The Ironfang Invasion: Trail of the Hunted

Game Master vayelan

A tale of desperate survival set against the invasion of a ruthless hobgoblin army — the Ironfang Legion! As the Ironfang Legion begins carving out an empire of monsters, the heroes must flee their hometown of Phaendar as it burns, saving any lives they can.

Resources:
Upper Caves Map
Lower Caves Map
Southern Chernasardo Map

Current Encounter: Clearing the Camp

Party Treasury
Militia Worksheet


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LG Dwarf Warpriest4 l hp 38/38 l AC22 (T13, FF20) l F +7, R +4, W +6, Ini +2 l CMB +3 CMD15 l Minor Blessings 3/3 l Fervor 2/3 l Dorn-Dergar: Reach Dorn-Dergar

"Alright, seems we've got a plan then. A scouting run over Phaendar with Undari, then on to this Fort Nunder to figure out what's going on with the Rangers."

Thorek pushes himself to his feet and starts to head deeper into the cavern. "Let's all get some sleep and then sort out the magical gewgaws from the camp. We can head out tomorrow or the day after I suppose."


Male Varisian Human Druid (Restorer) | AC 19 (Touch 10, Flat-Footed 19) | Hp 27/27 | Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +9 | Druid (Restorer) 4

The plan for Undari would be to get about 3 miles from town by dusk. Then, change to eagle form and take to the air. Fly high enough to be nearly invisible against the night sky, look down with a +16 Perception, and fly back. That gives him an hour to fly there, 2 hours to scout, and 1 hour to fly back.


Despite the peace earned through struggle and bloodshed, the night is hardly calm. A vein of excitement runs through your refugee community, energized by both your first significant victory against the Ironfangs and the wealth of supplies you have recovered. That is not to say that the night is not restful, as the reprieve from being hunted allows many of you the first sleep free from worry and night terrors that you have had in some time.

The following day is damp and humid. Clouds laden with moisture have wafted in from over Lake Encarthan to the east. Although it will likely be simply a drizzle rather than an actual downpour, the day promises to be quite wet.


Male Varisian Human Druid (Restorer) | AC 19 (Touch 10, Flat-Footed 19) | Hp 27/27 | Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +9 | Druid (Restorer) 4

After seeing to breakfast and checking the perimeter, Undari approaches Thorek, as he seems to be the leader of this ragtag band. "How far away is your occupied town from here? Can we make it to within 3 miles or so by nightfall?


LG Dwarf Warpriest4 l hp 38/38 l AC22 (T13, FF20) l F +7, R +4, W +6, Ini +2 l CMB +3 CMD15 l Minor Blessings 3/3 l Fervor 2/3 l Dorn-Dergar: Reach Dorn-Dergar

GM does that sound doable? I'm a little fuzzy on travel times between locations on our map.


Male Human Blood Arcanist 4| HP: 26/26 | AC: 12 T: 12 FF: 10 CMD: 13 | F+4 R+4 W+6 +2 poison | Init +2 | Perception +4 |
Tracked Resources:
Spells 1st 3/5, 2nd 3/3 ; Extend 2/3; Reservoir 4/7

Like the rain, but never liked getting wet... With scouting that doesn't involve him on tap for the day/night, Gaius searches for Boudra. "Help... Sign?" he asks.

Later on, around dinner time, he looks for Bree and Lily. "Sorry we haven't really spoken yet, but I'm Gaius. How have each of you been fairing since you join this camp? Were are you from?"


F Human Archaeologist-4 HP 28/28, AC 18 (T13 F15*), F+2 R+7* W+3, Init+3, Per +8, Luck:10/10 | current:

Bree gives Gaius a curt nod in lieu of a handshake or anything like that. "Oh, I'm from around," she says evasively. "But Phaendar is... was my home." She looks a bit sad for a moment before catching herself. "What about you? Where are you from?"


