Dancing Clouds 4th, 3123 Under the Light
I report with sad and troubled heart for the Light hath revealed the Corruption spreading at the heart of the land. A Goblinesh gather nestled amidst rocks in the Northern reaches of the Wildlands has been attacked by forces of Darkness. Though some small few survived, the greater number perished…or were turned to the service of the Dark.
As ordered, I arrived in Echer’Naught after my successful resupply of Jasara. I had some time to serve the Chapel of Light there under the direction of High Priest Vallandrian. It was at this time that I received your message. Under your direction, and with the assistance of Sergeant Major Stormhammer of the Rangers, I sent out a distress beacon to the surrounding territories for any and all assistance.
I am aware that Col Wolfhaven arrived in Tarnn to take over operations there. He was kind enough to lend aid by way of an Eldakar Sorcerer/Priest. So too, I was joined by a new Paladin/Priest, an Alakar woman recently raised to the cloth. With her came a young Paladin human, another Eldakar Druid and last, unbelievably, a one eyed Ogress named Fekla. A name I would not soon forget.
After assembling at the Chapel of Light in Echer’Naught, just after morning services I briefed them on the situation. Reports from the Rangers indicated that many isolated villages and a few gathers had been attacked, though all traces of bodies had been removed. Also, there has been an increasing number of Darkness infested creatures in the same region while encounters with Shayakar and Necromancers are also on the rise. In confidence, I had been briefed that an unusual coffin had been captured by a group north of Echer’Naught.
All of which indicated a larger Shaya’Nor presence.
So, by noon we were riding south, heading to the last known location of attack given to the church by fleeing goblinesh. It took many days. Our first indication of trouble was mid-day on the 3rd. As the ground became more broken by rocks and scrub, we saw a column of smoke rising high into the sky.
Moving forward, we spotted a small group of Goblinesh fleeing a larger group of Corrupted. I immediately ordered the Druid and Paladin to take a position on the ridge for covering fire. As for the rest, we rushed to intercept the Corrupted before they reached the civilians. Sadly, before we had a chance, the troll caught up to them and killed three with a single swipe of his ax.
The human Paladin and the Druid lay down fire as the rest of the party prayed to Archanon or summoned powers of their own before charging into battle. As we closed, the Troll smashed through his own allies, nearly crushing two. Before the last three refugees were killed, Fekla rushed into the path of the Troll and they began a titanic battle. Meanwhile, the female Paladin/Priest threw herself down the rocky cliff with abandon to reach the enemy more swiftly.
Our arrows and spells felled the Troglodytes and Hobgoblins as they tried to engage. One of the Hobgoblins managed to reach the base of the cliff and vanish. Meanwhile, the Troll swung wildly, nearly killing the female Priest/Paladin, but her divine aura saved her. The tainted minions were not so lucky. The battle was all but won, however, when Fekla seemingly nearly ripped the troll in half, his wounds healed faster than she could swing.
At that moment, Ash, the Mage/Priest realized the reason and tossed her his Everwood staff. With this, the mighty Ogress felled the troll and the battle was won. Or so we thought. A scream from behind revealed that the vanished Hobgoblin had not fled, but closed on the human paladin and had nearly gutted him.
I, Ash, Ash’s dog rushed to his aid. Together, we managed to slay the foul creature in short order. Meanwhile, the female paladin/priest managed to calm the terrified goblinesh. With Ash translating, I was able to ascertain that their gather had also been overrun by creatures of Darkness the previous night. They were the last of their people, so far as they knew. But they warned us that the area was overrun with their corrupted cousins.
We put their minds at east as best we could and sent them to Echer’Naught. Then, turning we followed the column of smoke to their gather.
We arrived toward dusk to find the gather in flames and crawling with Trolls, Troglodytes and Hobgoblins. As we watched, the corrupted goblinesh were collecting the dead bodies of the fallen and stacking them near a hooded figure. A necromancer.
Taking a minute, we summoned the power of our ascended. Fortunately, this guaranteed our continued blessing. Unfortunately, our use of power attracted the attention of our foes, who quickly gathered and closed.
Fekla again took the lead, charging against no fewer than three massive trolls. The druid summoned the power of Landra and encased one in a cocoon of vines from which it never emerged. In a clash of arms, we slammed into the remaining trolls and troglodytes, slashing and smiting even as the necromancer peppered us with dark bolts.
Time and again, Fekla took blow after blow, but the ogress refused to fall. Step by bloody step, we moved forward. Then, in the midst of the chaos, the necromancer raised three dead goblinesh to rush our lines, but they were little match for Archanon’s might. One by one, the troglodytes fell, the trolls taking longer, but we had learned our lesson with using mundane weapons.
In short order, all those left standing were eliminated, even the one encased in vines. And yet, the necromancer escaped, fleeing into what appeared to be a hole in the base of the cliff. The two Eldakar raced forward before I could speak.
No sooner had they stepped beneath the shadow of the cliff, when five hobgoblins appeared and attacked them en-mass. The druid was driven to his knees, and the mage/priest nearly followed, but the others rushed to their side. The priest summoned a Celestial Lantern Bearer who attempted to heal the druid. Meanwhile, Feklar thundered up and began to lay waste with mighty swings of her ax.
Though it cost us dearly, we managed to eliminate our would-be assassins. As I stepped up to the hole, I felt a wave of Darkness pass over me so intense my vision swam. Etched into the lintel stone of what we realized was an ancient and weathered doorway was the ancient symbol of Vainar, before his fall which had been corrupted and blasphemed, presumably by his ancient followers.
It appeared that this entrance had only been recently excavated. There was even evidence of digging equipment among the many burn piles. From what I can tell, agents of Darkness must have been operating in this area for at least a month prior using captured humans, elves and goblinesh to dig up this ancient, corrupted temple.
I also noted that the force of corrupted we had just faced seemed large to our party, it was but a small part of the army nearby. We did not have time to call for reinforcements, but nor could I leave us exposed to an attack from the rear.
With reluctance I ordered Ash to remain at the door with the young Paladin and the druid while I entered the temple with Fekla and the Paladin/Priest alakar woman.