Dawn of a New Age

Chapter 1
In which a few folks meet each other.

It all began in the small logging town of Valden. Five strangers found themselves in the town's quaint but inviting tavern not knowing that soon their lives would soon be intertwined. There was Cordyr, the headstrong noble with a craving for adventure. Soren, a fledgling Justicar on his first real assignment. Renald, a pragmatic bard with a penchant for drawing. Silva, a wild barbarian that prefers the comfort of nature, while still recognizing the benefits of civilization.. And finally there's Shel, a ranger from the nearby woods that only wants a chance to protect her home, as well as the people that occupy it.

A few of our adventurers struck up a conversation and began to discuss the possibility of grouping together as the town's flood bell began to sound. The group made their way outside the inn, only to find an enormous water elemental descending upon the town. In order to save the town the group began to fight off the elemental. Once Cordyr managed to wrestle a corrupted frog from the creatures core and Renald insulted the frog to death; the water began to subside and the flood started to drain.

After a brief discussion with the town's leader Jerald Rhinehart, the group decided that they should stay together while they investigated the source of the frog's corruption. Additionally Soren was charged with finding an arcane expert named Vikhtik Talmore, and he believes his disappearance is related to the unusual attack. So the group set out to the north in search of Vikhtik and the source of the corruption.

After only a half day's travel, Cordyr's owl Hufflepuff spotted a campsite a few miles up the river. Upon closer inspection they discovered that whoever inhabited the camp before had been attacked by a group of goblins. Silva and Renald hatched a plan to lure some goblins behind a tree and ambush them before they could react. They managed to wipe out nearly half the group before the rest realized what was happening. Silva grabbed a goblin's body as a weapon and the group assaulted the goblins. After some close calls and another elemental creature attack, the party was able to subdue the goblins as well as their Bugbear partner. Left with the aftermath of their attack, our adventurers have nothing but questions about the strange campsite, the numerous barrels containing a dangerous black liquid, and the unidentified figure laying unconscious in one of the goblins' cages.

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Chapter 2
Don't drop the Soap

After defeating a group of goblin scavengers, our intrepid adventurers found themselves in the remains of a mysterious Elven camp. While some of the group went to investigate the unconscious figure laying in the goblin cage, the rest went to loot their spoils. Aside from the multitude of goblin heads, the party found some gold on the bodies of the dead elves, as well as an unusual tattoo on all of their wrists. Meanwhile the man in the cage turned out to be Soren's charge, Vikhtik Talmore. He thanked them graciously for coming to his rescue, and explained that he was sent here by Metzer's Arcane Seminary to investigate some planar disturbances, which he now believes is related to the Silvery-black liquid contained in the barrels. 

Vikhtik suggested a quick trip to try and determine the source of the ooze, so the group identified a set of tracks that led them to a small excavation site. After blowing a hole in the collapsed cavern with some looted black powder, the group explored the small mine and found the source to be some flowing veins of the mysterious substance buried deep beneath the earth. Satisfied with this new knowledge, they climbed back up through the cave, covering up their tracks as they went. Unfortunately, as they went to exit the cave, they perceived an ambush awaiting them on the other side of the opening. 

With some quick thinking and a touch of invisibility the group defeats the ambushers, even managing to subdue three of them. Unfortunately their leader, seeing no way out, managed to poison himself by breaking a trick tooth. Soren quickly figured this out with a small assist from Cordyr, and they managed to remove the trick teeth from the other two elves that they knocked out. Feeling exhausted at this point, the group moves back to the riverside camp where they find a very welcome sight: a small fishing boat with the barrels already tied up. Cordyr just manages to captain the ship back to Valden, and the group makes their way to the Glimmerstream Inn for a well earned rest.

