Campaign: Stamus Contra Malum: 1013-1014 YE
Chronicle: The Lost Vault
The Light Bringers (Active Members)
· Ivanova Hastinov - Half-Elf Female, Black Swan Maiden (Paladin) of Fionnghuala, Heiress Presumptive to Leadership of the High Elves
· Lozen the Lioness - Thracian Human Female, Blade Dancer of Ianna, Courtier of Ivanova's Camarilla
· Avery Aileanach -High Elf Male, Spell Blade, Ivanova's Lord Marshall
· Garrick Aileanach - High Elf Male, Night Blade, Ivanova's Spy Master
· Oberron the Reborn - Dwarf Male, Dwarven Fury, Son of Oberron Trollnose, Courtier of Ivanova's Camarilla
· Damien, Son of Ulf - Danish Human Male, Vagabond Paladin of Ammonar, God of the Sun
· Moryna Morning Star - High Elf Female, Spell Blade, Scion of Morning Star Clan, Avery's Henchwoman
· Noelia Night Song - High Elf Female, Night Blade, Garrick's Henchwoman and Lover
· Robyn Spring Rain - High Elf Male, Man-at-Arms, Avery's Henchman
· Mock Wind Willow - High Elf Male, Cavalryman, Avery;s Henchman
· Tycho the Terrible - Dwarven War Dog, Oberron's Companion
Inactive or Former members
· Vilhelmus Hastinov - Thracian Male, Fighter, Capt of the Lion's Roar, Ivanova's Cousin
· Lukos - Thracian Male, Explorer
· Atticus - Thracian Male, Bard, Deceased
The Tomb of the Banes
Juselen 16th 1014 YE (mid-morning)
The heroes opened their eyes and found they were lying on the floor of the Tomb of the Banes. They still bore the injuries they had incurred on the way to the tomb, but there was no sign of the trauma they had suffered in the Soul Realm. There was however a noticeable difference with the heroes.
Oberron, Lozen and Damien looked several years older. Still in the spring of youth, but more mature-looking with long hair. Ivanova and Avery looked about the same with just slightly longer hair, but Garrick was the most changed. He clearly looked older than Avery now, his hair now reached his lower back and he had facial hair to complement his new crow’s feet.
Avery was once more himself—in his hand, he still held the Beast Bane, but its appearance had changed. The hilt of the sword now had a raven motif, a symbol of Calefa the Goddess of Mourning. The malignant aura the sword once emitted was gone, but as Avery swung the sword back and forth he could sense the weapon had not lost any of its potency.
Damien took a moment and reflected. “Praise Ammonar and the Six, he has once more returned us to the land of living.”
Ivanova looked at the Dane and nodded, “indeed, Finnoughla be praised that the gods have favored us on this journey. Remind me to leave a bowl of cream at the next shrine we come across, the Shadowcat once more has come to our rescue.” She took a moment, looked at her comrades and knew that each of them had sacrificed much to get here. The weight of what was to come settled on her shoulders like a lead mantle. Ivanova straightened her back and pushed forward.
The party made the trek back to the lake and the lifts. The journey was fraught with tension as they cautiously moved from corridor to room to corridor. Had the gnolls sent more reinforcements? Were they setting up ambushes? Was there some unseen horror lurking in the shadows waiting to attack them?
The Light-Bringers made it back to the lifts without incident. They had encountered nothing, the gnolls had not sent more troops. The part picked a different lift to take up this time. As the lift began the long crawl up, the party heard a distressing sound, the snapping of metal. The lift suddenly plunged 30 feet and splashed into the cold water of the lake. Everyone managed to get out of the lift; swimming to the surface and over to the nearby platform. Avery had to assist his brother who had panicked and was in danger of drowning.
The group now soaked to the skin and freezing returned to where the gnoll sentries had made camp and restarted the fire. As they laid out their clothes and gear to dry, everyone noticed that Garrick now had a large tattoo of a raven on his chest.
“When did you get that?” Avery pointed at his brother’s chest.
Garrick mumbled “Little present from Calefa,” and then said no more.
The group made the decision to make camp here; food, rest and healing were needed. The challenges ahead were daunting. There were 70 to 80 heavily-armed, well-organized gnolls waiting for them above, yet they numbered only six. In addition, there was a large number of slaves being held by the gnolls, including Conor Morningstar. Everyone had agreed, the slaves needed to be freed. The Fire Seeds would have to come later.
The night passed uneventfully except for a visit by a party of pygmy mycenoids who showed up to harvest some of the fungus growing on the lake shore. They stayed away from the party and the party let them be.
