EVIL APPROACHES FROM THE WEST

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darkforestyroad
The High Road is a dangerous trade route winding in and out of enemy territory on the Sword Coast.

Session Roster:

  • Fo, Human Monk, Level 2
  • Brûne, Human Paladin, Level 1
  • Vrae’ree Everhurden, Drow Wizard, Level 1

 

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Employed by Lord Dagult Neverember, the Company has been on the road for about several days. They set out from Neverwinter for Phandalin to deliver a holy relic to the newly founded church of Torm. The trip was an easy one, allowing them to arrive in Phandalin in three days. They remained in Phandalin for a day to rest and resupply. Then they were back on the road, headed towards the town of Greenest in the South. They knew that Waterdeep was on the way, and they planned to stop there before continuing along the Trade Way South into the Western Heartlands and along the Uldoon Trail to Greenest.

They decided to stop about three hours ride short of Waterdeep, making camp for the evening. As they settled in for the night, they heard uncanny noises that hinted of battle. They rushed to the aid of a wainwright and his family who had been ambushed along the High Road. After the battle, they retired back to the camp. Brûne carefully wrapped the dead woman in a beautiful blanket. He checked the Wainwright’s wounds again, smiled at the already sleeping child, and then retired for the evening.

Camping at Night
Camping at Night

Fo took first watch as the others rested. He tended the fire, and remained watchful. After a few hours, he spied someone approaching the camp on horseback. He moved swiftly out of sight, and lingered by the treeline, watching the rider. It wasn’t long before Fo recognized the rider to be his ally the Dark Elf, Vrae’ree Everhurden. Fo emerged from his hiding place to welcome his companion into camp. The wizard and monk passed another hour discussing recent events until it was time for Deiter to take watch. As the Nobleman settled in to guard the camp, Fo and Vrae’ree went their separate ways to meditate.

Gloomy sunrise
Gloomy sunrise

Morning came, the pale sun rising in the East doing little to change the eternal twilight that now covered Faerûn. Some said it was an effect of the Spellplauge, darkening the sky to nearly blot out the sun. Others blamed The Dark Queen Lolth, goddess of magic. With her ascension to power, she darkened the world to allow for the rise of the Drow. Either way, as the Company started to rouse, Deiter noticed that Vrae’ree was already up and moving about while Fo was stretching. It never failed to astound the human how both of them could function on so little sleep. Sometimes, it seemed, neither seemed to sleep at all. They just sat quietly. It was very disturbing.

Deiter yawned and stood up. It had been a long 4 hour watch. Nothing had happened, and for that he was thankful. But he would be happy to rendezvous with the rest of the Company so that they could have two on watch duty at a time. Conversation and companionship seemed to make the time pass faster…

Deiter’s thoughts were put to an abrupt end when he noticed Vrae’ree at the far side of the encampment. The elf was maybe ten feet away from a huge golden pelted stag. It was standing near the body of the wainwright’s dead wife and the great beast seemed to be staring the elf down. There was no menace in those eyes, though, the nobleman realized. No instead the stag’s eyes held a deep well of intelligence beyond the normal for such a creäture. After a few moments, the stag waggled its bright white tail and suddenly bounded away into the woods to the Northeast.

stag
The Great Stag

“Danger comes from the West!” called the Dark Elf, loud enough that everyone in the camp could hear him. This brought a flurry of activity from the group. None questioned what Vrae’ree claimed. The driver’s started to ready the wagons, one horse for each wagon since the monsters had killed the wainwright’s horses in the ambush during the night. Deiter closed down the campsite while Brûne helped the merchant and his daughter settle in for the journey.

As they pulled away from the campsite though, they heard the sound of horns from the west. Too short blasts sounded from the Northwest. A third horn blast followed, this one coming from a place closer to the West of them. Two more blasts came again from the Northwest. It was likely two companies communicating their positions to each other, perhaps looking to join up. They knew that the goblin-kin managed their own trails through the wild, only using the established human routes in dire necessity.

Then Vrae’ree saw the dark shapes in the woods to the West. He heard the guttural language, and knew right away that they were Orcs. He doubted that these creatures belonged to the more civilized tribes to the North under the banner of King Obould Many-Arrow. He guessed that these were Orcs from the nearby Sword Mountains, a savage and aggressive tribe called the Black Claws. As he watched the Orcs, he hopped from his horse and climbed a tree that would allow him an advantageous vantage point. Then he sounded a bird call, drawing the attention of the rest of the Company.

The two Orcs had grayish skin, coarse black hair, and porcine faces. These two were wearing crude hide armor and plain black shields. They appeared to be armed with wicked spiked maces. The two creeped along the treeline in stooped postures, almost seeming to be following the Company at a distance rather than engaging. This seemed curious indeed.

Vrae’ree called on his innate Drow ability of Dancing Lights. He joined the balls of light to form a vaguely humanoid shape near one of the Orcs. The creature growled and called to his companion, charging the glowing threat. He swiped time and again at the lights with his wicked spiked mace, cursing in its guttural tongue each time this strike failed to wound the glowing creature which danced ever away from him. The other Orc rushed out into the trail, and Vrae’ree shot at it with one of the short bows savaged from the Wild Elves. The arrow struck the orc in the shoulder, doing no harm but sticking in its crude hide armor.