In the morning our group reconnects with Jerald Rhinehart, the town's leader, and discusses some of their options going forward. All in all: the group receives a voucher for the goblin bounty to be claimed in Maedhan's Crossing, they also hand over the two living elf prisoners and Soren will contact the Justicars to determine what to do with them, finally the entire group decides to escort Vikhtik and the barrels of ooze to Metzer's Arcane Seminary where they can be studied and contained safely. Jerald said he would provide a carriage for you that would be ready the following morning, leaving the party with the rest of the day in Valden.

Since they had a little bit of time, the party makes their way to the local jail to try to gleam some information from the two captive elves. At first they have very little luck in their interrogations, but Silva's inspired deceptions allowed Soren to disguise himself as a terrifying Orc prisoner and intimidate one of the elves into revealing just a couple small bits of information. They learned that the mysterious tattoo seems to refer to the initials of whoever is pulling the strings in this organization, and that their motivation is politically charged…it seems that our party has stumbled into bit of high treason!

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Chapter 3
Adventures in Shopping

Our group of adventurers now seem to have a concrete quest set out ahead of them, their goal to transport a dozen casks of an unknown liquid with mysterious arcane connections, all the way to Metzer's Arcane Seminary on the Crescent Isles in the southern reaches of the country of Baileforge.

Now having prepared for the first leg of their journey, our (as of yet unnamed) group begins the journey that they hope will take them to Metzer's Arcane Seminary. Before they can leave though they encounter an unusual but friendly dwarf fellow that manages to convince the group against Vikhtik's wishes to allow him to travel with them for a brief period, to be released from the group once they reach Maedhan's Crossing.

The trip seems to go unhindered until the caravan approaches four figures in the road ahead, one of which seems to be unconscious, everyone in the group save for Cordyr realizes this is a trap fairly quickly, but Cordyr(being the gallant hero that he is) leaps in to save the "ailing" halfling, springing the trap set for them. After a short combat our heroes defeat the bandits, and discover that they are actually fledgling Ratcatchers, out to steal the bounty that the party acquired in Valden. Soren, being a member of the Justicars, revokes their Ratcatcher privileges and sends them packing without their weapons.

Now the group makes their way safely into Maedhan's crossing, and after connecting with the Justicars, discover that 10,000g awaits them upon completion of their objective. The group sets out to do a bit of shopping, reconnecting with "friends" and family, and even learns of a few potential distractions within the city. There also seems to be a bit of buzz in the city because the last living Vanguards of the Forge will be traveling through the city on Unification day, which is now only two days away. After all of the stress of the past couple of days, the city's goings on are a welcome relief; especially since the group knows they have a perilous journey ahead of them. 

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Chapter 4
Whats Spectators Precious?

With a couple of days left to kill before the vanguards arrive in Maedhan's Crossing our adventurers find themselves looking for a way to make some quick money before moving on to continue their journey towards Metzer's Seminary. Looking at the ratcatcher postings, they find that the only unclaimed job is to investigate a series of vampiric killings throughout the city. After being warned several times by Sylynor Yeslen, the Justicar in charge of this investigation that this would be too great a challenge for them the group decided to at least pursue a few leads and if things got too intense they could just report their findings back to Sylynor.

On their way to investigate one of the crime scenes, the group stumbled into an assassination plot involving two wizards at odds and a spectator. During the fight with the spectator they met up with an unusual Monk human that liked to give unsolicited advice constantly, they decided to let him tag along for a short while since he seemed to handle himself pretty well. They determined that the plot was unrelated to both the vampiric killings and the mysterious tattooed organization; then they continued looking for clues throughout the city. 

After a while of searching and coming up with just about nothing, Silva decides to break away and sell a shield they had been holding onto for a couple days, and Renald sends him to a store called The Shield Maiden that he had seen before but didn't know much about. On a hunch, Soren decides to tag along and the group investigates the rundown storefront. After casting a detect evil spell, Cordyr realizes that the store owner must be the Vampire that has been menacing the city. They leave the store after irritating the store owner and begin to formulate a plan for how to stop the creature without it escaping and causing any more grief.

