The Campaign

The story so far:

Prologue:

Our story begins in a tavern in the small town of Skyclave

Skyclave is in many ways an average town placed in the heart of the Bloodstone lands.
The economy is focused mainly on pastoral agriculture and trade caravans.
The area is primarily home to Humans, Dwarves and Goliaths although the trade
caravans bring in many other races and the forests to the west are rumoured
to hold enclaves of Elves and Eladrin.

Skyclave itself has a established population of approximately 2000.
Humans, Dwarves and Goliaths make up roughly a quarter each, with the other
races contributing the final quarter. Trade caravans can account for an additional
transient population of 800. While not an especially religious town there are several
temples in the area devoted to Avandra, Melora and Pelor. Because farmers and traders do
not necessarily come into town very often, it is usual to find roadside shrines to these
gods or indeed any gods that vising merchants may worship.

Leadership within the Bloodstone Lands has been fractured over the last century.
Skyclave itself falls under the Thane of Stormfall.

More than a millennium ago, the lands were united under a great leader. Some called him an oppressive
warlord, others the prophesied rightful king. In either case he united the Bloodstone Lands
and brought peace to the area, for a time.

60 cycles into his reign the king disappeared without explanation. After his disappearance the lands
quickly fell back into fractured infighting. This legend is viewed with skepticism among the people of
the Bloodstone Lands. After years of harsh life, it is perhaps difficult for them to expect anything better.

Lately there have been rumours of the great kings return. By some reckonings this year will be the 1000th year
since the disappearance and such numbers often hold significance.

But such matters do not yet concern the locals of the 'Down the Hatch' tavern…

Episode 1:

Chapter 1:

The story begins in earnest during happy hour in the 'Down the Hatch' tavern.
'Down the Hatch' is owned an operated by Sam, a Human. Sam is something of
a local celebrity due to his time as an Arena fighter. Now retired, he enjoys regaling
young adventurers with tales of his most harrowing fights.

As with any tavern, there are the regular patrons and staff. The most notable patron is Gorn
a lizardman drunkard. A gimmick that Gorn uses on visitors is to bet them that he could not
down 3 ales in under 15 seconds. Unless you have seen him do it, you would not expect him to
be able to.

During this particular happy hour, there was a new visitor to the Tavern. Wearing loose robes and
a dark cloak making it hard to discern his exact appearance. He took a table and reviewed the room.

In the mean time, an unlikely collection of skilled personages were becoming acquainted. This did not
escape the notice of the mysterious visitor. On his behalf a note was sent to the most recognisable of the group
an acrobat of some fame.

The note said:
"I have business to discuss with you. Meet with me at midnight in the back room of this Tavern.
Bring anyone you feel might be beneficial"

Alklyr, for that was the acrobat's name, assembled the unlikely cast of characters and all agreed to
meet with the mysterious stranger later that night. A closer observation of the mysterious stranger's
table revealed that he had left damaged necromantic reagents on the floor near his table. All agreed to meet the stranger, although
time would tell whether he would turn out to be friend or foe.

During their wait for the meeting time, the party struck up conversation with Sam, the bartender.
Sam revealed that his daughter Amilia had been taken by necromancers established in the nearby Thundercrag
mountains. In return for the safe rescue of his Daughter Sam offered the Tavern's back room as an office for
the party, in addition to free room and board for the year.

This generous deal gave the party even more incentive to investigate the mysterious stranger. Even in the
adventure raised personal issues within the team they could always just ignore each other around the bar.
Free room and board is free room and board. In the mean time, the gang bided their time until the meeting.

Eventually the meeting time rolled around. The ranger and wizard met directly with the stranger with the
swordmage covering the door and the rogue hiding the the shadows in the room with wizard and ranger.
The stranger, introducing himself as a Steward of the Order quickly saw through their plan. The order is
renown for their hatred of Necromancers and tasked the group to hunt out and destroy a sect hidden within
the Thundercrag mountains.

