Aldaron

Drow Infestation:

Be prepared, the Drow seem to be making headway in our land. Having secured Moonbrooke, at least temporarily, we head to the capital with reinforcements or so we thought. We have encountered several Drow war bands. They have been supported by Grimlocks and strange poisonous insects. On several occasions they have nearly succeeded in ending my life. They seem to have a special inherent hatred for me and will target me whenever possible. I will figure out a way to take advantage of their hatred. Despite my initial vulnerability to the Drow my blade has served me well. Slowly I am learning to coordinate my wizardry with the blade. Yesterday cornered by a Drow, I lashed out at it catching it mid-chest. Aided by a Song of Triumph, with one blow I severed it from shoulder to waist. To my amazement there at my feet lay a Drow. This is my first Drow kill. The Drow can be beaten with practice and concentration.

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Week 1
The Journey North

The party was given its first tastes of the world of Aldaron. Each person was pulled from their home, tempted with different rewards, for their service in an Elven sanctioned journey.

One man, a wizard, traveled from Weatherlight to Taylon on a boat and was introduced to Alana Silverleaf, an elf from the surrounding forest. The two shared conversation as they were herded into large, fast traveling wagons and began their journey north.

A half-orc, named Varak, was pulled into the conflict as well, despite his disagreement with the Elvish Court representatives. He traveled to Taylon as well, then north in a separate wagon.

It took five days to travel from Taylon to the Elven Military city. After six hours of rest, they were placed back into their wagons and began a five day trip further north, through The MadLands. They finally stopped their travels on the outskirts of a desolate land. Standing at the edge of this area, one can see a strange water source that flows north from the edge of the desiccated plane, parallel to a mountain range in the east. The two create a passage that travels north, trapped between the strange river and the steep mountain range, and the party is informed that after two days of rest, they will continue down this pass on foot.

After being released to explore the camp, the group discovers numerous conflicts arising in the camp and it is apparent that, if a battle were to be fought, the contention would lay waste to army.
The group begins to amend these quarrels, as best they can, and are introduced to some significant individuals. They begin to create their reputations among the groups as they attempt to heal the fractures.

They are successful in numerous of their ventures.
Thorodron, the Wizard, makes friends with a particularly nasty gnome and Simon Tealeaf — a halfling merchant. He then works his way in close with a group of Dwarves, earning himself some drinking buddies as the night progresses.
Alana Silverleaf, the Elven Hexblade, dances her way through the conflicts, bringing a much needed release of tension to the men of the army. She manages to calm quarrels between guards and criminals as well as get introduced to a particularly interesting sell sword, Vance, who may now own her a debt of gratitude.
Varak, the half-orc urban ranger, eases conflict between Lady Seriah Dwin’ania and a concerned halfling investor, despite his brutish approach. He meets opposition, however, when he encounters a group of arguing humans and half-orcs from the Eastern Kingdom. Alana is unable to subdue the crowd with her dancing and a fight breaks out. The humans walk away from the conflict after it is brought to an end, though Varak secures his place with the half-orcs of the Eastern Kingdom and promises retribution to Uther of Sunkeep.

The group is also introduced to Thrace, a cleric from the Dwarven presence. Thrace and Alana spar numerous times and share in limited conversation.
The night draws to a close as Thrace, standing beside Alana and Thorodron, challenges a group of young, Eastern Kingdom mercenaries, to a battle. She hopes to teach them a lesson in humility to ease their overzealous search for their own blood.

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Week 2
The Ambush

The party’s journey continues with a three v. three fight between Thrace, Alana, and Thoradron and three, young, human fighters from the Eastern Kingdom. Though the argument started between Thrace and the three mercenaries as a means to help them recognize their overconfidence, it quickly turned into a battle of bloodshed. Alana severely injures one of the mercenaries in the first few second of battle and Thrace drops the second, while Thoradron keeps them busy with illusions and dazes.
The mercenaries drop their weapons, recognizing their folly in their confidence, and surrenders to Thrace, Alana, and Thoradron. Thrace offers them words of wisdom and they tend to the mercenaries wounds.