Male Human Blood Arcanist 4| HP: 26/26 | AC: 12 T: 12 FF: 10 CMD: 13 | F+4 R+4 W+6 +2 poison | Init +2 | Perception +4 |
Tracked Resources:
Spells 1st 3/5, 2nd 3/3 ; Extend 2/3; Reservoir 4/7

While Gaius has no evident lack in his ability to listen, he does seem quite pleased with Bree when she reciprocates his question. "I was born and unfortunately raised in Remesiana, Cheliax. My family was... unkind to me and saw to it that I was sent some distance away. Their destination of choice was none other than the Erages Academy! I earned a degree there in the Intersectionality of Nature and the Arcane, with a minor in Fey Studies. It was quite the time, I assure you, who knew all the ways Menhirs could form and the minutia of Fey rituals in invoking the primal energies of the First World! I'll show you my notes some time if you're interested!" Since, of course, nobody could resist such an offer, his book of notes on the Fey appears on the table.

Here he pauses for a long drink of water.

"Afterwards, I worked in the forests of Kyonin, researching the tertiary influences of the Tanglebriar. The infestation functions more or less on an inversely parabolic gradient and the tertiary influences can be found around the 3rd degree from the Tanglebriar proper, you see, but we were beset by demons! Luckily, we were equipped enough to hold them off while reinforcements arrived, but after that I decided to pursue another avenue of study, specifically the Fey, which brought me here! Well, near here, the flood of refugees and impending Hobgoblin horde are what brought me here-here," he concludes, clearly pleased with how quickly he was able to summarize his journey thus far. Seeing as his book hasn't been opened, he splits it open to his favorite section and points to some key graphs and observations pertaining to the Fey and the Tanglebriar for Bree and anyone else in the vicinity to see.


LG Dwarf Warpriest4 l hp 38/38 l AC22 (T13, FF20) l F +7, R +4, W +6, Ini +2 l CMB +3 CMD15 l Minor Blessings 3/3 l Fervor 2/3 l Dorn-Dergar: Reach Dorn-Dergar

Undari find Thorek inspecting the defensive wall that was constructed at the Darklands entrance, getting an informal report from the guards posted there.

"First thing first, Undari--I'm not the one in charge here, that'd be Cedric. I'm more of a field commander, I put the militia through their drills and I take to the field with the other leaders here when we're on a mission. Scouting would fall in my bailiwick, I suppose, but 'inner circle' makes decisions as a group. 'Sides, these people need one of their own to be their leader, I do what I can to help but my first loyalty is to Kraggodan."

Taking a breath, Thorek considers the druid's question a bit more. "As for Phaendar, yeah I think we could get you close and then you could work your magic. If we're careful we shouldn't have to fight anyone, but I am concerned about them finding our trail...they seem to use a lot of trained beasts, and there's not much we can do about our scent."

When is Novvi due to drop by again? Thorek really really wants some Dust of Tracelessness so the party doesn't have to worry so much about leaving scent or trails, even if the rain would help.


Male Varisian Human Druid (Restorer) | AC 19 (Touch 10, Flat-Footed 19) | Hp 27/27 | Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +9 | Druid (Restorer) 4

Undari considers Thorek’s words, saying, ”I will help as you and Cedric see fit. I am no tactician, though, so it may help if you tell me what to look for.”

Deciding that he should give a bit more detail, Undari adds, ”I can also move through the forest without leaving tracks, then I should have about 4 hours of flight time, and I can also cast a spell that will allow me to communicate even while I am in eagle form. If you think it better, I can just go part of the way alone.”


F Human Mesmerist 3 HP 20/26 Fort: +3 Ref: +6 Will: +3/+5 AC:18 Init: 5 Staring At: Spells 3/4 1st Tricks 3/3 Used Status: Grappled -2 Dexterity -2 Attacks

" I'm just an entertainer that just happened to visit the town as it was attacked. I'd be lying if I didn't say that there are days that In utterly terrified of dying and even come close to it. But I push through knowing how much good I've done ," Lily says somberly.

Upon hearing about Gauis field of study she perks up a bit and says," You know If be happy to hear more after our excursion. It sounds so fascinating."


F Human Archaeologist-4 HP 28/28, AC 18 (T13 F15*), F+2 R+7* W+3, Init+3, Per +8, Luck:10/10 | current:

Bree decides Gaius is probably on the up and up. Who the hell would make up such a complex cover story? Too easy to be caught in a lie like that. She shrugs her shoulders (mentally) and attends to what he's saying, even looking at the book a bit. Never hurts to be well versed. And the tanglebriar is legitimately interesting. Ultimately it's a diversion to thinking about the reality of their situation, but a little diversion now and then can be a good thing.


