Evergreen Vale

34 - The Dead Multiply

Synopsis – With the awakened legionaire, Gaston, in tow, the heroes enter another of the silo’s tombs, and discover that the hundreds of dead there have been reanimated as skeleton soldiers. The party is nearly overwhelmed as they attempt to reach the silo’s exit. Niki and Nia return, equipped with fire bombs given to them by the dwarven alchemists. The party rallies and makes good its escape. The heroes make their way towards the chamber where they can place their last token, but are nearly caught by the pursuing skeletons. The heroes seal the corridors behind them and burst into the final silo to confront the mastermind behind the undead infestation, and awaken the legion.

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33 - The Hunger

Synopsis: Sir Delba’s squire, Niki, is badly injured by ghouls, and his face is disfigured. Delba dismisses Niki contemptuously when he begs not to continue. Kiri’s squire, Nia, agrees to escort him back to the surface. The party finds silos containing members of the legion who are being kept in suspended animation, and learns that some of them have been turned into ghouls. They also find a magical laboratory, destroy the wraith and undead legionaires there, and place the second of their three tokens.

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32 - Return to the Silos

Synopsis: The heroes follow the trail of the ancient 17th Imperial Legion into the silos beneath Ironhome. There, they discover a tomb where much of the legion is interred. They learn that certain tokens which they were given, if properly placed, will ‘awaken’ the legion. The heroes also battle a group of ghouls and skeleton legionaires, who were digging a mine shaft toward the surface.

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32 - The Black Fortress

Synopsis: In the aftermath of the Battle of Primrose, a brief power struggle ensues between the elven factions, until, with some gentle urging by the heroes, Skya Talay is declared queen of Elvenwood, with Nygelis as her chief advisor. The gnomes and the green dragon, Emereldas, swear fealty to Skya, establishing a shaky peace in the newly liberated forest. Hearing that an alvalanche has blocked the mountain pass, the heroes attempt to clear a path for fresh troops from Enigma Keep, and meet the remnants of an Imperial Legion of Nerath, who exist under a curse of undeath. The heroes return to Ironhome in search of the descendant of the Legion’s commander, who can release the legion from its curse.

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31 - The Battle of Primrose (3 of 3)

Synopsis: The tired peasants of the Southern Guard are reinforced by the newly released Black Pillar hobgoblins under their Guant, Cora Bala. They hold the line against the Warped Ones while the heroes move to aid the troops of the Iron Battalion, which is buckling under the assault of the core Red Whip hobgoblin troops. The heroes turn the tide of the battle and decisively crush the allied Red Whip and Green Eye army, liberating Elvenwood, and freeing their forces to rendezvous with the Baron’s army.

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30 - The Battle of Primrose (2 of 3)

Synopsis: The battle teeters in the balance as bugbear shocktroops counterattack. Assassins strike the back ranks of the heroes, the mercenary wizards of the Triumvirate unleash their magic. The heroes rally and crush the bugbears. The Pieter’s troops discover imprisoned hobgoblins from the Black Pillar citystate, and releases them in exchange for an oath of service. As they rearm themselves, a flood of Warped Ones emerges from the city ruins and swarms toward the heroes’ troops.

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29 - The Battle of Primrose

Synopsis: The party rendezvous with their main force and prepare to do battle with the hobgoblins at Primrose. Pieter asserts his control over the mercenaries in a bloody manner. The faithful of Bahamut form their own company, Bahamut’s Talons, with Kiri’s permission. The next day, the forces of Evergreen Vale march on Primrose. The hobgoblins and their goblin, ogre, and bugbear minions are drawn into battle. The heroes’ plans and stratagems are successful as they and their forces charge into melee and throw the hobgoblins’ left wing into disarray.

Upon returning to the encampment of the forces of Evergreen Vale, Pieter was confronted by Sir Brandon the Lesser, the captain of the peasant levies recrutied from Ironhome. He complained that the mercenary company Pieter recruited, Redeye’s Swords had been causing trouble in the camp, its members instigating fights and engaging in petty theft. Pieter appeared to be very dismayed, and assured Sir Brandon that the mercenaries’ behavior reflected on him personally, and he would deal with the matter very firmly. This satisfied Sir Brandon, who allowed Pieter to handle the situation as he saw fit. Pieter ordered the troops into parade formation, so that he might address them. He lulled them with warm and congratulatory words, then, without warning, drew his fiery short sword and split Captain Redeye from crotch to gullet. Julie, Pieter’s trained guard drake, then leaped on the stricken mercenary and savaged him. Renaming them the ‘MORs’ Pieter siezed personal command of the company, and warned the white-faced mercenaries never to try his patience again, then dismissed them. Rumor spread throughout the camp about the brutal act, but there was great disbelief and little sympathy for the unpopular mercenaries.