The entire encampment bunkers down for the evening, expecting a good night’s rest before marching into the desolate land before them in the morning. In the middle of the night, however, the party is awoken by loud horns sounding the approach of danger.
The party arises and Thrace, a member of the Dwarven Priests, dons half of her armor and positions herself between two encampments, followed closely by Thoradron who had camped with the Dwarves the night before. Alana attempts to gather her bearings and locate Thoradron as the battle begins.
The army is quickly overcome by swarms of dexterous, ape-like creatures, covered in their own filth and screeching madly as they overtake the camps. A long, arduous battle begins as the party attempts to survive the long night.
Thrace maintains her position as a healer for the army while Thoradron travels with her and a small band of other fighters, distracting enemies to the best of his ability. He also ends up serving the purpose as a loudspeaker for the army, warning of oncoming attacks and dangerous enemies. Alana continues to try and follow the sound of Thoradron’s voice, but ends up trapped between two camps by numerous enemies. Varak, the half-orc ranger, attempts to fight his way towards the river, ripping through any enemy that comes between him and his goal. A mysterious monk defends an entire camp with deft blows, dealt swiftly and efficiently.

In the second wave of enemies, new figures spring up around the battlefield. These cloaked figures take joy in slaughtering their enemies, taking time to stare into their victim’s eyes as their life blood drains away.
Thoradron and Thrace attempt to defend a camp facing these new enemies while Varak has managed to largely outmaneuver them. Before him, however, he witnesses Lady Seriah Dwin’ania battling several of these figures on her own and appears to be holding her ground with ease, armed with two weapons and coated in the blood of her enemies. Alana, trapped between two camps, is cornered by one of these figures. As she attempts to outskirt the cloaked individual, it rushes to her, the hood of the cloak falling around the figures shoulders. Alana recognizes the figure from old tales and nightmares — The Drow.

Her shouts of horror draw the attention of the mysterious monk from the northern camp and not at all too soon. The monk crosses the battlefield and confronts the Drow, who, in his surprise, creates a dome of darkness around the three. The monk, however, is blessed with darkvision and continues to pursue the Drow — who is dead set on ending Alana’s life.
Alana manages to escape the darkness, but not before sustaining damage from the deadly Drow. She nearly takes another hit, but the Drow misses by mere inches. The monk continues his assault on the Drow, who manages to get swept away in the next wave of creatures.
Alana is knocked to the ground by the charging creatures and cannot find the strength to pull herself to her feet again. The monk slings her over his shoulder and attempts to cross the battlefield with her limp body as she cries out for the assistance of a medic. A Dwarf charges across the field, stops briefly to heal Alana, and runs off again. With her regained strength, the monk drops Alana to the ground.

Meanwhile, Varak has approached Lady Seriah as she fends off the creatures that had surrounded her. His and one of his orc friends manage to provide some assistance to the Elven Captain. As the last of the enemies fall, Seriah and Varak exchange words about the defeat of the army. Varak attempts to approach her about creating a small scouting party and Seriah eludes to a larger problem looming on the horizon, insisting that she be left alone for now.
Alana retreats from the bloodied field to recuperate her strength while Thrace makes rounds to assist her fellow Dwarves in saving those who can be saved.

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Week 3
Preparing to Travel South

In the aftermath of the battle, each party member takes to their own path in efforts to reorganize the remaining forces.

Alana Silverleaf, with the assistance of Thoradron, attempt to organize the scattered and confused troops. They begin to set up a perimeter around the, now destroyed, camp while organizing an effort to set up a triage to treat the injured.
Thrace maintains her position among her Dwarven brothers, healing those that require it and easing the passing of those who have stepped too far to the other side.
Varak wanders the battlefield, relieving corpses of unneeded possessions — smug in his correct assertions about the fate of the unprepared army that had marched to their death.
A new arrival is also introduced — a human rider that had earned his place among the Elven Grove, a sect of druids. He contacts Lady Seriah Dwin’ania immediately and redoubles the efforts of organizing the remaining people.

As time passes, people become more focused and organized, which allows the party to focus on other tasks. Among these tasks are gathering information from Lady Dwin’ania, who has become concerned with a matter she still holds a secret, repairing the broken wagons, gathering supplies, assisting in the healing of fallen allies, and gathering and preparing forces for another trip.
The new arrival, Cadrel, managed to speak to a sell sword survivor — Vance — in order to use his influence to convince brigand troops to journey with the army, as opposed to traveling in their own direction.
Thoradron, in his efforts, learns of the Halflings plans to head south, as well as the Dwarves plans, and urges them to travel safely in a group — after he fails to convince the Dwarves to stay. He does manage, however, to provide assistance to the Dwarves and earn another twenty-five soldiers for the marching force, as well as recruiting Thrace into the party.
Thoradron and Alana also work together, with some of the organized force, to repair the wagon wheels for faster travel.
During this time, Varak learns about the ambush of Erudwen and is instructed by Lady Seriah Dwin’ania to form a competent party of individuals and to head this specialized task force. It will be his duty to lead this group into the most dangerous of situations in order to protect the fractured army as it journeys through Erudwen.