Female Human (Mwangi) Cleric/Ranger, Portrait

After the scouting trip to Phaendar, we can resolve the next Militia Phase, and Novvi will arrive at the week's conclusion.

"It would certainly fulfill a morbid curiosity to know what's become of Phaendar," Aubrin muses. "Of course, there's about thirty miles of forest between here and there. That same expanse of the Chernasardo that's hidden us from the Ironfangs would make it quite the trek. Even if you followed game trails to hasten your path, it would be more than a day's travel to get within a few miles of town."

If you would like, we could fast forward a day and a half to the night when Undari makes his scouting flight near Phaendar.


LG Dwarf Warpriest4 l hp 38/38 l AC22 (T13, FF20) l F +7, R +4, W +6, Ini +2 l CMB +3 CMD15 l Minor Blessings 3/3 l Fervor 2/3 l Dorn-Dergar: Reach Dorn-Dergar

I'm okay with a short jump forward. Should Thorek stay behind on this one? He's definitely the one most likely to screw up a stealth mission.


Male Varisian Human Druid (Restorer) | AC 19 (Touch 10, Flat-Footed 19) | Hp 27/27 | Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +9 | Druid (Restorer) 4

Undari is fine with it too. He can also take a 10 on Survival to hide their tracks (for a 21). He doesn’t leave tracks himself.


Male Human Blood Arcanist 4| HP: 26/26 | AC: 12 T: 12 FF: 10 CMD: 13 | F+4 R+4 W+6 +2 poison | Init +2 | Perception +4 |
Tracked Resources:
Spells 1st 3/5, 2nd 3/3 ; Extend 2/3; Reservoir 4/7

Fast forward is cool with me too!


F Human Mesmerist 3 HP 20/26 Fort: +3 Ref: +6 Will: +3/+5 AC:18 Init: 5 Staring At: Spells 3/4 1st Tricks 3/3 Used Status: Grappled -2 Dexterity -2 Attacks

I'm fine with that too.


A haunting familiarity comes upon you as you retrace the path of your original flight from Phaendar. The further south and west you travel, you find increasing signs of Ironfang patrols: boot prints and the occasional hoof print of draft animals. Thankfully, all of these trails are several days old and quite sparse. The forest is not a high priority for the bulk of their forces.

Beneath a light rain, you eventually find yourselves back at the overgrown farmstead where, seemingly so long ago, you found yourselves beset by wasps. The small orchard of apple trees that once hosted the wasp colony, however, has since been burned. The trunks are blackened and cracked, while the branches are skeletal and bare.

This site is close enough to Phaendar that Undari can enact his aerial scouting plan with minimal risk of encountering an Ironfang patrol ranging afield.


Male Varisian Human Druid (Restorer) | AC 19 (Touch 10, Flat-Footed 19) | Hp 27/27 | Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +9 | Druid (Restorer) 4

Undari says quietly to his companions, "Any last-minute advice on what I should be looking for? I will try to get in and out unnoticed by flying high, but I may have to get lower to see detail."

After getting any last input and waiting until half an hour before dusk, Undari moves to one end of the level ground at the farmstead, then he takes a deep breath. He seems to pray for a moment (casting Deadeye's Lore), clutching his wooden holy symbol of Erastil.

Suddenly, he breaks into a run through the undergrowth like it doesn't exist, leaping into the air and transforming into an eagle with dark brown feathers. Undari flaps his wings and gains altitude quickly, flying directly south by southwest so as to approach the town from due east instead of from the northeast.

Undari gains altitude to about 500 feet, cruising easily to the south and west as he feels the wind rush under his wings. Then, as he banks towards the town to arrive from the east (still half a mile away), he squawks a few syllables and moves his claws in an unusual pattern, followed quickly by a few softly spoken words in his own voice, calling on Erastil to sharpen his eyes and his mind for the coming mission (Beastspeak and then Heightened Awareness).

Finishing his turn, Undari travels swiftly and silently through the night sky towards the occupied town.