It was at this point that everyone realised they could do probably get paid twice for doing the same job.

the Steward explained the damaged reagents had been left in his haste to exit and had probably been damaged by careless foot traffic.
He carried such items (normally contraband) to study them in attempt to understand and defeat necromancers.
He could easily have been lying, however Finn (the ranger) believed that the Steward was on the
level. Finn recognised that the group lacked any divine-inspired members and might face some trouble fighting
hordes of the undead. After Finn's insistence the Steward reluctantly gave up one of his items:

The Coat of Invulnerable Arms:

Some members of the group recognised the name of the coat. However, they also seemed to remember that the
coat had been destroyed in an epic battle inside a volcano. It was not known whether this coat is the original,
a clever forgery or a undiscovered twin. At this point, any help was accepted, the story behind the coat would
need to be answered at a more opportune time.

The coat was given to Viktor, the Swordmage. granting him some minor divine powers and protection from the undead.

While everyone was busy investigating the coat, the Steward slipped away.

Everyone reaffirmed their dedication to this cause. Their reasons differed, from the reward, to honour to
something to keep them busy. In the end their reasons did not matter as they now shared a common purpose.

Chapter 2:

After a good night's rest Alklyr (aka Alklyr the Amazing) offered the group the use of his wagon towed by the two
fine steeds Buttermilk and Marmalade.

Buttermilk and Marmalade:

Buttermilk and Marmalade have been with Alklyr since his time in the circus.
During their time Alklyr has found Marmalade to be the stronger and more
headstrong of the two horses. These are qualities that made Alklyr respect
Marmalade all the more, they are also the reason why Marmalade doesn't like
Alklyr so much. That's not to say that Alklyr doesn't like Buttermilk, it's
just that he likes a challenge.

In his travels Alklyr also learned that Buttermilk likes carrots, while Marmalade hates them.
The two horses reactions to the rest of the group have yet to be seen. So far they have been fairly
docile. Perhaps they have yet to form an opinion of the new arrivals.

Sam allowed everyone to stay the night at Down the Hatch, with the group setting off early the next morning.
Many miles later the group stumbled into an ambush by a horde of the undead.

The group scattered with the Rogue being the fastest to act. He quickly targeted the largest of the 5 skeletons, quickly
taking first blood (or whatever the skeleton equivalent might be). The Ranger and Swordmage quickly followed, closing with the enemy.
The wizard meanwhile remained in the relative safety of the wagon, shooting out bolts of arcane energy against the undead.

After a relatively short battle, the initial skeletons were dealt with. Only minor damage was taken, the rogue being the exception.
It was then that the second wave burst upon the group. The re-enforcements number 4 zombies. These foes would not go down as easy as the
skeletons had.

This new wave emerged almost on top of the rogue. Always the consummate professional the rogue quickly leaped upon his trusty steed
Marmalade and moved forward to both rally the troops and cut off the zombie's escape. Sensing the rogue's cunning plan the Swordmage and Ranger
began thinning the zombies to the East of the Wagon. The Rogue assisted the Swordmage and Ranger, striking from his mount with his trusty crossbow.
Meanwhile the Wizard delayed the zombies to the West, distracting them with a hypnotic trick.

As the zombies to the West fell to the three blades of the Ranger and Swordmage the Wizard fell back to their position. With only two
zombies remaining (and one of those injured) the party closed in for the kill.

With the battle finished, the party began the unenviable task of burning the remains of the fallen. Just as they were finishing a large Goliath
stumbled out of the forest to the South-East. His wounds and exhaustion taking their toll, he collapsed mere feet from the campsite.
An inspection of his injuries suggested that the Goliath (who looked like a fighter) had also been fighting zombies. The party decided that the
enemy of their enemy was their friend and hauled the Goliath into the wagon. At the same time, they would keep a careful watch on him, to ensure that
he did not attack them upon his waking.

The battle having started late afternoon, it was approximately 5pm.