The Twilight's Last Gleaming
Juselen 17th 1014 YE (midnight)
The party broke camp and took a different lift to the top of the shaft. The ride up was taking much longer. Finally they arrived at the top of the grand shaft. Garrick and Oberron took point and scouted out ahead. The fountain room was empty, so they moved into the great hall. The number of bodies had been greatly decreased but there were no signs of sentries or slaves. The rest of the party as a whole moved forward to the entrance of the vault.
The gnolls had set a watch outside of the vault. The party made short work of them and began to move forward but stopped when two figures popped out from behind some boulders. A large four-legged creature came running at the heroes and plowed into Oberron.
It was Tycho, Oberron’s faithful war hound, followed by Moryna and Noelia. Avery’s raven had delivered their message to them and they had been waiting. The two women led the party to a blind they had built overlooking the valley. After a brief joyful reunion, the elves informed the group of what had been happening in the valley.
The gnolls had dispatched a full warband south carrying something of great import. The remaining gnolls had consolidated into four camps. Camps manned by an understrength warband were established at the north and south entrance of the valley. A small camp composed of a couple of gangs of gnolls was guarding the entrance of the vault. In the center of the valley the central camp housed a full warband plus a command staff which included two trolls. All of the slaves were being kept in locked pits in this camp.
The group, now numbering nine, put their heads together and devised a plan to free the slaves by taking advantage of the widespread deployment of the gnoll camps. They would take out the vault sentry camp using stealth first. Then they would move to the central camp and use a diversion to draw the gnolls out of their fortified camp. They would storm the camp, liberate the slaves and then defeat the gnolls. With the plan agreed upon, the party made preparations.
By the Dawn's Early Light
Juselen 17th 1014 YE (Pre-Dawn)
The heroes moved into position overlooking the camp outside of the vault. When the sun broke over the eastern ridge of the valley, Damien made a sign to Avery, who unleashed a lightning bolt that tore through the camp striking several gnolls. The rest of the party stormed the camp and put down the remaining survivors. The gnolls were so surprised they never got a chance to sound the alarm. The first part of the operation was complete.
Once the camp was cleared, the heroes made their way across the valley floor moving undercover as much as possible. After about two hours they were finally in position. Lozen had taken Tycho and had moved into an abandoned camp about a mile away from the central camp. The rest of the party was in hiding about a half mile from the central camps main entrance.
Lozen unleashed her divine power and summoned the sounds of an angelic choir. The sound of the choir echoed across the valley. The gnoll camp was bewildered by the sound, they dispatched ten gnolls to investigate the disturbance. Once Lozen saw the approaching gnolls she used her power to make Tycho twice his size. Climbing on to his back, she made sure the approaching gnolls could see her. With a wicked grin and an obscene gesture, she led the gnolls on a merry chase.
With the enemy camp focused on Lozen, the rest of the party began a fast march on the camp’s gate. Ivanova in almost a hushed shout said to her friends.
“Comrades, come with me once more as we go forth to danger! Let courage be our armor, let us show no fear! Let these evil creatures feel the bite of our steel. Let our light lift up the downtrodden and blind the wicked. LIGHT-BRINGERS CHARGE.”
Their hearts lifted by Ivanova’s battle cry, the party quickened their pace and broke out into a full charge. The heroes were halfway up the ramp to the front gate before the enemy was even aware of their presence. The gnolls had failed to secure the gate and it was wide open. The gnolls scrambled to block the gate, but the heroes smashed into them.
The air sang with the crackle of lightening, the clanging of iron on iron, the sounding of war horns, and the howls of the gnolls. The smell of blood, ozone and burning fur was soon overwhelming; Avery had summoned the elements of air and unleashed jagged bolts of lightning upon the enemy like the war-mages of old. Damien cried out to Ammonar, his flaming sword ablaze, as he cut down gnoll after gnoll. It was here among the fighting that Damien’s heart sang, for this was his true home, the battlefield, on the frontlines fighting the forces of chaos.
Oberron was bereft of his priestess and his hound, so he clung to Ivanova’s side, protecting her from harm. Ivanova had kept her bow slung, this was the time for steel. Her blade slashed and stabbed at the gnolls as they tried to close the gate. The paladin felt Fionnghuala’s grace fill her and she became an island of iron resolve and calm in the maelstrom of battle. With Oberron and Moryna on either side they were a wall of steel. Garrick and Noelia had stayed behind with Avery as he called down death upon the enemies. Armed with missile weapons they shot at any gnoll they could see.
The heroes now stood in the gate and could see into the camp. Two gnolls armed with bows were shooting down from a central watch tower. There arrows slammed into the party, but Moryna and Ivanova’s shields soaked up many. More gnolls joined the fray as did two large trolls. Ivanova and Damien engaged the trolls while Oberron and Moryna fought off the gnolls. Avery soon joined them, his sword flashing in the early morning light.