Pertinent Die Rolls:

Stealth take 10 before situational bonuses = 20 (+10 in eagle form)
Perception take 10 = 28 (+18 in eagle form with Heightened Awareness)
Survival take 10 = 25 (+15 with Deadeye's Lore)


LG Dwarf Warpriest4 l hp 38/38 l AC22 (T13, FF20) l F +7, R +4, W +6, Ini +2 l CMB +3 CMD15 l Minor Blessings 3/3 l Fervor 2/3 l Dorn-Dergar: Reach Dorn-Dergar

"A rough headcount and fortifications would be good; earthworks, barricades, new construction, the like." Thorek sketches out a map of Phaendar prior to the assault with help from the others. "Any changes to this basic layout too. Good hunting."


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Undari:
The clouded, rainy night sky hides your avian form as you wing your way high over the river. No alarm is raised and no bolts or arrows sail out to pin your wings. Your stratagem has worked.

Stone pilings sit at either side of a narrow point in the river. The stone bridge that once crossed this span has been ruined, its rubble lying like broken bones that jut out from the raging whitewaters in the jagged ravine below. In its place, the hobgoblins have constructed a much simpler rope and board bridge to cross the river.

It is hard to judge how large this town may have once been. You guess it was once home to perhaps three dozen significant buildings, but it seems that many of them have been dismantled - the timber and stones repurposed to construct a palisade around the occupied town.

One particular cluster of houses and barns has been fenced off, and you see several humans huddled within. You suspect this serves as a slave pen. Other, larger buildings that have remained intact - perhaps stores or workshops - seem to have been commandeered by the hobgoblins. Sitting on the western side of the village green, you see the charred remains of a particularly large wooden structure, perhaps a town hall or temple.

The most notable feature, however, is the tower that dominates the heart of the village green. It is formed from smooth, black stone, and it rises about fifty feet in height. An arching doorway sits at its base, seeming to lead down into an underground passage. A lookout nest has been set up atop the tower, and you worry that the sentries might soon spot you and grow suspicious.

Between those in the slave pens and others being worked through the night, you estimate that perhaps 150 townsfolk are kept enslaved here. As for the Ironfang legionaries, there are too many to count. Worse still, you see that while the majority appear to be hobgoblins, there are other creatures among them: ferocious wolfin creatures, winged beasts, and bull-like beings that walk upright.

You can roll a Knowledge check to try and identify any of these Ironfang auxiliaries.


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Male Varisian Human Druid (Restorer) | AC 19 (Touch 10, Flat-Footed 19) | Hp 27/27 | Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +9 | Druid (Restorer) 4

Unfortunately, Undari only has knowledge Geography and Nature trained, but the Heightened Awareness spell gives him a +2 on those.

Undari tries to commit as much as possible to memory, with a special eye towards possible routes for prisoner rescue. As tempting as it is to fly lower and give the humans some reassurance, it would be quite unwise, so Undari refrains from doing so.

Knowledge Nature to identify Creatures: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (19) + 7 = 26

He flies back in a circuitous route in case he was seen, then lands at the farmstead about 3 hours after leaving, landing lightly on his feet as he transforms back to his natural form. He approaches the others with a sober expression...(to be continued after we see if the natural knowledge check gets mere info...)


Male Varisian Human Druid (Restorer) | AC 19 (Touch 10, Flat-Footed 19) | Hp 27/27 | Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +9 | Druid (Restorer) 4

Moving over to the group, Undari reaches the representation of the town Thorek sketched in the ground, his countenance unreadable in the cloudy evening. Reaching over to the lines and patterns representing Phaendar, Undari modifies the sketch with a long black stick as he speaks.

”The stone bridge that crossed the narrow section of the river is gone, its rubble lying like broken bones in the whitewater of the jagged ravine below—only the pilings remain. A hasty affair of rope and boards has been put in its place.”

Moving on to the body of the town, Undari starts marking out buildings. ”These have been torn down, their raw materials used instead to build a sturdy wall encircling the entire town. Over here, this cluster of houses and barns has been fenced off—this is where they keep the townsfolk prisoners, used as slaves for work both day and night. They number about one hundred and fifty souls.”

At this, Undari pauses, regret clear in his face, ”I did not dare risk contacting them, even just to reassure them, lest I be forced to join them in their slavery.” Moving on to the village green, he indicates a structure on the western side, ”This building, perhaps a town hall or temple, was burned to the foundation, only ash remaining where strong wooden walls must have stood.”

