The level 14 Vale Heroes for this session
Phoenix, Coaster barbarian, folk hero with a dark family past;
Seck, “urban mongrel” rogue, ex-soldier with an urchin past;
Cat, Teulon warlock, Beloved of Titania with a charlatan past;
Ulric, Teulon paladin, Knight-Inquisitor with a noble heritage
Lycanthropically assisted by Vir, were-tiger and ex-soldier with a far traveler past; and
Randomly assisted by Lothair, pilot of the Liberator and ham actor
The vale heroes begin on level 14 and gain 1,750xp
The story so far
Elsir Vale invaded! The Hobgoblin Warlord’s plans have been well laid and four armies mobilize and begin crushing Vale resistance. A few clueless adventurers prove no problem… until they slay Abrithiax, red dragon recruited to support the Skull Gorge armies. Then wyrmlord Stormcaller reports that the adventurers have slain wyrmlord Varanthian – the warlord’s longest-serving lieutenant!
Elsewhere the warlord’s plans mature nicely. Lady Danforth of Terrelton throws in with him, and the first and second armies march on Nimon Gap where militia from Drellin’s Ferry hope to delay the advance. Roads north out of the vale are closed. Brindol’s response is delayed by minor actions by barghest squads, and rumors spread by agents.
Hammerfast: Othrek’s three counselors
Now they have had flight time the relationship of one branch of the Vale to another is becoming clearer. If Lothair guides the Liberator directly to the Hammerfast Holds, there will be enough flight time to set the craft down at the main dwarf hold. Lothair cheerily complies. Vir, now reunited with his gear, tests his bow. It breaks. He snarls and swears to be a two-fisted slayer.
“Of course we are bound for the Blackfens… I seem to recall you hearing about a famed magical bow?” – Cat
“Well if that drops into my lap I won’t say nyan, I mean no” – Vir
The shadows are deep on the hold and the adventurers can see lights twinkling from many stone-cut watchtowers, low and high, in the canyon-like mountain valley. The Liberator settles and is greeted by a strong deputation. The spokes-dwarf wears many warrior-bands.
After identifying themselves, Ulric, Cat, Seck and (somewhat surprisingly) Vir walk in with the escort, to where they can surrender weapons. Cat notices that Lothair has used his Disguise Self tattoo to accompany them as a local guard. They all scale a few stairs up to a great audience chamber where ranking dwarfs have hastily assembled. At the far end, seated upon a high chair, is the Thane.
Ulric and Cat exchange whispers as Ulric passes on what he knows. This is Othrek Hammerfist, ruler these many years. Othrek has three counselors standing beside him:
Thaardin Ironhand, priest of Moradin: Pro-Brindol, a union of the civilized is necessary for survival;
Uldrina Flamehair, stonesinger of the holds: Neutral, the fame of Hammerfist and the greater Holds is at stake;
Derra Copperfist, guild president: Anti-Brindol, Hammerfast stands to gain wealth by dealing directly with Dennovar and the Horde.
To suit these three postures, there are three rounds of diplomacy broken up by refreshments. Ulric manages not to strike out with any of them, which is excellent. Seck and Cat achieve good to great Persuasion checks.
Round 1: Othrek’s own thinking. Vir Beasts Out, Cat uses his new gift, Dark Delight, to distract the were-tiger. Ulric smooths things over.
Round 2: A chance to put forward arguments in favor of intervention. Schmoozing the three counselors. Seck speaks with Derra and Cat speaks with Uldrina.
Round 3: Sidequest and intelligence gains, then Othrek’s own decision.
Uldrina sets Cat the job of convincing the Six Blades of Prosser. They are retired but their fame is still significant. Should they join the defense then Uldrina would have more material to work with.
Derra reveals that spies are everywhere; and that the Khanate is in negotiations with Dennovar.
Othrek advises the party that Thaardin, who will not be gainsaid, is to join them immediately since they can bear he and his personal guard to Nimon Gap. Othrek will raise an expeditionary force to follow.