As the next day begins, the party starts their travel south towards Moonbrooke, the militaristic city of the Elves — located on the edge of a lake just outside of the Forest of Erudwen.
As they travel, they encounter burrowing gibberlings — prepared for the enemy this time around, however, the party has little trouble dispatching the foe.
Thoradron, Cadrel, and Thrace also manage to bond, ever so slightly, over Cadrel’s misbehaved pegasus.

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Week 4
The Siege of Moonbrooke

This week introduces the party to some interesting dynamics and new challenges.

The rest of the journey to Moonbrooke goes smoothly and, on the way there, the party is introduced to Varak — a young, half-orc urban ranger who has been tasked with leading a small and competent strike team — who asserts his control over the group, by order of Lady Seriah Dwin’ania. Seeing little room for disagreement, the party agrees to his invitation — if it could be called such.

Upon arrival to Moonbrooke, the party notices Elves on the battlements waving the army away. The party calls for a full stop and their word is heeded by the caravan.
They are informed, shortly thereafter, that he is too ill to assist them in any challenges they may face that day — he entrusts them to do what they must to ensure the survival of the army.

The party, determined to discover why they are being waved away, journey forward on their own towards the front wall of the keep. As they draw closer, they are surprised to see a disturbance in the ground outside of the front gate. As they are inspecting the strange mass of moving earth, their attention is drawn to a raven flying overhead, directly for the camp.
The group waits for a messenger to bring word, while they ponder what may be under the earth. Thrace grows bored, however, and volunteers to make the run herself. She returns a few minutes later with the information contained within the letter from the Keep.
The party is informed that there are monsters under the ground, that the Elven boats are being destroyed by lightning, and that the Drow are camped in the forest to the west and that they had taken prisoners.
The group asks the Elves five questions in a return response. The response comes quickly, but as the raven is flying back a dark figure emerges from the tree line to the west and shoots the raven down with a perfectly executed longbow shot. The raven, and the message attached to its leg, falls into the disturbed area.
Thoradron and Cadrel make plan to ride Cadrel’s horse into the area, as fast as possible, and retrieve the message. As their journey begins, however, the monsters emerge from the earth — every twenty to twenty-five feet — to attack the horse as it gallops across the area.
Alana attempts to shoot the monsters, but is unsuccessful, and — with an impressive feat of riding — Thoradron is able to retrieve the message and the two return relatively unscathed. Cadrel’s mount, however, is worse for wear and Thrace assists by healing the steed.

The returning message informs the party that the Elves have been unsuccessful in killing any of the monsters and that they emerge from the ground and eat anyone that tramples on their ground for too long — they also learn that the Drow force is of an unknown number, but that they are capturing and torturing Elven prisoners; the lighting seems to be coming out of the water in order to destroy their ships, and that each night there is a strange Darkness that consumes the center of each of the disturbed areas.

This leaves the group with numerous options — figure out a way to defeat the monsters, investigate the Drow force in the forest, and to discover where the lighting is coming from in the water.
The party decides to investigate the Western Gate together. As they arrive there, they find that three Elves have been tortured — severely — and put on display. Alana explains that they cannot leave them there to hang and suffer, so the group travels to them.
Upon arriving, Thrace leaves the contents of her stomach on the ground a few feet away while Alana begins the process of figuring out how to remove them from where they are secured. As they are removing the Elves, two Drow emerge from the forest with another three Evles. Once the first of the three are removed from display, they begin to torture the first Elf.
Thrace, upon realizing what is occurring, attempts to dissuade Alana from continuing — Alana rejects the idea and continues what she is doing. For each removed Elf, another elf is tortured to take their place. Thrace, sickened by the display, runs from the scene to return to camp.
The party follows after her momentarily and upon arriving to the camp Thrace informs them that if Alana insisted on returning barely living souls to the camp at the direct expense of untortured Elves, she would be remaining in camp to tend to them — effectively severing herself from the group.
As the group fractures once more, Thoradron and Cadrel decide to investigate the water while Alana examines the disturbed area in order to figure out a way to disperse them.

Thoradron and Cadrel, while investigating the water, are distracted by the magic that the Keep’s walls contain. They spend a majority of their time investigating the magic of Moonbrooke — fighting through the keep’s illusions to discover something quite impressive.
They also speak to some of the Elves within the keep and discover that they only have around 200 remaining forces — the rest has been marched south towards the Elven capital, but they never heard from the force of 600 men. They assume that they had been ambushed and destroyed by the Drow forces.
Alana attempts numerous plans in order to dispatch the monsters under the earth. Arrows appear to be ineffective and she retreats to the camp to ask Seriah about the possibility of amassing a group of spell casters to damage the creatures. Alana is informed that they only surviving spell casters, from the ambush near the mountains, are her, a human wizard (Thoradron) and the single Dwarf that remained.
Alana stops to speak with Thrace, asking if she had any spells that may assist in destroying the monsters. Thrace, at first, ignores Alana — obviously still angered by her actions earlier in the day — but then informs her of the knowledge she has of the monsters.

