- Back to Part 3 of the Chronicle.
- Velwyth. Late Summer 1096TA. Oak Cross.
- Tanglewood Forest . 27th January 1097TA. Melloth Hwyr.
- Tanglewood Forest. 29th January 1097TA. The Horned King.
- Velwyth. 5th February 1097TA. Return to Oak Cross.
- Deep Hollow, Velwyth. 12th February 1097TA. Meredith's Warning.
- The Wyrmdowns . March - May 1097TA. Into the Wyrmdowns.
- On to Part 5 of the Chronicle.
Later that summer, Patrick was assigned a position in a small logging community deep in Tanglewood forest called Oak Cross. As the Phaedran representative, he would sit on the village's council along with the mayor, watch commander and the Orlothian representative, who was also new to the area.
One cold, crisp December morning Jason awoke to find a dead man at the doors to the church. The man had obviously been there for some time and died of exposure. He wore tattered clothes and showed signs of hard physical labour. Clutched in his frozen hand was a Blood Moon amulet. Scrawled on the wall, in his blood, were the words:
Jason dispatched letters to his friends and the church for help and information. The church told Jason to bury the unfortunate man, forget about the message and continue his work. In early January the rest of the party arrived in Oak Cross to investigate.
Talking to the local loggers and trappers they discovered that several days into the forest is a place called Melloth Caverns. They decided to head off into Tanglewood to find it. After a week of searching they found Melloth Hwyr, some ancient ruins on a large hill.
They searched the area and eventually found a concealed cave entrance. They set off inside and in the first major cavern came across signs of battle. The dead bodies of about twenty men and women were scattered around the cavern. They seemed to have attacked each other with whatever weapons were at hand, hacking at each other indiscriminately. The bodies had now frozen in the cold, so whatever happened it occurred well before they arrived..
The party continued deeper into the caverns and eventually found two survivors, Zayri and Vorla Krasovir. They were archaeologists from the northern country of Mourne. Vorla was badly wounded and at death's door. Zayri had managed to keep her alive but she needed urgent medical attention. When questioned, the sisters were not fully aware of what they were doing there, just investigating some ancient ruins. The expedition leader – Erik Largo – was killed when the cavern's ancient defences triggered. The man who Jason found in Oak Cross was Kollo Vattick, another survivor who had gone for help. Kollo and Erik were the organisers of the expedition to find the caverns.
Besides helping her sister, Zayri had been continuing Erik's excavations and had uncovered part of an ancient, sealed doorway. It would only be a matter of a few hours work to uncover the rest.
While they were talking they heard a commotion from the entrance to the complex. Hugo's pet wolf had been left guarding the entrance and had heard or seen something. They rushed back to the entrance in time to see several black-clad men kill the wolf and turn to attack the party. They fought off the assassins, but not before one of them ran away and used some sort of spell to collapse the cave entrance, sealing them inside. They checked over the bodies and discovered that they all had a similar tattoo on their arms – a shield with a skull device on it. They returned to Zayri to rest. During the night, Owen and Patrick (?) had strange dreams of a faceless woman, beckoning them further into the caverns.
They awoke next morning and found Zayri at the sealed dorrway. The entrance was ancient, well over 5000 years old according to Zayri's estimates. Ancient carved pillars, now covered in a thin film of lime scale, flanked two large stone doors. The doors were carved granite and also covered in lime scale. Beneath the lime viewers could just make out carvings depicting a warrior with deer antlers erupting from his crowned head. Zayri asked the party to help her open the door.
A brief conversation was held with the Horned King. They learnt that Barraell was brother to Eldred, the creator of the wolf-like Eldren. He described Eldren as an animal and not to be trusted. He also referred to having other siblings. Barraell sealed himself here during the First Age – at least 3500 years ago, but he wouldn't say exactly when. He promised them that he meant them and humanity no harm.
He revived the six men who were also in the room and they filed out. Barraell led the six out of the room to the main cavern with the party in tow. Rather than struggle up the narrow slope to the entrance cave he used arcane magic to carve a staircase into the rock. In the entrance cave he used similar magic to pick apart the rock slide and free the entrance to the outside. He enigmatically told the party “We will meet again” and then disappeared.