The Orc looked upwards, spotting the Dark Elf right away. Then its eyes gazed down the trail at the wagons and riders. It waved its hands at Vrae’ree, shouting in Orcish. It seemed to be trying to communicate that it wanted the Drow to join them in attacking the humans. Then, it growled and charged down the road at Fo. Meanwhile, Vrae’ree chuckled to himself at the Orcs misunderstanding. Looking back at the Orc who was still trying to kill the Dancing Lights, Vrae’ree hurled a mote of fire at the Orc. The small fiery particle missed, hitting a nearby tree and crumbling harmlessly to dust. Convinced that the glowing being had been the source of the Fire Bolt, the Orc snarled and renewed its efforts with its mace.

On the road, Fo saw the Orc charging at him. He was familiar with Orc tactics. The monsters would usually make a loud of noise during a charge, hoping that the aggression might intimidate its enemy and give it an advantage of the first strike. Fo ignored the battle cry, and dashed forward, launching into a flurry of blows. He tapped into his inner mystical Ki, using it to fuel his attacks. The monk’s fists landed two solid blows before the spiked mace smashed into his unarmed flank just under the right arm. The monk grunted in pain, colliding with the Orc and sending them both rolling to the ground.

Vrae’ree cast Fire Bolt again. This time the flaming speck glided through the air and hit the brute in the back, causing it’s oiled hair to burst into flame. The creature howled and cursed, stumbling out of the woods and into the path. It dropped its shield and mace, swatting desperately at the fire spreading across its head. Brûne saw what was happening, and launched a javelin at the monster. It struck true in its ribs, causing it to cry out in pain again, stumble a few steps, and then fall to the dirt dead, its head still ablaze.

Fo jumped up to his feet. He saw that the Orc was still prone. Using this to his advantage, Fo took his quarterstaff in both hands and brought it down on the Orc’s forehead. He heard its skull crunch and felt it give way under his mighty blow, but he did not stop. He kicked the creature with a roundhouse in the chest, sending it reeling backwards even as it finally tried to stand. The Orc stumbled and fell, dead before it ever hit the rocky ground.

Fo stepped over to the smoldering corpse of the other Orc, and retrieved Brûne’s javelin. Deiter was already rallying the wagons and leading them to the South. Fo and Vrae’ree rushed to their horses and joined the back of the caravan. Brûne was already in the middle of the train, watching for enemies.

More horns sounded from the West, closer this time. Moments later two more blasts sounded. And then silence, followed by a hail of arrows from the West side of the road. Archers, hidden within the thick forest, fired at them recklessly. Deiter and Brûne were amazed that not a single arrow scored a hit but instead barely missed them time and again. Could it be possible that the were missing on purpose? What would be the sense in that?

And then ahead, the trap was sprung. Four Kobolds, all dressed in filthy leather armor, leaped on to the road and reached down to pick up long, cruel spears that has been concealed there in the dirt. They planted the butts of the long spears in the round behind them, leaning to point the wicked steel tips at the approaching horses. It was a clever trap. Well thought out, and planned ahead of time. This was typical for the cunning and devious Kobolds. Among the monstrous humanoids, they are known for being aggressive, xenophobic, yet industrious small humanoid creatures who excel at building traps and preparing ambushes.

Kobolds
Kobolds

And yet, as Deiter and Brûne both shouted to the wagon driver to halt, they both wondered why these creatures were all working together to harry this particular section of road.  What was the significance, and to what end? Deiter and Brûne engaged the Kobolds, ordering the wagons backwards away from the trap. The Kobolds remained aggressive, taking a few steps forward and then planting the spears again, gibbering dangerously in their high pitched draconian language. They also seemed to be herding the humans back to the North for some reason. And the arrows had stopped although there was obvious movement in the forest to the West and East.

Vrae’ree rode away from the wagons and into the woods. Fo dashed past him, moving easily through the underbrush and thick massing of trees. Fo ran forward, feeling the soft moss beneath him. Vrae’ree followed, urging his steed to follow the monk’s path. At this rate of speed, they would flank the attackers and come out on the other side of the road behind them … ambushing the ambush … but then something went wrong.

Fo knew something was wrong but couldn’t put it all together fast enough. As he ran, he felt the soft moss beneath him give way to rock and soil He felt the ground give way, and then suddenly … he was falling. He flailed to grab something, anything. But there was nothing to grab but air.

the-opening

He fell eight feet and hit the ground. Everything was black at first, but then he looked up. The dim light of the sun, what little light it was, shined through a hole above him. His mind reeled to make sense of the situation. And then that’s when he saw the horse flying at him.

falling_horse

Well, not flying. Falling, actually. And Vrae’ree was in the saddle.

Fo’s eyes widened. He was about to be crushed to death by a 800 pound horse and its Drow rider.

Lovely.

… to be continued …


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