Excerpt from Olluvia’s diary August 3rd:
“After having determined the contents of the Vraath keep vault, and lack of further information regarding the keep’s current residents, we convinced Rita to leave the majority of the threasure in for later retrieval (in order to pacify her concerns about it being stolen, we covered the trap door with the rug in the bedroom above) and returned to the far more pressing search for the ‘robed figure’ we had seen fleeing before. The last thing we needed was any of these foul creatures alerting a larger force to our presence.
Rita and The Tiefling lead the way stealthfully through the ‘barracks’ which contained a poor taxidermy of an owlbear stuffed with hay that reeked of wet wolf fur, across the narrowest section of the courtyard, and through the room containing what was clearly the Manticore’s nest. We found ourselves in the gatehouse, with no apparent clues as to where the figure had gone. I feared the worst, that he was fetching backup as we counted coins. Sorrel and The Tiefling suggested closing the gate, to prevent further incoming opponents, and as I was concerned about the same did not think anything of it. However, in hind sight, perhaps it was not the smartest idea, as it made a great deal of racket.
The dwarf’s ability to sense creatures through the voice of the earth is commendable, and without it we certainly would have been the worse off. She warned us of two creatures behind the door to the stables, and having done so, I identified the sound of wolves behind the door. I attempted to communicate with them, but wolves trained as mounts by goblins are not so friendly, and they attacked us. Thankfully, the wolves and their goblin riders hit a bottleneck through the doorway, and prevented most of the other residents of the stables from coming through. I attempted to call the plants of the earth to our aid, with some success; Unfortunately Rita was also caught in the entanglement. Chaos reigned for a brief period and things did not look favorable, as we simultaneously fought the goblin wolf-riders, a blue creature that could break the natural bounds of space, and a spell-caster and his summoned vipers. Had it not been for Keo, Rita would have surely died. The tide turned in our favor however with the falling of the wolves and the assistance of Thabo [my summoned Lion] when he felled the spell-caster. Nyiji [my leopard] fought valiantly as always. Sorrel called upon a great number of spells to fell the goblins, his skill with lightning is particularly impressive. In the end, all of our attackers were slain, and we made certain the keep was cleared, and had a chance to search for further information.
[kill totals after stable fight (Olluvia 6, Nyiji 3, Rita 4, tiefling 5, Keo 2, Sorrel 2)]
Information we found in plenty, for the goblin (who was tattooed in blue, a mark of a tribe which someone in the party recognized) carried with him a number of letters, written in Infernal and a map, annotated in goblin. With the translation of The Tiefling (for the Infernal) and Rita (for the goblin) among others, we discovered the outline of a plan to muster a large army of hobgoblins, goblins, and bugbears (plus others) to attack the Vale. Apparently the goblin was called Tribune Koth, and was sent by one named Legate Kharne to recon the area and to determine how much strength will be needed to overcome the human lands. Worrisome indeed, for as much as I feel for the humans, the land itself would weep should such an attack succeed. These lands hold more wisdom than I, and I will not stand by and see them fall. After some discussion, and some careful words by Keo, Jorr agreed to scout up by Cinder Hill and return with all the information he can with regards to the mustering army. He is a brave man, it was the least I could do to agree to feed his dogs.
After loading all the treasure up from the vault, upon Rita’s insistence and careful organizing, the party returned with careful haste to Drellin’s Ferry. I briefly took a side route to care for Jorr’s dogs. They are really very kind creatures, and faithful to their master. Upon arrival, we apprise Speaker Wiston of the impending attack. Unfortunately it does not appear that he has the wisdom or the strength to lead his people through this, for he blanched like a sand desert upon the news. Were he only as brave as Jorr. He did, thankfully, call a town council meeting, and perhaps there we can find some strength. I fear the land is doomed.”