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Chapter 5
A Night to Remember 

After conversing for a short while the group decides to split up; Soren runs to a nearby guard outpost to enlist the aid of the city guardsmen, Renald and Silva pursue the help of the Justicars, while Shel and Cordyr keep watch over the Shield Maiden. Soren arrives at the outpost and to his dismay is rejected help, but the guard captain sends a horse to the Justicar facility with a letter from Soren explaining the situation. Renald and Silva however are far more fortunate as a group of Justicars lead by Sylynor Yeslen agree to the plea request after listening to their evaluation of the situation and upon receiving Soren’s letter. Meanwhile, Cordyr and Shel purchase cloves of garlic while discussing possible vampiric vulnerabilities, many stereotypical and inaccurate. 

An hour before sunset, the group reconvenes near the entrance of the Shield Maiden along with the troop of Justicars, discussing attack strategies. Annoyed at the lack of immediate action, Silva and the recently reemerged Rhodes breakdown the door to the shop, followed quickly by the rest of the party. A short conversion with an unidentified man turned violent as the man revealed himself as a vampire and attacked. Silva attempted to grapple the vampire as shel, thinking quickly, started breaking windows. 

The backdoor suddenly burst, battered open by swarms of bat and wolf summons who rushed the intruders. Cordyr triumphantly jumps through the boarded window yelling “Justice crash,” as Silva managed to drag the vampire though the window exposing him to the light of the sun. The Justicars and party members slowly gained the upper hand, killing the most of the summons and assaulting the vampire directly. Surrounded and outnumbered, the vampire desperately struggles to reach the shade but is held down by Silva, while Cordyr stuffed garlic down his throat and as Shel and Renald start hoarding armor out of the Store. In the last ray of light the vampire falls.

The party investigated the back room of the shop, searching for the shopkeeper, discovering a exit door under the city. Renald realizing that his family was in danger ran through the city, charming a guard and stealing his horse along with Silva as Soren sprinted with unnatural speed next to them. Arriving at Renald’s home, the three raced through the home until they happened upon a bloody scene, the vampire holding an unconscious Brie. Renald’s father lying lifeless with his throat ripped open on the bed. Renald swearing vengeance upon him only to openly mocked by the vampire. The shopkeeper laughs at the three, while slitting Brie's throat and vanishing into the night. Soren and Renald manage to keep Brie alive long enough for Cordyr to arrive and heal her, but it was far too late for the father.

Cordyr tells of tales of the vanguard and how his favorite idol can raise men from the dead, so the group finds themselves attempting to contact these legendary heroes.

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Chapter 6
Interrogations, Friendly and Fierce

The time had finally come, Cordyr could practically smell Achaka Metalbeard from where he stood. The Vanguards were mere feet away from him but he couldn't manage to get their attention while blending into the crowd like he was. He needed to stand out from the crowd(not that that would be too hard for him). So as the Vanguards made their way into the tavern, Cordyr grabbed his trusty grappling hook and attempted to scale the building. After a couple of failed attempts though, he was accosted by some of the nearby guards and told that he has to leave the city. Not to lose his chance though, Cordyr barrels through the guards and into the tavern. Determined to meet his idol he sprints into the inn and locates where they are. His friends see his great determination and try to help him in his quest, but before he can make it very far, Cosima Farfoot(the Halfling fighter member of the Vanguards) ends the conflict with a very convincing threat. At this point Renald and Soren reveal themselves to be Cordyr's allies and plead for an opportunity to meet with the Vanguards. Achaka Metalbeard agreed, but not until after they finished their meal.

While the group awaited their meeting with the Vanguards behind a locked door, they met with a strange hairy halfling that was traveling with a tiefling on a mission to locate the very same tattooed organization that had been entangled with our adventurers. After exchanging some information the halfling left with his tiefling compatriate, and the group was left to wait for the Vanguards arrival. After another hour or so, they heard some voices and heavy footsteps coming towards their room. Achaka Metalbeard appeared through the doorway, followed by Rimion Ilinsyrer. They had a brief conversation, and Achaka seemed genuinely interested in their mission; however as it turned out he actually didn't know any spells that would allow him to speak with the dead, or raise dead for that matter. He did wish them luck on their mission and gave them a gift in the form of a bag of holding to aid them in their travels.

