Return to Eldolan
No sooner had the group returned to Eldolan than they met two new companions.
Cazaril the son of a great paladin hero who fell in battle defending his family and empire from orcish invaders. He was raised by the wood elves following his father’s death and gained much of their knowledge as an agent for their cause.
They also met The Sword of Punishment, a forgeborn cleric sworn to the service of ancient 12th Age dwarven gods of justice, only recently re-awoken a few years ago to right the wrongs of the world.
As the group approached the gate Kronus was struck by a vision upon noticing a hill outside the city with an odd structure at its crest.
As the group reached the top of the hill they saw what appeared to be a large cask of ale sitting there, a weather-beaten sign across a round door on the side read, “The Ol’ Bung Hole”. As they approached Kronus received a sudden flash of the large structure replaced with a more humble wagon driven by two peculiar dwarves.
The group entered the structure to find themselves in a tavern. No sooner had they stepped inside than an exuberant dwarven character darted out from the kitchen and ushered them to their seats. The dwarf wore a grimy apron and as the party found out, nothing much else. He introduced himself as Dirt and shouted back into the kitchens for someone named Bernie to bring them ale and food before dashing back into the kitchen. Confused by the odd events but still starving from their long journey the group stayed to eat. As they enjoyed their admittedly delicious food, they realized, they were not alone. From a side room in the tavern, gruff voices could be heard having a heated debate.
Investigating the sound the group discovered a small band of orcs wearing the unmistakable garb of seamen, each with a tattoo of an asp along the side of their face. Listening in on their conversation the group soon realized that these orcs possessed a map to some sort of treasure. Deciding they would be better finding the treasure themselves, than a group of orc pirates, the group launched an offensive. The fight was over quickly as the group surprised the orcs. As the fight came to an end the leader of the orcs made one final desperate attempt to salvage the situation and summoned a shadow imp to inform their comrades that the party was coming. The group managed to temporarily hold the shadow imp and TSOP attempted to seal the creature in a phial. Unfortunately, the ritual failed and the evil creature managed to escape.
Knowing time was short the group quickly located the map from Gronk’s body and set out to find the treasure.
The map pointed to a nearby range of foothills and the group made it to the base of the trail in good time. However, as they journeyed along the path through the woods Caz noticed motion from the corner of his eye. There, in the distance between the trees, was a unicorn. Lured by the creature Caz leaped from his horse and pursued the creature. However as he neared the mystical beast it shimmered and evaporated as small mischievous wood imps fled in several directions snickering as they ran. As they fled one grabbed the reigns of Caz’s horse and made off with it.
Slowed without Caz’s horse the group continued along their path as it wound up the side of the hills. As they crested the top of the latest hill the sound of a small group approaching from behind drifted over the tops of the trees. From far below the group could see several shapes advancing on them and as they neared they recognized that one of the now clearly orcish pursuers rode atop Caz’s horse.
The group took the opportunity to turn the orcish ambush and reclaim Caz’s horse. They advanced up the trail quickly with their mounts re-acquired before coming to a fork in the road. There, on a tree situated between the forks, was a symbol of the dwarven god that TSOP followed pointing down the right path. A quick side trip down this path lead to an ancient dwarven temple in the side of a mountain, long abandoned. Deciding the ruin was too much to investigate given their likely pursuit by the orcs the group returned to the fork and took the left trail. They soon found themselves at an odd bridge.
A magical bridge spanned a wide chasm. Floating blocks of stone hovered across the gulf, each too far for a normal individual to jump to. While some in the party would have no problem traversing the span the heavier and less nimble members would find the bridge difficult. After pushing and pulling the blocks around to make their way across TSOP was finally able to call upon the aid of his gods to enact a ritual to summon a floating golden shield he could step upon and push the stones to the other side. Thus the party crossed the bridge.
Nearing the final leg of their journey the group came to the crest of the highest hill in the area. There at the end of the path was a dark and ominous-looking tree. As they approached a massive black oaken limb slammed into the ground near the party just as they narrowly leaped to safety. Before they could collect their senses the gnarled brambles along the paths trails began to writhe and lash out at the party. A desperate battle ensued in which several members of the group were brought near the brink as massive branches tossed the adventures about like rag dolls. As the tree was finally hacked to pieces it dissolved as the dark magic that created it bubbled and evaporated. Where the tree once stood was a large ornate door, free standing at the top of the hill, no structure stood behind it but a large horizontal jewel decorated its face. Recalling a doodle recovered from one of the ambushing Orcs, Kronus approached and placed his palm on the jewel with his fingers pointing to the right. As he did this the door opened.
Beyond the doorway, the group looked upon a desolate and scorched desert. In the distance a caravan slowly trudged along the crest of a dune, hunched humanoid figures pulled wagons driven forward at the lash of monstrous mutant creatures. A gaunt figure stood just inside the doorway his teeth wormed through with maggots as he croaked, “welcome to Pestilence.”