As the group races toward the Old Gridan from the south-east, ribbons of smoke can be seen rising in the sky at the horizon. The battle has already begun. Keothi cries, “We must hurry! The siege has already begun. We may be able to turn the tides if we can only get there in time.” Dassarius, running with the lithe grace of his Eladrin kin, shouts, “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!” An awkward silence follows. “It’s Shakespeare.” “Who is this…Shakespeare?” Aukan asks curiously. “He was a great writer…well…uh…from Earth, I mean. We studied his poems and plays in our schools.” Trello chimes in, “Fascinating! One day you must tell me more about this…Shakespeare.”
The morning of the third day of marching, their forces finally arrive within range to survey the area. The southern, main gate is ablaze, with a contingent of orcs, goblins, undead, and other foul denizens literally throwing themselves at the gate to gain entry into the city. Archers on parapets and ground forces alike fight to hold back the waves of attackers. Keothi observes a force advancing on the eastern gate with a battering ram. The defenses on that side also did not seem as strong or well-organized. After outlining a rudimentary battle plan, the group charges the eastern gate along with about 40 Mowandahi soldiers. The soldiers were ordered to form and keep two battle lines, one along the southern side of the enemy and one along the eastern side, cutting off their rear escape route, leaving only their northern side exposed, which is where Keothi and Aukan charged into the fray.
In the center of the enemy forces stood a huge orge, whose skin was pale and pallid, looking very similar to many of the other undead creatures around him. To the north of the enemy forces, their commands huddled in a tight group. It was this group that Keothi and Aukan were focused on. Dassarius, reaching out with his arcane senses, was able to determine that the enemy forces were being controlled or communicated by magical means, and that the source of this control came from the north. He deduced that it was the group on the northern edge of the enemy forces that was in command, and not the ogre.
The group literally exploded onto the battle field. In order to thin out the enemy forces, they focused first on eliminating some of the weaker enemy soldiers, and outnumber and overwhelm them. Dassarius flung a crystal globe into the fray, and it exploded with roaring flames, engulfing 7 or 8 of the soldiers. Tobogo summoned a child wind that eliminated another 7 or 8 enemies. Keothi, in an electrically charged rage, electrocuted any enemies that came too close to him. Tobogo, Trello, and Dassarius then turned their focus to holding back the ogre, who was called Koptila. Dassarius forced a dark nightmare into his psyche, controlling his movements and keeping him away from Keothi and Aukan who were engaged with the spellcasters along the northern line of battle. Trello reacted instinctively, bolstering his allies strength and moving them out of harm’s way. Koptila would try to close in on his targets by teleporting them within his reach. Trello and Dassarius were able to help each other keep a safe distance from the orge.
Keothi and Aukan descended upon the spellcaster group, which consisted of a necromantic Reaver Lord, a Wizard wearing red robes, and two shifters from an evil tribe that rivals the Mowandahi. The Wizard teleported away from Keothi’s opening blow, drawing his attention and his rage. The wizard fell soon after, thanks to Aukan’s ability to call on the forces of nature to hold an enemy in place. Luck seemed to have been with Keothi, who was able to brutally fell one of the shifters and the Reaver Lord. Across the battle field, Koptila, the orge, who was being blasted from afar by Dassarius and Trello’s ranged attacks, could be heard screaming in agony, as Tobogo, in the form of a ferocious bear, clawed into his flesh, rending the life from his body. As the Reaver Lord dissolved into thin air, his chilling voice cracked and cackled a warning, “Lord Melorin will defeat you!! His will shall be done!!”
When this battle came to an end, the ogre, wizard, necromancer, two shifters, and 32 enemy soldiers all fell under the might of these five heroes.
With a mighty swing Keothi flicks the blood from his axe and gives it a quick glance to check for damage. Smoke and dust fills the space where the Reaver Lord once stood. Seeing many of the enemy soldiers running panicked and confused, he shouts “Try to escape and we will hunt every last one of you down so I can personally crush your faces under my boot!! Surrender and we’ll let you live!” Whichever troops were wise enough to surrender, Keothi orders them to be taken hostage for questioning later.
The team searched the blighted remains of the reaver lord and his crew. On the razorclaw shifters they found a pair of intricately crafted matching platinum necklaces, 2 coin purses, and two healing potions. On the wizard, a pair of magical bracers and on the pale reaver lord, a magic amulet in the shape of crude looking V with a skull in the crook of the V is also found. After further inspection, on the forehead of the skull is a raised etching of what looks like an obelisk, oozing with dark, necrotic magic. After careful examination, Dassarius determines that it is magical but he is not sure what its powers are since he is unfamiliar with this kind of magic.
The team meets up with Asura, Yolanda, Arjahn, and Quolema. They look tired and battered, but otherwise uninjured. They are mostly glad that they showed up when they did. A few more minutes and their forces would have been overwhelmed, the doors breached, and the city overrun. They continue gathering what forces they can, organizing them into squads and setting out to track down and eliminate any creatures they can find, fearful of the havoc they could cause to any town or village caught in their wake. Arjahn is staying to tend the wounded.
After debriefing with Prefect Cadmore, Keothi suggests that efforts be made to alert Mayor Eldin of Gridan of the recent attack and that he be persuaded to join in the efforts to bolster the region’s defenses and a common evil.