Elsewhere, Sergeant Barringar, one of the peasant recruits, led a delegation to meet with Lady Kiri. He explained that many of the people of Evergreen Vale had been inspired by her heroic example, and requested that those who had pledged themselves to her deity, Bahumut, might form their own company, ’Kiri’s Talons’. Kiri was taken aback by this unexpected request, but finally assented. She did ask, however, that they take the name Bahamut’s Talons, instead, so as not to exalt her in an unseemly way.

Pele was kept busy into the night as her companions asked her help in enchanting various belongings to grant them protection in the coming battle. At last, the army settled into an uneasy sleep, prepared for the approaching conflict.

The next morning the captains set their plan into motion. During the night, their new Forest Goblin allies were seen creeping through the woods to set traps on the outskirts of Primrose. The dwarven mercenary company called the White Shields would march out onto the barren slope above Primrose and draw the hobgoblin army out into the open, and through the traps, disorganizing them. The Ironhome battalion waited in concealment to support them. On the left flank, the Ostlunders, protected by the peasant levies of the northern estates, stealthily advanced through the woods and set up their bolt throwers. Across the river, the gnomes and the wizards’ Triumvirate waited for the signal to take the hobgoblins from behind and unleash their magic. On the right flank, the heroes, Pieter’s mercenaries, Bahumut’s Talons, the elven survivors, and peasant levies of the southern estates, called the Southern Guard, prepared to launch the hammerblow.

The dwarves’ advance successfully drew out the main hobgoblin force. In the front marched hundreds of goblins in skirmish formation, under the banners of the Red Whip and the Green Eye. Guarding the flanks were more spear armed goblins – Red Whip auxiliaries. In the center, a strong block of bugbear shock troops armed with spiked war clubs marched to the left of the core force of Green Eye hobgoblins. The hobgoblins marched in perfect order, warded by a solid wall of shields, their burnished bronze scale armor glinting in the sun. Like islands among the sea of lesser monsters, two dozen hulking ogres lumbered among the ranks, several beating the time of the march on huge drums. Along the far left of the army, a column of goblins on wolves loped toward the foot of the wooded hills.

Cries of dismay were heard among the goblins of the skirmish line as they entered the abandoned southern districts of Primrose. Scores of the slave soldiers tumbled into spiked pits concealed by the forest goblins, or were brought low by trip wires. The forest goblins had had an easy time in setting up their traps, since many of the buildings of the ancient elves had been planeshifted back to the Feywild centuries ago, leaving convenient pits behind. Falling into disorder, the skirmishers tried to fall back, but their hobgoblin masters barked harsh orders, and the main battleline closed ranks and forced the goblins to continue forward, clearing the traps with their bodies.

As the enemy closed the distance, Sir Delba ordered the signal flag raised to order the White Shields to withdraw into the woods to pave the way for the Vale’s counterattack, but their captain, Jorek Whitebeard, tugging at his beard and then stomping firmly, refused to withdraw in the face of the hated goblinoids and ordered his dwarves to attack. Swearing, Delba ordered the body of troops with him to assault the hobgoblin left flank, starting with the column of wolf riders.

The assault began with a volley of arrows fired by the young elven survivors, cutting down many goblins and wolves and sowing confusion among their ranks. Next Kiri and Delba, accompanied by Bahamut’s Talon’s charged directly into the enemy. Pele and Pieter bombarded the wolf riders with spell and arrow, slaying many. Terrafina, muttering about ‘expendable troops’ rallied a large body of MORs around her and led a second charge as the wolf riders reeled from the initial shock. Terrafina herself leaped atop a fallen tree trunk and knocked a goblin from his mount, after which Helo quietly slipped in and silenced the enemy just as he has finished clambering to his feet.

The mangy leader of the wolf riders attempted to regroup his forces and sends two waves of reinforcements into the melee, riding down several Talons and MORs but was himself killed as the heroes concentrated their attacks on him. The remaining wolf riders were soon put to rout, with the Talons pursuing them to the river. Maintaining their momentum, the party and the MORs continued on, crashing into the goblin foot soldiers ahead of them.

The goblins and their hobgoblin overseer were ill prepared for the onslaught, and the overseer was driven into cover by Pieter’s arrows. However, an enormous siege ogre soon appeared in the goblin ranks. A compact siege tower, crewed by goblins, was harnessed to the brute’s back. The goblins launched fiery munitions from a catapult mounted in the tower, burning several MORs. Pele and Terrafina repeatedly blasted at the tower with spells, while Delba and Pieter finished off the overseer and routed most of the goblins. Kiri ducked under the reach of the catapult and smashed the tower’s supports with her hammer, sending the crew scrambling as it slipped from the ogre’s shoulders and smashed to pieces. The ogre went berserk, badly battering Kiri with its tree trunk sized war club, but Delba took advantage of its distraction to unbalance it and send it tumbling into a nearby pit. MORs quickly surrounded the roaring beast and shot it full of crossbow bolts before it could lever itself out of the pit.

