Campaign date: 2 Ayez (Month of Steam) – 425 A.R.
The heroes cautiously approached the great green Wyrm perched atop Jackmerius Stringfellow’s tower, only to discover that it was an repeating illusion, and that Lord Garland (pictured at left in elven form) was inside, conferring with the visibly-shaken wizard, to whom they overheard the instruction, “You know what you must do.” The Lord of Griffton, ever the champion of noble etiquette, commissioned the party to investigate the reasons for the gnoll attack, providing them with his battle standard to let any would-be attackers know that the party was “under his protection” and promising a reward.
After much debate about their motives, and learning that the Jannian Navy was delayed, the heroes began tracking the gnolls. After a soggy three-day trek into the Westwood of Scimitar Rock, noticing an omnipresent, distant rustling in the jungle at night as well as a growing stench of rot, the party discovered the feral gnolls’ makeshift camp — but the gnolls had been brutally massacred. At the rear of the camp was a wooden cage containing a gnome who was trying his best to remain absolutely motionless.
Stirred to “life” by the heroes’ intrusion, one of the dead gnolls nearest the cage bolted upright, his movements impossibly quick, whipped his ruined head around on what remained of his spine, and rushed the party. He savaged them with his half-mandible, and a strange, wet clucking sound emanated from the back of his rotting throat. This call to arms woke many more of the fallen foes to unlife, and, rising all around them, they mobbed the group, which struggled to survive until the timely application of fire disintegrated the enemies into a spray of cindery ash.
Matters quickly went even worse as the freed gnome captive informed his new allies of two new threats: the pirates of the Summerstar, who he had escaped after they disembarked far south of the Bay of Griffton, and the hunters that decimated the gnolls — a chorus of reptilian screeching and rending claws and teeth in the inky blackness of night.
The party began their trek back to town, and along the way noticed (by climbing a tree) that there was a visible “line” in the distant forest canopy where the lush green colors changed, suddenly, to a unnaturally darker shade.
As the party camped for the night, they heard the sounds of something stalking the camp’s periphery. Heedless of danger, they charged it, only to discover that their foe (or foes) were invisible. The invisible threat bit Rand’s torch-carrying hand clean off, cauterizing the wound instantly with acid, and the paladin fell unconscious. The party used a combination of waving Lord Garland’s banner, a fear spell, and alchemical bombs to drive away the foe(s.)
The party hustled back to town and took Rand to the healer. The healer cured both Rand and Aven of some sort of disease they contracted, and Rand slowly regained his vigor. Rand’s father Baz Barduk, with Gfedcba’s help, fashioned a metal claw so that Rand could wield his earthbreaker.
During the downtime, Gfedcba and Aven combined to perform the greatest act of music that the mote had ever heard. A dragon roar in the far north was heard as the music died down. A young farm couple named their newborn “Aven Maestro Harkshire,” as he was born during the epic performance. As well, it was revealed that Lord Garland had ‘adopted’ the two children orphaned by the starving gnolls’ attack on the farmstead, taking them north to be raised “with every advantage.”
The party encountered Lord Garland, Captain Mordren and an Admiral of the Jannian Navy with a very severe personality in the tavern. Lord Garland paid the grouo fifty platinum pieces for their services to the Griffton. Captain Mordren, speaking on behalf of the Navy, asked Rand where to find Boko, and told him that he was in trouble. The party left to find Boko first, and it appeared as though Archibald Bush somehow signaled for the tavern patrons to crowd the table around the Navy men, so that their pursuit would be hindered. Gfedcba and Fraas used their wiles to delay the pursuing sailors further while Rand and the others hurried to find Boko.
At the Barduk home, Bork noticed a loose floorboard by meticulously hopping on each one. In a hollow, they discovered a piece of leather that clearly wrapped some sort of small cylinder, and part of a children’s toy. Rand puzzled over the toy for a few moments before realizing that it was one piece of a toy he and Boko used to play with in a certain secluded grove on the outskirts of the farms. The party hurried there.
Arriving at the grove, the group found Boko being threatened by pirates, led by two elves, a male and a female. The female elf said “he’s telling the truth, he doesn’t have it,” and the male elf quick-drew a strange device which seemed to explode in his hand — and Boko’s skull exploded in turn.
The group charged the pirates and cut them down, but not before the gunslinger summoned his rescue: “Draugarlond!” Lord Garland teleported right next to the pirate, transformed into his huge, terrifying wyrm form, and then flew away with the pirate on his neck. The gunslinger (made invisible by his partner) yelled out, “what about her?” to which Draugarlond growled out, “Not in the contract.” The piratical elven lady surrendered, obviously shocked at her friend’s abandonment.
Our heroes led this elf woman — named Isolindë — to the Barduk family’s new aerum mine and interrogated her. She offered help freely, though she did not know the details of the plan. She shared the names of her now ex-lover, Galóndil — better known as Blackhail, captain of the Summerstar, and the greater group to which he belonged. This group, known as the Agarchanar, elven for “Brothers in Blood,” is led by Lómil-Galdor, known as ‘the Viper,’ and the self-styled King in the Void. He captains the Greyswan, the flagship of his fleet, and the base was revealed to be in the far south, in dragon-controlled lands known as the Drag-Suar Motes.
Notes: Rand used his detect evil ability to view Draugarlônd for the first time and was nearly overwhelmed by the power of his aura. He was rendered shaking and speechless for his trouble. Lord Garland conscripted Sentinel to be his companion on patrol of the town, choosing to “take a more active role in the protection of Griffton.” Aven identified the symbol hastily scratched into the ground of the gnoll camp as referring to the Patron of the Gnolls.