We have been playing D&D 5th edition on Discord using DnD Beyond since March 2019 during the Covid-19 pandemic in Pennsylvania. This is our second campaign.
- Eanrin, Half-Elf, 10th level Bard/Druid
- Fradelis Eni, Half-Drow, 10th level Hexblade Warlock
- Luna, Half-Elf, 10th level Champion Fighter
- Rain on the Night Wind, Elf, 10th level Hunter Ranger
- Ashier, Fire Gensai, 9th level Sorcerer
The battle against Rowen Killmonger and the Hobgoblin Devastator continued with Rain on the Night Wind and Fradelis on their feet, and the rest of the companions unconscious. Blows were traded but it was obvious that Rowen had them outmatched. Luckily for them, the Rogue was an honorable soldier.
“This is your last opportunity,” declared Killmonger. “Surrender now, and we will render aid to your dying companions.” He narrowed his eyes. “We’ll take you as prisoners of war for Kalman.”
Rain challenged Killmonger’s sense of honor. “If we surrender to you, how do we know you’ll keep your promise?”
Rowen shrugged at the Ranger. “I suppose there’s no way for you to know it other than understanding that I offer this as a show of honor and respect between two factions at war.” The Rogue paused. “You have only my word. But choose quickly, as clearly your companions are in need of assistance.”
Rain on the Night Wind and Fradelis considered the offer, and agreed to surrender to the agents of the Twisted Rune. The Hobgoblin wizard held open a bag of holding as Killmonger instructed the two to doft their armor, surrender their weapons, and place all of their equipment in the bag. Killmonger advised that he was doing this as an honorable gesture between soldiers of differing sides.
Despite the talk of “honor” both Fradelis and Rain on the Night Wind attempted to withhold items and hide them on their person. Although the Hobgoblin wizard didn’t realize this, Killmonger’s deft eyes saw the guile and confronted it directly, immediately.
He grunted in rising anger. “I offer you surrender, fair treatment, and medical aid for your companions and you already try to deceive me.” He growled low in his throat. “You question my honor, and yet you act with deception and betrayal.” He sighed, angrily. “Stop attempting to conceal items from us, and put everything … EVERYTHING save your clothing … into the bag!”
Realizing that their deception was unsuccessful, Rain and Fradelis gave in and placed their belongings into the magical bag. The wizard sealed the bag, cast Detect Magic to scan over the two, and then restrained them with cold iron manacles and anklets to suppress their ability to cast spells.
“These are made of cold iron,” explained Killmonger. “They are meant to hinder Fey creatures from using their magic but they work equally well at preventing spellcasters from spellcasting.” He chuckled slightly, and then instructed the Hobgoblin wizard to aid Ashier, Eanrin, and Luna.
After about 45 minutes, the companions were gathered with Killmonger and the wizard. With their wound bound and first aid rendered as Killmonger promised, the Rogue again explained to Ashier, Eanrin, and Luna that the group was surrendering, that they should place all their things into the wizard’s bag save their clothing, and that no manner of deception would be accepted.
“Your ‘honorable’ friends here already attempted to deceive me by holding back items. Please, learn from their mistake. Everything … everything save for your clothing for the sake of modesty … will be placed in the bag.”
And of course, the very first thing out of Ashier’s mouth as a request to keep a small wooden statuette of a dragon. Killmonger’s rage seethed, and he shouted: “Fool! I told you! Everything! Everything is placed in the bag!” He growled low in his throat again. “Deceive me once again. Fail to follow my orders, and I will kill you!” He knashed his teeth together. “Do not test me!”
Rain, in this moment, panicked. “See!” The ranger shouted. “See he betrays his word! He means to kill us all!”
Speaking at the same time as Rain, Ashier tried to explain why he wanted to keep the statuette. “Well, it’s just that it’s important to me…”
Rowen’s movement was faster than the eye could track. The Rogue plunged the tip of his magical Dagger of Venom, nicknamed Spite, into the nape of Ashier’s neck. Rain on the Night Wind was shouting. Eanrin, Luna, and Fradelis were momentarily stunned. And then Rain, still shouting about Rowen being dishonorable, ran off down the tunnel away from the group to the West.
Thinking that the hobgoblins are going to destroy all of them, Rain disengages and runs away to out of view. He hid, fully expecting to be pursued by the agents of the Twisted Rune. Instead, Killmonger just shook his head.