The monsters are called Grick and they are, usually, deep dwelling creatures that the Dwarves discover while digging their tunnels. They rip apart their prey and the Dwarves often dispatched groups of well-trained soldiers to deal with them. Those at the gates are behaving strangely, from the information that Thrace has on them, and it is her personal belief that they best way to deal with them would be to discover why they are acting strangely and find a way to send them back under ground.
Alana accepts that there is no physical way to damage the Grick and, instead, focuses her efforts on the Drow forces.

Alana returns to the western gates with a small following of twenty-five soldiers. She discovers that a new group of three elves are in the process of being hung out for display. Her and the soldiers charge across the ground and attempt to kill those responsible for hanging the elves there — their journey takes too long, however, and they are left with three Elves nailed to boards.
As they attempt to remove the elves, Drow come from the forest carrying repeating crossbows. As Alana attempts to remove the elves, the Drow begin to fire into her following and people begin to drop, unconscious, to the ground. Alana attempts to rally elves from behind the wall as she fires back against the Drow.
She barely manages to escape and a majority of her men are left unconscious on the ground. Luckily, for her and her reputation, most of the men return to the camp after recovering from the poison tipped arrows of the Drow.

As night approaches, the group decides to set up a small watch — consisting of themselves — in order to watch what occurs during the night.
Alana, with an impressive display of diplomacy, manages to convince another twenty-five men to follow her to set up a secondary drow watch.

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Week 5
Breaking the Seige

This week, the group’s appointed leader, Varak, has recovered enough from his illness to join them at the disturbed are to scout the Drow’s nightly activities. The group sets themselves up in small groups, with Cadrel and Varak each protecting one of the group’s magic users. Thrace sets herself up a few feet away in an attempt to gain a better vantage point to the west.

As the night progresses, the Drow journey from around the keep wall and along the keep in order to access the disturbed area. The group shifts slowly, hoping to figure out what the Drow are doing before they charge in. As the party finally moves forward enough to see the Drow, they discover that they are doing something with a magical device in the ground.

It takes only a few moments for Varak to charge forward and engage the Drow, at the prompting of Thoradron. After a few arrows are fired at the Drow party, the Drow darkness is used. Thrace, being the only other person with Dark Vision, enters the disturbed area to provide Varak with some much needed backup, albeit much more warily than the half-orc. Varak fires off a double shot, downing the Grimlock who was replacing the magical item, but it is replaced with a second.

As the final Grimlock traveling with the Drow draws closer to completing the goal of switching out the magical item for another, Varak charges his way across the disturbed area — drawing the attention of only one of the Grick. Thrace follows him into the darkness soon after, leaving the rest of the party to fire blindly into the darkness or focus on the retreating members of the Drow group.

In an amazing feat of strength, Varak pulls the magical item from the ground while a Grick and Grimlock batter him with attacks. Thrace attempts to distract the Grick, but is unsuccessful as her movements bring another from the ground. At the prompting of the group, Varak runs for the edge of the clearing, lucky to not draw the attention of the Grick. Thrace, as the retreats, however is not so lucky.

As the two emerge from the disturbed area, they discover that the disturbances under the ground seem to be following Varak — the one holding the magical item. The group deduces that the item is what is calling the Grick, and Thoradron determines that he should be able to disable it. Thoradron and Cadrel mount his horse to gain speed over the expanding disturbed area and give time for Thoradron to complete his task.

The group bunkers down for the rest of the night, which is uneventful. The following day, the group returns to the disturbed area to find the Grick still inhabit it. The combined knowledge of the group allows them to figure the it will take time for the effects of the item to wear off. This leaves the group, confident that the Drow will not return during the day, with a day to prepare for the coming nightfall.

There is minor disagreement in what to do with the second area to the west, but ultimately the group separates to set up traps, check on rescued prisoners, and discuss tactics with the elves on the other side of the wall. As night approaches, the group sets themselves up with a small guard at the gate to defend it. They see a group of Drow approaching as the week’s adventure comes to a close.

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The Journal of Varak

The 22nd day of the month of Highsun, according to the reckoning of the Severed Hands, in the second year since I left the tribe for the human lands

We spend our days packed in wagons and I find myself with lots of time to sit and think. In my time with Jamlain, the barkeep that aided me in the city of Bop, I noticed that humans tend to write things down as a way to pass along knowledge. This was not done among the Severed Hands, or any other orc tribe I am familiar with. Since I fled the tribe to learn more of the human ways, I will indulge my human ancestry and attempt to record my experiences and thoughts.