Standing up to meet the gazes of his companions, Undari continues. ”The Ironfang hobgoblin legionaries were everywhere I looked, and I could not get an accurate count, but there were many. They were joined by monsters, bull-headed humanoids with glazed bovine eyes called minotaurs, fearsome flying creatures with humanoid heads, bodies of lions, wings of dragons, and spiked tails called manticores, and wolf-like beasts I could not identify.”

Reversing his grip on the black stick, he plunges it into the ground in the dead center of the village green. Dramatically, he adds, ”But worst of all is a tall, black tower formed of smooth, black, stone, perched in the middle of the green like an orb spinner spider, its tendrils of webbing attached to and controlling everything in its domain. An archway at its base leads down into unknowable depths, and the sentries at its peak prevented me from descending any lower and risking discovery.”

Having spoken plainly of his observations in the way of the druids, Undari looks up to see the faces of those who knew the town just a few short weeks ago as a thriving pastoral community, and he bows his head at the pain such a description has evoked in their hearts, stepping back to give them space to grieve.


F Human Archaeologist-4 HP 28/28, AC 18 (T13 F15*), F+2 R+7* W+3, Init+3, Per +8, Luck:10/10 | current:

"I'm not sure if the slaves are luckier than the dead," Bree murmurs soberly. "We could easily take out that bridge. But it's the tower that still confuses me. What magics could have erected or transported it there so quickly?"


Male Human Blood Arcanist 4| HP: 26/26 | AC: 12 T: 12 FF: 10 CMD: 13 | F+4 R+4 W+6 +2 poison | Init +2 | Perception +4 |
Tracked Resources:
Spells 1st 3/5, 2nd 3/3 ; Extend 2/3; Reservoir 4/7

Like Undari, Gaius cedes the floor first to any grieving the others need to do. It is only once conversation moves to more practical matters that he begins to chime in. "Agreed, Bree. The tower is quite unusual. At least based on what we know, it seems to be the focus, if not the purpose, of their invasions. Something like that doesn't just happen without purpose."


LG Dwarf Warpriest4 l hp 38/38 l AC22 (T13, FF20) l F +7, R +4, W +6, Ini +2 l CMB +3 CMD15 l Minor Blessings 3/3 l Fervor 2/3 l Dorn-Dergar: Reach Dorn-Dergar

"Tunnels," Thorek says suddenly. "I'd bet you anything the Ironfang's have build or repurposed tunnels so they could approach Phaendar unseen. The tower probably acts as a fortified checkpoint...but to build it so quickly would require a lot of magic. If they can do that, who knows what other communities in the area could be at risk?"


Male Varisian Human Druid (Restorer) | AC 19 (Touch 10, Flat-Footed 19) | Hp 27/27 | Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +9 | Druid (Restorer) 4

Turning to respond to Thorek, Undari remarks, ”Did you not find some documents written in Goblin about their plans? Something about controlling the Tamran Highway? I am no tactician, but couldn’t that be the precursor to a full scale invasion?”

DM Vayelan wrote:
. Only a scant few documents are recovered from the sergeant's foul tent on this second trip. Written in Goblin, they offer a brief insight into the Ironfang Legion's overall strategy. With a new bridge built over the Marideth River, the Legion is using Phaendar as a base from which to expand across the Nesmian Plains. In particular, they seem eager for their main force to seize the Tamran Highway. A superior officer, one Scabvistin, has also sent a letter that simultaneously criticizes the late Scarvinious' skills while also directing the bugbear sergeant to join the hunt for the...


F Human Mesmerist 3 HP 20/26 Fort: +3 Ref: +6 Will: +3/+5 AC:18 Init: 5 Staring At: Spells 3/4 1st Tricks 3/3 Used Status: Grappled -2 Dexterity -2 Attacks

Lily just calmly listens to the rest of the party as they dispense information and says,"We really need to find more help. If this is the precursor to an invasion we need to warn an army of what's going on. "

Slouching back onto a tree she continues,"We're just a random group of people not someone whose trained to deal with this sort of thing. And even if we were trained we still have so many people that depend on us for safety. We can't just fight back without concern for them."