“Let him go,” Killmonger said. “I have no time for someone like him.” Killmonger gestured to the rest of the group. “Quickly, place the rest of your things in the bag before your friend gets you all killed.” Killmonger tossed a single healing kit to Eanrin, saying: “Help your idiotic friend before he bleeds out. And advise him to keep his mouth shut.”
Eanrin bandaged Ashier’s wound, and afterwards the companions complied with Killmonger’s demands, placing their belongings into the wizard’s bag. Killmonger nodded in approval, realizing that now that Rain was gone from the group, they seemed to be following orders and keeping to their word.
Killmonger led the companions along a twisting path through the mines, ultimately ending in the room to the far Southwestern corner where Luna had discovered the pile of corpses and the deep hole. Eanrin did his best to memorize the path, trying to remember the way out.
At this point, Killmonger explained that he would safely transport each of them down the hole to the caves below. “You have no need for concern as I do not wish to harm you. You are prisoners of war in my care. Believe it or not, I follow a Lawful code of honor between soldiers. If I wanted you dead, I could have murdered already, and added you to this corpse pile.”
It took a little time, but Killmonger assisted Eanrin, Luna, Ashier, and Fradelis in descending the deep hole by using his brass Twisted Rune badge’s Feather Fall and Levitation abilities. After about a minute’s worth of descending and ascending, the group was able to move through the second level of the mines, a series of filthy, odiferous caves.
As they walked, Killmonger moved to speak momentarily to Fradelis. “This is not the time to discuss it of course, but I saw the Drow insignia you possessed.” He paused, knowingly trading glances with the Warlock. “I’m not sure why you’ve chosen the other side, but know that Kalman could never have accomplished any of what he is doing to conquer the Silver Marches without the help of your family.” He grunts softly. “Consider the weight of that, your majesty.” And with that, he stepped away to place himself in a proper position to guard the four companions.
With the wizard leading the way, they moved quickly through the cave network. There were dozens of Goblins scattered throughout the caves, Some scattered to avoid the group as it passed and others groveled pitifully, clearly displaying the behavior of slaves.
“These wretches were granted to the Twisted Rune by the Drow House of Baenre,” explained Killmonger as you all walked through the caves. “They are slaves now, but Kalman promises them freedom once the Silver Marches are defeated.” He paused. “Goblin tribes will once again return to their rightful place in the Marches, thanks to Kalman.”
“Who are the Twisted Rune?” asked Luna finally.
Killmonger laughed in earnest. “Seriously?” He pauses, shocked and amused by the fact that they seemed to really have no idea. “No wonder your region falls so easily, gentle Elves.” He chuckled again, trading smiles with the Hobgoblin Devastator. “You don’t even know who your enemies are.”
Without answering Luna’s question, the group arrived at a dead-end cave containing the gleaming bones of a young dragon, and an ancient statue of a hobgoblin wearing a horned helmet and robes. “You might as well use the key that their friend placed in the bag before he ran away.” And with a nod, the Hobgoblin Wizard reached into the bag of holding, withdrawing the 2″ brass key that had been found almost a week ago on the corpse of a Hobgoblin priest. Placing the key into a keyhole on the statue, the entire statue slid away to reveal a long staircase leading down to the third level of the Ironhand mines.
The companions were led down the stair and into Kalman’s lair. They were directed to head to the North along a passage that featured prison cells. They caught a glimpse of the central room where Kalman the Cruel sat on his throne of skulls, peering into a Palantir to watch not only Rain on the Night Wind, but also the progression of the ongoing siege at Silverymoon. All the other cities of the Silver Marches had been captured and now only Silverymoon remained. The lich grinned toothily, watching his forces slaughter the remaining defenders of the capitol city.
The group was locked in jail cells. The cells were empty, and decrepit. There wasn’t even enough room to lay down completely. After they were secured, Killmonger explained: “The Silver Marches are defeated. Our forces have taken the city. Once the conflict has ended, you will be released. And to show I’m a creature of honor, I’ll even make sure to return your things to you intact.”
As Killmonger walked away, Ashier attempted to make a feeble offer of persuading Killmonger to help them, and betray Kalman. The sorcerer asked what it would take for Killmonger to help them. Ashier, it seemed, perhaps because he was a noble’s son, seemed to believe Killmonger’s honor could be tarnished by promising of coin or magic items.