I’m on a journey north, towards the lands I know as the Gallows. I’m part of what seems to be a mercenary army. At first, I thought this was an elvish attempt to spare their own over-valued lives, but I have learned that the halflings are also involved up to their necks. Whoever is in charge, they are doing a piss poor job of leading and organizing this horde. Even the Severed Hands showed more preparedness when raiding. In any case, it feels like we are being led to the slaughter, and it’s not just me that feels this way. The entire horde is on edge and tempers run short.

Jamlain would have been pleased I think – I actually tried to reason with a human, despite his big mouth. Arrogance and stupidity in one person – how convenient! My only hope is that I have a chance to avenge myself upon him before he is killed by his own foolishness.

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Varak's Journal

The 29th day of the month of Highsun, in the reckoning of the orcs of the Severed Hands.

Just a few quick notes while I take a break from the clean-up.

I was right. And I’ve looked into the lifeless eyes of every elf body I’ve had to drag off for disposal and reminded the arrogant, pointy-eared, swelling corpse just that – I, Varak, a half-orc and inferior in your estimation, was right.

We were not ready. The enemy hit us with waves of annoying, filthy beasts in the middle of the night and the camp was overrun before anyone could get organized. Among the waves of beasts were drow. After wreaking havoc among the elves, they fell back to regroup. If they had had any serious force available, they would have massacred us. They did a fair number on the elves.

Back to work. I’ll have to carefully check the bodies and see if I can find a composite bow or some more daggers. I have a feeling I’ll need them.

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The 10th of Firewane

Varak’s Journal; The 10th day of the month of Firewane, according to the reckoning of the Severed Hands.

Darkness, pain, dizziness, my limbs don’t seem to respond as they should. Where am I?

And then memory comes flooding back.

After some discussion, we decided to push on to the elven capital with our remaining soldiers, escorting wagons. When word came back from the scouts of a village, a small group of us went forward to investigate.

The village seemed abandoned, but I noticed a lot of tracks, heading towards the central building, with two smaller trails to outbuildings. Alana had drawn her bow, and I knew Cadrel was mounted on his warhorse, so I headed to one of the outbuildings and prodded some strange mounds of dirt with my dagger. The mounds proved to be grimlocks.

Alana and Cadrel quickly arrived at my side and we dealt with the grimlocks. But another wave was coming through the village on our flank, and more were massing to our front, backed up by three drow. Things were starting to look bleak. Thrace was facing maybe a half dozen grimlocks by herself, Cadrel’s horse had gone down with a drow bolt buried in it’s flesh, and the drow were casting their darkness spells. We were cut off from the woods we had come from, and we needed to take shelter in one of the nearby houses. Alana had gone down somewhere in the darkness, but I tied up three grimlocks and Thrace was able to reach Alana. I was bleeding from numerous wounds as we fell back, finally collapsing just before reaching the house.

Here I sit, disabled from my wounds, apparently carried in by Torent. If I can do nothing else, I will sit, facing the door, with my blade in my hands. I only ask for enough strength to take one of my enemies into death with me.

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17th of Firewane

Varak’s Journal; The 17th day of the month of Firewane, according to the reckoning of the Severed Hands.

The house we had sought shelter in seemed quite defensible. Thrace got busy attending to our wounds, and before long, Alana headed upstairs to scout and I quickly followed. We discovered that there were no windows, but there were locked chests on the floor and items on the shelves about the room. As we began to gather stuff, we heard creatures climbing up the outside walls to the roof. They proceeded to tear holes in the roof, dropping down on Alana and I, cutting us off from the stairs down. Grimlocks!

Alana backed into a corner, and I was knocked down by several grimlocks dropping through the roof. I lay on my back, wildly swinging my falchion until I was finally able to withdraw into another corner. As we fought for our lives, Cadrel and Torent charged up the stairs and joined the fight. We quickly dispatched the grimlocks, gathered the treasures, and headed back for the caravan.

We soon became aware of a drow scouting party that was going to overtake the caravan. Carefully selecting an ambush site, we surprised a band of grimlocks, being directed by a couple drow. While we destroyed the grimlocks, the drow found the caravan and took off into the woods. I stayed behind to get the caravan moving while the rest of the party pursued. Shortly after setting out, Thrace showed up, riding Cadrel’s horse and looking for me. The rest of the party was about to plunge into some denser woods and my tracking skills would be useful.

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