Garrick had stayed behind, he had been watching for something and he now saw what he had been looking for. The gnoll commander and his staff had come out of their tents. The commander was shouting orders to his soldiers when all of sudden he began to vomit blood. Garrick had a nasty grin on his face as his fingers traced arcane symbols in the air. Noelia slipped through the fighting and ran into the camp—her mission was to find the slaves and set them free.
Ivanova and Damien, each facing a troll, were fully engaged. The savage trolls were tough opponents, but the skill of the two paladins was not to be denied. The trolls took wound after wound, before falling to the noble warrior’s blades. Damien’s flaming sword ensured they would never rise again as the smell of burning troll flesh filled the morning air.
The gnolls numbers were depleted but the commander had finally overcame Garrick’s spell. Avery, Damien and Garrick moved forward to engage them. Moryna and Oberron has dispatched the last of the gnolls on the ground but were soon pinned by the archers in the tower. Oberron had been hit by several arrows and Moryna was using her shield to cover the both of them. Ivanova came to their aid unslinging her bow. As she drew back and took aim, one of the gnolls arrows sliced through her bowstring. With her weapon disabled, she raised up her shield.
Garrick stood by his brother’s side and traded blows with one of the gnoll sub-officers. He heard a familiar voice cry out in pain. He turned to see Ivanova and Moryna with their shields up trying to drag Oberron to cover. An arrow had pierced Moryna’s leg and now they were exposed. Garrick kicked the gnoll in front of him in the giblets and drove his dagger into its eye. Without a moment to lose he sprinted towards the watchtower.
Damien and Avery had their hands full with the Gnoll Commander and his aides. The gnoll’s commander was close to eight feet tall and clad in black iron armor. He wielded a black steel two-handed Cinnabarian sword with ease as he delivered several blows. Avery was wielding Beast Bane however and was an equal match. Damien was exchanging blows with a gnoll captain who wielded a wicked looking Zaharan double-headed ax. Damien had taken several wounds, he could feel his strength beginning to fade. Placing a hand on his chest, Dane called out to Ammonar to grant him strength and his call was answered. The Dane could feel a warmth like the summer sun fill him; a number of his wounds began to close.
Garrick reached the base of the tower but did not slow down. In a feat of amazing agility and speed, he scaled all thirty feet of the tower without stopping. Garrick had become something else—the sardonic wise-cracking elf was gone. In his place was a force of nature, instinct, and violence. He flipped on to the top of the tower and delivered a double heel kick that sent one of the gnolls flying out of the tower. Garrick spun, grabbed the head of the other archer and smashed it against his knee. Without stopping, Garrick back flipped, driving the heel of his boot in the jaw of the gnoll shattering it. The gnoll tumbled off the platform crashing into the ground next to its comrade.
Ivanova had rendered first aid to Oberron, healing most of his injuries. As she looked around she could see Garrick on top of the tower. Damien, having dispatched the gnoll captain, was fighting beside Avery against the commander. The gnoll was hard-pressed now that he was facing both the paladin and the spell-blade. Damien’s flaming sword and Avery’s gleaming blade cut him down.
The Light-Bringers looked around; there was no one left to fight. It was then that Noelia showed up, she was wounded, but alive. Behind her came dozens of slaves, elves, dwarves and humans. The slaves let loose a joyous noise at the sight of their slavers, dead at the feet of the heroes. The celebration was cut short with a shout from Garrick.
“Lozen and Tycho are coming up the ramp. They brought company!”
Ivanova ran to the gate to meet Lozen. She and Tycho looked unharmed, if a bit winded.
Lozen looked around, “What,you did not leave any for me?”
Ivanova hugged her. “It looks like you brought plenty.”
Behind Lozen, just outside of bow range, a great mass of gnolls were forming ranks. The remaining two camps and the patrol had gotten there faster than they had anticipated.
“To Arms, To Arms” Avery began shouting, Conor and Moryna soon joined them and began to gather weapons and armor to equip as many of the slaves who could fight. Fully half of the slaves were in bad shape and could barely hold a spear. The slaves gather around the Light-Bringers, there was desperation in their eyes. Some of them had been slaves for years and the memory of freedom was but a dream.
Ivanova conferred with Avery, Conor and Lozen on what their battle plan was. She then turned to address the people gathered around her. Her stomach was in a knot, people were going to die, and the gnolls were in formation and waiting on them. They could set siege to this camp and without water from the nearby lake they would not last more than three days. Before she could utter a word, Damien jumped on top of some baggage and shouted to everyone.
“Hear me brothers and sisters, children all, of the seven who reign in heaven the enemy of us all stands outside these gates and they think us trapped. I say NAY!Ammonar is the light; we shall not want.
