them plunged their dagger into the sleeping form in the bunk that they stood by. With a start Aidon stood and shouted out a warning to wake the rest of the miners. Only when he failed to hear his own shouted warning did he realize the entire bunkhouse was enveloped in a silence spell. Not a word could be said, not a sound heard as the Dark figures moved from bunk to bunk silently dispatching the sleeping forms. Understanding the cause to be lost, and that Aidon would not be a match for these four, Aidon quickly slipped out the door at the back of the bunkhouse, as the dark figures within finished their grisly task.


Aidon had moved his horse from the stables to the trees just outside the Foreman’s lodge when he spotted the Foreman. Leaving the Mine enterance the Foreman took long strides accross the camp-yard towards his lodge. Aidon, having had his invisibility spell wear off by now, hid behind a tall pine tree. Hoping that neither him nor his horse be spotted.

Through some form of luck, the Foreman never spotted him. Instead he entered his lodge quickly. The door swinging shut. Aidon looked at his horse. He knew he needed to ride away and report what had happened. However, the thirst for some answers drove him towards the Foreman’s lodge. Up the steeps he crept. Reaching the door, Aidon quietly slipped inside the Foreman’s Lodge.


Maskull Darkhope placed the small ring on the coner of the desk as he entered his Lodge. Moving across the room he started to warm his hands by the fire. It was so cold out here. But soon Mullister would be here to collect the ring. His black guard should have finished off all the miners. He would then set fire to the timber supports in the mine and to this camp. And all of the time wasted out here, all of the cold would just be a memory. The ring though.. Something bothered him about that simple loop of jewelry. It had not detected as magical, but the runes along it were old. Older than anything Maskull had seen before. So old that Maskull as educated as he was could not read them. He had asked about the ring, but Mullister would not say any more than it was important. Nevermind, let Mullister keep his secrets, he did not need to know what the ring did, it was enough that this errand was completed. Ahh but the ring, he better hold on to it, it would not due for it to be misplaced.

Turning around Maskull saw he was not alone in the room. A tall blond half-elf stood by the desk. And in his hand was the Ring! “Humm… Your face is familiar, you are one of my miners..Aidon I believe it was?” Maskull said slow and even, it would not due to spook this one before he could dispatch him and take back the ring.

“They are all dead, all of the miners. You had them all killed you black-heart. All over this ring?” Aidon said.

So he knew. No matter. “That ring in your hand boy.. You do not want that, only trouble will find you with that bauble. Give it to me and you may leave with your life.” As Maskull got closer he drew a long dagger and lunged at Aidon. In a quick flash Aidon had a hand crossbow up and launched a bolt which struck deeply into Maskull’s leg. Aidon then kicked a small stool across the room into Maskull’s feet tripping him up. Maskull landed face down on the floor.

As Maskull raised up from the floor, Ego bruised, and a pain in his leg from the deeply embedded bolt, he realised with a panic that Aidon had fled from his lodge house with the ring! “Guards!!” He shouted.


Aidon Farsong had been lucky, he had managed to sneak in after the Foreman without being noticed. As soon as he was in the room, he saw a small object twinkling on the desk. A small mithral ring, with runes set in the band. It took him just a moment to realize what that ring might be, the runes were unreadable, but the Aidon had read about this long lost artifact, and the others that had been built with it. It would also explain why so much trouble had been had to reclaim it from the earth. Many had died to bring this to light again, And many more would die if this fell into the hands of the Zhentarium. The ring could not be allowed to be had by the Foreman.

Luck was still one Aidon’s side as the Foreman was distracted by his thoughts and the Lodges fire. Slipping the ring into his palm, he was almost out the door before the Foreman had realized he had the ring. A brief encounter, just enough to delay the Foreman and Aidon was out the door running across the open ground to his horse waiting in the trees before him.

GUARDS!” The shout of the Foreman rang out, magically enchanted to be heard all over camp. Two of the Dark cloaked figures emerged from the Bunk house. raising crossbows they both fired. One hit a tree right above Aidon. The other struck deep in his side.

But he had no time to worry about his injury, he was in the trees and on the back of his horse. Two more bolts flew wide of his head as he turned his horse up the hillside. Climbing through the snow his horse outpaced the mining camp. Disappearing into the darkness Aidon headed towards what he hoped would be safety.