Male Varisian Human Druid (Restorer) | AC 19 (Touch 10, Flat-Footed 19) | Hp 27/27 | Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +9 | Druid (Restorer) 4

”I don’t know how many Rangers there are left, but that is the closest thing to an army I know of, unless there is another settlement outside the southern edge of the forest you know about,” Undari responds.

”And if the human settlements act like any of the pack animals of the wood, they will retreat to their dens and defend their own, not come to the aid of a different pack.”


F Human Mesmerist 3 HP 20/26 Fort: +3 Ref: +6 Will: +3/+5 AC:18 Init: 5 Staring At: Spells 3/4 1st Tricks 3/3 Used Status: Grappled -2 Dexterity -2 Attacks

Lily just sighs deeply. "You don't need to lecture me on how egotistical and self centered others can be. This whole ordeal has been a great lesson in how much humans will just stab others in the back to save themselves," she says meekly.


Male Human Blood Arcanist 4| HP: 26/26 | AC: 12 T: 12 FF: 10 CMD: 13 | F+4 R+4 W+6 +2 poison | Init +2 | Perception +4 |
Tracked Resources:
Spells 1st 3/5, 2nd 3/3 ; Extend 2/3; Reservoir 4/7

Gaius nods his head in agreement with Thorek. Tunnels would explain a lot. Arduous work, but once built a tunnel system is invaluable for discreet overland travel.

"Let's rest up for the night and then head out in search of the Rangers tomorrow morning. Herd behavior aside, they are our best bet for aid at this point," he suggests.


Male Varisian Human Druid (Restorer) | AC 19 (Touch 10, Flat-Footed 19) | Hp 27/27 | Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +9 | Druid (Restorer) 4

Undari nods in agreement. "Seeking out the Rangers seems like a wise next step, although I am loathe to leave the townsfolk imprisoned. We would either need an army ourselves or a stealthy way to rescue them -- using tunnels of our own, magical stealth, or an aerial approach."

Frowning, he continues, "I have not the power of the burrowing elemental or the unseen wind, so an army seems our best approach, unless someone else here has such power?" he asks hopefully.


F Human Archaeologist-4 HP 28/28, AC 18 (T13 F15*), F+2 R+7* W+3, Init+3, Per +8, Luck:10/10 | current:

"You know, we don't, but we do have a friendly crysmal living below us."


Male Varisian Human Druid (Restorer) | AC 19 (Touch 10, Flat-Footed 19) | Hp 27/27 | Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +9 | Druid (Restorer) 4
Bree Fairchild wrote:
"You know, we don't, but we do have a friendly crysmal living below us."

Strangely enough, even though druids can eventually wildshape into elementals, Knowledge/Planes is not on their class skills list...

Looking up hopefully, Undari responds to Bree, "Can this crysmal burrow and leave a tunnel behind? What size is it?"


Male Human Blood Arcanist 4| HP: 26/26 | AC: 12 T: 12 FF: 10 CMD: 13 | F+4 R+4 W+6 +2 poison | Init +2 | Perception +4 |
Tracked Resources:
Spells 1st 3/5, 2nd 3/3 ; Extend 2/3; Reservoir 4/7

Gaius looks on in disbelief. "A crysmal?" he asks, clearly skeptical. "Those little crystal scorpions? How exactly did you manage that?"
________
Planes: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
Sounds like a good story for our journey to that fort we were talking about before our detour!


LG Dwarf Warpriest4 l hp 38/38 l AC22 (T13, FF20) l F +7, R +4, W +6, Ini +2 l CMB +3 CMD15 l Minor Blessings 3/3 l Fervor 2/3 l Dorn-Dergar: Reach Dorn-Dergar

"Fed it gems. It was pretty easy, actually." Thorek shrugs.

"It pains me to say but i don't think we can do anything for the prisoners of Phaendar right now. I support seeking out the Chernasado forts and joining forces with the rangers. That's probably our best chance to make a real difference in this fight."


Male Varisian Human Druid (Restorer) | AC 19 (Touch 10, Flat-Footed 19) | Hp 27/27 | Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +9 | Druid (Restorer) 4

Undari nods at the dwarf, having reached the same conclusion as well. Aloud, he merely says, ”Let’s make for the Fort in the morning then.”