With the death of the ogre, the entire left wing of the hobgoblin army collapsed as MORs gleefully chased down and massacred the fleeing goblin auxiliaries. The Southern Guard formed up behind the breathless heroes and awaited orders, as close by, a powerful band of bugbears massed for a counterattack…

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28 The Witch of Fates

Synopsis: While returning to the nearest waygate to make camp for the night, the party is attacked by goblins and an ogre that have all been warped by exposure to the sinister drug Song Spine. After defeating them and setting up camp, Helo encounters the powerful fey being known as the Witch of Fates and learns that she has been involved in his missing past. She also exposes him to the true face of the enemy. The next day, the party navigates past the enemy occupied ruins of Primrose and defeats a wolfrider patrol before it can give away their presence.

After completing their interrogation of the cultist, the party was exhausted from the day’s exhertions and badly needed a safe place to rest. They determined to return to the nearest waygate, but were ambushed by a group of warped goblins on the way back. Having avoided direct contact with any of the warped ones at the lumber camp, they were unprepared for the full horror of the encounter. The goblins were covered in poison coated quills, which they spasmodically launched at the party members, wounding several of them, after which they fled Delba and Helo’s pursuit.

As the heroes closed in to melee, a warped ogre, covered in jaundiced skin broken by painful bony growths, crashed through the undergrowth and attacked Arborea. It battered at her with veiny, overgrown arms, and the dryad made a quick escape through the trees. Kiri rushed to the front of the battle line and engaged the beast, which struck back with a psychic pulse from its grossly swollen throat. The pulse flung most of the party to the ground. Pieter, Helo, Delba, and Pele worked together to bring down the spined goblins, but were injured as the creatures burst in a cloud of poisoned spines.

Terrafina used here divine magic to heal the injured and protect them from the ogre’s berserk attacks. The party rallied and combined their strength against the foe. Finally, Arborea slipped behind the ogre and whipped a vine around the wounded creature’s neck, slowly strangling it.

The party soon reached a safe camp site at the waygate, and rested for the night. During his watch, Helo was visisted by the Witch of Fates, a mysterious fey being of the Court of Stars. The witch told Helo that she had chosen him as her Knight of Shadows. She had plucked him from his former life and hidden his memories. “You were loyally serving a lost cause that was unworthy of you. I chose you for a more worthy cause. Whether it is hopeless as well remains to be seen.”

The witch urged Helo to partake of the powdered Song Spine the party had taken from the cultist the day before, so that he could look on the true face of the enemy. Helo complied, and heard strange, disturbing music as the drug took effect. Looking at the sky, his gaze fell upon the mysterious White Star. His enhanced vision discerned the form of a rust red planetoid. On its surface Helo saw what appeared to be an entire mountain range on its surface peel back, revealing a mercurial sea. To his horror, he realized it was a monstrous eye as large as an entire kingdom.

“See the face of Gharoth, the Wandering Planet. See the face of our enemy. It exists in the Feywild and the Shadowfell also. It comes to consume us all. You have already encountered some of the beings it carries, and also those who have been touched by them.”

“What would you have us do, my Lady?”

“Do as you have been. Protect Pele. She is the key to the coming conflict.” With that, the witch faded into the darkness, leaving Helo to pass a restless night.

The next morning, Terrafina quickly determined that someone had taken some of the Song Spine. Helo struggled to explain the revelation of the night before to his skeptical and concerned comrades. Deciding there was nothing further that could be done, the party packed and entered the waygate. Their path back to the regiment of Evergreen Vale levies and mercenaries took them dangerously close to the occupied city of Primrose, and they were detected by a goblin wolf rider patrol. Taking a defensive position on a low hill, the party formed a wedge shaped battle line and received the goblins’ charge. Absorbing the impact, the heroes struck back, driving away the goblins. Pieter quickly silenced one of them with a storm of arrows. The enemy reformed, and charged again, injuring Pele and knocking her to the ground, but Helo pulled her from the fray. Kiri stepped forward and met the main group of goblins face to face, and Arborea used her nature magic to entangle them, while Delba moved past them to attack the goblin’s commander. The commander fled, abandoning his subordinates, but Kiri used her magical Frost Javelin to slow his escape and then ran him down.

The surviving two goblins, a pathetic pair named Grub and Snotnose, surrendered, and offered themselves up as slaves. After some debate, Pieter agreed to take charge of the pair, and bound them for the remainder of the journey back to the regiment.