Given that the party had two members who did not require sleep, it was decided to press onward with the hope of attacking the Necromancer stronghold
in the early hours of the next day. The Eladrin and the Drow would take turns controlling the wagon for four hours each. After a shift each the time would be
approximately 1am. The perfect time to attack the necromancers, when they were tired and unsuspecting.

Unfortunately, fate had other plans.

Chapter 3:

Three hours into the trip (about 8pm) the Drow (who had been trancing) saw something move out of the corner of his eye. He hoped that it was his imagination,
unfortunately the Ranger saw it too. As much as they hated to admit it, the glimpse they'd seen of the creature seemed to indicate that it was an adolescent Dragon.

Seconds after the glimpse, the shape landed revealing a skeletal dragon. From its back jumped four skeletons. The necromancers were bringing out the big guns.
The two wasted no time in altering the rest of the group. Viktor took some additional rousing, turns out he's a deep sleeper. The more religious and knowledgeable members of the group recognised the creature as a fearsome Dracholich.

Dracolich:

A handful of evil cults possess a ritual for turning
a dragon into a dracolich against its will. These cults do what
they must to keep knowledge of that ritual from others. When
a dragon is transformed into a dracolich with such a ritual, a
linkage between the cult and the dragon is formed, and the
cult gains influence over the dragon’s behavior.

The group suspects that if the Dracolich's body is destroyed it's
Phylactery (the physical tie linking it to this plane) will be
destroyed too.

Recognising the enemy for what it is, Finn shows uncharacteristic anger, quickly leaping into battle with the Dracolich.
Victor and Gauthak (the Goliath fighter) quickly follow after Finn. But are too far away when disaster strikes.
Finn is quickly stunned by the Dracolich. Continuing the theme of uncharacteristic actions with Alklyr leaping into the
fray to save his friend. Having reached Finn, Alklyr reached deep into his Drow blood and called forth mystical darkness to hide
himself and Finn. The dracolich did not take kindly to this intrusion, swiping blindly into the darkness in an attempt to hit one of them.
Unfortunately for Alklyr, this hit connected dealing significant damage.

Hidden from the Dracolich, Finn recovered from his condition. At the same time, Viktor and Gauthak caught up drawing the attention of the Dracolich from the Ranger and the Rogue. The later two fell back, Alklyr moving to a prone sniper position and Finn moving to the wagon and making preparations to retreat. Kyriele followed her standard method of attacking from the safety of the wagon. Kyriele's focus was the summoning of a ball of living fire. Continuing this intense focus for several minutes Kyriele used the fireball to harry the Dracolich, who was under continuing attack from the Fighter and Swordmage.

In the meantime the Dracolich's 4 minions had all been slain, leaving just the group and the dracolich.

Seeing Finn's preparations to leave Alklyr gave an impassioned speach for him to stand and fight, offering Finn the use of one of his crossbows. Finn moved to Alklyr's side, taking up the loaned crossbow. The warriors were fairing well against the Dragon. At one point Gauthak struck a critical blow knocking the dracolich to its knees. Shortly after this strike, the Dracolich singled out Viktor with a well placed whip of it's tail. This assault left Viktor dazed and easy prey for the Dracolich. At this point a well position trick strike from Alklyr forced the dragon to reposition itself away from viktor. By the time it had stood up, the Dracolich did not have time to attack Viktor before he had recovered.

Being attacked at such an opportune moment angered the Dracolich and it began to move towards Alklyr. Understandably, Alklyr began to run in the opposite direction. By this point he had foiled the Dracolich's plans twice, and was suspecting to feel it's wrath. Unfortunately, Alklyr's movement separated him from the group leading the Dracolich to consider him easy prey. Taking to the air, the dracolich swooped down on Alklyr slashing madly at him. This final assualt brought Alklyr to unconscious, mauling him to within an inch of his life. Were it not for his previous experience and an imperceptible defensive roll his story would have finished here.

His group looked on as the Dracolich took an unconscious Alklyr in its talons. Taking air again, flying back towards the Thundercrag mountains. Towards its lair.