Lothair, who has come close to sapping the whole effort by trying to pretend to be local support, changes back to his own appearance and assures Othrek that Thaardin will be delivered, once the Liberator’s downtime is complete.
The party spells Phoenix so that everyone can clean up and relax. Then with due ceremony the Liberator with a dozen hefty dwarfs and their kit aboard lifts off and sails north.
Nimon Gap: In the multitude of counselors they are given a chilly reception
As the new day lengthens the Liberator reaches the headwater that will become a decent size river by the time is reaches Nimon Gap. Ulric sketches out the lay of the land for Seck to think about.
“The bridge is a good big one, two wagons fit abreast, easily. Stone built. Nimon Gap is just a hamlet, the only building of any real note is the Owlbear, or Cross-Eyed Owlbear in full. I’m not sure of the innkeeper’s name, she runs the whole place. Let’s see, crop trees with uh, crops on them, and fields with some other crops in them I guess.” Having exhausted his agricultural knowledge Ulric finishes his sketch and points out the gap itself, a pass in the Nimon Hills.
“How do we get down?” a brawny guard wants to know.
“We descend to land.”
“Ah! – I guess I owe ye 12 siller,” he calls back to his mate.
As promised, Lothair allows the Liberator to sink and finds a fine open upland meadow, very near the road and from it, a trail leads up to a high point where a windmill offers a good command post. Ulric spots Cptn Soranna’s cloak there.
Booted dwarf feet crunch loudly on the path behind them as they wend up, looking about at the evening activity. Cat is still with Ulric: he intends to either fly to Prosser or find mounts. Phoenix has offered to ride with him and Cat has accepted this offer.
This is a new situation for Ulric and calls for a new Rep check. Unfortunately he rolls a 1 on his d10. What this means is that the audience is prejudiced unfavorably. He also rolls poorly on his CHA based check.
The leaders of the defense
Teyani of the Lions of Brindol (temporary);
Adranna the Young, senior druid;
Sgt Luskar of the Flame Fists;
Lord Norro Wiston of Drellin’s Ferry;
and Eva Blackwell of the Owlbear and Sertieren the Wise
Ulric finds that he has to re-explain the whole reasoning around he and the other heroes racing to and fro. It doesn’t sound like much of a contribution when you just sum it up and skip over a lot of the Dark Lord business. And when you mention that you really ought to be pushing on, well, no wonder there are some very cool gazes.
So… Ulric finds that he will linger a little longer.
Thaardin and Seck will chip in with thoughts around the defense. Seck has been thinking about forward sneak tactics, and Thaardin about improving the gap itself.
Meanwhile Cat gains the offer of horses from Luskar and separate advice from Teyani:
“On a fast horse you can reach Brindol tonight then change there and get to Prosser before dawn. Just ride the Flame Fist mounts to death.”
The many legged agent
Cat presents Teyani’s pass at Talar. The watch-NCO warns them of refugees ahead. And by the way there are three adventurers here.
“The five knives?” Phoenix asks alertly.
“No three, one a fine looking cleric, another a fine-mustachioed fighter, the third a dwarf monk.”
Dany Luth and Belabout brag about freeing Witchcross. Cat urges them on. Sadly leaving their package of fiend “COD” they mount and ride along.
Within a short distance of Talar they must needs halt where refugees from a hospice are being loaded into wagons. One, a striking female sorcerer named Miha, seems interested in joining the defense. When Cat suspiciously questions her motives, she pretends to faint. Then changes into an Aranea when Cat forces her to react!
Inits: Phoenix, Belabout, Dany, Cat, Miha
Phoenix rages, draws a curved dagger, leaps over intervening stretchers and crowds, and stabs Miha twice, including a crit. Belabout moves smoothly through the throng and uses a Flurry of Blows to knock Miha out.
The three Witchcross adventurers insist on bringing the pinioned Aranea with them – more excellent magic components!
“We ride – you make your own way!” Cat replies curtly, and he and Phoenix do so. And after a change of mounts at Brindol they race through the night and arrive at Prosser as the session ends.