He leadeth us to green pastures: He blesses us with clear waters.
He restoreth our souls: He leadeth us on the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea, though we stand in this valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil: for Ammonar is with us.”
Many of the freed slaves cheered at Damien’s words and hope filled their hearts. Some of the slaves however were not so moved. They were Hattians and the sight of the Dane wearing the colors of Ammonar left a sour expression on their faces. Damien saw this and beseeched them to fight for their freedom if for nothing else. This seemed to win them over. Ivanova joined Damien and their mystic auras blazed brightly together. She clanged her blade against his. “Now, let’s cross swords together in battle once more!”
The Charge of the Light-Bringers
Juselen 17th 1014 YE (Noon)
Avery and Conor began to get everyone in position and ready for the battle. Lozen used her staff of healing to get as many of the slaves into fighting shape as she could. They were in awe of her power in the healing arts and praised the priestess.
The sky was as blue as a robin’s egg, without a cloud in sight. The sun was at its apex and the warmth drove away the chill air of the surrounding mountains. The Gnolls were in battle formation and had not moved from their position. Their black banners fluttered in the spring breeze making the death's heads on them seem to laugh at their former slaves in the camp.. Time was on their side, the camp only had enough water for a day at best. As they waited under the noon-day sun, they were startled by a howl that rang out through the valley. The gate to the camp opened and the gigantic war-dog they had seen earlier came charging down the ramp with a half-naked dwarf riding on his back.
Avery, Garrick, Noelia and Moryna unleashed a barrage of fiery magical missiles that tore into the ranks of the gnolls. Several of the freed slaves loosed arrows that rained down on the gnolls. Behind the great hound came the rest of the Light-Bringers followed by the slaves. Ivanova was leading the charge, flanked by Damien and Lozen.
“FOR FREEDOM!” Ivanova’s battle cry was echoed by all those who followed her down the ramp.
Tycho and Oberron leapt over the front line of gnoll and smashed into the rear ranks causing havoc and chaos. Just as the heroes and the slaves reached the gnolls, Avery unleashed his last lightning bolt searing through columns of gnolls. The gnolls lines began to fall apart and the heroes tore through them. The gnolls fell back and tried to regroup, but the heroes pressed forward. Lozen was a whirlwind of death as her blades painted the ground with gnoll blood. Damien and Ivanova were covered in gore as they cleaved their way through gnoll after gnoll.
Oberron had become unseated and separated from Tycho. Surrounded by gnolls he fought with pure dwarven fury trying to reach Tycho, when he heard his dog howl in pain. Wiping gnoll brains from his eyes, he watched Tycho fall, gnolls hacking at him repeatedly with halberds. Screaming with rage Oberron tried to reach him, but an unseen blow caught him unaware and brought him low.
A Dwarf’s Best Friend
Juselen 17th 1014 YE (Afternoon)
Oberron could hear his name being called but it seemed like it was far way. When the dwarf tried to move it felt like he was under water. Pushing a dead gnoll off of him, he staggered to his feet and looked around him. Dead hacked-up gnolls carpeted the ground around him. Interspersed among them were dead humans, elves and at least one dwarf. He could see some people helping the wounded back to the camp. Lozen was nowhere to be seen, maybe she was in the camp healing the wounded?
He could see Avery and that Conor fella, giving order to the others and shouting for him. Garrick was missing, no telling where he was. Ivanova and Damien were kneeling down next to someone.
Oberron started to walk over towards them. Damien saw him coming and nodded to Ivanova.
“Oberron, thank goodness, we could not find you.”
“Got Stuck, Where’s Tycho?”
“Oberron, I need to tell you something.”
Ivanova tried to stand in front of him, but the dwarf pushed her aside. On the ground was Tycho, barely breathing, his body ravaged by terrible wounds.
“No, No, No, NO, NO, NO, NO NO!!!”
The dwarf collapsed down next to Tycho and stroked the war-dog’s head. Tycho opened his eyes; seeing his master, he let out a soft whimper. He licked Oberron’s face with his washcloth sized tongue and his tail thumped the ground, raising little dust clouds from the valley floor.
“His injuries are beyond my meager skills, Master Dwarf, any other creature would have died from these wounds. I think he was waiting for you.” Damien stood and gave the dwarf some space. Ivanova looked on with tears in her eyes.
“Who’s a good boy? Tycho is the good boy.” Oberron softly murmured to the dog as he stroked its head.
Tycho rested his head in Oberron’s lap, his great barrel chest took one last great breath, his tail thumping one last time. His paws trembled as the great hound let out his last breath and became still.
The next sound to come out of Oberron was the sound of unimaginable, irreconcilable grief.