The groups elation after the meeting didn't last for very long though. Mere moments after the Vanguards carriage departed from the tavern, a bright white blast blinded the group and when their vision returned, a crater had formed where the carriage had been and dozens of bodies lay limp and dismembered around the edge of the crater. Acting quickly, the group identified a suspicious individual and when they went to ask her some questions, she took off trying to escape. A chase had begun, and the pursuant seemed desperate to escape unscathed. The group managed to catch her with the aid of some nearby townsfolk who read the situation well, and began to interrogate her while waiting for the Justicar to arrive. Cordyr, having just watched his lifelong idol disappear in a flash, wasn't feeling particularly merciful and he rather ruthlessly interrogated her to the point of revealing that she was from Vellandria, the continent to the south, and that she had been sent to remove the Vanguards from the equation so Vellandria could more easily invade Baileforge. 

With this new information, the party is finally ready to leave Maedhan's Crossing and continue towards Metzer's Arcane Seminary.

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Chapter 7
The Tempest Looms

Finally ready to resume their journey, our party sets out on the southern road towards Metzer's. They travel through a small village on their first day, wherein Silva finds himself in a brawl with one of the tavern-dwellers, and after an easy victory they continued on their way. The next day and a half of travel was pretty uneventful. But then on the following night, during Shel's watch, she found herself falling uncontrollably asleep. When she awoke she found herself in complete silence and darkness. It was only after the silence dissipated that she was able to awaken everybody and then shortly afterwards, the darkness cleared. Only now that the darkness had cleared could they see that the wagon containing the barrels had vanished.

Acting quickly, Silva hopped onto one of the horses that had been left behind and started tracking the wagon, with the rest of the party in tow. After only a half hour of searching, they spotted it in the distance, and as they approached the wagon it appeared to have been abandoned. They were searching for clues as to who might have taken it when they were startled by a voice from atop the wagon. The thief revealed himself to be a Tabaxi named Ambidextrous Cobra…or Ambi for short. He explained that hed been hired by tattooed men to retrieve their cargo, but curiosity got the better of him and he decided to sneak a peek at what was in the barrels, then at that point he wanted to know more about what the stuff was so he waited for the party to catch up to him. Ambi offered his services to the group as long as they let him travel with them so he could learn more about the mysterious fluid, and they agreed. 

The next day, the group finally arrived at the base of Tempest Mountain, which was where their path would take them to cross the mountain pass. At the base of the mountain they found themselves in a dilapidated, mostly abandoned town save for the local Inn, Tempest's Shadow B&B. They paid for a few rooms and had a nice meal, during which they met a Justicar that was here to investigate some weird goings on near the peak of the mountain, and since the party happened to be going that way anyway, he agreed to let them travel with him. The journey up the mountain was fairly uneventful, but as they neared the summit, the weather began to get pretty hairy. They reached the Martense Mansion that Otto, their new Justicar traveling companion, was looking for; and after some brief deliberation decided to continue down the mountain rather than stay in the mansion overnight. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake. Soon the mountainside was a torrential downpour of snow, sleet, & hail, and the group began to scramble for any sort of shelter. After a few hours of digging and cutting trees, they hunkered down and tried to get some sleep while waiting out the storm.

Chilled to the bone, the group woke up and, miraculously, everyone was fine and the horses were already beginning to warm themselves up. It took the rest of the day to recollect themselves, and then make it down the rest of the mountain. Upon exiting the vale, they saw a small hamlet at the edge of the mountain. They arrived as the sun was setting, and after getting their bearings and learning the village's name(Bastow), they found the nearest Inn and got a well earned nights rest.