Dassarius, along with Trello the Bard, and Tobogo the Druid, learn that further information may be garnered about the mysterious amulet from a man named Willum Trint, who resides in the House of Knowledge, and holds the position of Keeper there. They take leave of Keothi and Aukan, and proceed across town to the great library. Originally this building was one of the most important in the city, with a huge domed ceiling and thick, textured columns, heavy copper engravings are emblazoned on the grand front doors and ornate stonework all around. While still majestic, like most of Old Gridan, it has lost its luster, and now looks a mere specter of its former glory.
Willum Trint is summoned when Dassarius, in his regal and majestic attire requests an audience with him. Willum appears shortly thereafter, an old human man with glasses, a long tuft of hair growing from his chin. He is bald on top, and what hair is growing is long and not wholly unkempt. He wears the scholarly robes of the highest ranking loremasters, with multiple layers and long vertical stripes of color. Three black velvet bars adorn each sleeve, and multiple chevrons and other insignia indicate his rank and educational attainment. He wears a gold medallion around his neck, a symbol of the special honor the Council of Elders bestowed upon him when he became keeper of the tomes some 2 decades ago. As Old Gridan is the site of one of the World Gates and was the center of all happenings in ages past, it has many historical records of the happenings of Terra. He is a grizzled old man, streetwise and savvy. He is most concerned about his own financial state, which is pretty poor, and then of the state of his beloved, ancient tomes.
“Oh, mighty warriors, saviors of Old Gridan, you ask questions of a time long past. It will take me much time and effort to wade through stacks of books, lifting the heavy tomes with my frail body. Much effort… much time, much time…” Sensing that perhaps some gold would be the perfect lubricant for the aged professor, Trello slyly steps forward and subtly places a gold coin in his palm.
“I am old and tired, and it takes a lot to get my wheelhouse cranking, but once something has got me going, I work quickly…”
Loremaster Trint leads them up to a wing of the library that is clearly in disrepair. Scrolls, loose pieces of parchment and open books clutter every corner of this room. After flipping through a number of tomes, he informs them that the symbol of the corroded V with the skull was the symbol that Ventus and his followers used. He stops for a moment and says, “Ah, here it is.” He pulls out one of the many volumes on the history of Old Gridan. He flips through it to the section on the events of long ago, and stops at a picture on the page. It shows exactly what can be seen in the amulet, with only one small difference. The amulet has a small etching of an obelisk on the forehead of the skull. The picture of Ventus’ symbol in the book, does not.
“Huh… that’s funny,” Willum says. With the mention of Lord Melorin, he raises an eyebrow, stares at his stacks of books, and yanks one out of the middle of one pile. He flips through it, muttering incomprehensibly to himself. “AHA… here it is. Melorin Ankh. Ah, yes… I recall these stories now. Nasty piece of work he was. You may recall at the downfall of Ventus, there was a great battle between his lieutenants and the local guard. The lieutenants escaped, but weren’t necessarily unheard of again. Melorin Ankh was one such lieutenant. Things were very quiet after Ventus’ disappearance, but some time later, it is written here that there was some commotion in Craymoon City, and Ankh was at the center of it. The details are vague, but it does say that Melorin Ankh was killed. He appeared to be searching for something, had murdered and tortured several people in the city. There was a confrontation between him and the Magi of Moonveil, where he was overpowered and killed. Ah, look at this. It seems that even at the time of his death, Melorin Ankh was faithful to Ventus, as he still brandished the V symbol about. But do you notice anything special about the drawing of Melorin’s amulet? It also bears the etching of the obelisk on the forehead. I wonder what the significance of that symbol is?”
Trint is conversely also very interested in the new Travelers’ story. Dassarius, with a fox’s cunning, offers to relate the tale for the price of one gold coin. Trint calls for a parchment and ink and pens, and begins furiously scribbling notes as the story unfolds.
Back at the barracks, Keothi and Aukan begin their interrogation of the prisoners that were taken captive after the battle. Aukan attempts to shake some information out of one of the surly looking captives, and not getting a satisfactory answer, bashes him into the dungeon wall, splitting his skull. Keothi steps forward, and tries a more diplomatic approach. Again, unsatisfactory results lead to a quick and painless death. Keothi swiftly crosses his greataxe around the prisoner, and sinks the blade into the back of his neck. The third prisoner is much more cooperative. “Black hooded people came, wearing shiny amulets, and they grabbed at the shiny around their neck and that’s all I remember!” After further interrogation, the Goliaths learn that all of these prisoners seen to have been enlisted against their will, and dominated on the battle field, controlled by black-robed figures with shining amulets. They were wrested from their homes, mostly in the south, near Clover Bay, and the caves surrounding that region.
The team regroups to share the information they learned, and agreed that the City of Craymoon must be their next stop. Before resting and engaging in a bit of merrymaking, Keothi arranges to have word sent to his father that he and Aukan will be heading east, to represent the Goliath Tribes, and he asks that his father send warriors and shamans to aid in the fight against evil on Terra. Keothi also sends word to Asura and her team, to ask them to look out for sings of black-robed magicians wearing V-shaped amulets that seem to have been used to enthrall the army that recently attacked Old Gridan.
Trello learns that the Nentir Inn and the Gnome Taphouse are both excellent place to rest and rejuvenate the spirit.
That night, while deep in his trance, Dassarius he has flashes of memory, of walking down crowded city streets, of seeing violet moonlight streaming through a distant waterfall. He remembers being in someone’s study with Rideon and Kelmar and some other figure whose face never comes into focus clearly enough to identify. The memory is faded, but he sees someone holding Kelmar’s bracelet, hears some muffled words, and a feeling of joy and celebration washes over his consciousness. He awakes with the picture of someone he can’t quite remember holding Kelmar’s bracelet. He knows that he was in Craymoon City.