Male Human Blood Arcanist 4| HP: 26/26 | AC: 12 T: 12 FF: 10 CMD: 13 | F+4 R+4 W+6 +2 poison | Init +2 | Perception +4 |
Tracked Resources:
Spells 1st 3/5, 2nd 3/3 ; Extend 2/3; Reservoir 4/7

Wordlessly, Gaius pulls a notebook from his bag and begins scrawling some notes in a margin.

Taking a peak?:

Under a heading labeled "Engendering Trust: General Methods," he has written the following note: "Offering meals, even to otherwise antisocial creatures, may provide beneficial results. What do the various Fey creatures like to eat? Are there any First World delicacies that may be worth importing"

Without needing much encouragement he lays out his sleeping supplies near a tree and makes preparations to take the first watch.
________
Gaius would prefer first watch, but will take any other watch if someone also prefers it.


LG Dwarf Warpriest4 l hp 38/38 l AC22 (T13, FF20) l F +7, R +4, W +6, Ini +2 l CMB +3 CMD15 l Minor Blessings 3/3 l Fervor 2/3 l Dorn-Dergar: Reach Dorn-Dergar

No way is Thorek leaving one of the newcomers to take a watch alone after only meeting 2-3 days ago, especially this close to an enemy stronghold...


Male Varisian Human Druid (Restorer) | AC 19 (Touch 10, Flat-Footed 19) | Hp 27/27 | Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +9 | Druid (Restorer) 4

As sober as the news is, Undari is buoyed by the experience of becoming one with nature and flying free through the night sky. He settles in for the night, wary but hopeful.

Undari has no strong preference for which watch to take—other than a variety, as he likes to hear the different voices of the forest that ebb and flow as the dark hours pass.


Male Human Blood Arcanist 4| HP: 26/26 | AC: 12 T: 12 FF: 10 CMD: 13 | F+4 R+4 W+6 +2 poison | Init +2 | Perception +4 |
Tracked Resources:
Spells 1st 3/5, 2nd 3/3 ; Extend 2/3; Reservoir 4/7

Absolutely miserable, Gaius looks like he has been sucker punched when Thorek makes it clear that his watch will be accompanied by him. This is like the time Father took me to the bank after a day of lecturing me in the shops... It was awful... So crowded and stiff!


LG Dwarf Warpriest4 l hp 38/38 l AC22 (T13, FF20) l F +7, R +4, W +6, Ini +2 l CMB +3 CMD15 l Minor Blessings 3/3 l Fervor 2/3 l Dorn-Dergar: Reach Dorn-Dergar

Thorek is quiet for several hours as the darkness deepens.

"Why are you here, Gaius?" Thorek asks without preamble. He doesn't turn away from scanning the forest to face the young man. "You're not a Nirmathi, you're not a druid like Undari. Near as I can tell you're some merchant's kid we found wandering through the woods."

The dwarf turns to face the human, the burn-scars on the side of his face visible only as a deeper blackness in the dim light. "When we found you rooting around in that camp we'd just killed a dozen Ironfangs who'd been hunting us for weeks, nearly lost one of our own doing it. It's been fear and hiding and desperate fights since Phaendar was overrun, and the war doesn't seem likely to end soon. So why jump into this mess?"


Male Human Blood Arcanist 4| HP: 26/26 | AC: 12 T: 12 FF: 10 CMD: 13 | F+4 R+4 W+6 +2 poison | Init +2 | Perception +4 |
Tracked Resources:
Spells 1st 3/5, 2nd 3/3 ; Extend 2/3; Reservoir 4/7

Gaius' muscles seize briefly when Thorek addresses him and he quickly grabs a nearby tree to brace himself. Oh gods, and now its even worse than with Father.

It takes him a moment to dislodge the frog buried deep in his throat, but he manages to jostle it just enough to squeak out a reply. "I, um, well you aren't exactly wrong. I am one of those, a, you know, a merchant's son."

