GM’s Note: Much of this session was spent leveling characters to 7th, after all the XP was calculated up from their previous sessions it came to a whopping 9120xp per character (counting for 5, not ten). This will also take some additional time on my part as many of the characters are picking up the Leadership feat and gaining Cohorts and Followers.
We will begin following our erstwhile Dwarven Companion who had tucked himself safely inside of the feathers of the Talonquake, keeping his stomach from emptying its contents from sheer force of will after the repeated lurching feelings he had over the course of its travel. Finally, after what seemed like days the creature lumbered into darkness and settled into the ground. Cautiously taking a look around Korin d’Kundarak, treasurer of Valdrik realized he was in a large cave of some sort, atop a slumbering Talonquake with a dozen or two extra owlbears simply wandering the local area. There was another great owlbear body in the cavern that had showed evidence of a struggle and death fairly recently. Korin decided it wasn’t worth checking what gender it was.
He also had absolutely no idea where he was.
Slowly and carefully Korin first attempted to remove or damage the metal band on Talonquake’s arm to little success, and then explored the local area discovering a dead body that looked awfully familiar…
It was that Hobgoblin mercenary, the one that was friends with the bandit that they had received a bounty for from Septim and the Coin Lords of Stormreach nearly a year ago. They had captured him and had sent him back to Stormreach to face justice, apparently to little effect. Well the poor sap was dead now. Taking his time to loot the dead hobgoblin of his personal affects (which included a multi-gemmed ring with a strand of hair entwined within it…this would be important later).
More importantly, was a map on the body! It not only clearly indicated his current location, but also had a giant red X on the location of Valdrik/Waterview. Managing to evade the local young owlbears, Korin dashed off into the forest and began his long trek back towards civilization. His meager training at surviving in the wilderness at least guaranteed that he wouldn’t go thirsty or hungry but it was still going to take him days to make sure he didn’t lose his way traveling across the plains, hills and forests.
Our victorious heroes, slayers of Hargulka the Troll King arrived back at their home to find it recovering from a terrible battle. A section of housing and the local tavern had been completely destroyed by the attack (A successful Stability check had managed to reduce the damage to Two areas of the city, rather than 2d4 areas of the city.) The castle, while damaged, was still standing thanks to the quick thinking of our heroes. It would take ¼ of the build cost of the castle to re-build it to its former glory.
Stories were shared and as a ragged Korin managed to be picked up by some farmers and escorted back to the capital, the pieces of the puzzle were slowly analyzed to figure out just what had happened.
First off, it would seem that Hargulka’s “Ace in the Hole” for destroying Valdrik was indeed organizing the Talonquake’s attack on the town. The Troll King had made contact with someone with a shared hatred for the country and gave him the information to not only find the Talonquake but somehow place a mental compulsion on it – as well as go through the trouble of having a suit of Studded Leather Barding made for the monster.
Things didn’t end well for the hobgoblin though – and a letter was still on the body telling the hobgoblin to “take your revenge and satisfy both our desires.”
Sidney analyzed the equipment that Korin had brought back with him from the cave. Everything checked out, save for the ring (told you it would come up again). What would normally be a Ring of Animal Friendship was instead a Ring of Bestial Friendship and was a Cursed item. While it could charm magical beasts the effect would only last for a number of minutes. After that the affected creature would kill the wearer of the ring. Not only that, but a magical compulsion would be laid on the creature – an unnatural hatred for civilization that would make it seek out any bastions of modern living and utterly crush it into dust. Well that explained the strange behavior of the Talonquake during the attack on the town.
Cassie’s Dispel Magic had ended the compulsion – but from what Sidney could figure from the ring a curse like that was powerful and would not stay subdued for long. The Talonquake would return in time, compelled again to attack their city.
Now it was Dox’s turn to add to the mystery. The cursed Ring of Bestial Friendship had one notable feature – a single lock of green-ish hair entwined around it. This item had been intentionally created for a specific purpose, including being cursed. She had seen that same design recently – the Ring of Fire Resistance worn by Hargulka that she had cut off of his hand and then suddenly exploded! She was the only one close enough (besides Eleanor) to get a clear enough look at the piece of jewelry. Whoever had given Hargulka the ring had also made the ring to control Talonquake.
Now it was Valerie’s turn to add to the puzzle. There had been one more ring similar to this they had run across in their travels – and it was being worn by the leader of their country. It had previously belonged to the Stag Lord as a Ring of Protection with a simple strand of hair encased in amber around the metal. Sidney turned his trained eye to analyzing this item now and discovered it too had additional magical properties…
First off it allowed the creator of the ring to Scry on the bearer at any time. Any attempts made to discover or counter this ability would result in the ring exploding. Thankfully, there did not seem to be any wardings against removing the ring which Valerie did very cautiously.
At this point Alanea’s character played the Plot Point Card – Hidden Asset to reveal a bit of evidence that may give them clues as to the creator of the ring – there appeared to be a single drop of blood encased within the ring shaped like a red rose petal. It would take careful inspection and the use of a controlled lab but Alanea was fairly sure she could gain access to the drop of blood (for a planned use of her research spell Blood Biography) using a mix of modern science and medical tools. Take that ancient magic!
Three rings. All magical. All created by the same person. All given to people who had a claim on the Stolen Lands of Xen’drik and had been creating a region for themselves. Someone out there was creating these magic rings and handing them out to people. But for what purpose? And how long had this creator been scrying on the ruling council, if at all?
Thankfully there was some good news in all of this. A messenger from The Twelve arrived the same day bearing news of recent events. The Twelve had been made aware of the recent dangers of rising Troll activity and had placed an official bounty on putting a stop to this menace…which to the messenger’s surprise our heroes had already done so! The limitations of sending information back and forth from Stormreach were becoming more evident every day.
The messenger would send word back to Stormreach that the Trolls and their King had been defeated, and that The Twelve would be sending a reward of 2,000gp per member of the Ruling Council as well as additional support for their kingdom in the form of 10 BP to help their kingdom grow. It would take a week or two to arrive.
Finally, there was a letter for one Valerie d’Lyrandar. The messenger looked around the council chamber to locate the CEO, whom Alanea idly pointed out while not taking her attention away from the ring she was studying. The heavy bootsteps of the messenger moved over to Valerie and presented her with a letter.
“For Valerie d’Lyrandar CEO of the Kingdom of Valdrik.
It has come to our attention that the good people of Cannith West have not been doing their part to ensure the safety of the most important members of this blossoming community. It is with this in mind that we have contracted a bodyguard to begin serving you immediately. This man is a capable guardian that has taken this job of his own free will and it would be a great disservice to both House Cannith and his personal honor if you were to refuse.
Signed, Merrix d’Cannith”
Looking up from the letter to finally get a good look at the messenger Valerie realized there was something off about the boot steps of the man – and it became very clear why. The messenger who introduced himself as Bastion was a Warforged that was wearing clothing! A hat with a feather in it, a ruffled tunic and billowy pants complete with leather boots had muffled the traditional ka-chunk ka-chunk sound of a warforged’s heavy footsteps.
In addition to the manner of dress being odd for their race, Bastion seemed to have additional joints and grooves in his face that allowed for more expressive facial features even to the point of pointing his eyes in different directions and something that could be considered close to cheek bones. Curiouser and curiouser.
“I look forward to getting to know my charge better, and enjoy the three square meals a day required of proper nutrition complete with fruits, vegetables, and acceptable portions of protein.” With that Bastion excused himself to be given a proper place within the castle to be claimed as a room.