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27 Those Who Hear

Synopsis: The heroes defeat the undead denizens of NorthWatch with the aid of Arborea, one of the primeval dryads awakened by the party’s efforts. From the heights of the ruined tower, they observe ominous signs of mass troop movements through the Bronze Kingdoms. Continuing their explorations, they find warped monsters infesting a wrecked hobgoblin logging camp at BorderWatch, and capture one of the hobgoblin cultists that has been manipulating the monsters. The heroes learn disturbing information about the cult’s use of an exotic drug to warp and control its victims – a fate already apparently suffered by the Hobgoblin citystate of the Black Pillar.

As the battle with the undead reached its height, more hobgoblins rose from their shallow graves and joined the attack on the party. However, the heroes received unexpected reinforcements in the form of an angry dryad. The primeval being emerged from the trees and laid into the undead foe with vicious claws and whipping vines. Delba and Pieter picked themselves up and rushed back into the fray. Meanwhile, the specter dissolved under a storm of magical firepower.

The wight continued to strike with black magic from its position of saftey atop the ruined tower, and its horrific visage prevented anyone from coming near. Finally, the dryad whipped a thorny vine around the wight’s wrist and pulled it over the battlement. Struggling to rise on broken bones, the wight was soon dispatched. Terrafina examined the wight’s magical gloves and learned that they had belonged to a cleric of Pelor, and possessed healing powers. Looking west from the heights of the tower, the heroes saw forboding signs across the wastes of the Broken Lands. An immense dust cloud concealed a great army marching south towards the lands of the Black Pillar – its purpose, unkown.

Conversing in elven, Helo and Pieter learned that the dryad was named Arborea. They also determined that she had no memory of her earlier life as an elven druid. Arborea, though suspicious of the strangers, finally agreed to accompany them in their effort to drive the hobgoblins from ElvenWood.

The party decided to use the final waygate to explore BorderWatch, on the western edge of ElvenWood. Arborea, Helo, and Pieter, being the most stealthy, led the way. The woods were infested with warped ones, but the trio were able to avoid them. They soon discovered the ruins of a Black Pillar lumber camp below the bluff on which the ruined tower of Border Watch stood. Dozens of Warped Ones, hobgoblins and their former slaves, all hideously changed, wandered aimlessly. Arborea glamoured herself to resemble one of them and bravely entered the ruins. The warped ones milled about, tearing at the dismembered corpses of their unchanged victims, picking through discarded belongings, and sometimes exploding into violence, destroying whatever was near at hand. Most disturbing were the warped ones who gathered in groups and hummed strange, tuneless melodies that tugged at the edges of the concious mind and were felt as much as heard.

At the base of the bluff, Arborea found a strange hobgoblin wearing a hooded yellow cloak. The hobgoblin seemed to be herding the warped ones to prevent them from wandering away from the camp. When some of them became unruly, the hobgoblin poured a strange yellow powder into a censer attached by a chain to his staff. Lighting the censer, he spread the fumes around the area. The fumes seemed to have a calming effect on the warped ones, but they made Arborea feel ill, and caused disturbing auditory and visual hallucinations.

Arborea and the other scouts returned to the rest of the party and warned them of what they had found. The party decided to abduct the hobgoblin for interrogation. The most difficult part of the operation was successfully evading the warped ones, after which the heroes quickly subdued the hobgoblin and spirited him off into the woods. The ensuing interrogation raised more questions than answers. The hobgoblin revealed that his people, the citystate of the Green Eye, had allied with the citystate of the Red Whip and attacked the lands of the Black Pillar. They used a strange drug called Song Spine to warp their enemies or drive them mad. He referred to himself and his brother cultists as ‘Those Who Hear,’ and claimed that prolonged use of Song Spine granted enlightenment. He was at the lumber camp to keep the Warped Ones together until other cultists arrived to help herd them to Primrose, where they would rendezvous with the army that was hunting down the Black Pillar survivors in ElvenWood. He gave only cryptic answers to questions about the motivation behind the cult’s campaign or its ultimate goals.

Tiring of the cultist’s enigmatic replies, and determined not to have the party burdened with a prisoner on the return trip, Delba drew his sword across the hobgoblin’s throat. The cultist expired with a smug smile on his face. A disgusted Terrafina claimed the cultist’s pouch of Song Spine powder, announcing that she would turn it over to the dwarven alchemists in Ironhome to study for possible use in their great project. After concealing the body, the party prepared for the hazardous journey back to their allies.

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26 Tree Frog and Stonk

Synopsis: The party continues to explore ElvenHome, preparing for their army’s approaching battle with the hobgoblins encamped in the ruined city of Primrose. At the ruins of Laketown they meet a tribe of forest goblins and secure their cooperation through Pieter defeating their bugbear champion in single combat. Later, they investigate the ruined tower of NorthWatch, where they are attacked by undead elves and hobgoblins who died in the invasion twenty years earlier.

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