“The time waiting for the town council meeting was spent well by all, I believe. Keo and I traveled to The Grove and warned Avarthel about the trouble brewing and the danger to the land. He volunteered to travel to speak with the other Keepers of Erth. Part of me is sorry I could not go with him, but I feel I am of more use here. At the very least I need to keep an eye on The Grove, and The Old Ones, as I promised. Before he departed he told us much about the history of The Vale. Of most import was the story of the Abylossians, who were in league with Devils to take over the land of Rhestilor many seasons ago. When the Abylossians fell, the devils stayed. I fear it is these devils that are organizing such an army; why else would communications be in Infernal?
When we returned to the Old Bridge Inn, we met with the others. The Tiefling went to Sertieren the Wise, who translated the documents into common for the council meeting. Sorrel took the remains of our friend Valyn to Brother Tierney, who successfully brought him back using the staff we found in the keep. From the way Sorrel tells it, it was most amusing. Rita spent the afternoon hawking some of the things we had found, lightening our load while fattening our pocketbook, as usual. Sounds as if she had some time convincing the dwarf Coalhewer that the goods would be needed, little does he know. When we were finally all together, and had a quiet (and private) space to talk, we brought Valyn up to date, and there was much debate about the role in the upcoming battle that we should play. The Tiefling, surprising none, felt strongly that we were not beholden to help. I disagree, and intended to stay regardless of the rest of the party. Whether we owe these particular people our help or not is irrelevant, it is the defense of this land against destruction that matters to me. The woods and fields and rivers need our help, and I will do what I can.
Finally the council meeting took place. Perhaps it was misplaced optimism on my part to think that these humans had any idea how to defend their own town. At least Iormel, for all his supposed shortcomings, had the strength to stand for his city. Keo however, did manage to bring the table together, and it was decided that messengers would be sent to the other cities that were marked for destruction would be forwarned, reinforcements from further down the road would be called for, and Drellin’s Ferry would be fortified. Sorrel agreed to travel southward to his kin and solicit aid. For our part, we are to head north and make an effort to destroy the Skull Gorge Bridge. I only hope we can accomplish such a task, for at the very least, it buys these good people time to get themselves together and defend their land. In the morning, we shall gather what supplies we need, or can get, and make our way north. For tonight, I will meditate on what I am capable of accomplishing in what is sure to be a battle against a hoard of goblinoids, the destruction of a bridge built by dwarves, and the strength of a white dragon.”
[note: I did not keep particularly good notes about the last morning we were in Drellin’s Ferry. I do recall that we tried in vain to find stuff to help us, and if I recall correctly, finally packed up and headed out of town. I have no idea what time of we left.]
“We headed north along the road, past any point we had previously been. It was eerie and unnatural, as we moved further north there was no evidence of any life at all in these woods. They should be teeming with small animals, insects even. It made us unusually careful. Eventually, we spied a small overgrown path leading west, with what appeared an effigy of a giant, or at least that was what I made it out to be. We followed the path quietly for a long time, unsure as to what we might encounter. Nyiji and I led, and this was fortuitous for Nyiji spied the smell of smoke ahead. We came into a clearing that appeared to be the worndown remains of an old fort. Most concerning was the presence of a giant, who went by the name of Warklegnaw. However, once again traveling with Keo proved worthwhile. He had a long conversation with the old one, and Warklegnaw invited us to share his roast boar. I did not understand much of what happened, as I have never learned to converse with giant-kind, but after some odd affairs (the giant threw a few boulders, Keo appeared to make an effort to heal the old man and bled from his own hands and eyes, and other odd doings) the giant took off for the west. Keo explained that he had asked Warklegnaw for aid in the destruction of the Bridge, and that while the old giant had felt that he was too old to help, he did offer to go fetch his family to help destroy the bridge. In the meantime, we were to sit and wait, and repair the structure that served as Warklegnaw’s house.
Rita and The Tiefling do not agree with waiting, they feel that by sitting here, we will miss our opportunity to destroy the bridge, and that the army could pass over it at any time. I cannot say I disagree completely, that is always a possibility and we have no way of knowing. However, I do feel that we will be better able to destroy the bridge and those that hold it with a clan of giants on our side. I believe we have come to a compromise to scout the bridge tomorrow in the light, and get an idea of what we are up against.”
“Something moves in the night, no one could find the source of the sounds, but it is unmistakable that something moved through the forest.”