Chapter 4:

Dusting themselves off the rest of the group took time to review the situation. After taking a breather, they decided that nothing had changed, with Viktor taking the reigns of a grieving Buttermilk the rest of the group pushed on towards the Thundercrag mountains.

Meanwhile deep inside the selfsame mountains, an unconscious Drow rogue was begining to stir.
He awoke to find himself magically bound to a stone tablet. With his darkvision Alklyr could see
several cultists, a female human and a robed Eladrin. The female human was bound in the same
manner as himself, her robe had been torn to expose her naked lower body. That's more than he could
stay, the cultists had undressed him.

He inferred that this was Sam's daughter, Amilia. Under different circumstances…
But for now, he had bigger problems, so to speak.

In the mean time, the rest of the party had managed to work their way along the twisted path up to the large ornate door marked with the sign of Vecna.

Back in the ritual room, the robed Eladrin stepped forward. Something about him seemed to be familiar, Alklyr recognised the presence of the Dracolich.
Figuring that it could get much worse, Alklyr risked bluffing his way out of the situation. As expected, this attempt did not work. Furthermore, as a result of these
threats, the dracolich slipped out of his robes revealing himself as entirely naked. This sent a cringe through both the Rogue and the barman's daughter. This spured Alklyr to attempt another bluff, when this result failed the dracolich moved to gently stroke his cheek. Another cringe later, Alklyr decided it would be better to quit while he was ahead.

Meanwhile the group had managed to shift the heavy wooden door to the cultist's lair. This revealed a roughly hewn staircase, turning into a hallway. The Fighter's keen knowledge of his homeland mountains lead him to believe that this lair was an adaption of a much older network of caves. The party pushed on until they came to a locked door.

Back in the ritual room the cultists began to chant. Red and purple glyphs began to dance above the slabs where the two prisoners were restrained.

Hearing some dull chanting echoing through the caves, the rest of the group pushed onward. While no Alklyr the Amazing, Finn capably disabled the lock on the door. This revealed a larger room with two doors. Listening closely, the group determined that the sound of chanting was stronger from the Western door. Finn's nimble fingers did their work and opened this door as easily as the last.

Meanwhile two of the cultists had picked up identical silver chalices. The first was offered to Amilia, who was forced to drink of it. She screamed in pain as the viscous liquid worked its way down her throat.

The Glyph's above Alklyr flashed and he felt part of his life essence fade away.

Alklyr was next for the treatment.

Working their way along through the western entrance the rest of the party heard the chanting become louder and louder. They faced a door that looked familiar.

As the cultist offered the chalice to Alklyr's lips, Alklyr began to flick his head around wildly. Although it took several more cultists to hold him down, they eventually succeeded in forcing the concoction down Alklyr's throat.

Alklyr and Amilia's first words were "What is your bidding master?"

Smashing their way through the familiar door the group found themselves in the same larger room as before. As before they entered from the south. They noted that their previous exit (the Western door) remained open and that now the sound of chanting was strongest from the Eastern door. Despite the situation being disconcerting the group pushed on.

This time the path lead to a large ornate door. From close inspection the door was not locked conventionally, but with powerful magic.
The loud chanting indicated that the ritual was taking place on the other side of the door.

Kyriele, aided by Viktor succeeded in disabling the locking magic and burst open the door to reveal Alklyr on the other side of the room surrounded by cultists dressed in the same robes his eyes glazed over. Fortunately the sight of his friends sparked something within Alklyr, giving him the will to resist the Dracolich's control.

Not letting on that he was now himself Alklyr told his former master than he would handle these interlopers. Crossing the room Alklyr managed to give them a slight wink. Running the last few metres he managed to make it to the doorway and his friends, nearly collapsing in the process. The effort excerted had brought him to the brink of unconsciousness and he did not have much fight left in him.

Leaning against the other side of the wall, Alklyr took a moment to catch his breath before whispering
"finish the bastard".

Chapter 5:

To be continued…

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