Managing a deep breath, his voice reaches a normal strength. "But I've seen what can happen to the forest when horrors go unchecked. People... people meet cruel fates. The creatures of the woods too. The forest... ravaged. I want to help. I love the forest and the Fey, but people are hurting too. What would that make me if I only wanted to be a part of this community when it was easy? It is true, I'm not really from around here, but I want to be. I've never felt more at home than when I walk these woods and work with these people," he explains, rambling nervously a little near the end as he remembers who he is talking to. "So that's why, I suppose, I'm, uh, jumping into this mess... You know? Is that... ok with you?"


LG Dwarf Warpriest4 l hp 38/38 l AC22 (T13, FF20) l F +7, R +4, W +6, Ini +2 l CMB +3 CMD15 l Minor Blessings 3/3 l Fervor 2/3 l Dorn-Dergar: Reach Dorn-Dergar

The warpriest's eyes narrow quizzically at Gaius, then he snorts and turns back to his vigil. "Not like we're in a position to refuse help from any corner. I've got your back if you've got ours." The dwarf doesn't initiate conversation for the rest of the watch shift.


F Human Mesmerist 3 HP 20/26 Fort: +3 Ref: +6 Will: +3/+5 AC:18 Init: 5 Staring At: Spells 3/4 1st Tricks 3/3 Used Status: Grappled -2 Dexterity -2 Attacks

" You'll have no arguments from me. The more help we have the safer we are. Besides... We could get help from the fey of this forest and he does appear to be an expert."

Sorry about my intermittent posting but work is keeping me busy.


Male Varisian Human Druid (Restorer) | AC 19 (Touch 10, Flat-Footed 19) | Hp 27/27 | Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +9 | Druid (Restorer) 4

During his turn at watch, Undari takes no offense if someone else wishes to remain awake as well. He grows comfortable in the quiet evening, tuning in to the natural rhythm of the nighttime easily, slipping into almost a meditative silence.


Female Human (Mwangi) Cleric/Ranger, Portrait

"The Chernasardo is no mere copse of woods. It is a large swathe of the wild Fangwood, so this will not be a brief hike," Aubrin warns you when you return to Hidden Hope to share your plans. She kneels down and traces a rough map in the dirt, drawing upon her keen memory of the woodlands. "It'll be about thirty miles to Fort Nunder through trackless forest, which you should be able to cover in three days' time."

She rises from her crude map and offers a wan smile.

"Under the protection of the priest, the sage, and the Trogslayer, along with yours truly, we should be fine in your absence, just as I trust young Ironsides there to protect you," she says with a nod and wink towards Thorek.


Male Human Blood Arcanist 4| HP: 26/26 | AC: 12 T: 12 FF: 10 CMD: 13 | F+4 R+4 W+6 +2 poison | Init +2 | Perception +4 |
Tracked Resources:
Spells 1st 3/5, 2nd 3/3 ; Extend 2/3; Reservoir 4/7

Gaius nods his head in understanding. "Will horses be able to travel well in this terrain? Any known hazards beyond, of course, the ever-present risk of Hobgoblins and the typical woodland beasts?"

Looking at the map, he draws a quick sketch in his notebook, making particular note of the key landmarks along the way. Before leaving, he rummages through what is left of the party supplies and adds to his equipment.


Female Human (Mwangi) Cleric/Ranger, Portrait

"Larger horses have trouble in the Chernasardo," Aubrin muses with a wry smile. "I remember long ago, back when I was training with the rangers, seeing some Molthuni horseman struggle and fail to coax their steeds through the rough, tangled terrain. Lighter horses and ponies can much better navigate the game trails and gullies that serve in lieu of roads throughout the forest."

A more serious look crosses the Caydenite's face, even if only for a moment.

"Blighted fey would be the most unusual and worrisome of hazards," Aubrin replies. "Thus far, to my knowledge, the Blight has not spread south into the Chernasardo, but the corruption is as insidious as it is malignant.

"You should also be wary of trolls. They find as much safe haven in the forest as we or the rangers do, and the hobs' invasion may have emboldened them."


Male Varisian Human Druid (Restorer) | AC 19 (Touch 10, Flat-Footed 19) | Hp 27/27 | Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +9 | Druid (Restorer) 4

"I should be able to help us get through the forest more quickly with a combination of woodcraft and divine spells," remarks Undari, "and light horses or ponies could be useful in case there are supplies we need to carry, if a few are available for our journey."

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