The party returned to the caverns. In the rubble they discovered another body had been covered by the rock fall. Upon investigation it turned out to be Brother Bolton – the Orlothian priest from Oak Cross. He was dressed in the same clothes and had the same tattoo as the assassins who attacked them in the cavern.
They also investigated the carvings that lined the passage to Barraell’s chamber along with some writings in an ancient language. Using a ‘Comprehend Languages’ spell they deciphered the carvings, all of them pointed to Barraell as a force that fought against evil. The final carving is of interest: “With the loss of his father, the Horned King sealed himself away from the world and his siblings.”
Outside the caverns they found the horses and equipment for the five man suicide squad. There were no identifying marks or equipment to identify them further, though conspiracy theories abound regarding the involvement of the church.
The party returned to Oak Cross. No one seemed to be aware of any problems regarding Bolton, who “returned to Deep Hollow on business” shortly after the party went into Tanglewood. An argument ensued about what to do next. Patrick wanted to inform the church of what happened, though Owen, Durban and Hugo disagreed. Those three also wanted to break into the church of Orloth in Oak Cross to look for clues about Brother Bolton's involvement, but Patrick disagreed with that too.
Owen broke into the church and discovered a partially burnt letter in the fireplace.
The party left Oak Cross and returned to Deep Hollow, deciding to conduct some research on Barraell and Eldred to try and fathom out more of the story. Patrick went to speak with Aurillian and the Guides, Hugo returned to his Circle and Durban conducted more research in Deep Hollow.
The day after, Durban was in the city’s public library doing research when he was visited by his sister Meredith. Durban was surprised by the extent of her magical powers, easily outstripping him in just a few months. She warned him that the Eldren had invaded the goblin kingdoms in the east, displacing the goblins and forcing them westwards across the Wyrmdowns. She believed that Velwyth is doomed and he should go to Malham, pick up their parents and go as far away as possible.
Durban told the party and they took the heroic stand and say they should defend Velwyth if they can. They decided to speak to Aurillian and seek the advice of the Deep Hollow Guides. After a series of meetings, the Guides decided to send the party along with some Guides into the Wyrmdown to hunt for signs of a goblin migration.
The party gathered together their kit and set off east. They stopped in Malham, where the Guides chose to set up a command centre. Durban visited his family farm and attempted to convince his parents to leave the county. Unfortunately, they were still upset with the Meredith situation and they felt that he had abandoned his family.
The Wyrmdowns cover a vast area to the east of Velwyth. The party were ordered to head to the south-west, into an area known as the Shaern Grasslands, and to the Corran Badlands beyond. The Corran Badlands are an expanse of shale and slate mountains that mark the southern boundaries of the Wyrmdowns. The badlands are notoriously dangerous, and travellers usually steered well clear of the area. The Guides felt that the goblins were least likely to try to travel through this area, so the party had been sent to search this area. Two other Guides were been sent with them to set up a message relay back to Velwyth and to increase the area explored.
The party set off across the grasslands. They arrived at the Black Hills on the 6th April and left one of the guides there with some supplies. Eight days later on the 14th April, Owen spotted a pillar of smoke on the horizon.
The smoke was coming from a goblin encampment in the ruins of an ancient city. A long range patrol of goblins and hobgoblins had found the city and were searching for loot. The party attacked the goblins and defeated them in a series of encounters. They captured and interrogated some of them. They spoke an oddly accented form of the goblin tongue. The goblins were like no other they had encountered before. They were strong-willed and defiant, sure of their superiority over humans and that they would crush the human ‘invaders’ when they came to reclaim their homeland. The party executed the prisoners and headed off, further into the grasslands.
In mid May they arrived at a goblin constructed fort, controlling the ford across a river. Hugo was sent to search the camp, but he was spotted by the goblin guards. He was forced to flee across the river to the east and was chased by goblin trackers. Using his ‘Trackless Step’ ability, he easily avoided his trackers and travelled to the agreed rendezvous point.
The goblins left the camp in numbers and began searching the area for signs of spies. The rest of the party headed away from the rendezvous point to evade the goblins. They were spotted by goblin outriders and chased away. Owen, Durban and Jason decided to ambush the riders. Jason and Durban had an argument about the use of fireballs and allowed the goblins to get too close. The attack went badly but the party eventually managed to kill the goblins. The argument between Durban and Jason would resurface many times in the months to come.