Leaving the mountain
With the Kobold chieftan defeated, the Heroes settle in for a rest at the peak of the mountain. As they secure a site, Pip notices a figure spying from the cave. As he calls a warning to the rest, it slips deeper into the cave. Needing rest, the group sets up watch and waits til morning. During his night watch, Pip again sees the figure, but it stays back.
That morning, Karak’s first order of business is to secure the corpse of Ishmeer. He asks if Theirastra will create her glowing disc so that they can transport the wyrmling more easily. Some arcane manipulations and heavy lifting later, the group makes it way back to the base of the mountain, wyrmling in tow. Pip tracks their spy and easily determines it is a Halfling.
They emerge near the base to a cloudy, but dry day. While the sun is hidden, there is no sign of rain. Rounding the last bend in the mountain trail, they see the river and forest before them. Somewhat expectedly, due to the spy they spotted earlier, there are people waiting for them.
A darkly clad, humanoid figure stands on the far side of the bridge. He’s flanked by two bodyguards carrying halberds. To the left another human, by his robes and wielded wand, he is obviously a wizard. Across the bridge, nearest the group, stands an Eladrin woman to the left and a Dwarven man to the right. Both are armed, the Dwarf is particularly well armored. There is no sign of the spy.
“So, finally decided to come down, eh?” speaks the Eladrin in a melodical voice.
Ember steps foward to respond, “Who are you?”
“Its simple dear, we’re here to end this adventure of yours,” she answers as her shield hand raises to the sky. The sudden thwap of crossbows releasing can be heard from the forest beyond. Four bolts fly through the sky, three are poorly aimed, but the fourth scratches Karak.
Caught off-guard for only a moment, Karak quickly closes with the Eladrin. Harnessing the power of Kord, he strikes her to the ground. But his elation is quickly tarnished as she manages to save herself from falling down the 10 foot ledge to the river. His campainions quickly follow suit and battle ensues.
Their halfing spy soon shows himself, having been concealed in some shrub and his poisoned dagger finds Karak’s flesh. Herc joins this melee while Ember and Ardjuna engage the Dwarf. Pip and Theirastra support with arrows and spells. Ardjuna envies the Dwarf’s heavy shield, and for this it is repeatedly slammed into him. Meanwhile the human wizards peppers the field with lighting and the cloaked figure hangs back, issuing orders and inspiring his team.
Although Ardjuna makes claims that the Guild is about to be overwhelmed, his comrades show their might as they bring down both the Halfling and the Dwarf. The Eladrin falls back. They give chase, Herc charging into the cloaked figure. He brings his greatsword down and lands a decent blow.
“Insolent fool. Deal with him.”
As if he kicked a hornets’ nest, a frenzy of blows and bolts find their way to Herc. His Half-Orc strength serves him well and he is able to withstand more hits then a small detachment of men could. Blessings from Kord seal major wounds, the rest Herc takes proudly. His friends come to his aid and a close, crowded melee begins.
Spells, arrows and blows are exchanged. With mumbled arcane words, the figure lets forth an explosion of purple, necrotic energy. The heroes feel the life-sapping power of it but fight on.
“So,” speaks the cloaked figure, “You are the ones who saved that meddling fool! Now I understand.”
The hesitation this statement causes amongst the heroes provides the enemies with time to retreat. They move down the path, into the forest, as the halberdiers and crossbowmen provide cover. Before the companions can break through, they hear hoofbeats. The mysterious figure and his cohorts have escaped.
But left behind were the mounts of the Dwarf and Halfling. The group’s wagon is still tucked into the trees and these mounts are quickly hitched to it. As they load their prize wyrmling corpse, they discuss the mysterious figure’s message. Count Dashwood must be the meddling fool spoke of. Perhaps they have just met the man who sent his would-be assassins.
Returning to King’s Hope
Pip easily tracks the horses of their escaped quarry. Its clear they are heading back to King’s Hope as well. With their wagon load and easy pace, they make it to King’s Hope in five days. As they near, they see little progress has been made on the walls, but there are posted guards. A quick conversation with them reveals that their cloaked friend seemed to arrive three days earlier. The guards also laugh at mention of Dragons. They claim it surely must be an odd lizard or drake of some sorts. The guards do tell them that most people stop by a particular tavern on their way to the developed parts of the city. Maybe someone there remembers the recent arrivals better.
However, the group decides they first better store their wyrmling somewhere and report to Baron Goldburg. They bring the wagon to one of Goldburg’s warehouses and then find the Baron at his office. His receptionist mentions how the Baron has already announced their exploits to the city and will be happy to see them finally back in town. Confused, they wait for Goldburg in one of his meeting rooms.
They learn that two days ago, a man claiming to be part of their group arrived and explained to Goldburg all about their Kobold encounters. He immediately announced his role in removing a threat from King’s Hope and relieving rising pressure to hurry the wall. More interested in showing of their Dragon, Karak insists that they escort Goldburg to his warehouse. Once there they are again laughed at when they claim it is a Dragon. However, they manage to convince Goldburg to study the matter further. As he departs, he promises to hire experts to study the corpse.
Over the next three weeks, the group refreshes themselves at their hall and slowly begin investigating who is responsible for the attempted assassination, spearheading the slowdown of construction and their encounter at the base of the mountain. It is quickly learned that two new, mysterious nobles have arrived in town: Count Wolsner and Lady Dolvain. No one seems to know anything about them when they question dockworkers and Count Dashwood.
However, Pip leads to the discovery of Dolvain’s involvment in pagan ritualistic dancing. Futher investigation of the site uncovers a large ritual circle surrounding it. Its clear that the pagans know nothing of it. Upon extended study, Karak realizes its necrotic nature is sapping life energy from the dancers.
While Karak studies, Ember makes introductions with Wolsner. He is very short with her, and nearly kicks her out after only a few minutes. Not long after, a public forum is called by Count Windhaven. He gives a grand speech about noble blood, respect and tradition. He ends with an accusation that the companions’ guild hall, at the edge of the noble quarters, is a blight upon the nobility. Only those of noble birth should own land in such a place. As a result, a formal inquiry into the ownership of the hall is begun. Examining their records, the group discovers an unknown women to actually hold ownership of the Guild Hall Land Deed, Lady C. Romilda Bellehache. Bringing this to Dashwood’s attention, he states that is the name he was told to put on the deed by Duke Austin himself.
Oblivious to this problem, Theirastra makes negotiations with the Dwarves who had arrived in town a few weeks ago. In atempt to gain moonstones for herself and to satisfy the arcane bind put on her by the Purple Wyrmlings, she puts into motion the exodus of the Dwarves from King’s Hope. Though many leave before formallities are complete, it seems they will soon offically be setting up residence in the mountains to the north.
By the end of the third week since their return, Pip and Ardjuna have begun shadowing some of their suspected nobles. Some odd associations are revealed between many of them as it seems everyone is secretly meeting with each other. Ember leaves to speak with Duke Austin about their land deed and Karak completes his necrotic research on the ritual circle. Though only slowly increasing their knowledge, it seems much is to be sorted out if their are to uncover the villian in their story.