16th Day of Hammer. 1364 DR
Location: Somewhere in the Cormanthor Forest near the banks of the River Duathhamper.

It had been a long four days. Aidon’s mount wandered slowly through the trees in the Cormanthor Forests. It was cold and gloomy, the first rays of the dawns sun had not broken over the mountains in the distance yet. For four days Aidon had bee pursued, riding away from those who wanted the ring. He had narrowly escaped a couple of ambushes. and so far he his luck has still been holding. However both rider and mount were nearly spent. Aidon’s side acked from where he had removed the bolt. His belly growled, as the meager gatherings in the forest had been nothing to stop his hunger. For almost a 100 miles over hills and through forest he had been pursued. And through all of it his mount had pushed on. Only able to do short rests along the way, Aidon had hoped for fresh snow to cover his tracks. But the skys had been clear, no new snow so he had left a pretty easy track to follow.

Stopping at the banks of a wide river, Aidon dismounted allowing his steed to drink deeply. Bending down to drink his own fill, Aidon looked long at the river. Pulling the ring out of the pouch he gave it a a long look over. It could not fall into the hands of those who pursued him. Aidon had hoped to reach Shadowdale, perhaps to get the ring into the hands of Elminster Aumar. But that was not to be. His way had been blocked each time he had tried to make it towards Shadowdale. Now by his best guess Aidon was somewhere close to Harrowdale. However he had doubts of even seeing there.

With a good throw Aidon threw the ring towards the center of the River. Turning end over end the ring hit the water leaving small ripples as it disappeared beneath the water. Perhaps that would be enough to keep the ring safe. It might travel all the way out to the Moonsea if Aidon was lucky. Getting back on his mount Aidon turned towards the hills and a wide cut logging road he had passed.


A Hour in on the road the sun started to rise above the far mountaintops. Warmth cascading down upon Aidon he gave his praise to Lathander. Giving him pause to say a simple prayer.

From death, life.
There is always another morning.
In the dawn, beauty reigns, and the way is clearer.

But Aidon’s luck was not to last. Ahead along the road were 4 riders. Their black mounts shining in the early morning sun. 3 of the riders were cloaked in black. The 4th rider wore no cloak or helm. The sunlight glinting off his scale armor showed him to be none other than the Foreman from the mining camp.


Maskull Darkhope had been waiting for this. He had been after this half-elf for 4 days now. The plans of his master was close to ruin. But he had to recover the ring. He had riders spread out all over the forest after this one. It was by favorable luck he was the one to catch him. His master had scryed this one, he knew who worked to wreck their plans. Maskull also had a score to settle.

Maskull Drew his sword, as did his 3 honor guard. Maskull shouted at the Half-elf,

" Harper!! , May your harp be unstrung, your dreams die and all your songs be unsung!"
With that Maskull and his 3 companions charged down the road.


Aidon looked one last time at the light of the morning. With a gentle pat he brushed his hand along the mane of his steed. Taking a moment he turned the collar of his cloak out to the world, allowing the light to shine off the small silver pin of a harp he had kept carefully hidden. Drawing his sword he whispered to his mount. “Well Thunderhoof, lets not keep our destiny waiting any longer shall we.” Charging forward towards Maskull and his riders, Aidon went to meet his fate. Aidon Farsong went to meet Lathander.


guardianRing.pngThe ring slipped below the surface of the water, carried by the current it slowly sank to the bottom of the river. For the next couple of years the ring would be pushed further down the river by the currents. As Spring-thaw would come the increased flow of the river would sweep sand, silt, and the ring further away from where it had first entered the river. At one time a swelling of the water forced the ring off a side tributary and down a steep slope of a of a fast moving stream. Over some falls the ring fell, glinting in the sun as it hit the slick rocks below and bounced further into the stream bed which through the forces of water pushed the ring further from the rivers source.

The ring finally came to rest in a shallow stream bed. It was then covered by silt and sand. Hidden away from the light of day, for years the ring slept.

Until one day, by chance the scrapings of a animal uncovered the ring, it’s bright mithril band glinting in the sun just under the surface of a shallow stream of water. It sat there, ready for the moment when a small childlike hand entered the frigid water to scoop the ring up. As soon as the soft flesh touched the ring, it awakened once again, a fait, unnoticable pulse of magic rippling out from the ring.

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