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Chapter 8
Great balls of fire

After a well earned rest, Renald was suddenly woken up by Arler, the barkeep at the Open Hearth Inn. According to Arler, the Publicani had arrived a day early, and were collecting their taxes from the locals. He suggested that the party leave as soon as they can, so as not to draw any attention to the cargo they were currently transporting. The group quickly grouped up and tried to covertly get to their cargo, but they were spotted on their way to the stables. 

They tried to sneak out of the rear exit but there simply wasn't enough time, and despite their attempts to delay the publicani, the front door began to open. After Silva decked one of them in the face, a confrontation was unavoidable. As the group began to fight, Cordyr attempted to get the wagon moving; and after some difficulty managed to squeeze the horses through the stable doors, trampling a couple of the tax collectors. Most of the group managed to make it onto the wagon as it was taking off into the street; but up ahead was a shadowy figure casting a spell. Before they knew it there was a massive fireball hurdling towards the cart dealing massive damage to the wagon and all of its contents.

Now, the party had to deal with the new enemy, as well as the flaming barrels occupying their wagon. But as the wagon lost its wheels it lurched forward, sending one of the barrels towards the mysterious figure; as it landed, the mystery fluid reacted with the fire and fused with the cloaked figure, creating a large flame infused monstrosity. Now in a battle for their lives, the publicani turned and assisted in taking down the new, magically imbued threat. After a few turns, the beast was felled, and the party turned their weapons back towards the tax collectors. The group gave them the option to just part ways, and simply move on. After considering it, the Publicani took the offer, and began to retrieve their cart and continue along; it was only after Renald read their surface thoughts and realized that they would report this to their government superiors that the group decided it would be best to stop them so they could keep their freedom and anonymity. The Publicani put up a good fight, but eventually the party won out, eventually choking out the final member. 

As they quickly left the village, they interacted with a few townsfolk, alerting the village that the taxes that were taken had been left in the square by the inn. As they made their exit, the overheard some of the villagers muttering their praises, calling them The Heroes of Bastow.

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Chapter 9
The "writing's" on the wall

Battered and bruised we find our heroes leaving behind the village of Bastow, only about a day and a half away from Metzer's Arcane Seminary. As night begins to fall, some of the party notice a faint glow and the din of many thousands of voices having conversation. Ambi went ahead to check what it was, and when he returned he told them about the large army making camp, apparently on the march to go somewhere nearby. Instead of making contact, the group decides to go the long way around the camp and sleep far enough away from them that they wouldn't be detected. However as they traveled they encountered a small patrol group keeping a watch on this area. Using some quick deceptions and a surprisingly well done illustration by Rhodes, the group convinced the patrolling officers to allow them to pass.

The following day they arrived at a ferry that carried them to the Crescent Isles and then shortly after, they landed at the smallest of the islands that, according to Vikhtik Talmore, contained the seminary. Despite Cordyr's skepticism, Vikhtik assured the group that this was the right place, even though there was no tower in sight and the only discernible building was a large log cabin perched on the side of the island's large hill. For a few moments the group deliberated about how to carry the barrels of mysterious fluid up the hill, when finally Vikhtik decided to go get help from the seminary. A few moments later a thin Elf woman with jet black hair, bright blue eyes and a very ornate set of robes appeared out of nowhere carrying a large net. She greeted the group rather curtly, saying that her name was Cara and that she would take care of the barrels and that the group should head up to the cabin where Vikhtik was waiting for them. She proceeded to tie up all of the barrels in her net and before the group could do much of anything, she teleported once more vanishing along with the barrels. 