Killmonger was direct. They could hear the pain in his voice. “Can you bring back my family?” asked the Rogue. “Can you bring back my beloved wife, or my two daughters who were slaughtered by the Elves of Silverymoon?” He gritted his teeth. “Because that’s what it would take.” He spat on the floor. “Return my loved ones to me.” And with that, he turned and started walking away.
Ashier, not realizing that the conversation had ended, responded to Killmonger: “No, I don’t practice Necromancy…” But the sorcerer stopped talking when Killmonger glared at him with the same look that had resulted in the Genasi’s neck being gashed open only a short time ago.
The companions sat within their cells for a short time until finally one of the Knights in Silver called out to them explaining that they were all ranking officers that had been taken as prisoners of war. He explained that Grand Commander Sernius Alathor had already died in combat and that Sargant Aoife Shadowbane had been taken away by Kalman, probably because she was the highest ranking officer present.
Fradelis was communing with the Raven Queen as Eanrin spoke with the other prisoners. “Aye? Is she with you? I heard she was captured. Did they say where they were taking her?”
The knight explained at all the knew that Kalman had called for her to be taken to the main chamber. “Were all that pink glow and chanting is coming from. Dire omens indeed. I fear all is lost.”
And at that point the group decided that they should rest for an hour so that Eanrin could focus on regaining some of the elemental power required to Wild Shape. And so after an hour of rest, the Druid changed his form into that of a bear, breaking the doors, manacles, and anklets to free the four of them.
Afterwards, rather than confronting Kalman while they had the opportunity, they chose to take another rest, this one for eight hours. They all curled up as best they could, and slept.
Meanwhile, the Silver Marches fell. Kalman was unhindered and unopposed, safely within his lair. Three hours into their nap, the Twisted Rune declared victory. In the fourth hour of their sleeping, Kalman conducted the vile ritual that allowed him to trade bodies with Aoife Shadowbane. Unhindered, his priests read from the Book of Ville Darkness obtained with the assistance of a Zhentarim merchant in Mantol-Derith. Once Kalman’s soul was transferred to Aoife’s body and vice versa, Killmonger stepped forward, plunging Malice into the back of Aoife’s neck, murdering her.
“Let this sacrifice appease my lord Acererak,” said Kalman. “May the innocent soul be fed to the Soulmonger, empowering the Death Curse, and the downfall of the nine gods!”
The gathered priests replied in unison: “The Nine.”
Had the companions been awake, they would have recalled the Barbed Devil in the befouled Dwarven Temple who constantly chanted in Infernal: “The Nine, The Nine, The Nine.” But they were not, instead they were sleeping as their homeland burned and their allies died.
Once the companions rose from their slumber, they were again well rested and ready to do some investigating. The discovered that the complex was deserted. Kalman and his minions were all gone. They discovered Kalman’s corpse, and the Bag of Holding that Killmonger had left for them along with a note and Rain’s brass key.
“As promised, here are your belongings. The conflict is over and we have won. The Twisted Rune now controls the central region of the North, and soon the rest of the North will fall to our control. Again, your served honorably. Thank you for remaining obedient and not attempting to break out of your cells. Had you tried to hinder us, you would have surely failed regardless. Again, it’s nothing personal, just business. Good luck in the coming days. Find rest to the South, and be well.”
In time, the companions came to understand the ritual that has been conducted by Kalman to trade bodies with Aoife. Such magic was of a dark, dangerous, and powerful nature. Had they realized that the Book of Vile Darkness had been used in the ritual, they would have understood the deeper meanings of this ritual. But for now, they simply knew that Aoife’s soul had been placed into Kalman’s rotting body and then she had been murdered. And now, somewhere out there, Kalman possessed Aoife’s body.
The group again decided to rest for an hour, making it a total of ten hours they had rested within Kalman’s lair. Eanrin buried the corpse, hoping beyond hope that his true love would find rest in the afterlife.
Before long, Rain on the Night Wind arrived. He explained his adventures and how he had returned to the other mine entrance and found a direct and easy path here to Kalman’s lair. The group talked, trying to decide what to do next. However, Eanrin was clear: Kalman must die.