Trusting that Vikhtik knew what he was doing, the group traveled up the hill towards the large log cabin resort. After meeting Vikhtik at the entrance, he ushered the group through the large, well lit cabin, explaining that it is intended to be the guest area for the tower and while there are important things done here, the real magic is all handled in the tower. He escorts the group to a large set of double-doors gaurded by two sentries. Behind the door they found a white undecorated room with a 10 foot wide staircase leading down into the floor. As they walked down the stairs they realized that the stairs curved upside down, and even though they should be falling they stayed upright until the stairs brought them to an identical set of double doors to the ones they just passed through. On the other side of this door though, was a circular room about 40-50 feet in diameter, with various doors lining the edge of the room and a ceiling so high that they couldn't even see it up above them. Through the tall windows that lined two sides of the room, the group could only see a dark violet emptiness stretching out away from the tower. 

They went into one of the ground floor doors where they were officially introduced to Cara Seltune, the Lady Master of the Order of Watchful Magists and Protectors. She dispensed their due payment for escorting the barrels to the tower, and she also showed them the barrels safe and sound in one of the research chambers located in the vault. As the group began to ask various questions to her about their larger quest regarding the mysterious organization, she told them she would be able to better help them the next morning and they would be set up with a couple of rooms in the entry hall. They met with Vikhtik's old master Brian Mubarak, who shared some embarrassing stories about Vikhtik and showed them to their rooms. 

Seeing that they still had some time left in the day, the party decided to make their way to the nearby Elven city of Ghaya, in order to do some shopping with their newfound wealth. Cordyr commissioned a restoration of his broken full-plate, Silva got a new tattoo as well as a box of chewing tobbacco, Soren bought some specialty coffee and tea, Rhodes bought some psychedelics and went on a trip that led to him drawing on a wall with horse-shit and rat's blood(quite well to his own surprise), Renald got some enchanted weaponry, and Shel….well she seemed quite distracted until deciding to run off into the wilderness saying that she would be back within a day or two. As night fell once again, the group made their way back to their rooms for the first good night of sleep they have had in weeks.

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Chapter 10
Ascending The Anferth

Our heroes found their way back to Cara Seltune's first floor office for a previously arranged meeting. Cara revealed to them that she had misled them before, she had the information they were seeking but was unable to share it because of an enchantment that prevented anybody from sharing information gained within their library. She proceeded to ask for a favor, and in return they would be granted access to the seminary's private library. 

The favor in question was to investigate the last known location of a group of researchers that went on a scouting mission to The Anferth in search of a missing ancient artifact. The group agreed, and the following morning they were teleported to a small village called Greyspell at the base of The Anferth Mountains. From there they purchased some climbing and cold weather equipment, then began their ascent into the frigid peaks above. They picked up the trail of the missing researchers on the first day and followed them to an abandoned campsite where they decided to rest for the night. The following day they were following the tracks when they spotted a small group of Giant Eagles flying in the distance, after they changed their clothes colors to white to camouflage themselves they evaded detection just fine. That night they camped out at the bottom of a 50' cliff. During his watch, Rhodes heard some unsettling howling and spotted a pair of glowing white eyes viewing them from atop the cliff. 

Rhodes proceeded to wake the group and they slowly began to prepare for a fight. After a few tense minutes, the eyes disappeared and the howling stopped. Then suddenly an enourmous yeti appeared ahead of them and lunged at Cordyr. During the fight 2 more yeti appeared, flanking the party, and ended up downing Soren, Shel, and Rhodes. After Cordyr landed the killing blow on the final yeti he quickly revived his companions and they finished out their rest. 

The next day they lost the trail…in an attempt to find it again, Cordyr sent Hufflepuff high into the air to search for any signs of them. Hufflepuff spotted a cave entrance a few miles through a nearby pass, and the group agreed that it might be worth checking out. They made it to the cavern exterior around the late afternoon, and quickly discovered numerous sets of tracks, most of them belonging to large bipedal creatures. They also found a week-old snow covered camp site off to the side of the cave. Before just marching into the cave they wisely decided to scout it out a bit first, so Rhodes shifted into a spider and went into the cave. He returned about 45 minutes later with his findings: that the cave was infested with ogres and, even worse, basilisks. If the party was going to enter the cave they'd have to do so with great caution…

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